Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sawnee Mountain Preserve

Meet Sawnee the Indian.  Nobody actually knows what he looks like yet, but the artist commissioned to create this sculpture of him figured he probably looked a lot like Babe Ruth.  Instead of a bat, though, he's holding an axe.  The axe is a symbol, something that represents the tremendous skill he had carving wood all his years.  It was also handy when fighting off all the vampires that were prevalent at that time.

There is a mountain in Forsyth County that was named after him - it's called Sawnee Mountain.  This was generally agreed upon as a good idea, as beforehand, it was actually called "the mountain."  That is not a joke.  One indian would say to another, "Hey, I live over there.  By The Mountain."  And the other Indian would say, "Which mountain?" And at that point, the Indians probably realized that they needed to name The Mountain something else.  Fortunately, this remarkable man was nearby to name it after.

You can recognize Sawnee Mountain easily - it's the one that has all the antenna on top of it.  We'll go ahead and say these are feathers in Sawnee's cap.  Regardless, you can see the mountain from quite a ways off, although it's not as distinctive as Mt. Yonah, of course.  Or tall as Brasstown Bald.

We didn't climb Sawnee Mountain today, but we did visit a park at the foot of the mountain.  It was actually a preserve, the Sawnee Nature Preserve.  This was Madison's field trip today, a place to hike and listen to employees desperately attempt to keep the attention of large groups of kids who had too much sugar for breakfast.

Why, here's one of those groups now!  Madison and the girls were well-behaved, of course, listening and answering questions (you can see Madison answering the question above).  There was hiking to do, and a bit of show-and-tell as well.  Madison is seen here feeling some animal fur - it might be that of a rabbit, or a cottontale.

They went on a hike afterwards, all deep in the woods.  Only they didn't sing that song "Into the Woods" for twenty minutes.  Instead, they went on a hunt!  Now to be clear, they weren't hunting for animals to spot.  Though that hope was initially offered up:  "You might spot some wildlife!"  The truth is, our group was about as stealthy and quiet as a marching band practicing on an active mine field.  So, rather than look for animals, the guides opted for everyone to look for fungus instead.  The thinking here is that fungus can't run away.  This is one of the biggest weaknesses of fungus, actually.  Because if fungus could flee, it would have been scurrying off as fast as possible when it heard the sound of school buses approaching.

That said, we did spot some fungus on the sides of trees.  The other mushrooms must have found a way to dart off into the woods, and to safety.  If you listened carefully, you could hear them singing quietly, "Into the woods…"

Here's an observation deck… I think.  It's a nice little wood structure built in the middle of the forest to let you see the same forest at a slightly higher angle.  But more practically, it served as a nice classroom to talk - or at least attempt to talk - about the life cycle of bugs.  Here's Madison and the girls (these are the ones trying to pay attention), checking out larva, pupa and eggs.

Of course, by the time said objects got to the boys on the other side, they were promptly dropped several times.  By the day's end, I'm sure this quiet-spoken guide was ready to leave the wilderness outdoors, probably in favor of some sort of heavy sedative.

Regardless, Madison learned.  And she had a good time.  And we decided we would come back a little later, when things were a bit more quiet.  The park was a nice one, and it is extremely close.  Perhaps we'll climb Sawnee Mountain.  Or maybe we'll just go for a quiet walk in the woods.

We'll tuck this destination away for now though.  It was a pleasant morning for sure.

As for the rest of the day, it was rather routine.  Yes, there was speech therapy in Alpharetta.  And Madison is doing much better with the letter 'r.'  She was having such a good time in class today, that we could hear her and her teacher all the way from the waiting room!

Afterwards, we checked out a Goodwill in Alpharetta, about three miles from the speech therapy place.  The hope was to wait out the traffic, but in fact, it got worse.  Yikes!

BUT, I did find a gem at Goodwill.  It was a record, an album, Amy Grant's "Unguarded."

We put that record on as soon as we got home.  Sure, we have it on the computer, and on a CD.  But it's just awesome listening to a record sometimes!  Madison, Mommy and Daddy went on a time travel trip to the 80's as we ate dinner, and did our final spelling drill.

Yes, we tested her on her spelling words tonight, and she absolutely nailed words like Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana.  For this reason, we let her stay up a little later:  we watched a few episodes of "Clone Wars," the ones where Count Dooku has to work together with Anakin and Obi Wan in order to escape pirates.  They were all tied together, the Sith Lord and the jedi.  Count Dooku got the best line of the night:  "I would kill you now if I didn't have to drag your bodies."

Strangely enough, I could imagine our park guide this morning thinking this very thing as she spoke to some of those unruly kids!

