Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Consider the Birdie

Today is Wednesday, which is a busy day typically.  Daddy did get to see Madison for a little bit, of course - this time when he came home right around tennis practice.  Madison was one of three kids there for tennis practice today, so she got a lot of practice time.  Mommy said her forearm shot is improving, especially when she's serving a tennis ball.  Basically the situation with her forearm has been her tendency to angle the racket towards outer space, where she generally hits the ball.  We don't see that with her backhand, which she seems to have down a lot better.  But today her forearm has improved, which is great to see.

It was a day of more looming weather.  There is cooler weather coming in, and rain continues to dominate the forecast.  Not just any rain, but a threatening sort of rain where there are warnings and watches posted all over the North Georgia area for this reason or another.

Daddy spoke to the kids tonight, the last message of the series "Fore!"  It was in fact message four of "Fore!"  Which is fun to say.  It's been great fun, and has Daddy really wanting to play another round of mini-golf with Mommy and Madison.  We've been talking about doing this on Monday, perhaps.  We'll see how this weather turns out.  Also, there are a few holidays this weekend to consider.  What?  You don't know what big three days are coming up?  No, it's nothing like Easter or Christmas.  But it's hard to ignore FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, STAR WARS DAY and CINCO DE MAYO, all back-to-back-to-back.  Yes, there will be much celebration.  We just discovered a comic book shop nearby too, one over between here and Cumming - and it is participating!  That means I'll be heading over there on Saturday with Madison, just to pick up our free comic books.  She loves having them read to her.  Recently, we've been reading the Bible at night, followed by comic books.  We're still working our way through a cross-over book that has Spider-man, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Hulk.  Oh, and Dr. Doom.  Can't forget the guy from Latveria!

Anyway, as for "Fore!", I'm sad to see it go so quickly.  It's a busy day today as mentioned earlier, but here's the general flow for the message, as we turn in for the night:

KidPak Adventures:  Fore!
Eagle’s Crest

HOST:  “Hey there!  You know we started this series the same time as the Masters, and it was the first time I ever watched the event.  I sat there, absolutely amazed at one thing:  how patient all these guys were.  Sure, some lose their cool at a bad shot – but most have this inner peace that I have to be honest with you:  I wouldn’t have it at all!”

HOST: “ These guys miss a putt, and they just casually sink it with the next attempt and move on with life.  Me?  I might even be throwing clubs around!  And that’s what is so striking to me about this game – there is so much self control.  I’m about to show you a clip from a movie that sums up what goes on in a professional golfer’s mind before making a big shot.  This is simply amazing to me.  Want to see it?”

Let audience answer.

HOST:  “I do too.  I could watch this over and over.  Let’s watch it together.”


HOST: “It’s an amazing clip.  It shows what a golfer has to do – but when I saw this, I was thinking, that is so true to all of us.  We’ve got this goal we want to get to, but there are all kinds of distractions around us.  First of all, there are things we like to do – those aren’t so bad, necessarily. But they could keep you from getting to where you need to quicker.  They could cause delays if you’re not focused on the prize.  So in your mind you sort of have to wipe them away and remember what it is you want to do – get to that goal.  But then there are those dark figures.  In the movie, those were guys from his past who said some hurtful, judgmental things.  He had to get past that.  It rally bothered him, but in his mind he had to do the thing that Queen Elsa said:  LET IT GO.”

HOST: “And so he did.  He let it go, and soon it was just him and his goal.  And the sound of nature around him – it was a beautiful place.  He found inner peace.”

HOST:  “So I started thinking, how do I get that sort of inner peace?  Because you know something?  I’m not there yet.  I stress out about stuff, and I’m the kind of guy that likes to bend golf clubs in half!”

HOST:  “I want to show you something amazing that happened last year on the golf tour.  This really happened, and if it happened to me, I would have given up.  But the golden rule in golf is that you have to play it where it lands.  But look where it landed!”


HOST:  “Again, I would have thought there’s no way I could come back from that.  But he just calmly climbs up into a tree to hit probably the best tree shot you’ll ever see.  He had that same inner peace that Harry Vardon had in that first video.  So how do we get that peace?”

HOST:  “Tonight I want to share three quick tips God gave me from the game of golf that can help.  In fact, here’s the first one:”


HOST:  “Consider the birdie.  Of course, golf, a birdie is when you get the ball in one shot better than what many others do.”


HOST:  “But the birdie that I want to talk to you about is the sparrow.  You see, at one point along the green, Jesus spoke of a sparrow.  He used this birdie to explain something really important:  go ahead and plan for the future, but don’t worry too much.  God takes care of the birdies, so you can have peace in knowing He’ll take care of you.  Let me show you what he said.”


HOST:  “He counts every hair on your head!  So don’t be afraid.  You are worth more than many sparrows.”


HOST:  “The point is that God is like your caddie.  He’s right there next to you throughout the whole thing, giving advice and guiding you.  He’s there to help you and encourage you, and as we’ve said over and over again, He’s got a plan to give you hope and a future.  And peace!”

HOST:  “So we know God is there with you.  That should bring some peace in life.  He’s right there with you.  But take it from me, there’s another way to have peace about your life.  And when I was watching that golf game, it stuck with me.  Let me ask you a question – see if anyone can answer it.  What is the one thing about scoring in a golf game that is different from scoring in any other game?”

