27 May 2012

26 May 2012

You can call me a soccer mom now

Today was Avery's first soccer clinic. First, we were struck at how quickly she's grown; we can't believe she's old enough to learn how to play soccer. But then we saw how tiny and short she was compared to the other kids. Just look at her in her "uniform." Her socks are so long that Chris more than doubled them over. And you can barely see her kneecaps since her shorts are so big.

And check out her socks. Yes, those are the heels of the socks sitting at her calves.

First, Coach Mandy asked the kids to kick the ball back and forth with their parents. Avery is already pretty good at this, thanks to Daddy's training at home.

Coach Mandy then taught the kids how to dribble. She asked them to dribble and score in each goal. It definitely was a good thing that Daddy was there to help Avery. A few times, she needed to hold his hand just to get started. Then she was more willing to try it by herself.

Avery was a little slow and couldn't kick the ball very far in front of her. But she did a great job!

Avery even did all of this in front of an audience! It was sweet how everyone, including the kids, cheered when each player made a goal.

Next, the kids practiced hitting the ball with their knees, chests and heads. Avery actually really liked doing this!

Finally, Coach Mandy led a game of sharks and minnows. Avery didn't like the idea that Mandy was a "bad shark," so it took her a long time before she decided to participate. I'm sure she'll do better next week.

Their reward at the end of the session was receiving a T-shirt. Avery was most excited about this. She wouldn't even let Daddy carry the shirt to the car!

She chattered all the way home about how much fun she had and how excited she is about going back next week. And we can't wait to practice all of her new skills at home. We're glad she enjoyed this new experience so much!

22 May 2012

BSF 2011-2012: What I learned this year

I can't believe that my ninth year of BSF is over! I think this one was the fastest yet. Here is my quick summary of the things that impacted me this year.

What I learned in my personal study
  • I loved getting a glimpse of Paul's personality. This is what I saw in Paul: He was dedicated, he loved others, he wasn't afraid to share the gospel, he persevered through persecution, he knew God's Word inside and out, he was passionate, he knew when to be quiet and when to speak up, he was sold out to God. He was imitating God through all of this. I want to imitate God and show Him to others around me through my actions and attitudes.
  • God is faithful. His plan cannot be thwarted. God had an incredible plan for bringing the gospel to the Gentile world, and he used the unlikely man of Paul to do it. Through all of the early church's trials and persecutions, the gospel still went out to the ends of the earth -- God's plan continued as He wanted.
  • The Holy Spirit has incomprehensible power. He converts unbelieving sinners to believers, He changes our actions and attitudes and He intercedes on our behalf to God. Unfortunately, many Christians don't tap into the Holy Spirit's power as often as we should.
What I learned in the Children's Program
  • When we're united by Christ, women from many different walks of life and many different churches can come together to grow in our own faith, be trained to lead children, then teach children the awesome truths in God's Word.
  • All children are precious to God. His plan of salvation is not so complicated that a young child or a child with special needs can't see his need for a Savior and come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Prayer is a powerful weapon in the battle against sin and Satan.What a privilege it is to pray for fellow believers.
What Avery learned in the Preschool Program
Avery attended a BSF day group with my mom both last year and this year. Avery enjoyed it last year, but it seems she was little more engaged and interested this year. I'm amazed at how God can teach difficult doctrines and concepts to small children. I'm more amazed at how quickly Avery learns the lessons and remembers and repeats them. She already has a great foundation for her faith in God!

Here are her recap videos:

Talking about her BSF friends.

Talking about her BSF teachers.

Talking about what she learned in BSF this year.

I hope you've learned something about God and yourself by reading my posts this year. (I plan to repeat this during next year's study!) Are you seeking the truth? Do you want to know more about God and the hope He provides through His Son, Jesus Christ? Please contact me. I want to talk to you!

Has my experience this year piqued your interest about studying God's Word? Are you looking for answers to your questions about Christianity? Check out BSF! Find a class near you and commit to learning about God through the our study of the book of Genesis next year. Or find a Bible study at your local church. Or ask a friend to study with you and hold you accountable. Or start studying on your own. God will reveal amazing things to you and will change you from the inside out when you commit to studying His Word.

