Thursday, March 31, 2016

CHANT Chargers vs. Lucas Christian Academy

It was another beautiful day to play ball, the sun came out and there's new grass on the field! Our CHANT Chargers took on Lucas Christian Academy at the Ballfields at Craig Ranch.  

Since neither CHANT nor Lucas have ball fields we rented out the Ballfields for our game.  These are the fields where the national professional fastpitch girls softball team the Dallas Charge play. 

As with most sports some of the teams we play are really great and some are just getting their feet under them.  Our team has been a fabulous team but many of our seniors graduated last year.  That is what opened up the spots for Abigail and a couple of other freshman to make the team.  

In that transition I've come to appreciate that if we are winning by a significant margin our coach doesn't run up the score, he holds the girls up from taking more than a base.  He is also great about using those opportunities to allow the girls to play different positions and get new game experiences.  Today we won 18-0 but the girls got to work on new skills in a live game; sliding when it wasn't even close, slap hitting and even new pitchers!  We've been on the other end of that score and I so appreciate Coach Craig! 

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Finishing Strong

Leadership Training for Christ 2016 is now in the books!  It marks seventeen years of LTC for Jon and I between the three kids.  Before the Gungans headed back to Ada and the boys went back to school I did get a group shot of the kids.  These six have participated in eleven years of LTC together. 

Sunday evening the congregation at McDermott presented all of the participants with their awards and showcased some of the kids talents for the congregation.   Due to the sheer number of participants at the North Texas Leadership Training for Christ it is hard to see and encourage all of the participants.  The Sunday night service is great to see the group performance, McDermott had four puppet, two chorus and two drama groups. 

Some of the young men got and gave their speeches, led prayers, and singing.   Abigail came home with Golds medals in Individual Bible Bowl (her score), Speech, Service Challenge, Teaching Challenge and Chorus.  Her team earned a Silver medal in Bible Bowl finishing off another great year. 

Take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.
2 Chronicles 15:7

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Singing Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs

One of the favorite event at LTC is the chorus event.  The Church of Christ on McDermott Road presented a 3rd-6th grade chorus and a 7th-12th grade chorus.  Both groups earned a Gold medal at the competition.  This is the older group Abigail was in performing, 'Whither Thou Goest' and 'You Oh Lord Are My Refuge.'  There is something so amazing about hearing these tender voices praising God.  As a mom to one of these kids, I delight in hearing her lift her voice to the Lord and know our Heavenly Father must feel the same way when He hears His creations praising Him. 

 "addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" Ephesians 5:19-20

Saw It, Wanted it, Took It

Saturday at Leadership Training for Christ is filled with chorus performances, puppets, drama, sign language and speech.  

The kids write their own speeches based on the LTC theme and then present the material in a 3-5 minute time limit.  They are judged on Content, Illustrations, LTC Theme, Grammar, Voice, Delivery, Gestures, Personality, Attitude and Overall Effect.  For the first year ever, Abigail received all 'Excellent' ratings in all of the categories above by all three judges earning her a Gold in Speech.  

We were able to hear Ryan, Roy and many of the boys speeches as well, all of whom did a marvelous job.  Speech is not Roy's favorite event, but every year he participates and the boys timed his speech at one and a half minutes, almost doubling his time last year!   

When I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them.  Joshua 7:21

Friday, March 25, 2016

Leadership Training for Christ Bible Bowl

The boys came in last night for their Easter break and to spend time with the younger siblings at Leadership Training for Christ, LTC.  North Texas LTC is large enough that it is hosted at the Downtown Dallas Hyatt, DFW Airport Hyatt and the Anatole.  It began in the Dallas area in 1989 and is held in ten other locations across the United States. 

The purpose of LTC is to promote programs that assist young Christians to develop their knowledge of the Bible and biblical principles and sharpen their areas of Christian service.  LTC offers 30+ events from Bible Bowl, Puppets, Web-sites, Teaching Challenge, Service Challenge, Poetry, Art, Video Bible Drama and many others.

The main event on Friday night is Bible Bowl.  This years theme was 'Refuge' taken from Joshua, Judges, & Ruth.  For Bible Bowl the kids take for rounds of questions over the theme for a total of 100 questions.  It is a fairly easy test, Abigail missed eight questions.  

We were at the Downtown Dallas Hyatt Regency location and there were about 600 youth in Bible Bowl tonight. 