Let audience attempt to answer.

HOST:  “The answer is our second point.  Let’s take a look.”


HOST: “The lowest score wins.  The lower you go, the better a golfer you are.  It’s that simple.  And it’s that simple with life.  In fact, let me show you this scripture.”

CUE SLIDE:  “Matthew 20:16”

HOST:  “So those who are last will be first.  And those who are first will be last.  That’s a great encouragement for people like me, because I’m usually last!”


HOST:  “Seriously, what that means is this.  Just because a person is rich or famous does not mean they are on par with God.  It’s all in your attitude – God looks at the heart. Let’s look to Jesus a moment.  Here he is, the one who was there when mankind and all the earth was created, and he’s sitting there eating with his friends.  Out of nowhere it seems, he begins to wash their feet.  Peter is all in his face saying, ‘No way!  I should be washing your feet!’  But Jesus told him something – he said, ‘I’m setting an example Peter.  I’m your teacher, but I’m showing you how you should live: serving others, just like I did.”

HOST:  “One of my favorite stories in the Bible is a simple one.  After Jesus had died, he came back to see Peter.  Jesus was along the shoreline, and Peter saw him from the boat.  Peter was so excited to see Jesus that he jumped out of the boat and swam all the way to shore.  Jesus was dead, and now he was alive.  He had conquered death and the grave.  He looked at death and said, ‘IN YOUR FACE!’

HOST: “ So what does he do when he sees Peter?  Peter was the guy who lied to everyone and said, ‘Jesus?  I don’t know Jesus.  Nope, not me!’  What does Jesus do when he sees Peter in that first meeting?  Anyone know?”

Let audience guess

HOST:  “The answer is… he cooks him a fish dinner.  Seriously, God himself cooks a meal.  I would have LOVED to eaten that meal.  I am not kidding at all.  Talk about the ultimate chef.  JESUS cooked a meal.  And don’t miss the point in all of this:  even after he’s conquered death, he didn’t come back to sing, “Nanny-nanny boo-boo!’  Instead, he came to serve.’”

HOST:  “Which brings me to our volunteers.”

HOST goes to volunteers in audience.

HOST:  “These are our volunteers.  They are not paid to do this.  That’s the definition of a volunteer.  I’m scratching my head here – why on earth are you spending a perfectly good Wednesday night here of all places?”

Let volunteer answer.

HOST repeats process with a few other volunteers.

HOST:  “The common answer is they are here to serve.  Jesus came to serve, and that’s who they want to be like.  And that’s who we all want to be like.  Now let me tell you something big.  Are you ready for this?”

HOST: “You can have the greatest peace and satisfaction in life knowing you’re helping God and His kingdom.  If you’re doing anything else, it’s fun for a while.  But if you want to know real peace, the best place to start is helping others.”

HOST:  “And that brings me to the final point.”


HOST:  “An eagle in golf is a really good thing.  That’s two shots under par.  But in our Bibles, that’s an even better thing.  Let me show you why with this scripture.”


HOST:  “Those that trust in the Lord will receive new strength.  They will fly as high as eagles.”


HOST:  “Remember Sergio got that golf ball in a tree?  He didn’t panic.  He just kept rolling.  And as Christians, we have to remember that when things go wrong, we can have that same sort of calm.  Trust in God – and play it where it lands.  Everyone turn to your neighbor and say play it where it lands.”

Let audience respond.

HOST:  “The Bible says there’s a great crowd of witnesses watching you on the fairway.  Okay, it’s not a fairway, but there are a lot of folks watching to see you succeed.  They all know you may have gone off course, but they’re cheering you on, wanting to see you win.  And God is right there in the front of the crowd screaming loudest of all.”

HOST:  “In fact, He wants to help you win.  It says that those who trust in Him will receive new strength.  They will fly as high as eagles.  It’s a pretty peaceful place up there, looking down on all those troubles.  You have a better view of the course, too!”

HOST:  “Just keep your head down, and like our volunteers, keep serving and trusting Him.  You’ll find that peace.”

HOST:  “Let us pray.”   

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


We had another active day today with piano and a bit of driving around.  Piano went well - we're gearing up for that recital, so as you can imagine there is a lot of practice for certain numbers she'll be performing later on.  She did well with her solo, and better with the group number, but she'll need some more practice with the songs.  If only they all decided to sing "Let it Go!"

We got home and ate, and the weather was a bit threatening outside.  On top of that, we were all a bit tired - so we sat down to watch a movie that Madison hasn't seen before:  "Zathura."  We hadn't seen it in some time either, but after watching "Jumanji" last time, I gather she's learning an important lesson from these movies:  board games are very dangerous.

We actually do have this game in the house.  And we've got the double threat:  we also own a copy of the board game, "Jumanji."  We haven't played either yet, but Madison is approaching an age that we could play.  In fact, we just might do another board game or two upcoming.  But we'll need to be careful.  For example, one thing we learned from both of these movies is that you need to take your turns quickly.  Don't just wait for the meteor shower to hit everywhere and then go again:  go to a safe place and take your turns quickly, one after the other.  Maybe the out-of-control robot will get struck by the meteors - you never know, right?  That's the one thing about the movies an impatient person like Daddy notices:  don't just sit there and wait for calamity. Keep taking your turns, and end the game as soon as you can.