“Ever since the world was created it has been possible to see the qualities of God that are not seen. I’m talking about his eternal power and about the fact that He is God. Those things can be seen in what He has made.” Romans 1:20 NIrV

Es 99

     Einsteinium was first identified in 1952 by a team of scientists who were pretty excited about their discovery!  There was actually a bit of a race to discover elements 99 and 100, and the American team found these new elements first. 
     If you discover an element first, two big things happen.  First, everyone will always know your name as the one who first found that element.  Secondly, you get to name it!  The scientists at Berkeley got together about this last bit, and decided to name the element after one of the most intelligent scientists ever to walk the earth:  Albert Einstein.  They would call the element einsteinium.   
     Einstein was definitely known as a thinker, always searching for answers found in the universe.  Once he said that God “reveals Himself in the harmony of all that exists.”

     The more we study science, the more we see just glimpses of the amazing.  Our planet is a tiny pale blue dot hanging 93 million miles from the blistering surface of the sun.  A few degrees off, and we would all either disintegrate, or become a frozen ice planet.
     And let’s talk about the balance of the elements! 
     God arranged for us to have enough nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere that we breathe every day.  It is the exact mix that life needs to prosper.  It doesn’t happen on any other planet that way.

     Another great thinker from the Bible said these great words: “Ever since the world was created it has been possible to see the qualities of God that are not seen. I’m talking about his eternal power and about the fact that He is God.”
     The great thing about science is that as a human race, we are always learning something new, and making new discoveries.  And the more we discover, the more we see the order of the universe, and the more we see that just as Paul said, “He is God.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

Cancer again.  Uncle Dave has cancer.  He's young.  He's not spry and filled with youth, but he's certainly not in his very advanced years either.  Yet just like Mommy, he was diagnosed with cancer at an unusually young age.  And yes, this happened this very day.  That said, it is a somber day.  We have a colonoscopy scheduled for him this Friday, at which point doctors will attempt to strategize a war plan against this thing.  First, we have to understand what kind, how extensive it is.  Right now, it is believed to be in the kidney, colon and liver.  With this mindset, you can imagine how we've approached this day with such heavy hearts.  Madison only knows that Uncle Dave is sick. But not exactly how sick he is.  This is the big one though, and for the next year or so, we're about to join together as a family in a battle campaign where failure is not an option.

Today is a work day for Daddy, who doesn't get to spend as much time with Madison.  But I will tell you this great story she's been working on - she has to do a creative writing assignment each week.  This one is about a pet for the classroom.  What pet should the classroom get, and why?

We went through a list of animals.  None seemed to satisfy.  Then came the joke suggestions:  how about an elephant?  Madison dismissed that one right away.  How about a camel?  At this point, Madison turned to Mommy and said in a silly voice (like a popular commercial going on right now), "It's not hump day!  Hump Day!"

Eventually, she arrived at the decision to have a frog.  Her reasoning?  It can eat all the annoying flies in the classroom.  She then went on to write about how students would do better in class because there wouldn't be as many distracting flies.  And we wouldn't have to feed the frog so much because there are so many annoying flies.  And so on.  It was a pretty funny paper.

Tonight, Madison went to church.  To balance out the dreadful, sometimes there are the things that are so much bigger and better.  It's a weird counter balance in life, quite literally "the best of times, the worst of times."  That said, Madison prayed a prayer of salvation tonight at the altar.  We as a staff felt strongly about the service tonight, felt that there was something different about it, something heavier.  And with that in mind, Daddy felt like it was okay for Madison to stay up later tonight, to come to church.

Pastor Lance asked how many kids would like to invite Jesus into their hearts, and a lot of hand went up.  And Madison's was one of those hands.  Madison prayed tonight, but I'm not sure if she fully comprehended the gravity of the moment.  To us, it's a light switch kind of moment.  Things are suddenly "on" after you make that commitment.  

But to Madison, Jesus has always been a way of life with her.  Sure, she wants to go to heaven.  Sure, she wants to invite him into her heart.  That's the way it's always been, right?  What's so different about this moment, this prayer right now?

That said, who is to say it is one sudden decision?  For us, yes.  It was a big moment.  We NEEDED a savior.  Our list of sins was immense.  And we were shown grace amazing.  And of course, Madison NEEDS a savior too - don't get me wrong.  But children are mostly innocent, and the concept of salvation is certainly quite different from that perspective.  What I'm saying is that it is more difficult to come at them with a "you're a sinner, and the punishment is death" line of thinking.  Because it doesn't make as much sense to a child.

