Sunday, July 31, 2016

Scrape Off, Brush On

So what do we do when it's the lazy days of summer and we're not hanging out with friends; or volunteering; or working?  Well, home repairs of course.  After all, it's one hundred plus degree weather of course we would be outside.  

Primarily, we've been taking advantage of having the nimble college boy home to make those trips up and down the ladder.  The front of the house is all brick and most of the lower level back and sides are brick.  But the upper portion of the house on the sides and back, plus the front dormers and chimney are all painted wood.  

Most of our spare time last week, this week and next week will be spent outside working. Caleb has removed old, rotting trim pieces.  Jon has measured, cut and primed the new trim.  Caleb has made the trip up and down the ladder nailing new trim up and caulking around the windows.  The kids have scraped flaking paint and repainted.   

Frankie, or Captain Safety, as we call her has held the ladder for every one of us!  She's made sure we were steady and kept the cold water coming!! I can't wait to see the finished product! 

“Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers in the service
 of the whole assembly.” So the leaders’ promise to them was kept. Joshua 9:21

Friday, July 29, 2016

Charge the Field

Tonight Abigail and her team members from the Rage went to their first professional softball game, the Dallas Charge.  The Dallas Charge play at The Ballfields at Craig Ranch in McKinney, TX.

Abigail has had several tournaments at the ballfields at Craig Ranch and even attended clinics there in the fall.  The Charge are a women's professional softball team based in Dallas. The team began play as a member of National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) with their first game on June 3, 2015. Former Olympian Jennifer McFalls was hired as their first head coach. Currently there are are six teams in the league: Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Dallas Charge, USSSA Pride, Pennsylvania Rebellion and the Scrap Yard Dawgs.  

Abigail and her teammates from the 16U Rage along with players from the 14U, 12U & 10U Rage teams and their families came out for tonight's game.  The Charge lost in a double header against the USSSA Pride but the girl enjoyed watching the 'big boys' play! 

 Charge, you horses!
    Drive furiously, you charioteers!

March on, you warriors!
Jeremiah 46:9

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Making Music

Eddy, Blake & Baylor's dad, was at it again, performing in another musical at the First United Methodist Church Summer Musical, Music Man.  He's performed here before as Will Parker in Oklahoma. 

It was a great date night for Jon and I to have some time together, kid free.  Eddy portrayed a fabulous con-man, Professor Harold Hill, posing as a boys' band organizer selling band instruments and uniforms to the naive Iowa townsfolk. 

Eddy's wife, Melody and the kids Blake and Baylor were with us enjoying the performance.  So proud of our friend, but the best part of the evening was sitting next to my honey and enjoying the show. 

The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: “He is good; His love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 5:13

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Five Friends, Six Flags

Remember all that running around we did yesterday?  Part of it was to clear off our schedule for today!  The Gungan's came down from Oklahoma to play with us today!  

For a while when the kids were younger both of our families had season passes to Six Flags.  The kids have spent quite a few visits over the past 11+ years together at the park.  Fortunately for Donna and I the kids are grown up and while they spent the day in one hundred degree weather, we headed to the air conditioned mall.  

The kids were great about taking pictures as they went through the day.  It's hard to believe that in just a few weeks Caleb and Richard head back for their second year of college!  Hard still is to imagine that Ryan is a senior and that all five of the kids are now driving! 

I loved seeing the kids all together, laughing and cutting up!  It was wonderful to hang out with Donna.  I miss my no drama, easy going, God fearing, kindred spirit! 

My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
Proverbs 6:20

Monday, July 25, 2016

Manic Monday

Our Monday's look a lot like the lyrics of the Bangles 1986 hit Manic Monday.  We seemed to run from one event to the next, regardless of it being summer time. 

Our day began with our usual service at Metro Relief where we served 43 families.  I had quite a bit of paper work from being gone last week, while Abigail helped with inputting guests in the computer and Caleb and Abigail ran food pick ups. After our four and half hour shift Caleb had to head on to work at Hawaiian Falls.  

Next was a trip to the library to drop off books, then a stop off at the church building, with a bite for lunch along the way.  

Next we headed to Abigail's piano lessons.  Ms. Kathy was gracious and allow us to get caught up on the lesson we missed last week. Then we moved forward with this week's lesson.  Abigail has been working on a composition that she played for Ms. Kathy today. 