We went to bed earlier again tonight, as we noticed Madison was a little tired in piano class.  She wasn't squirmy during the movie though - this may have been one of the scariest movies she's seen ever.  We forgot about the menace of the zorgon aliens, and Daddy was quietly hoping she wasn't going to have nightmares about these slithering alligators in space suits.  She seemed okay with it all, and of course there's a happy ending for everyone.  Except the zorgons, of course.

We read some more of our Bible tonight before bed, reading through the book of Psalms - a kid-friendly version that's easier for Madison to understand. This Princess Bible has been quite good for us, with lots of devotional material to talk about before bed.  Madison was looking at her own life, and the skills she's been given.  We pointed out tennis, piano, and ballet of course. But she's also very smart: we got to see some more of her homework and classwork today, which came home with her.  It was all so fantastic and so routine.  She just aces everything without any problems at all.  Pretty amazing was her paragraph that she wrote about magnets.  It was so good that I want to scan it and share it here - maybe tomorrow.  Another gift we told her about was her sense of humor:  she's very funny.

Each morning, we pray before going to school.  We sit on the couch, all facing one another in a small circle.  Or a triangle, at least.  The point is, Madison and Daddy are always seated first, when Madison calls out for Mommy to come over and sit anywhere.  So... Mommy comes over and sits on Madison's lap, which never fails to crack her up.  We have our little routines in the morning, don't we?  And of course, the other tradition is Madison getting up from her breakfast to go and hide, once she hears Daddy coming down the stairs.  It is usually one of four hiding places, and as Daddy gets closer, Madison always jumps out and roars!

She's an adorable blessing with many gifts.  Tonight we prayed together, thanking God for our blessings and continuing our prayers for others we know.  Daddy read a bit of a Spider-man comic to Madison before bedtime, and soon it was off to dreamland for her.  She was indeed tired - but so were we.  After our latest "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." episode, Mommy and Daddy were off to sleep themselves...

Monday, April 28, 2014


Today was the sort of day to go collecting helicopter seeds - there's a tree by the bus stop that sheds these once a year.  Madison and Daddy got a whole bunch of these and brought them to the back porch, which became our launch pad.  One by one, we sent them airborne - it was a breezy day, just perfect conditions to watch them lazily spiral downward below.

There is some pretty bad weather out there today.  It's been going on for some time now, crossing the country and still heading this way.  We won't get the worst of it here in our county, although we're all under a tornado watch tonight.  As usual, the northwest part of the state is in harm's way, the new "tornado alley" for the nation.  We just finished our "Storm Chaser" series, and this is the sort of thing we were hoping wouldn't happen during the series.  Hopefully, things will become calmer overnight with the cooler nighttime temperatures and a reduced energy.  But I'm no meteorologist, and can only continue to watch the radar carefully to see what is and isn't coming our way.  Right now, the weather forecasters are predicting only the northwest part of the state to get the brunt of it, again.  But still there's an uneasiness in going to bed with a menacing storm crawling towards us.

The weather today was warmer, but overcast - perfect weather, really.  We didn't have any rain, and decided right after Madison got back that we'd go down to the tennis courts.  And why not walk down there?  Yes, the three of us went for a walk down to the park and the courts, which were largely devoid of people.  It was a pleasant excursion - Madison was anxious to hit the ball back and forth. We did some simple exercises to begin with, where she hammered the ball over the larger net.  She did forehand and backhand, and is showing all kinds of promise.  And even more fascinating to me is that she is really enjoying it.  She was really wanting to play tennis, hitting the ball back and forth - so Daddy and she did just that for a time.  We had a volley go back and forth and back and forth, which is such a satisfying sort of thing when we're all still learning, really.

Madison played at the playground for a bit afterwards, as Mommy and Daddy sat on a park bench together, drinking from our water bottles.  But soon, it was time to grab the tennis balls in the basket, and make the walk back to the house.  Of course, on the way, we passed by the bus stop, so we got a whole bunch more of the helicopter seeds, or whirlybird seeds.  The actual name is a samara seed - and we got a whole lot more this time.  Together, we hit the back porch and launched the entire arsenal into the skies.

Mommy had a tasty dinner cooking in the house - corned beef and potatoes, which goes to show that it doesn't have to be St. Patrick's Day if you want to eat that sort of thing.  We did want to, and therefore we did eat it!

Madison did quite a bit of piano today, still trying to catch up a bit.  She did well enough though, and is getting better and better with the crossover finger parts.  With very little time left in the afternoon, Mommy thought it best that Madison have herself a bath before bedtime, which worked out well.  She was all clean just before bed, where we gathered together and prayed as we always do.  Tonight we prayed for protection from the storms for everyone in their paths.  We prayed for our friends and family.  We prayed for a good night's rest too!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Evening Post

So just as our "Storm Chasers" series is over with, our first series of storms are crossing the country - they're expected to arrive for us tomorrow, but everyone has been leery of the weather, remembering what happened just three years ago one terrible night.