But this line of thinking does make sense to Madison:  Do you want to invite Jesus into your heart?  Yes.  Do you want to go to heaven?  Yes.

And from that standpoint, she's been "saved" for some time now, perhaps.  It's just always been a relationship she's had.  There wasn't necessarily a pivotal moment - not yet, anyway.  There is a time coming though, one where she can't stop thinking about Him, one where she is praying without ceasing, and one where she is feeling His presence in her life in every moment.  That is what we as  parents long for, and in that respect, I believe that comes with just a bit more maturity.  She's a child, and has that childlike faith:  Jesus is alive, and He's in her heart.  To that extent, she's saved.

We're talking with Madison this week, of course.  I think there is a connection between her mind and her spirit that will be made, a commitment that yes, "I get it.  This is where I'm going, and this is the deal."

But for the time being, we're quite content with where she's at.  We're content with knowing she is knocking on the door, and seeking.  She wants to be at church all the time, and she wants to hear Bible stories each night.  Tonight before bed, we spoke of Ruth, reading from that part of the Bible.  Ruth was loyal and faithful, staying with her mother-in-law no matter what.  "Your God will be my God," she told Naomi.  That's what we're hoping for with Madison - we'll just stay the course, stay with it.  Stay in church, and stay committed elsewhere, trying to model to the best of our ability what it really means to be a Christian.  It is easily the most important thing we can do.

“But the Father will send the Friend in my name to help you. The Friend is the Holy Spirit. He will teach you all things. He will remind you of everything I have said to you.“ John 14:26 NIrV

Am 95

     The first element discovered in America was named, oddly enough, Americium.  Like a few other elements out there, it has to be synthesized.  In other words, it isn’t found naturally on earth anymore.  But back in 1944, scientists in California discovered this softer radioactive metal, and named it after the continent we live on.
     As you can imagine, it is a rare sort of element. There isn’t much of it around.  But get this:  you may have some in your very home!  If you have a smoke detector in your house, you might have some americium.  This element is a useful tool in checking the air, and alerting people if there is trouble.

     You don’t have americium in your body, but you do have something even better for checking for trouble.  The Holy Spirit looks out for us, helps us, and guides us.  The Holy Spirit gives us power too! Listen to what Jesus says about the Holy Spirit: “But the Father will send the Friend in my name to help you. The Friend is the Holy Spirit. He will teach you all things. He will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

     The Holy Spirit is a friend, and a promise from God.  He is a guide and a protector!  And the more you pray, the more you will begin to hear from Him.  The more you do, the better life can be!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Tonight we went to the Second Star to the Right, a program at the library for Madison and other kids her age.  It was advertised as 'Peter Pan themed,' but in fact the title of the program was the only thing that this had to do with Peter Pan.  The real focus on the night was on constellations, and activities related to learning them and seeing them.  We had a fun time - there is always a lot to do at our local library, and we're really blessed.  Madison made a star chart, cutting out a circular map of the constellations, and inserting it into something else we cut out together.  When turned the right way, you can see the night sky we'd be vieweing at certain times each year.  Also, she made a constellation, starting with the stars, and then connecting the dots - and then after that, drawing an image of what that constellation was after the fact.  In this case, we chose Delphinius.

Delphinus is a dolphin constellation, up there with Orion and Perseus and the other mythological characters.  He must have done something pretty epic to be tossed into the stars amongst the others for everyone to see for all time.  I mean, this is the Hercules of dolphins.  Flipper was great, and Winter is pretty awesome.  Echo was pretty amazing.  But Delphinius was the dolphin that all dolphins aspire to be!

Obviously, I have no idea what Delphinus did to merit being up there in the stars for all to see.  Perhaps he battled the Kraken's brother, in a mighty sea battle leading his army of mighty dolphin warriors.  Or perhaps he rescued a princess from the depths of the sea, returning her safely to shore, despite the swarm of hammerhead sharks that Hades sent as 'escorts.'

Whatever it is, Delphinus is memorialized in the stars.  As, I suppose, he is here.

Today was another beautiful day outside.  Just perfect.  We had piano, of course.  Madison played her piece for Mrs. Pam, and although she's a little rough around the edges, things seem to be progressing just fine.  It was a nice day at school, and a nice day at work.  Lots of driving around for chores and so forth, along with final proofs for books and writings for upcoming dramas and messages.  Oh yes, the messages for our Space series are done now - you'll have to wait to see those.  The reason?  We're not done with the elements yet!  Here is another one that I felt 'lead' to share!