Our final stop of the day was softball. In addition to three team practices each week, Abigail also has private catching/hitting lessons weekly.  Being gone last week caused us to need to double up on those lessons this week also.  At the end of the day we crashed, exhausted!  Thank goodness we only have one school age kiddo at home and that school's out! 

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,

    while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
Proverbs 13:4

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Promises, Promises

Today was simply a lesson in keeping the commitments we've made.  It is an understatement to say that Abigail and I are exhausted from our week.  

While we were in Fort Worth, Jon, Caleb and Frankie spent the week replacing boards. scraping and painting our house.  The boys managed to do the work on the house plus working a full workload.  We are all dragging but today is the Lord's day.  Abigail and I had promised to help out in the nursery.  Frankie had committed to helping in the four year old Bible Class.  Jon and Caleb had agreed to help prepare, distribute and clean up communion. 

When services was over we came home for a roast in the crock pot and then Jon and Abigail headed out for three hours of softball practice.  Caleb had to work the afternoon shift at Hawaiian Falls and Frankie and I knocked out laundry.  Not a real glamorous day!  It was a good day to remember that each of us is tired but there is an importance to keep the commitments that we have made and to maintain a good attitude about our work.  I hope our kids take away from this is the importance of keeping our promises and that they always surround themselves with people of integrity.  Tonight we will all sleep well! 

When you make a promise, do not delay to fulfill it. God has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your promise. It is better not to make a promise than to make one and not fulfill it.  Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My promise was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Ecclesiastes 5:4-6

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Time to Celebrate

Today we celebrate the head of our family, the one who centers all of us and keeps us balanced, Jon!  This past week was exhausting fifteen hour days and we were removed from all electronics. I missed Jon terribly.  It was really odd not being able to text or call him.  It made today more sweet to be back together for his special day.  

We continued the tradition of chocolate donuts and Dr. Pepper. Caleb worked the morning shift, so we postponed celebrations until this afternoon.  When Caleb came home we headed to Studio Movie Grill to see the new Star Trek movie.  It was a good choice for a movie because in the film it was also Captain Kirk's birthday, so the entire crew of the Enterprise sang Happy Birthday.  

After the movie Caleb grilled steaks then we followed up with non-dairy ice cream sundaes and presents! Happy birthday, sweetie! 

For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. Proverbs 9:11

Friday, July 22, 2016

Dallas World Aquarium

After a week of serving others, this morning we slept a little later and then packed up our things to leave Fort Worth.  We swarmed the breakfast buffet for one last feeding at the Embassy Suites before loading into the four 20 passenger vans to head back to Dallas. 

We spent most of the day at the historic 1800's warehouse in the Dallas West End District that is now home to The Dallas World Aquarium.  A few additional buildings have been added to expand the aquarium over the last twenty years.   The glass domed shark tank and rainforest were two of the favorites for the kids today.  We also got to watch the penguin feeding. 

After a busy week we rolled in to the church parking lot late in the afternoon.  Everyone a little sleep deprived, with tired muscles but full hearts.  The kids drew closer together this week and found new talents for serving.  I really enjoyed getting to watch the process as they grew in the Lord.  

The sea is His, for it was He who made it, Psalm 95:5

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mission Possible

For our fourth day of Mission Adventure with the McDermott Road Church of Christ youth group our theme was Pure Religion:­ Aligning our Mission with the Mission of our Savior.  I went back to the Tarrant Area Food Bank with a group of high school kids.  Several other groups of teens finished up the yard work for the elderly members of the College Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills. 

The Tarrant Area Food Bank serves 13 counties in North Texas, covering roughly the same area as the state of Vermont! Our group helped sort, inspect and repackage the food, that distributed to the food pantries like Metro Relief.  In two and a half hours we processed 3,900 pounds of food, representing 2,600 meals!

Later in the afternoon we headed to the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District to watch the cattle drive by the Fort Worth Herd Trail Boss. We watched as Texas cowhands drove a herd of Texas longhorns down Exchange Avenue; everything from the saddles and chaps to the boots and hats were authentic and historically accurate to the Old West. The kids also checked out the Stockyards Museum located in the historic Livestock Exchange Building. 

For dinner we dined at the famous Joe T. Garcia's Mexican Restaurant and Fiesta Gardens. The restaurant opened in 1935 with seating for 16 and mouthwatering recipes.  It has now expanded to about a dozen dining rooms and patios, seating over 1,000! Many famous people have dined there including former Presidents. The lines on the weekend can be up to two hours. Our group rented out the La Puertita and dined on the most fabulous TexMex cuisine! 