This morning, Madison and the rest of KidPak visited Swallow Falls with that message related to the movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs."  She enjoyed it - Flint and his friends have been a theme of ours lately, as Madison just got a copy of the sequel in her Easter basket.

This afternoon, Daddy was once again at KidPak Español, which he can finally type out correctly on a keyboard.  How to do that accent mark?  Just hit "option + n" button.  And then the "n" again.  This may be one of the biggest things I've learned how to do all year.  It was a good service, one that Daddy has been helping out with a bit.  The sacrifice of time with Madison may be a little much though - we'll see how that pans out here over the next few months.  Of course, summer is approaching, and she'll be home a lot more.

Or, at least that's what I was initially thinking.  In fact, she's got about four camps back-to-back-to-back-to-back, pretty much filling up June.  That all starts June 2nd, with Summer Xtreme.  It'll be a fantastic June.

Tonight we revisited the Lego Marvel again - still have a few characters we're looking for, but by no means do we actually hope to complete the entire game.  There are some things not worth trying over and over and over to achieve.  For example, this "Frozen Free Fall" game that Madison and Daddy have been addicted to lately.  It sits on the Kindle like some sort of drug - we keep going back to it, trying to clear that next blasted level.  Over and over again - currently we're on level 53 or something like that.  Daddy and Madison crowd over this game on the Kindle, each pointing out moves to the other and watching for the next crazy combo.  The first levels were simple enough, but now we're in deeper territory that's honestly more based on luck and chance than skill.  But still we keep going back for more...!

So it was a full day again, and now we're hunkering down for the next wave of storms.  They appear to not be as bad for us here locally, so we'll pray for everyone else around the Southeast.  It was actually three years ago to this day that we had a night of terror.  May it not repeat for us again.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Family Yard Sale

Madison and Hannah were selling snacks and goodies this morning - all for charity.  It was part of our fund-raising yard sale that wound up doing pretty well.  We met our goal by noon, and were quite content with how it all went - a really long day too.

Madison was of course adorable collecting one dollar for different snack packages.  Meanwhile, the grownups were acting as salespeople in the driveway, moving and advertising for the big items we wanted to get rid of.  You never know what you'll sell.  Of course, there were certain objects we knew would go, like Madison's baby stroller.  Madison was quite proud of that sale.  She got the $20 bill and brought it over to us, quite happy with her salesmanship.  Daddy was wondering if any of the old records we had would go - he'd inherited from different places a pretty big pile of records.  Some were kept and are currently downstairs.  But there was a pretty decent stack leftover, some of it with quite a bit of banjo music in it - including banjo lessons.  And yet who should come along but an avid banjo enthusiast with a record player.  In fact, we had a conversation, and this person actually had the latest Steve Martin CD in the car.  The point being, we sold the unusual stack of records.  Which goes to show you with yard sales:  bring it all out, because you never know who will be dropping by.

Mommy cooked everyone breakfast, and even made lunch for us all later on as well.  We sat on chairs outside in the shade on an absolutely perfect day, all up until around 1:00 or so, when the steady flow of traffic through the neighborhood seemed to be trickling through.  This is the point where the whole family worked together to bring the remaining goods back into the driveway, and where we let David count up the amount we made that morning:  it was exactly what we set out to earn.  He had to make a certain amount to go, put together with another pledge that was recently made - with those two put together, he'll have enough to go.  The point is, he made his money this morning, and everyone was quite happy with the event.

Madison didn't spend the entire morning outside - the temptation of going inside to play with Hannah was a little too much.  The two had the dollhouses out, the ponies out, the dolls out, pretty much everything out in that playroom upstairs.  She had a great morning, with a bit of good experience thrown in.

The rest of the day was a bit of a party for Daddy.  Or, at least it seemed like one.  It was actually quite a bit of work, but we were filming for Summer Xtreme at a local warehouse, and we made quite a big mess.

These were largely countdowns for each day, using lots of paper, high-powered fans, confetti, balloons, and exploding smoke bombs that spray out burning colored ink.  Yeah, that last bit was a little unexpected and unnerving.  But our assignment was to dress up as one or more of the many various tribes for our camp, and basically celebrate and carry on quite a bit, all inside a small white tunnel area inside a warehouse.  This went on for hours.  That's how long some of these filmings take to do.

But Daddy got home eventually, though quite weary.  We all sat down together, and the last thing Daddy wanted to do on a beautiful day like this was go outside and enjoy it.  Sadly, that was the state of our union in regards to the beautiful day.  But we did enjoy it in the morning, which went absolutely perfectly.  As did the rest of the day too, of course.  It was just a very full day!

We sat and played some games, and yes, Madison did her recital piece just right as well.  But it was quickly time for bed, and yes, we were all quite ready for it.  Speaking of which... good night!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spaghetti Twister

It was a busy day again, and the clock is ticking on school, isn't it?  We're still taking pictures each morning as a part of our routine - pictures, then prayer.  The pictures are each day, one per day of Madison in front of the house.  We've been doing that since the beginning of the year, so that when 1st grade is over, we can look back at her over the year in some sort of quick slide show.

