29 March 2012

3-year doctor's appointment

Avery had her three-year check-up last night. (I still love her pediatrician and the fact that his office hours are great for working parents!) Here are her latest stats:

Weight – 28 pounds, 2 ounces (25th percentile)
Height – 35.25 inches (10th percentile)

For comparison, I had to go back and see where she was at this time last year. She's gained nearly four pounds, and she's grown just less than four inches.

We discussed when to move Avery from her crib to a "big girl" bed. The doctor said as long as she's doing fine in her crib, there's no rush. So we'll wait until all three of us are ready before we move forward with that big change!

In terms of milestones, Avery is doing great. She's already met the milestones for 3-year-olds and is on her way to meet the ones for 4-year-olds. For the next year, we'll probably focus on school-related skills, such as recognizing letters and numbers, writing letters, writing her name and social skills. It's hard to believe that we need to think about preparing her for school already!

We are so proud of how much Avery has grown physically, emotionally and spiritually in her short life. God is growing her into such a beautiful young girl!

28 March 2012

The next SportsCenter highlight videos

Around our house, playing outside means playing sports. So every time we were outside last weekend, Avery pulled several sports-related items from the garage. She doesn't really have a favorite sport yet, but we've really seen her skills improve since last spring. In fact, we're already talking about registering her for her first sports clinic this spring. We'll let you know how that turns out! Enjoy these videos here before you see them on ESPN tonight.





More soccer

27 March 2012

BSF 2011-2012: Ephesians 6:10-24

This is such a magnificent section of Scripture since it describes the armor and weapons God has given us to fight our enemy, Satan. You may find it hard to believe that we're in the midst of a spiritual battle. But this is an important part of the Christian life. Even though Jesus has won the victory and has defeated Satan, the devil still is exerting his power in this evil world. Each day we all struggle "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12).

Praise God that He provides an armor and weapons as we fight this battle! I want to give a brief description of each piece of the armor as well as our offensive weapons:

The belt of truth – A belt holds everything together. All of our beliefs are held together with the belt of truth, the truth of doctrine about God's character, what He has done for us and what we have become as His children.

The breastplate of righteousness – A breastplate covers the heart. The breastplate doesn't speak of our own righteousness but Jesus' righteousness. He has cleansed me. And his righteousness protects my heart both physically and emotionally.

Feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace – This piece probably refers to a soldier's boots. We always must be alert. Our feet always should be ready to move, whether it's moving toward God when Satan attacks us or moving to share the gospel when presented an opportunity.

The shield of faith – Don't think of this shield as a puny, round thing that barely covers your chest. This was a shield used by the Greeks during hand-to-hand combat. On the other hand, Roman soldiers used a large body shield. Our shield of faith should protect every part of our body and should be used to extinguish Satan's flaming arrows.

The helmet of salvation – A helmet covers the head. The helmet of salvation protects our minds. This is so important because it seems that Satan so often first attacks our minds, ideas and attitudes.

The sword of the Spirit – The first offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit. This is the Word of God and most likely refers to using specific biblical passages to defend us against Satan's attacks.

Prayer – The believer's "secret" weapon is prayer. Paul tells us that we should "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests" (Ephesians 6:18).

Have you claimed these spiritual resources from God as your own? How often do you use them? Do you prepare for each day by putting on the entire armor of God just as you put on your clothes? Will you fight your spiritual battles knowing that Jesus already has triumphed over sin and evil?

26 March 2012

2012 brackets: Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight updates

We had a wonderful weekend as a family, relaxing and enjoying the magnificent spring weather. And of course watching basketball games. But I didn't make any time to post our bracket updates. So here are our Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight results:

5-3 in Sweet Sixteen round
2-2 in Elite Eight round
41-19 overall
790 points total

4-4 in Sweet Sixteen round
1-3 in Elite Eight round
39-21 overall
700 points total

4-4 in Sweet Sixteen round
2-2 in Elite Eight round
34-26 overall
700 points total

2-6 in Sweet Sixteen round
0-4 in Elite Eight round
23-37 overall
340 points total

Karen and I have kept up with Chris until now. He finally lost his national champion (North Carolina), but he's moved ahead of us in overall points and record. That's OK. For a brief amount of time, Karen and I each held the lead over Chris!

There's only one team (Ohio State) we're rooting for in the Final Four. And I'm doing that a little reluctantly because the Buckeyes are just about my least favorite Big Ten team. But we can't cheer against the conference! It should be an interesting end to an interesting tournament.

20 March 2012

BSF 2011-2012: Ephesians 4:1-6:9

This section of Ephesians is all about walking the Christian walk. This walk is purposeful. It imitates God. Paul calls all Christians to "put off" several worldly habits and "put on" several godly traits. The one that hit me most relates to my own relationship with Avery: being patient.