After dinner we returned to the College Hill Church of Christ for worship and celebrated as Kaia, one of the girls in my room and a friend of Abigail's, was baptized!  The day could not have been topped off any better! The kids have learned so much this week about serving others and serving in a manner that is pleasing to God.  

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. I Peter 1:12

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

On a Mission

The theme for today's Mission Adventure was Pure Presence ­ Be Still and Know.  It was another day where we needed to be down stairs in the hotel by seven a.m., meaning four teenage girls need to make through the shower and be ready for our day after not getting to bed until after midnight!  One of us, the almost 50 year old sponsor, is feeling the lack of sleep! 

I drove my group of high schoolers back over to Fortress Youth Development Center.  Some of us worked on thank you packets for the donors while others continued with the painting and clean up on the outside of the building. We also wrote letters of encouragement to the youth who attend Fortress to encourage them to work hard in the coming school year and to make good decison, but mostly to let them know we are praying for them.  Abigail went with a group back over to an elderly members home and finished painting and working on their home. 

We broke for lunch and then headed over to Holiday Lane Estates Senior Assisted Living Center.  Our group split up and some played bingo with the residence, while others went from room to room visiting.  The activities director asked is anyone knew how to play the piano, and Abigail was the only piano player in the group so she began to play.  It was fascinating to watch the residence come out of their rooms to gather around her playing the piano.  It was especially touching when we were told that one of the ladies hadn't left her room in eight days but she came out to hear Abigail play.  My girl ended up playing the piano for almost two hours straight!  

We finished out the evening with dinner at Chili's and a trip to the Fort Worth Water Gardens.  At the Water Gardens we went to the Reflection Pool where we broke up into groups (our hotel room groups) and had our devotion.  It was a time to reflect on where we had seen Jesus in people that day and how we would use that as the new school year began.  At the end of the evening we walked back to our hotel at the Embassy Suites.  

Let us not become weary in doing good, 
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Adventure Continues

The theme for day two of Mission Adventure was Pure Community: Being the Church.  We began the day at seven o'clock this morning, which is very early if your sleeping in a hotel room with four teenage girls who slumber partied and giggled through the evening!  I've got a very sweet group of girls in my room including Kaia, Hayley (Caleb's wife Mary from VBS), Allison and Abigail. 

Our first stop was Fortress Youth Development Service in Fort Worth.  It is in the mile stretch of where our Metro Relief bus serves the homeless in Unity Park every Friday.  The center brings hope to the lives of at-risk children by providing resources that will help them break the cycle of generational poverty. Their programs are designed engage the children spiritually, form relationships and equip the youth academically. 

Fortress relies on donations to operate.  They do not charge for any of their services.  They provide care for children 4 yrs to about third grade.  The center began serving the community as the Fortress Church of Christ, a church plant by the Richland Hills Church of Christ.  The church provided impoverished families and the homeless community in Near Southeast Fort Worth with basic needs such as food and clothing. They later expanded to after-school programming, mentoring and tutoring. They serve about 150 children and their families each year, with the goal of providing the tools and hope they need to break the cycle of generational poverty.

Our McDermott youth painted classrooms inside the center, along with the sprucing up the outside of the building.  The kids also removed broken structures and cleaned up the property around the facility.  

After lunch we headed to the Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB), a central clearinghouse for donated food and groceries, TAFB receives fresh, frozen and nonperishable food donated by the food industry and the community. They serve 13 Texas counties, including Denton County where we live, serving children, the elderly, people experiencing homelessness, and other Texans in need.  Our high schoolers sorted frozen foods and canned goods. It sounds simple but I'm talking carrying and moving forty pound boxes of canned goods for three hours! 

After showers and dinner our group walked around Fort Worth's popular Sundance Square.   It was within walking distance of our hotel.  Sundance Square is a 35-block development filled with boutiques, restaurants, entertainment, and art galleries. 

We finished off the day with a devotional at the Fort Worth Police and Firefighters Memorial with a stop off at Steel City Pops for crazy good, creamy, cold popsicles!   

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer.
Psalm 18:2

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mission Adventure

Today the Jr. High & Sr. High kids at McDermott kicked off Mission Adventure 2016.  I got to tag along as an adult sponsor and driver.  We took about sixty youth to Fort Worth for a week filled with serving the community.  Our theme for day one was Pure Serice: Being the Hands and Feet of Jesus.  