Tonight we spent a great deal of time preparing for the yard sale tomorrow.  We're excited about this because hopefully there will be a lot of people coming through the neighborhood, and hopefully a lot of people will participate.  The family is coming over early, and everyone will be working together to raise some money for David's upcoming missions trip to Costa Rica.

It's a lot of carrying stuff around.  Mommy's been making food for everyone too.  Meanwhile, Madison has been helping, or doing homework, or working on her piano as well.  She's got two songs to nail for the recital, and has one down pretty well.

She's a smart one.  She's been saying some funny stuff lately too - she has quite a sense of humor.  Next week we're excited because Ms. Halston is coming from church to visit her at school, to do lunch with her.  Believe it or not, Mommy or Daddy haven't even done this yet!  We've just got a few more weeks to take care of that one!

So Daddy did a lot of work today towards Sunday's message, which wraps up our "Storm Chasers" series nicely.  It's entirely based on a weather-related movie, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," which features a pretty unusual tornado:

Yes, it's made of spaghetti.  This is one thing a storm chaser should probably be a little more cautious about approaching - the flying meatballs look to be the size of a standard car!  We love this movie, and in a special service, we'll be showing various clips from it, and using the movie to tell a few different points.

Here's a general outline for the message Sunday so far - not quite the finished product, but pretty close.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

HOST:  “Hey there.  I hope you have your umbrellas ready, because today we have a pretty unusual message.  Before we begin, I want to share with you something amazing:  did you know that in your Bible, there is evidence of flying food?  Who here believes that?

(Let audience respond.)

HOST:  “It’s true!  In the King James Bible, if you open up to the Old Testament to the book of Zechariah, it says this:”

SLIDE: “And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll.” Zechariah 5:2 KJV

HOST:  “And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll Of course, back then, the word roll meant something different – it’s a scroll.  But today, we are going to see a flying roll.  Actually, we’re going to see flying hot dogs, flying hamburgers and flying meatballs too.  In fact, if you look up, you could say that it’s “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”


HOST:  “Meet Flint Lockwood, the main character of this funny movie.  He has unusual gifts that make him special.  These are gifts that make him… just a bit different.  But we should always remember to NOT look down on others because they are different or unusual.  In fact, God wants us to honor each other’s gifts and talents.  Let’s take a look at someone who doesn’t do that – and someone else who does just the opposite in Flint Lockwood’s life.”


HOST:  “It’s a good thing there was someone there to encourage Flint.  In fact, there’s your point number one.  Let’s take a look at it.”

SLIDE:  Point One – Encourage each other’s gifts.

HOST:  “Encourage each other’s gifts.  If you hear a voice that makes fun of you, that voice isn’t from God.  And if you yourself are making fun of others because they are a little different, God isn’t happy with that.  In fact, look in your Bible at what it says He wants us to do:”

SLIDE:  “So cheer each other up with the hope you have. Build each other up. In fact, that's what you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIrV

HOST:  “So cheer each other up with the hope you have. Build each other up. In fact, that's what you are doing.  Each of us has unique gifts and talents given to us by God.  When we make fun of each other, we’re actually making fun of God – and that isn’t cool.  Instead, we are to encourage each other and lift each other up.  Look at those who are sitting around you:  encourage them!  You could be sitting next to the one who invents the next biggest thing!  Let’s take a look to see what our friend Flint is inventing:”


HOST:  “Oh my.  It appears as if Flint is not quite there yet on some of his inventions.  But the important thing you should notice here is that he keeps on trying.  Point number two in our books says this:”

SLIDE:  Point Two – Keep Rolling.

HOST:  “Keep rolling.  Just like a giant meatball, we too have to keep rolling forward.  Sure, things can happen that can set us back.  We might get knocked down along the way.  But God wants us to get back up again and persevere.  Listen to what it says in the book of Hebrews:”

SLIDE: You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:36 NIrV

HOST:  “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  God has a plan for you, a plan for you to succeed and a plan to prosper you.  So don’t give up.  That big win just might be around the corner.  Speaking of which, I think something big is about to happen to Flint himself now.”


HOST:  “Flint has found wonderful success!  But be careful:  there will be temptation in your life to use your gifts the wrong way.  Let’s see how that turns out.”


HOST:  “Flint Lockwood wasn’t listening to what he knew was right.  Simply put, we weren’t given our talents and abilities to use them selfishly, or for the wrong reasons.  Let’s look to our third and final point:”


HOST:  “It says we are to use our talents to honor God.  Plain and simple.  That’s what God gave us these talents for to begin with.  Let me ask you something:  We’ve been doing this series about big Hollywood productions, but did any of you know that there is actually a theater mentioned in the Bible?  It’s true.  Let me show you:”

SLIDE:  “Some of the officials in Asia Minor were friends of Paul. They sent him a message, begging him not to go into the theater.” Acts 19:31 NIrV

HOST:  “Some of the officials in Asia Minor were friends of Paul. They sent him a message, begging him not to go into the theater.  There it is:  a theater in the Bible.  In the book of Acts, Paul wanted to go into a theater to use his gift of speech in order to tell others about Jesus.  That’s incredible!  In our life, we too should use our gifts in a way that is pleasing to God.  But as we just saw in the movie, unfortunately, Flint used his gifts in the wrong way.  Filled with shame, he threw himself out in the trash – with the other garbage.  Not good.”


