22 June 2017

15 June 2017

08 June 2017

01 June 2017

19 May 2017

1 to 20 and 20 to 1

Damon quickly picked up counting to 10. (He may be a numbers guru like Daddy!) So naturally we moved on to counting to 20. That proved a little more difficult. He tended to forget 13 and 16. But about a month ago, he finally started saying all 20 numbers without any prompting.

Then we moved on to counting backwards from 20. He still needs a little coaxing, but he’s starting to figure it out. And here is the video proof!


video

He also can count to 49 without help. After that, he needs help with the tens. Thanks to two grandmas who are former teachers and a big sister who wishes she was a teacher, Damon is getting plenty of “classroom” instruction.


18 May 2017

11 May 2017

09 May 2017

BSF 2016-2017: What I learned this year

In the blink of an eye, we are finished with our study of the Gospel of John! Here is what I learned this year:


What I learned in my personal study

Jesus’ love knows no bounds. He loved me so much that He willingly died on the cross for me. My heart was broken as I again read about Jesus’ brutal death and willing sacrifice. And then I considered that He did all of that for me. Who am I that He should love me that much? I am so grateful and blessed that He calls me His child!

Jesus is concerned about the details. John recorded so many details about Jesus’ life, especially related to the prophesies surrounding His death, burial, and crucifixion. And Jesus was concerned about many details in His followers’ lives, things many of us would have overlooked. I’m a detail person too, so it’s comforting to know that God cares about every detail of our lives!


What I learned by serving in the School Program

God will make His plan for our lives very clear. All we need to do is listen and obey. Just before this BSF year began, God revealed to me that He was calling me to leave BSF. I needed to be sure that I heard His plan correctly. I spent many months praying for clarity and confirmation from Him. He did just that, giving me peace that I was making the right decision. So after 14 years in BSF with nine being in a leadership position, it is time for me to leave this organization. God has given me many years of training and preparation through my studies in BSF so now I can train Avery and Damon to read and understand God’s Word, pray to Him, and become His children.


I hope you enjoyed our study through the book of John! Have my posts 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 a study of the book of Romans next year. Or find a Bible study at your local church, 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.


04 May 2017

02 May 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 21

John ends his Gospel with an interesting story – an appearance by Jesus to the disciples.

Seven of the eleven disciples were at the Sea of Galilee. They were obeying Jesus’ instructions to wait for Him in Galilee. They decided to go fishing all night. At first, they didn’t catch any fish. Then early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t recognize Him. He asked if they had any fish. When they replied in the negative, He instructed them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. When they did this, they brought in 153 fish.

Then John recognized that the figure on the shore was Jesus. Peter jumped in the water and swam to Jesus. The other disciples hauled in their catch in the boat. When they landed on the shore, they saw a fire with fish and bread on it. Jesus invited them to have breakfast with Him. He invited them to participate by adding their fish to the meal. They certainly didn’t eat all of them but probably sold many of them to earn money since they were going to head out on a mission for Jesus and needed some financial support.

After feeding the disciples physically, Jesus fed them spiritually. He restored Peter to a right standing with Him. Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter answered “yes” three times. Previously Peter denied Jesus three times; now Jesus gave him three chances to confess his love for Him.

Jesus commanded Peter to feed His lambs, take care of His sheep, and feed His sheep. Lambs could represent new believers. Sheep could represent established believers. Jesus reinstated, restored, and recommissioned Peter. Because Peter’s sin was public, Jesus publicly restored him. Peter’s discipline prepared him for feeding Jesus’ sheep.

Next Jesus predicted Peter’s death. Jesus said Peter would die by crucifixion. Tradition tells us that Peter indeed was crucified. But because he didn’t think he was worthy to die in the same manner as Christ, Peter was crucified upside down.

Jesus had this conversation with Peter, and John was following them. Jesus again commanded Peter to follow Him. “What about him?” Peter asked about John. Jesus said what He does with John is not Peter’s concern. This reminds us to stay focused on our callings from God and follow Him instead of being concerned about God’s calling on others’ lives. We should not be distracted by ourselves, others, or our circumstances. We should care for one another but remain focused on Christ and His work for us.

Things to Think About
  • Jesus calls all of His disciples to be fishers of men. Being a fisher of men requires courage, faith, and persistence.
  • Where has Jesus directed you to spend time and effort fishing for people?
  • Our love for Christ must be our motive for serving Him. If we love Christ, we must love His sheep too.
  • God has individualized plans for His children. He has common purposes for all of us, but He also has unique purposes for each of us.
  • Are you seeking to live out God’s purpose for you? Are you comparing your purpose to someone else’s?
  • Are your eyes on Christ or someone else?