For each activity the kids were split up into groups of 12-15 and then went to different work sites.  Each group went to various houses where elderly members of the College Hills Church of Christ in Fort Worth who needed help.  They pulled weeds, mowed, painted, cleaned homes, and served in whatever capacity the homeowners needed.  My group served the  Morris family.  Mrs. Morris had a stroke and was wheel chair bound. In visiting with Mr. Morris, I found out he has a YouTube channel where he has put his brother's music to videos.  He has over 600 music videos on his channel including a large collection of Slim Whitman! His site has over two and a half million hits! How cool is that! 

After lunch our group traveled to the Brookdale Holiday Lanes Estates, an assisted living retirement community. The girls in my group, including Abigail and several of her friends painted nails and visited with the residents.  The girls even went room to room and  painted nails for residents who were bedridden.  The girls sang hymns and visited with the sweet ladies.  Later in the afternoon the girls played Bingo with the residents.  

After a long day we met back up with the rest of the youth group and had dinner at Riscky's Barbeque and played WhirlyBall.  We closed out the day with a devotional and reflection of the day's events. We crashed hard, completely exhausted and grateful for our comfortable beds at the Embassy Suites, knowing that in six hours we would get up and go again!  

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sweat, Blood and Cheers

On Sunday afternoons my catcher girl has softball practice with her select team, Rage.  Can you imagine anything more enjoyable than three hours in the Texas heat in the middle of the day? I can.

The girl loves softball and she absolutely enjoys being with her team mates!  They play and work hard together.  Softball and other sports really reinforce in girls the importance of team work and building each other up.  There is no room for self glorification because that only hurts the team!

Even in this crazy heat with sweat rolling down their cheeks it's encouraging to her the girls cheering for each team mate as they come up to bat!  

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 8:9-10

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sun, Smiles and Slushies

It's great to have connections and we happen to have a hook up at our favorite water park! Our former favorite cabana boy is now the 'voice' of the water park.  Today he took time off to show us the latest rides at the park. Between rides the kids hung out by the wave pool under the umbrellas.

Our day may have involved a little pizza, drinks and some shaved ice.  While Hannah, Caleb, Abigail and Frankie slipped and splashed in the park, I hung at the cabana with my Kindle reader and the latest John Grisham book!

Today was what summer is all about sun, fun and great friends! 

The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength. 
Proverbs 24:5 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

In Queso Emergency, Taco to Your Friends

Today my fellow Downton Abbey buddy, Lana invited Abigail and I to hang out today.  Lana's sweet friend Sharon just moved back to Texas. 

Sharon and Lana have been friends for years since their husbands were in seminary together. Sharon has twin daughters Rachel and Rebekah  who are the same age as Abigail.  

The girls hit it off together and hopefully Lana's son didn't feel to out of place in the midst of all the girl book chat! We were joined by a a couple of other home school families to take in the new movie, 'The Secret Lives of Pets.'

Afterwards we took in a little Taco Tuesday action at Rosa's Cafe.   It made for a fabulous afternoon: new friends, old friends, entertainment and tacos! 

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. I Corinthians 10:31

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Blessings from Heaven

How cute are these sweeties?!  Abigail and I have been working in nursery with the babies!  The baby of our family is the youngest cousin and has never had any desire to work with babies. She enjoys playing with the kiddos at the pantry, but while other girls enjoy babysitting that has never been Abigail's thing! 

The girl is a natural.  I really enjoy watching her play with the sweet babies.  I knew Abigail's grandmothers would get a kick out of these sweet pictures but  I didn't want to post any until I okayed it with their sweet moms.    

All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.
Isaiah 54:13

Friday, July 8, 2016

Look for the Good

The news is filled with the events in Dallas with the sniper shooting of five Dallas police officers. At such a heartbreaking time in our city's history I struggle to find good things to share with the children. 

But my faith in humanity was restored,during our Friday morning food pick ups for the pantry.  We begin pickups at at Tom Thumb in Frisco.  Tom Thumb sets aside unsold breads and desserts five days a week for our pantry.  Generally on Friday we receive a full cart full, today they had three carts of goodies. 

Next, we headed to Papa John's in Plano where we picked up 14 pizzas; followed by 6 pizzas at the Pap John's in The Colony.  Finally we swung by the local Starbucks who had five cases of pastries!

During every part of our day we interacted with such great businesses and good people.  There is bad in our world but if you look there is still plenty of good!  Can't wait until Monday to pass these out to our guest! 