HOST:  “Fortunately, Flint has someone who cares enough to help him out, even though he’s messed up.  That’s the way we ourselves should be with others, because that’s just the way Jesus is. 

HOST:  “No matter how much you’ve messed up, God doesn’t think you’re garbage.  And no matter how many times you think you’ve failed, He’ll help you out of your mess so that you can get up, use the abilities He’s put in you, and save the day.”

HOST:  “Now Flint gets himself into quite a pickle.  Or in this case, a giant meatball.  And things look a little rough.  Will he save the day?  Will he survive the ordeal?  Let’s find out.”


HOST:  “Of course he did – he saved everyone, and survived the ordeal.  And in this movie we see him learn a lesson that we should too:  He used his abilities selflessly, all in order to save everyone else. 

HOST:  “You see, what’s important is that we encourage each other’s gifts, persevere and keep rolling – and use our gifts to honor God.  That’s what the movie is all about.  And in fact:  that’s what life is all about.”

HOST: “ Let us pray.”

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Getting Ready for the Yard Sale

In just a few days we'll be having a yard sale.  It's a big neighborhood yard sale, and the spin Mommy and Daddy have this year is different:  we're going to take the money from this year's sales, and give that to Madison's cousin David Austen for his upcoming missions trip.  We let Nana and Ye-Ye know this, and of course Aunt Shain and Madison's cousins - and now they're coming to the yard sale too.  They've donated books, dvds, records, appliances, furniture, and more.  This afternoon, after school, Daddy brought Madison out to see some of the things we spent the day setting up:  so far, we've got it all in the garage, arranging it and organizing it on tables and shelves.  We knew Madison would see a few books that she'd like, and sure enough, she did.  She decided to get some of her money to buy these books - all for about $2.50.  She gathered her quarters, and bought the first items of the yard sale, making her first missions donation in the process.  It felt great letting her know what that money was going towards, and she felt great giving it.  Of course, in the process, she got some nice books.  But it was the action of giving that we all felt nice about.

Today was ballet, as usual.  We're getting closer to the ballet recital, and ballet camp too - Daddy signed her up for a ballet camp coming up towards the end of June.  It's for "older" girls like her, which makes Daddy feel more and more like a dinosaur!

Madison practiced her piano perfectly tonight, this after another little bribe.  Her recital is coming up, and Daddy wants her to focus on her solo, and another piece that she will be playing with a few of her classmates - three of them.  She and those two will play the solfège, while the others will be playing to other bass lines.  So she's got to get her part right, that's for sure.  With this in mind, Daddy has an old video game from a few years ago, "Madagascar 3," which she was wanting to try.  There's the bribe.

Speaking of video games, "Disney Infinity" lives on, as today we completed our Hall of Heroes with a statue of Perry the Platypus, and one of Phineas as well.  With these two statues, a new weapon opens up:  a green lightsaber.  Madison and Daddy now have that one, and are steadily marching towards completing everything on this game.   Having mastered the spelling list once more, and the recital practice, and ballet - and tacos - we sat down for a very short time to get some Disney Infinity in.  

But soon it was bedtime.  All of us were tired.  Daddy and Mommy had been lugging stuff up from the basement all day, arranging it and so forth.  Just after ballet tonight, Daddy and Madison stopped by the grocery store to pick up ingredients for tacos.  Madison wanted to be picked up, which was a little unusual, as many times she just wants to roam free.  When asked why she wanted to be carried, she just replied that she "wanted to be closer."


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What a Racket!

It's a great time getting to see Madison practice tennis, and today Daddy got to do just that.  On top of all that, our friend Lance came along to watch her - so it was Mommy, Daddy and Lance in the stands, cheering on our little girl.  She did well today - Daddy is still impressed with her backhand.  A few times today, she was able to volley it back and forth with the teacher too.  The weather, for the first time, was pretty warm outside.  This meant that it would have been a good day to play tennis outside, even.  But this is an indoor court, and we've needed it to be indoors all year long so far.

Madison enjoys tennis, and enjoys the games they play at the end of class too.  This week, we're signing her up for a tennis camp this summer.  This will be on top of the ballet camp and of course, Summer Xtreme, which we've just signed her up for as well.  It'll be a fairly busy summer for her this year, which is a good thing.  Vacation time around the house is nice, which she should get some of that too.  But experiencing these camps is a good thing too - like the art camp we'll sign her up for.  Also, we'll look into the local library's schedule again.  And our KidPak Movie Bash is set for June as well - I think the 20th, where we'll watch "The Lego Movie."  Anyway, all in all, I think she's going to have a fabulous summer, with plenty to do.  We haven't even talked about what we'll do for a summer vacation.  Maybe another trip to Florida is in the future?

Today was part three of our series, "Fore!"  It's been so much fun!  You can see here the big event, the girls versus boys matchup for mini-golf.  Who will wind up as champion?  So far, the boys have a slight edge, two games to one.  It all comes down to next week though.

The message went well too, where we showed a bit of Goofy's "How to Play Golf," and just one brief scene from "Happy Gilmore" demonstrating self-control.  Or, at least not demonstrating it!