"May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”  Ruth 2:12

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke

This was our PEACH homeschool's group final Speaker's Club Meeting for the school year.  Last week Mrs. Hansen gave each of the youth assigned topics to present at club.   

They finished off the meet with awards and trophies for all their hard work.  It is amazing what progress the kids make in a year of direction in public speaking. They are so much more confident and comfortable in front of a crowd.  It's a life school that will serve them well!  And when you look at the statistics that most individuals are more afraid of public speaking than death, yikes!  It's a skill everyone can use! 

Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs

    than a fool bent on folly.
Proverbs 17:12

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mostly Classical Book Club

Our PEACH Teens enjoy a Classical Book Club throughout the year.  The teens vote at the beginning of the school year and with a little adult guidance the book list is edited for the youth.    

This year's selection included: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card; Hamlet by Shakespeare;  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury; Invisible Man by H.G. Wells and they will finish off  May's Classical Book Club with Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.
Mrs. Hansen does a great job of leading the youth in the influences during the writing process; from the political environment to the religious views of the author.  For example although Ender's Game is not a classic, it was one the kids wanted to read.  But in discussion you could see how the author's Mormon background really shaped his world view for the book. 

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a man that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

When the Wind Blows

Tonight was round number two at Dallas Christian for the CHANT Chargers.  The girls were evenly matched for much of the game with the score 4 to 5 at the bottom of the fifth. But then the wind kicked up, and by kicked up I mean it was blowing hard enough it blew our pitcher off the mound.  The wind blew over our first baseman as she leaned over to catch a grounder.  

That was nothing compared to what the gusts did to our pitching and hitting, not to mention the dust storm coming in off the infield!  By the time the  game was over most of the stands were cleared out and fans took shelter under the bleachers and to the side of the dugouts.  

Stone is heavy and sand a burden,
    but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.
Proverbs 27:3

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Charming Celebrations

The girls got together tonight to celebrate Gracie's birthday.  With these kids I'm not sure even the Cheesecake Factory was safe! Reports were that the food was fabulous and the banter was even better.  After dinner the girls walked around the shops at Watters Creek.  

There is a new Kendra Scott store opening up, a Charming Charlies and a veritable plethora of other stores to entertain and occupy teen girls!  

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:30

Friday, March 18, 2016

Something's FABULOUS in Plano

Our PEACH Drama Club is getting closer to the performance date for 'Something's Rotten In the State of Denmark.'  A fun take on Shakespeare's Hamlet.  Today we met up at Plano's Courtyard Theater for cast photos.   This will be the youth's first production at the Courtyard.  

The Courtyard Theater was originally the gymnasium for Plano's Cox High School.  It was built in 1938 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project.  In 1999 $4.6 million dollars was spent to restore the building and convert it into a 321 seat proscenium-style theater. 

Mark your calendar for May 10th and check out their fabulous production!  I'm partial to Queen Gertrude's performance! 

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.  Daniel 4:2

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Where is Your Allegiance

Every kiddo needs to experience staying up for midnight movie, eating popcorn at one a.m., and driving home giggling over your favorite part of the movie! Things have changed since the midnight movies of the 1950's when local television stations would air low-budget genre films as late-night programming. 

In a time when the dollar sign rules the midnight movie no longer refers to a 'B movie' or 'cult flick'.  These days a midnight movies refers to the practice of premiering blockbuster franchise films (e.g., the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and Divergent Series) at midnight or 12:01 a.m. of the official release date. In 2015, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens set a new record for biggest midnight opening with over $50 million in gross box office receipts, surpassing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2.

Tonight Caleb, Abigail and I took their friend Hannah to see her first midnight movie, Allegiant, the final installment of Veronica Roth's Divergent series.  The movie wasn't even close to the book, but every writer knows when you allow someone to produce your work it become subject to the Director's vision and out of the author's hands.  I loved the re-work on the book, however my book enthusiast preferred the original work.  But either way we added to the box office opening weekend to a series we have really enjoyed reading and watching. 

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.  Romans 6:17-18

That's Going to Leave a Mark

Between the torn ligament in her thumb and the her more recent heart issues, my girl has played 'wounded' for the last 6+ months.  Last week she had an EKG and Echo-cardiogram giving us good news about the strength of her heart and heart valves.  With the added assurance that all of the big scary scenarios had been eliminated, the girl went out today and played like the tough softball player I am used to cheering on.  

In fact, at her first at bat she hit a hard line drive back at the pitcher.  The pitcher knocked it down but they had to pause the game for the coach to check out the pitcher's hand to see if she would be able to continue pitching that inning.  The pitcher was ok and after a few practices pitches they resumed the game.  