This Week’s Memory Verse
He said, “Lord you know all things; you know that I love you. ” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:17 NIV


27 April 2017

25 April 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 20

Jesus died on Friday. On Sunday morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene and other women went to Jesus’ tomb to finish preparing His body for burial. They likely didn’t know that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had prepared Jesus’ body so well.

When she arrived, Mary saw that the stone was moved from the tomb and Jesus’ body was gone. Her first thought was that Jesus’ body was stolen. She ran and told the disciples.

If someone had stolen Jesus’ body, they would not have unwrapped His body and left the grave clothes behind in the tomb, lain as if a body had been there.

When the disciples heard Mary’s report, Peter and John ran to the tomb. John reached the tomb first and looked inside. Peter ran inside the tomb. John was reserved, and Peter was reactive. Both were reflective; they examined the empty tomb and its contents. John looked and believed. John and Peter left the tomb. Then Mary returned.

Mary was crying and looked in the tomb. She saw two angels, one where Jesus’ head was lying and one where Jesus’ feet were lying. The angels asked why she was crying. She said it was because someone took Jesus away. Then she turned and looked at another man. It was Jesus, though she didn’t recognize Him. He also asked her why she was crying. Mary thought Jesus was the gardener. She asked Him where Jesus’ body was. Jesus spoke her name, and she immediately recognized Him. Jesus’ voice broke through Mary’s tears and sorrow.

Jesus told her not to cling to Him because He had a limited amount of time on earth. He told her to go to the disciples and tell them that He was on earth for only a little while longer. He still needed to prepare them for the work He had called them to do. Mary obeyed.

On Sunday evening, the disciples (minus Thomas) were gathered together in a locked room. Suddenly Jesus appeared among them and said, “Peace be with you.” He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed.

Jesus told the disciples He was sending them out for a purpose. We will discuss their commission next week.

Finally, He breathed on them the power of the Holy Spirit. They wouldn’t receive the Holy Spirit until Pentecost (40 days later). But they needed the power and protection of the Holy Spirit now. Jesus gave them the authority to speak the truth of the Good News. He gave them the authority to tell repentant sinners that their sins are forgiven.

Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them. Later they told him what happened. Thomas said he needed to see Jesus’ nail marks and pierced side before he could believe that Jesus had resurrected.

One week later, the disciples were gathered together again in a locked room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus suddenly appeared among them. He told Thomas to put his finger in His nail-scarred hands and to put his hand in His pierced side. He commanded Thomas to stop doubting and believe. Through His omnipotence, Jesus used the same words Thomas used to encourage his belief!

Thomas believed and proclaimed Jesus as “my Lord and my God.” Jesus blessed Thomas for his belief upon seeing Jesus. Then He gave a blessing to those who believe without seeing. That is me! Is that you? Are you blessed because you haven’t seen Him but have believed in Him?

Things to Think About
  • The Lord provides evidence to cause us to believe in Jesus’ resurrection. The evidence for John was the unoccupied grave clothes. The evidence for Mary was hearing Jesus speak her name. Which evidence did God use to lead you to believe in Jesus’ resurrection?
  • Jesus sent Mary to tell the disciples about His resurrection. Jesus also calls each believer to tell others about His death and resurrection.
  • Jesus sent the disciples to tell others about the forgiveness of sins. Jesus also calls each believer to tell others about the forgiveness of sins available only through Him.

This Week’s Memory Verse
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29 NIV


20 April 2017

18 April 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 19:31-42

Jesus died much sooner than typical crucifixion victims. That’s because He gave up His life Himself. The gospel writers carefully described Jesus’ physical death, which led to His physical resurrection. The writers confirmed that Jesus died, discrediting the rumor that He didn’t really die.

The Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies left on the crosses overnight (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). They were zealous to keep the Sabbath but were willing to kill an innocent man. They were zealous to keep the minutia of the law while at the same time killing the Man who both authored and fulfilled the Law. They were scrupulously concerned that the land not be defiled but were unconcerned about their own defilement for murdering the Son of God.

The Jewish leaders asked that the legs of those being crucified be broken so they would die quickly. By breaking the legs, the crucified person could not push himself up to breathe. The soldiers broke the legs of the men crucified next to Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw He was already dead.

Instead of breaking Jesus’ legs, one soldier pierced Jesus’ side to be sure He was dead. Blood and water flowed out of Jesus’ body. The water was from the pericardium surrounding the heart, and the blood was from the heart itself. Jesus really died.