Can you believe there are just twenty-one days left of school this year?  Things are certainly winding down.  Madison went over her spelling words with us on the ride to tennis, and nailed each one without even stopping to think about any.  She's definitely got spelling down this year, and math too.  I think she'll easily meet all her goals for the year.  Really, her speech is the only thing that remains slightly behind - but even that is light years from where we were this time in 2010.  We hardly have to stop at all when talking with her, whereas it used to be we'd be guessing as to what she was saying, or desperately looking for some context.  No longer!

It was a busy day, but we're mostly in good shape in a lot of places, as described here.  We have a LONG way to go with Summer Xtreme planning at work, but I have faith it will all work out.  Hopefully!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Define Dancing

It was Earth Day today, so we had to do something with the limited time left in the day.  Earlier, we had been to piano practice, where Madison did very well despite not finishing all of the practice sheets assigned during the week.  We'll catch up on those this week, but with Easter and the other events going on, it was a tight week with scheduling.  Before that, of course, was school.  And there's not much of it left!  Can you believe we have only about a month left of school?  We ordered our yearbook at the last possible minute today, so that's covered.  Also, Mommy was pretty industrious building a few things, and hanging some curtains and placing a rug on the floor.  We're gathering stuff at the house for the upcoming yard sale too - that'll be this weekend.

Again, Madison did so well in piano today.  Daddy was really impressed with her ability to follow these bass notes, and follow them more quickly than ever before.

As for "Earth Day," we've been wanting to watch "Wall-E" on this day, as it has one of the best "Earth Day" messages, and it's a pretty incredible movie.  The "Define Dancing" scene is wonderful, and the story so different and wonderful.  Over the last few Decembers, Madison has gotten for Christmas some random stocking stuffers:  Wall-E figures Eve, Mo, and of course Wall-E.  She had these lined up on the couch so that they could watch too.  We had popcorn and sat together - some people think this movie points fingers at this group or another, but you have to look at it as a warning to all of us.  We're all capable of being culpable.

Daddy was busy again with the golf-themed messages today.  In fact, he was reading his new golf-themed devotional as he was waiting to pick up Madison from school.  Tomorrow night should be fun - we'll show a clip from Goofy's "How to Play Golf," which was Mommy's idea.  We'll also show a few other clips, although we'll save Mr. Bean and Dorf until next week.  There are a surprisingly large amount of golf comedy clips out there, which has been fun to work with!

As for the message, I'll post it here, merely because that's what we've been doing the last few weeks.  Here it is, message #3 of Fore!  See what I did there?  "Three of fore!"

KidPak Adventures:  Fore!
Sand Trap

     In the game of golf, there are plenty of hazards to avoid.  That’s the way life works too.  These are challenges we have to face, or it’ll take a little longer to get to that destination that God has in mind for us.  Remember that with golf, a hazard is there to challenge the player to improve his or her game.  Once you’ve faced your obstacles in life, you’ll be better too – so let’s take a look at a few of those hazards, starting right off with the sand trap.
     Hazard #1:  Watch for the sand trap. The Israelites did not trust God, didn’t obey God, and because of that, they had no vision.  They were stuck in the biggest sand trap of all for forty years, marching around in the desert.  The lesson is clear:  Have faith, and trust the Lord your God with all your heart, or thou shalt shank!
     Hazard #2:  Beware the water hazard. Moses struck the rock, and water poured out for everyone to drink.  One problem:  Moses didn’t give God credit.  In our lives, we have to be careful to avoid water hazards:  remember that it is God and God alone who makes it possible for us to do anything.  Don’t let pride blind you, or you’ll be going way off course.
     Hazard #3:  Careful in the mind field.  The biggest battle for any golfer is in the mind.  But isn’t that where it is for all of us?  We have a finish line to cross, and we’ve got to mentally focus on getting there.  Don’t let anything distract you from your goal.  Just roll it and hole it!
     Trust God and remember that He’s the one that gets you through.  With enough self-control, you’ll drive straight and true – and avoid the sand trap.

“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way. He guided you in the desert for these 40 years. He wanted to take your pride away. He wanted to put you to the test and know what was in your hearts. He wanted to see whether you would obey his commands.” Deuteronomy 8:12 NIrV

1. Hazard #1:  Watch for the ________. The Israelites did not trust God, didn’t obey God, and because of that, they had no vision.  They were stuck in the biggest sand trap of all for forty years, marching around in the desert.  The lesson is clear:  Have faith, and trust the Lord your God with all your heart, or thou shalt shank!
“The Lord’s anger burned against Israel. He made them wander around in the desert for 40 years.” Numbers 32:13 NIrV
a. money pit               b. sand trap                c. green monster

2. Hazard #2:  Beware the _________ hazard. Moses struck the rock, and water poured out for everyone to drink.  One problem:  Moses didn’t give God credit.  In our lives, we have to be careful to avoid water hazards:  remember that it is God and God alone who makes it possible for us to do anything.  Don’t let pride blind you, or you’ll be going way off course.
“But the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron.He said, ‘You did not trust in me enough to honor me. You did not honor me as the holy God in front of the people of Israel.’” Numbers 20:12 NIrV
a. water          b. rough          c. dukes

3. Hazard #3:  Careful in the ______ field.  The biggest battle for any golfer is in the mind.  But isn’t that where it is for all of us?  We have a finish line to cross, and we’ve got to mentally focus on getting there.  Don’t let anything distract you from your goal.  Just roll it and hole it!
“Don’t live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 NIrV
a. club                         b. trophy         c. drive

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pollen Vortex

Yes, that's what it has been called.  It's been a miserable thing for Daddy, especially about two weeks ago - though it is letting up a bit.  The rain we've had off and on has helped wash away the yellow dust in the air.  Madison is affected by it, but we give her some children's medicine to help fight off the symptoms - like a scratchy throat and drainage.