I will write a more detailed post about this later because I already have one started! But here's the brief overview. As we know, patience is not natural. But since Christ is patient, I too must be patient. I laughed out loud at this description in our BSF notes this week because it truly describes me and Avery: Have you noticed that God puts most of us, at some time in our lives, next to another person whose personal habits irritate us? ... A too quick nature finds herself next to one that is excessively slow. I am the "too quick nature" and Avery is "excessively slow." And this concept again was emphasized in the lecture with this application question: Who has God placed in my life to help me grow to walk more like Him?

I already can see that God has put Avery in my life to help me become more patient and learn how to bear with others in love. I appreciate that little girl so much for the many blessings she has been to my life and our life as a family. And one of these blessings is that God is teaching me about patience!

19 March 2012

2012 brackets: Second Round update

This year's tournament has been so much fun to watch! It probably helps that four Big Ten teams are still playing, including IU. It was pretty interesting to witness Chris watching IU's game on Saturday. It's not the first time I saw him get emotionally involved in a game. But this time he said it was because he had a lot of pent-up frustration from the past several seasons. Luckily they won!

I'm still feeling pretty good about my bracket, but I really wish I hadn't picked Duke to win it all! Here's the latest update:

12-4 in second round
34-14 overall
460 points total

9-7 in second round
34-14 overall
430 points total

10-6 in second round
28-20 overall
380 points total

5-11 in second round
21-27 overall
260 points total

17 March 2012

2012 brackets: First Round update

Wow! What a thrilling start to this year's tournament! The first day was a little predictable, but yesterday was so exciting with several favorite schools losing to underdogs. I tend to root for the underdog. So although my bracket was completely busted yesterday, I was glad to see so many "small" schools performing so well.

Aunt Karen joined our family bracket buster this year. Here's where we all ended up after the first two rounds. (Yeah, yeah...I know they're technically rounds two and three. But I'm still not used to that change.)

Chris has all of his Final Four teams remaining.

I finished the first day at 14-2 and led Chris for most of the day. This is a big deal, so I'm going to brag about this for awhile! I was perfect in the East region, but I lost my national champion with Duke's loss.

Karen has all of her Final Four teams remaining.

Avery started Thursday at 0-4 then finished the round at .500. She lost her national champion in the first game on Thursday. But she predicted that Lehigh would defeat Duke!

How does your bracket look today?

14 March 2012

2012 brackets: Avery's picks

Welcome to the 2012 version of the Clark Family Bracketbuster. Chris is thrilled that the 14th Annual Chris Clark National Basketball Holiday begins tomorrow. (Congress recently approved this name change from the National Chris Clark Holiday.) He's even more excited that he finally can cheer his Hoosiers to victory during the tournament. Here's hoping they can continue their amazing season and get through several rounds of the tournament.

This holiday means it's time for Avery to choose the winners in her bracket. She was a little more excited about it this year. But we quickly noticed that she nearly always chooses the second team Chris mentions. So he had to mix it up a bit to vary some of her choices.

You probably don't care to see all of her picks. So we broke them down by round.

Round 1

Round 2

Sweet Sixteen

Elite Eight

Final Four

Click on the picture to see Chris' bracket

Teresa's bracket

Avery's bracket

We again created a private group in the ESPN Bracket Challenge. If you'd like to join, feel free to contact one of us for the super-secret password. Good luck with your own bracket!

13 March 2012

BSF 2011-2012: Ephesians 2-3

In chapters 2 and 3, Paul continues to explain the mystery of the church, as he did in chapter 1. He describes how God selected the Jews to be His chosen people. But when they rejected Him as a nation, He opened up salvation to the Gentiles. Now the Jews and the Gentiles are merged as one church under God.

My favorite part of these chapters is 2:1-10. Paul explains that before salvation, we are spiritual corpses with no life. God drew us to Himself, and with His grace He makes us alive by putting His Spirit inside us. Paul also calls us "God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (2:10). This thought piggybacks on what I wrote about last week. Before creation, not only did God choose me to be His child, He also prepared good works for me to do. What good works am I doing for God?

Praise God for His salvation! I also love this description from our BSF lecture: Salvation spares us justice (receiving the punishment we deserve) and demonstrates God's mercy (not receiving the punishment we deserve) and His grace (undeserved favor).

To illustrate this point, our teaching leader used the example of a speeding ticket. If in the future Avery is speeding and a police officer stops her and issues her a speeding ticket, that is justice -- receiving the punishment she deserves for her sin. If the officer says she's guilty of speeding and she deserves a ticket but he doesn't issue one to her, that is mercy -- not receiving the punishment she deserves. If the officer issues her a ticket but I pay it for her, that is grace -- undeserved favor.

Have you experienced God's mercy and grace? Have you thanked Him for them today?

06 March 2012

BSF 2011-2012: Ephesians 1

The book of Ephesians is one of Paul's prison epistles. An epistle is a letter. And a prison epistle simply means that Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison. The first recipients of this letter were the Ephesians at the church in Ephesus. But then the letter was circulated to many other churches in the area. This book reveals the mystery of the church (which before now God had kept hidden or veiled from believers) and tells us what we are to do based on who we are in Christ.