“The Lord gives me strength. He is like a shield that keeps me safe.  My heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.“ Psalm 28:7 NIrV

Pb 82

     If you’re a fan of heavy metal, you must be a fan of lead.  Though you can find lead in car batteries and building supplies, the one notable thing about lead is its weight.  It’s really heavy!  For example, lead is used in cars and boats when weight is needed to balance things out.  Another place you’ll find lead being used as a weight is when you go fishing –with those metal sinkers that help plunge your bait quickly beneath the water.
     Lead is so heavy and thick that doctors and nurses can even use it as a shield when taking x-rays.  Have you ever had an x-ray taken at the dentist or the doctor’s office?  If you have, then you’ve probably seen those heavy vests people wear.  The lead in those vests help shield your body from any harmful rays.
     Lead is a strong shield, but in the Bible there is one even stronger.  Listen to Psalm 28:7, where David wrote, “The Lord gives me strength.  He is like a shield that keeps me safe.  My heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.”
     Time and again, God is called a shield.  He is a strong shield!  It is He that we can run to every single time, because He is our loving Father.  He’ll hear our cry, and He’ll strengthen us. 

     When you feel like you are being bombarded, the best thing to do is run to God.  He’ll help you, and give you the strength to keep safe, no matter where you are led!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Again with the hair!

More lice abounding in the schools - and even with Madison's cousin, Hannah.  These little critters have been everywhere this year, and it is enormously taxing.  This is a parent's frustration:  the expensive shampoo application, and the magnifying glasses and the chopsticks.  Tonight, we went through all of that as normal, hopefuly the last time this school year.  How many of these letters we keep getting:  "Unfortunately, there has been one case of lice involving a student in your classroom."  We just about have the letter memorized, we've received it so much.

While Madison was in the tub, and while she ws getting her hair looked at, we had the Kindle upstairs - watching more episodes of "Clone Wars."  She's absolutely into it, as was Daddy tonight.  The first seasons were really good stuff.

We had ballet today, whereas last week we did not due to the tornado warnings in the area.  This week, Madison continued her practice towards the recital, and I just know she is going to do well.  We're excited to get to go see the performance!

This morning, Mommy had a standard doctor's appointment - just a check-up.  We went to the imaging center, a really nice place with fountains and sculptures.  Some of the medical facilities around here are nice, relaxing environments, which is of course important.  Daddy was waiting in the lobby for a while, but he's been reading a new book for research.  It's actually an old book, but "Moonshot" is just a fascinating account of the space race of the 60's.

Afterwards, Mommy and Daddy went on a lunch date to where else but Texas Roadhouse.  This seems to be the only place we feel comfortable going to with Mommy's strict diet.  But it's okay, because the food there is really good.  The weather outside is just gorgeous, almost like fall with the cool winds and sunny skies.  It's been a beautiful week on the days it hasn't been raining.

Madison's spelling list is a fun one this week:  states.  She has twelve southern states to learn, including the famous Mississippi.  That state is the one that just about everyone learns how to spell.  She's actually learning where the states are too, drawing them out on a map from memory.  Of course, this is something Daddy knows better than most:  he can name all fifty from memory, and even draw out a map from memory if possible.  It'll be a fun week learning some of the states.

And speaking of learning - here is the latest devotional entry dedicated to another element:

“But you are lukewarm. You aren’t hot or cold. So I am going to spit you out of my mouth.“ Revelation 3:16 NIrV

Hg 80

     Mercury is a pretty interesting element.  It got the name quicksilver because in normal conditions outside, mercury is a silver liquid metal.  You don’t find it much outside though, and that’s a good thing – it can be poisonous.  But you can find it in one common place:  a thermometer.
     Mercury expands easily with slight rises in the temperature.  It also shrinks in size when the temperature is cooler.  That’s a simple way of putting it, but that’s how your thermometer works:  the higher temperature, the more space Mercury takes up, and the bigger numbers you’ll see on the thermometer.
     God likes it that way:  hotter.  Now, to be clear, He doesn’t want you running a fever.  But God does want you to warm up to Him.  Or, as some would say, we need to be on fire, with a burning passion to be with Him.
     In the book of Revelation, there is a passage about a group of Christians that weren’t acting too hot.  In fact, God compared them to lukewarm water.  They weren’t cold.  But they weren’t warm either.  This wasn’t a good thing.  In fact, God said He was going to do what most people would do with lukewarm water:  spit it out!

      Don’t let that happen.  As Christians, we need to stay hot for God.  It’s simple to do, and in fact you’re doing it even now by reading this devotional!  God is worthy of our praise – there’s no question He has a burning passion for us.  Just keep praying.  Keep reading.  Keep going to church, and keep worshiping.  Keep the fire burning, and keep that mercury rising!