You never want to see any player get injured but it was nice to see the fire back in my little softball player! She wanted a piece of that ball and slammed it!  I imagine the pitchers hand did sting, I could hear the 'pop' from behind home plate.  The CHANT Chargers went on for the win over Bishop Lynch 16-0. 

From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.  Galatians 6:17

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Boy and His Dog

When my college kid comes home to take it easy, his favorite activity is still to read a book, even a book he's read before will do.  While I did the kid's laundry and the girls bustled about making cookies, Caleb re-read Hank Hanegraaff's The Last Disciple. 

One of Caleb's favorite reading positions from the time he could read was to lean on Padme' for a pillow.  Both are much older and larger these days, but this is still how I find them when I walked into the living room.  

There is something heart warming about seeing your man-child propped up in boyish fashion that makes you realize how quickly time speeds by us. I wouldn't trade being home with my kids for any monetary gain. 

Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own
    is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.
Proverbs 26:17 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Dinner, Movie and Inspiration

My Biblical Text Major has been wanting to see the movie Risen!  It is the story of a Roman military tribune Clavius, who is tasked by pontius Pilate to investigate the mystery of what happened to Jesus following the Crucifixion.  Was His body stolen or was He resurrected? 

It is fantastic, well made, very compelling but what I really like is that the movie is hope-filled. The natural curiosity of truth seekers. 

Before the movie we had dinner at the Mellow Mushroom, a local pizzeria Abigail's select team introduced us too!  The boy ordered some meat filled concoction with pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon and hamburger.  

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  Matthew 28:6 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Food for Thought

Monday, the first day of Spring Break, a day of rest and recovery, a time to just take it easy! Unless you live at our house.  I anticipated the night before what their grumpy reactions would be to having to be at the pantry at eight a.m. this morning.  But when I got up this morning and made it into the living room there were all three kids dressed in their Metro Relief shirts and ready to go.  I didn't have to tell them we were going, they knew that's where we would spend our day and it is where they wanted to spend their day.  

I was working on statistics the other day for the pantry and  for 2015 Abigail has volunteered 76 days at the pantry for 298 hours of service, Frankie 31 days for 98 hours of service and Caleb volunteered 36 days for 125 hours of service.  And for posterity sake, I'll go ahead and report here that I volunteered 124 outreach days for 383 hours of service. 

Metro's volunteers served a total of 6,365 hours of service in the 458 outreaches and the majority of those hour were served by the same twenty people.   There were 20 individuals who served 50 or more outreaches and close to 85 volunteers with 20 or less outreaches.  The consistency in the volunteers makes a huge different to our guest, but it is understandable that not everyone has a heart for serving the poor.  

Sometimes I think people view serving in a food pantry as listening to hard luck stories and there are plenty of those; but there are also opportunities to make friends and to share the gospel.  Many times the work is praying and listening but other days it is unloading a truck, sweeping the floor and changing out toilet paper rolls.  There are jobs for anyone who wants to serve! 

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty

    and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 107:8-9

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Sheep in a Pit

Ah Sunday,  a day of rest, well it is unless your sheep falls into a pit or the hot water tank stops working.  Fortunately, when the hot water tank stopped working this morning all but one of us had showered.  And again fortunately, we have an extra set of hand around the house.  Jon and Caleb changed out the water tank and we were back in business, no flooding, no mess!  

While the boys spent the afternoon being productive, Abigail and some of her ninth grade friends from church hung out, playing games, crafting, and eating.  The kids had a devotional over at Andrew's house.  He's a pretty brave or smart kid depending on how you look at it because most of the ninth graders are girls! 

If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?  Matthew 12:11

Be Strong and Courageous

These pictures are the culmination of a lot of hard work!  Last week and this week the kids began the test taking skills.  Much of the Texas Bible Bowl test is on Scan Tron.  Some of the kids are young enough that they have never seen a scan tron and in the public school setting, scan tron is becoming old technology.  Many schools use an app to scan an answer key and then proceed to scanning student answers.  In any case, these kids need to know how to fill out a scan tron, how to manage their time and how to make an educated guess when they don't know the answer.    

To practice for these test, I have written practice test for my class, keep in mind these tests will cover all twenty-four chapters of Joshua, twenty-one chapters of Judges and four chapters of Ruth!  The sheer amount of information these kids have read and studied is amazing to me.  I get overwhelmed some days trying to write these tests out and I get to use the Bible for the answers!  The test for Texas Bible Bowl will be administered in five rounds with the older youth taking an additional Power Round test.  