18 May 2012

Dressing the next Mia Hamm

Even before Avery was born, Chris and I talked about our kids playing sports. After all, to be a member of this family you'd better like sports! But we didn't think Avery would be able to participate in any organized sports until she was 5 or 6. Then a few months ago, Chris discovered that the local Y has a soccer clinic for 3-year-olds. We figured soccer was a good sport to start with, so we registered Avery for a short four-week soccer skills clinic. The clinic also includes parent participation. Maybe she'll be more likely to try something new if Daddy is doing it alongside her.

After registering Avery, the next thing we had to do was buy soccer equipment.

Trying on shoes.

Look at the tiny shinguards! I had no idea they came in such small sizes.

Here's all of her loot: pink shinguards (size XXS), pink and black shoes (size 8.0K), black shorts (size XS, because there weren't any XXS in this color), white socks (size XS, again because this was the smallest size) and another pink soccer ball (size 3). Avery requested all of the pink. We tried talking her out of some of it!

She's all ready to begin her clinic! It was scheduled to start tomorrow, but we just got a call today that the clinic has been postponed one week. Somehow Avery will have to contain her excitement for one more week.

16 May 2012

Marco Island 2012: The food

This is our final vacation post. I'm sure you're glad to hear that!

The highlight of most any vacation, including this one, is the food. After all, our days revolved around the beach, the pool and meals!

Chris and I wanted to return to a few places we visited on our last trip. But we tried several new eateries, too. We enjoyed BBQ, Mexican and of course plenty of seafood. We pride ourselves on the fact that we ate at a chain restaurant only once. We ate at McDonald's on Sunday after we spent the morning at the beach, mostly because many places were not open for Sunday lunch.

Avery claims that her favorite part of the trip was the ice cream! We indulged in ice cream every night after dinner, except for one night when Avery was not obeying or cooperating.

Dinner on Wednesday night after arriving to Marco Island early in the afternoon. Karen and I each order quesadillas. We actually should have split one instead! The good news is we had plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day!

This was the night that Avery didn't behave very well. We specifically chose pizza for dinner, thinking that she would be all over it. But I don't think she ate even one bite.

One night we wanted to have a "nice" seafood dinner on the waterfront. So we went to the Isle of Capri to a restaurant that we thought fit our requirements. This shack is where we ate.

Avery was so tired! She fell asleep on the five-minute drive then slept in Chris' lap until our meal arrived.

Here was Karen's delicious shrimp scampi. I thought my food was sub par (Chris and Karen liked their meals), the atmosphere was OK, the service left much to be desired and the prices were unreasonable, considering the other factors. I guess we now know never to go back there!

One of our two trips to our favorite ice cream shop on the island. Avery didn't sleep through this!

At our second favorite ice cream shop.

Our final dinner probably was one of my favorites. The food was excellent, the service was stellar and the prices were just right. The patrons weren't as mean and crusty as you might guess from this picture. We wished we had visited this place sooner!

We had to make one final stop at the ice cream shop before going home.

Our departing flight wasn't as early as when we left home. So we had a chance to enjoy one last big meal together before driving back to Fort Lauderdale.

And since I forgot to mention this in any other post...Before we left home, Chris mentioned that he saw a list of celebrities who have homes on Marco Island. We certainly didn't expect to run into any of them. But once while driving, we saw a man waiting to cross the street. As we drove by Chris shouted to us, "That's Mike Vanderjagt!" We so wanted to turn around, admit we are Colts fans and then promptly tell him he's a liquored up, idiot kicker.

15 May 2012

BSF 2011-2012: Acts 21:16-28:31

It's hard to believe, but last night was our last "normal" class night! I can't believe this year nearly over. Next week will be our sharing night, which gives all of my class' participants an opportunity to share what they've learned this year, first within their small groups then to the whole group of attendees. I'll save my thoughts on the year for one final post next Tuesday.

This week we finished the book of Acts. There are a lot of details in these final chapters of Acts, so I hope I can keep it all straight!

We pick up Paul's story in Acts 21:16, where he agrees to perform a Jewish ceremony to keep harmony among the Jewish believers. He didn't have to do this because it wasn't a doctrinal issue. But he showed that he personally adhered to Jewish practices.