Daddy, however, was able to say the same exact words you hear Señor Ramon say in the movie "Nacho Libre."  Apparently, our nephews were struggling with a stomach bug, and we were all nice and close at Easter yesterday, and here we go again.  Fortunately Madison is doing just fine.

She enjoyed school today, and after school we were off to the chiropractor once again.  This was a great time as always.  She giggles and giggles and giggles there, and can't wait to get a free sticker. She loves the back massager, how it makes her voice vibrate.  She just loves everything about the chiropractor, which makes for a pretty funny visit each time.

After that, we made a side trip to Goodwill. The thought was to pick up some clothing for the upcoming music recital.  We were partially successful there, but found some other items that were pretty useful, one of them being a devotional with a golf theme.  Yes, that just happened.  Hard cover, too.  We also found a hard cover copy of "The Greatest Game Ever Played," with the jacket still in tact.  Both were half price, which is already pretty cheap.  Next, we found a few CDs, as well as a Leapster Explorer game for Madison, one featuring Spongebob Squarepants.  All this for under $10 total.  And yes, there was the shirt that Mommy was looking for too.

We got home, and it was pretty much time to eat and go to bed, although we did do a bit of Disney Infinity as well.  Just a bit this time - we tried out Perry and Phineas, and also tried something else out:  the Dragon Gate.  This is a result of taking a Disney Magic Band (from the parks) and placing it over the Disney Infinity platform.  Suddenly, there's a little grotto area, and this flying dragon.  And it's only available if you get this band from the parks.  Where did we get the band?  From an old friend, Mrs. Jennifer - Madison's old dance teacher.

So we played for a bit, and then it was bedtime.  Daddy wasn't feeling well today, so it was an early bedtime for all of us.  Despite the woozy feeling though, it was a good day.  It was a great day!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday

The morning started early, as do most Easter Sundays - we had a 7:00 service to set up for, which meant we arrived a bit earlier than that to set things up.  Believe it or not, we had more people at that service than I would have expected.  Here's a photo of the service Madison attended, where kids were told the story from Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday:

Madison and Mommy came to the 11:00 service, so that we could all together go to Nana and Ye-Ye's house afterwards.  This is always a wonderful occasion - their house was decorated nicely, and there was a huge Easter feast there as well.  The original plan was to have the egg hunt on Saturday - yesterday - but the weather was less than ideal yesterday, with rain and colder temperatures.  But today, the weather was perfect.  It wasn't too hot, and it wasn't chilly either.  The sun was out, and soon, the kids were out as well, looking for eggs.

This is a nice photo of Madison hunting for eggs.  This year, she and her cousin Hannah were out looking for eggs in the front yard and the back yard - both wound up with quite a bit.  Meanwhile, the guys were on a different sort of hunt...

First of all, this is an Arnim Zola egg.  David and Jonathan decorated their eggs as Marvel characters, evidently some a bit more obscure than others.  Although this guy is one of the villains of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. lately, and of Captain America too.  Still, an Arnim Zola egg.  Who thinks of this sort of thing?

Anyway, we made a scavenger hunt for the boys, where a clue inside one egg would lead to another location, and so on and so on.  It took them a while to go through, but they did get through each clue.  Some were pretty easy, and others were more tricky.  Regardless, they had a good time - they were out looking for certain colored eggs, so the two egg hunts were going on at the same time without getting in each other's way.  Here's another photo of Madison searching for Easter eggs, one that I seem to take year after year:

As always, she had a great time.  And got way too much candy by the time it was all said and done.  She also got a few Disney Infinity figures, Perry and Phineas.  And a Frozen book, and a copy of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2."  She got about three baskets filled with different items, so it was pretty overboard.  Still, she wasn't complaining!  Here she is on the egg hunt, finding a levitating egg.

Of course, it's not really levitating. The camera caught it just before the thing hit the grass there, and it appears as if it is just floating there.  After the egg hunt, we went inside and met G-Gma, and everyone ate, and ate and ate.  Nana and Ye-Ye always have a big Easter Feast ready for us, complete with ham and all the other fixings.  Nana did a great job getting a completely gluten-free meal ready for Mommy, who was able to enjoy eating with us.  All in all, it was a wonderful day - one where we found ourselves staying at the house for quite some time.  In fact, it was pretty much bedtime when we got back to our house.  We were all ready for bed though, as it was a pretty immense day.  But it was a special day, made even more special by time spent with family - and of course by remembering what the day was all about.