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live. Ecclesiastes 3:12

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Ask Glenn Anything

Today was another live taping of the Glenn Beck Television program on the Blaze TV.  The Blaze is available on over 100 regional cable providers throughout the United States, Verizon Fios, on Dish Network, on the Roku Device, on SkyAngel and on its own online streaming service 

We have the online streaming service so we can watch the news program anytime.  Over the years we've met many great guests from Life Without Limbs author Nic Vujicic; political talk show host and author Dana Loesch; Lord of the Rings Director Peter Jackson; Martin Luther King, Jr.'s niece Alveda King; and of course Caleb's favorite historian, David Barton several times. 

Today's programming was an 'Ask Glenn Anything'.  Before the program Glenn took the studio audience on a tour of the studios complete with the submarines featured in The Winds of War; the tree from the Barney & Friends tv show; the bike from Indian Jones; the bench from Forrest Gump; the Winston Churchill bust from the White House; just too many to list.  The studios have a rich history and it's fascinating to hear the stories of the various props and how they came to rest in the Blaze Studios. Looking forward to our next visit!

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. I John 2:15-17

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hunting for What is Good

With the summer heat we’ve seen more movies this summer than any previous summer!  Today Abigail and I joined Ms. Stacy and Zach to see The Huntsman. 

The Huntsman is the story of a heartbroken princess who is betrayed by her evil sister; the princess then retreats to a northern kingdom to raise an army of huntsmen as her protectors. The evil sister teaches her young soldiers to never fall in love. When Eric and fellow warrior Sara defy this rule, the angry queen does whatever she can to stop them. War between the siblings escalates, as wickedness reigns.

It was not a Frankie movie and really wasn’t much of a teen appropriate movie, it had several sexual components without marriage; so it is no shock that the princess becomes pregnant and gives birth out of wedlock.  Like many recent movies there are stabbings and hackings and magical battles, slavering beasties, and double-entendre giggles.  It was more a show in the vain of Game of Thrones than Once Upon a Time.

If I needed to find a redeeming quality I guess it would be that there is a slight suggestion that being loving and loyal are solid attributes. I was hoping for a little bit more! The company was good and I’m thrilled I only paid a $1 for each ticket!

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

Monday, July 4, 2016

Land of the Free Because of the Brave

Tonight we enjoyed games, food, fellowship and fireworks with friends.  The grown up enjoyed board games while the kids went swimming outside. The weather was perfect for the evening! 

Lots of great food and fun for the evening and then after dark we walked over to the Gleneagles Country Club for the fireworks display.  There are several ponds in the golf course so there was  a nice breeze coming in off the water!  After the fireworks we headed back inside for some of the best homemade ice cream, salted vanilla bean! 

When homeschool friends get together, there will be references to history, tonight Dana brought up that John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, that America's independence “will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one end of this Continent to the other.”  We certainly did our best to include all of these! I'm so thankful for sweet friendships! 

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” I Corinthians 15:33

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Let's Be Independent Together

Independence Day means a trip to Tulsa to see Granny and the old cousins.  It also means brownies, deviled eggs, smoked ham and Granny's famous baked beans! Jon's brother Bobby and both of the boys, BJ & Jesse, all made it up. 

As usual Donnie put on a spectacular fireworks show and let the kids light and and set off some of the big ones. Got to love Oklahoma and being outside of the city limits! Plus it's always a bonus that Donnie is a retired Tulsa Firefighter should anything go wrong! 

It was good to have the Kirkwood clan together. I love how much the three boys look alike in the top picture.  There is no doubt that they are related.  I love seeing 'my kids' together.  I'm still in denial that they are all grown ups! Maybe that is part of the independence we celebrated today.   

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 137:3

Friday, July 1, 2016

Swing Your Partner

What’s a base stealing, homerun hitting, pop-fly catching, diamond running, fast pitching girl to do when she doesn’t have a game on Friday night?  Take in an evening of English Country Dancing with her brother and a few friends, of course! 

You say you've never heard of English Country Dancing? If you've watched Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility or any other Jane Austen movie, you’ve seen English Country Dancing. It is a traditional form of dance has been around for several hundred years, it's marked by classical, elegant music.  Many people love the beautiful patterns that you create as you dance and weave.
One of the homeschool families, who we’ve known for a decade, runs the ECD group in Plano.  It’s funny because they have a daughter Abigail’s age named Lydia.  Abigail and Lydia are on the same CHANT homeschool softball team.  So, tonight instead of sporting eye-black these ball players were decked out in dresses and swirling!  

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness Psalm 30:11