The 7th-12th graders will take the Power Round which is a combination of all information presented in the text and is generally more difficult than any of the other rounds. All of the youth grades 3rd-12th will take Round #1 which is the Verse Find.  It is forty questions, open Bible and they will be given a phrase and need to locate it in the text.  For example, "leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her" and the kids will write in "Ruth 2:16.   The purpose of this round and most of the rounds is that the kids know the stories in the Bible and that they could find those stories again to teach someone else.  From the example above they learn the compassion Boaz had for the widow Ruth and Naomi, the importance of providing for the less fortunate and where to find that lesson for future references in life.  

Round 2 is the Fact Finder, it is also forty question, timed for twenty minutes and open Bible.  Many of the these questions will be 'which' or 'why' or 'how many' type questions.  Round 3 is Identification, also forty question, timed for twenty minutes and open Bible.  Many of the these questions will be 'who' or 'where' type questions.  Round 4 is Know the Chapter Headings and Events, it is closed Bible with 40 questions timed for twenty minutes.  This test gives a chapter heading like Samson Defeats the Philistine and the youth would identify via multiple choice that it occurred in Judges chapter 15.  Again teaching the kids the stories and how to locate them without wi-fi, smart phones, etc.  

The last round, Round 5 is Know the Chapter Quotations, again closed Bible and timed.  This round will give quotes from the passages studied, like 'be strong and courageous and do not be afraid.' The kids will need to know where to find it.  Many of the quotes they will be tested on with be passages of exhortation or words of God, again for the purposes of writing them on their hearts and the ability to refer to God's wisdom when needed in life. 

It still blows me away that these kids willingly study for six months to take a 250 question test, which most of them will not receive a trophy or an award.  But they do it knowing it is profitable in life and the draw is the power of God's Word.  

I thoroughly enjoy teaching these kids, I have no misconceptions in my abilities.  Every bit of the kids success is God magnifying what I have stumble through teaching them and strong moms and dads reinforcing the lessons at home!  But, I will yell and scream and make an idiot out of myself when any of the kids place at the beginning of next week! 

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

Saturday, March 12, 2016

We Need Some Space

If you haven't participated in the Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day Live, you will want to mark your calendars for spring next year.  Hundreds of museums throughout the country participate giving free access to many great museums.  In the past we have visited art, history and air museums, but today we headed over to Arlington to the University of Texas for the planetarium.  It is located on campus in the Chemistry and Physics building.  

Jon has never made it to the Planetarium with us and it is one of Caleb's favorite hang outs.  We watched prerecorded viewings of the Texas star gazing sky along with a NASA program on Cosmic Colors on the 360 degree screen!   Cosmic Colors took a look at why plants are green, why the sky is blue and a look at the entire electromagnetic spectrum. 

UT Physics and Chemistry students had experiments set up throughout the science building with experiments and outside we participated in solar gazing of flares on the sun!  It was a great way to kick off Caleb's Spring Break! 

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.  Psalm 147:4

Friday, March 11, 2016

No Matter How You Slice It

The PEACH teens took a break from school work today to meet up for lunch at Cici's pizza.  I'm sure the kids had a great time, I know the moms enjoyed the time together immensely.  What an encouragement to be around other homeschooling families, share a meal, and let someone else do the dishes!  I got a picture of most of the group and then Ms. Kathy told them to do something 'teenager-ish', so they all took out their phones and began hamming it up. Time with true friends and even mediocre food is a great day, no matter how you slice it! 

The righteous eat to their hearts’ content,
    but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry. Proverbs 13:25

No Rules, Just Right

On Monday's you can always find us at Metro Relief's food pantry serving those in need in our little community.  It's been our usual Monday habit for several years, but where does that food come from?  Well, some of it is purchased from North Texas Food Bank.  But a lot of the food is donated by local business and on Friday mornings we run around town picking up food for the following week's pantry. 