During this, Paul's enemies incite the crowd and help create an assassination plot against him. God protects Paul by allowing a Roman commander to arrest him, giving time for formal charges to be determined. Paul is brought before the Sanhedrin to determine the charges. He declares his innocence. In the meantime, Paul's nephew overhears the assassination plot and warns Paul. Paul is taken to Caesarea to see the Roman Governor Felix.

Paul defends himself before Felix and points out there are no witnesses or proof of the charges (that he is turning Jews away from Jewish practices). Paul uses the gospel as the center of his defense. He should have been released, but instead he was held in prison for two years. During these two years, Felix and his wife hear about Christ multiple times. But they refuse to believe.

The new Roman governor, Festus, arrives in Jerusalem where the Jewish leaders ask him to bring Paul back to face charges in the city. They used this as a ploy to kill him. Festus refuses. The Jewish leaders present more false charges, and Paul declares his innocence again. He appeals to Caesar, so Festus agrees to transfer Paul to Rome.

King Agrippa arrives in Caesarea and wants to hear Paul. Paul again fearlessly speaks the gospel, and again the leaders don't respond positively (in fact, Agrippa arrogantly rejects the gospel). But imagine how many other people overheard Paul's speech while in the king's presence! We never know who is watching us or listening to us.

Paul and other prisoners head to Rome by ship. They meet extremely rough seas, and all except Paul give up hope of being saved. Paul is a calm leader, but then the ship wrecks on the island of Malta. There Paul is bit by a snake, and God miraculously heals him. Paul uses this opportunity to evangelize to the islanders.

After spending three months in Malta, Paul finally arrives in Rome. He spends two years there. He has some freedom, but a Roman guard always is present. While in Rome, Paul invites anyone to come to his home and talk to him about the gospel, including Jewish leaders. After the two years, Paul is released. He travels to visit churches but is arrested a second time. During this harsh imprisonment, Paul wrote the letters of I Peter, II Peter, II Timothy and Titus. In 67 or 68 AD, Paul is beheaded under Nero's reign.

It may seem like the book of Acts is unfinished. Well, it is! Christians today are writing the 29th chapter. This book isn't about the lives of the apostles but is about the work of the Holy Spirit. As my teaching leader said in her lecture, "These men weren't concerned with their own safety or sufferings but were consumed with obeying God."

There are so many applications from these final chapters of Acts:
  • What is God asking me to do? How am I responding to Him?
  • Am I walking on the path God has planned for me?
  • Where do I need to willingly share the gospel?
  • Do I ask God for boldness and wisdom to speak to others about Him?
  • How am I helping spread Christianity around the world?
  • When we get to heaven, what will be recorded in "Acts 29" about my life and service to God?

13 May 2012

Marco Island 2012: The house

This post mostly is for the benefit of my family members who want to see my great uncle's house. But if anyone out there is interested in renting this for your own family vacation, holler at me!

This was Avery's bedroom for the week. Since she did such a great job sleeping a grown-up twin bed that we converted her crib to a big girl bed after we got home from vacation.

Karen's room with a daybed.


...with doors going out to the pool.

Combined dining room and living room...

...with more doors to the pool. Karen wanted Chris to run from the couch (where I stood to take the picture) and jump into the pool. But he didn't want to make such a big splash that he'd have to wash all of those doors!

Front door and foyer.

Master bathroom vanity area.

Master bathroom. This color wouldn't work in my house, but it belongs in Florida!

Master bedroom. Those sliding doors came in handy a few times. We let Avery take some afternoon naps in our bed while the rest of us hung out in the pool. We opened those door so we could hear her wake up, then she'd join us in the pool!

The pool is covered with a lanai, which apparently is the only way to have an outdoor pool in Florida. Nearly every house we saw not only had a pool but also a lanai.

The pool and lanai cover the entire back of the house.

One of the features of Marco Island is the numerous canals that lead to the Marco River and finally to the Gulf of Mexico.

My great uncle was a fisherman. Here is his boat dry docked behind his house.

I'm so thankful that Paul and his family let us use their house for the week. It is a wonderful place, and it makes me think about my great uncle and his kind, generous and loud personality!