While I enjoyed reading the first chapter of Ephesians for the umpteenth time, nothing really hit me over the head until I was at our BSF leaders' meeting on Saturday morning. As we discussed our answers to the lesson's questions and reviewed the highlights of the chapter, I noticed this phrase in verse 4 as if I'd never read it before: "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world..." God gave me a fresh awareness and appreciation for this phrase.

Before I was born...in eternity past...when there was nothing...before He created anything...God chose me to be His child. He chose me to be adopted as His child into His family. He chose me for His purpose and His pleasure. He redeemed me. He already owned me because He had created me. But when He redeemed me, He bought me out of the slavery of sin and lovingly took me into His family.

Amazing! In a world where so many things and people are discarded as useless, God chose me. It's hard to understand why He chose me. I did nothing to deserve anything from Him except death, eternal punishment and separation from Him. But for some reason, which I won't understand until eternity, He wanted me to be His child and serve, love and worship Him.

As if that isn't great enough, God didn't stop there. He didn't just choose me, adopt me into His family and leave me alone to fend for myself. He also has equipped me with every blessing necessary to succeed. At my moment of salvation, He gave me all I need to be successful both in this life and in the life to come. This list of blessings is recounted in verses 4 to 14. In the original Greek text, these verses are actually one long sentence. This shows us that all of these blessings are connected to each other through our relationship with God in Christ.

If you feel that God is tugging at your heart, have you responded? If He has called you to be His child, are you glorifying Him and living His purpose for your life every day?

05 March 2012

04 March 2012

Surprise sectional assignment

Due to the horrible storms and tornadoes that hit southern Indiana on Friday afternoon, some boys basketball sectionals in the area postponed their games from Friday night to Saturday night. Chris had his sectional games on Wednesday and Friday and wasn't scheduled for any games on Saturday. So the IHSAA called him late Friday afternoon and asked him to fill in for an official who couldn't attend a semifinal game in the Seymour sectional.

Not only was Chris excited to work another sectional game, he also was thrilled to have a 4A game, which is the largest school size in the state tournament. Avery and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Chris end his season in a big-time game.

One of the perks of knowing a referee is getting into the hospitality room. Avery and I enjoyed a nice dinner of pizza, fruit and cookies while Daddy was getting ready for the game.

The two teams were Bedford North Lawrence, home of Chris' favorite IU basketball player, Damon Bailey; and New Albany. A Bailey family member is one of the stars of BNL. Chris thinks he might be Damon's nephew or cousin. I looked for Damon last night but didn't see him anywhere. Too bad.

Chris replaced the head referee in the game. Instead of switching the other two officials' positions, Chris was the "R." So he was in charge of the coaches' meeting, the captains' meeting, the timekeeper and the official scorer.

I usually prefer to watch Chris' games from directly behind the scorer's table. Not only does this spot offer a good view of the game, but I also get to see Chris up close and personal.

Seymour High School has the fourth largest high school gym in the country. (And did you know that Indiana is home to 13 of the 16 largest high school gyms?) It was only half full last night, which meant only about 4,000 people attended Chris' game.

"The ball is tipped...and there you are..."

Any time Daddy or his crewmates reported a foul to the table, Avery imitated the signal. Before Avery was born, I enjoyed my anonymity in the stands. No one knew I was cheering for one of the referees. But now she spends the games point and saying, "That's Daddy! Hi, Daddy! Wave at me!" One day I'm sure she will embarrass me and/or Chris during a game!

Jump ball!

Obviously the coach didn't agree with the call, but Chris doesn't take any flack and calmed him down quickly.

The game was as exciting as I expected it would be. New Albany held the lead until about 90 seconds were left in the game. Then they couldn't do anything right, and BNL took over. BNL won 48-39. Even though it was a low-scoring game, it was very well played and of course well officiated.

Avery couldn't go to the game without a baby. This one is Pa Joe's Fat Baby. She was named by our Grandpa Hromada and belonged to my sister when she was a little girl.

This night was a wonderful way to end Chris' season. The end of the basketball season is always bittersweet for all of us. We'll be glad to have Chris home a little more, but we know how much he'll miss reffing games until November. Luckily, he has IU basketball and March Madness to keep him entertained for the next few weeks!

02 March 2012

The world through Avery's eyes

For Christmas, Mommaw and Poppaw Clark gave Avery her first digital camera. She loves taking pictures of anything and everything around her. So I thought I'd share some of these photos. It's fun to see her perspective on her world!

Her cat Oliver wearing her baby Dora's purple Crocs. And in the background, one of the sisters from the doll house is holding the baby.

Avery's Great-Great Uncle Bob.

Avery's Great Aunt Linda.

Daddy, after a visit to Avery's beauty shop.

The new toy storage set she got for her birthday.

An outlet in the living room.


The carpet in the living room.

Peter Cottontail, one of her favorite playmates all the time not just at Easter.

She's getting a lot better about getting the whole object in the viewfinder and not taking pictures of the floor all of the time. She may be a budding photographer!