Our first stop is at Tom Thumb where we pick up two to three grocery carts of bread and desserts. Next we're off to Starbucks where we pick up pastries and goodies, usually twenty to ninety pastries each Friday. The next stop on our Fridays is Papa Johns.  The location in The Colony and in Plano both donate the pizzas not picked up by patrons or messed up orders.  Generally we head back to Metro Relief with 15-20 pizzas each Friday.  Many of the other volunteers are out and about picking up at great locations like Olive Garden, Sedexo, and Outbacks.  All of these business participate in a program called the Harvest Program that allows surplus food to be given out at local pantries.  It helps fill our shelves and gives the guest a little more variety and access to meals they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford.  Outback's slogan really sums up this business practice, 'No Rules, Just Right,' or the right thing to do!  

Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.
Proverbs 2:9

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words

Speaker's Club is our home school group's Jr. Toastmasters. Abigail is currently on speech number nine which utilizes visual aids while presenting.  The kids in our group progress through the speeches at their own pace.  It's a very practical skill for the kids to be able to organize and present their ideas.  If you click below you can see Abigail's 'Worth a Thousand Words'.

 Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
Proverbs 13:3

Friday, March 4, 2016

Methinks the Lady Doth Laugh Too Much

For our PEACH Drama Club today the kids brought in their costumes for review by Mrs. Hansen.  Our play, Something's Rotten in State of Denmark is about a high school group performing Hamlet when the lead character begins to doze off.  Abigail will be portraying Queen Gertrude, Hamlet's mother.  The group always seems to get a little more animated when they bring out the costumes. The performance is scheduled for May 10th at the Courtyard Theater in Plano. 

Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,

    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
Psalms 126:2

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Rub Some Dirt on It

The scoreboard doesn't always tell the full story of the game.  In this case we played Legacy Christian, a beautiful private school in Frisco with all the amenities.  When the dust settled, the CHANT Chargers had run ruled Legacy 14-4.  A decisive win, right.  

So this is where I post that Abigail had an amazing game, everything was text book ASA stellar performance.  But the truth is, the older girls on CHANT played a great game.  My little catcher got to go in somewhere around the fifth inning to catch.  It wasn't her best game, she struggled and half way through the sixth inning the coach pulled her. 

When we got in the car and asked if she was ok, her response was yes after all she got to play one and a half innings of a JV game.  Of course she knew it wasn't her best game, but being a part of a great team is no one holds it against you, you 'rub some dirt on it' and get back out there! 

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.  Galatians 6:10

Our New Home!

We have a new location for our wonderful Metro Relief family.  The pantry had out grown our previous facilities and in November began working to acquire a new space.  Our new home is open and running as of two weeks ago.  The intake area for meeting and greeting guests is larger, the shopping area is larger and the cooler is much larger. 

Metro Relief generally serves 150 families per week and this should allow us to easily accommodate those families.  Monday we served 47 families, today was a much slower day, hence we filled our time taking pictures!  

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  2 Corinthians 5:1

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Called on Account of Darkness

The CHANT Chargers battled Greenhill tonight ending in a 4-4 tie when the game was suspended due to darkness; a.k.a. no lights on the field!   Like CHANT, Greenhill has a very young team and it was a good game.  

Abigail played as a flex player, meaning she played right field but another player batted and ran for her.  Hanging in right field she didn't get a lot of action, but she did get to play some ball!   Hopefully the teams will meet up again, the Hornets were gracious hosts to our girls tonight! 

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:5

World of Wonder

Who would want to visit a place called, “world of wonder” by the Dallas Morning News.  The Perot Museum of Nature and Science opened its doors in December 2012, but this was our first visit to this incredible museum.   One of our fabulous field trip coordinators for PEACH arranged for about 40 of our homeschoolers to enjoy the day at this amazing five story state-of-the-art museum.

It houses exhibits with 3D computer animation with life-like simulation.  There are plenty of hands-on activities, interactive kiosks and educational games.  The girls enjoyed the earthquake simulator, demonstrating tectonic plates.
The museum houses a 298-seat, multimedia 3D theater with 4 K digital projection and immersive surround sound. I don’t even know what all that means except it was the coolest, most realist 3-D movie I’ve ever seen!  We watched Tiny Giants; the story of a two month old chipmunk in a wild wood is forced to grow up fast when he finds himself alone for the first time. Only by using his ingenious superpowers can our hero not only stay alive, but also become a master of his universe.

Being a science museum, they have created a natural sustainable and environmentally friendly structure including a rainwater collection system, LED lighting and solar-powered water heating.   But I think the girls were more impressed with the cafĂ© located in the museum which offered spectacular wraps and delicious fruit assortments!

The museum absolutely lived up to all the publicity and was made even more enjoyable sharing it with great friends.  We will definitely be back! 

behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.
Revelation 6:12-13