Scriptures were fulfilled when Jesus’ bones were unbroken (Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12, Psalm 34:12) and when Jesus’ side was pierced (Zechariah 12:10). The soldiers didn’t do what they were supposed to do (break His legs) and did do what they weren’t supposed to do (pierce His side). Both actions fulfilled God’s Word.

Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. Pilate gave Jesus’ body to Joseph. Nicodemus assisted Joseph. He brought 75 pounds of spices to prepare Jesus’ body. This amount was appropriate for a king. Nicodemus honored Jesus as the King of kings.

Joseph and Nicodemus wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices and linen. When they touched Jesus’ dead body, they defiled themselves according to Jewish law. They could not participate in the earthly Passover, but they had found the true Passover Lamb.

In the place where Jesus was crucified was a garden with a tomb that had never been used. Joseph and Nicodemus buried Jesus there.

Things to Think About
  • Jesus’ death was not an accident; it was a divine appointment. He willingly gave His life for us. Death didn’t surprise Him because He controlled it (John 10:17-18).
  • The Cross proves God’s power to accomplish His plan for His people.
  • Through Jesus’ death, we become reconciled to God. Apart from Christ, we face nothing but condemnation (Colossians 1:19-20).
  • How have you acknowledged that Jesus died on your behalf and took your punishment for your sins?
  • How does your life reflect your belief that Jesus completed your salvation on the Cross?
  • Believers participate in Jesus’ burial by choosing to bury their old ways of life. Our old ways of life are sin.
  • Do you believe Jesus died a substitutionary death for you?

This Week’s Memory Verse
These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” John 19:36-37 NIV


13 April 2017

12 April 2017

Avery’s friend birthday party

Two years ago, Avery hosted her first friend birthday party. She had a great time, so this crazy mama offered to have another friend party this year.

I gave her several theme options, and she chose Pancakes and Pajamas. She loved the idea of eating breakfast foods in the middle of the day while wearing pajamas!

Avery invited four girls from church and three girls from school. She has chosen some wonderful friends! We love all of them!

We started off the party with making edible necklaces out of Fruit Loops. That was a bit of a bust because I used yarn instead of a sturdier material. The Fruit Loops didn’t thread onto the yarn very well. Lesson learned.




Then we enjoyed the breakfast buffet. I went all out with a pancakes/waffle station complete with three fruits, whipped cream, chocolate chips, sprinkles, and syrup. We also had fruit and yogurt parfaits, cereal, and bacon along with milk and orange juice. I was shocked that the girls didn’t eat very much. They preferred to eat the pancake toppings without the pancakes! So we still have a freezer full of pancakes.

After brunch, we played a fun candy game and then Truth or Dare. That one was quite entertaining!





Then Avery opened her presents.




Besides wearing their pajamas, Avery asked the girls to bring their favorite stuffed friends. They loved taking pictures together! The ring pops that look like pacifiers are thanks to a last-minute purchase by Daddy.






If someone can explain to me the fascination with dabbing, I’d really appreciate it.

Finally, the girls spent a lot of time playing in Avery’s room. This wasn’t so much a party as it was a huge playdate! And that was fine with me because Avery and all of her guests were happy at the end of the day.

I couldn’t have done this party without Aunt Karen’s assistance and Daddy’s work on the pancakes, waffles, and bacon!


11 April 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 19:18-30

Last week we saw that Jesus was beaten, flogged, and sentenced to die by crucifixion. He was forced to carry the crossbar of His cross on the mile-long walk to Golgotha (or Calvary). This place was outside the city of Jerusalem. It was a public place on a main road full of people coming to Jerusalem for Passover.

Traditionally a sign was posted on the cross, indicating the criminal’s charge. Pilate ordered Jesus’ sign to read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The sign was written in Aramaic (the language of religion, the language of the Jews), Latin (the language of law, the language of the Romans), and Greek (the language of philosophy, the language of the foreigners in Jerusalem). These languages allowed all people to read the sign declaring Jesus as the King and Savior of the entire world.

An unseen sign also was posted on the cross; a list of your sins – past, present, and future.

The soldiers who crucified Jesus took His clothes. They divided them into four pieces (outer garment, sandals, turban, girdle). The undergarment remained in one piece; the soldiers cast lots for the undergarment. Jesus willingly was disrobed so we could be clothed in His righteousness. God looks at believers and sees Jesus’ purity and righteousness instead of our sins.

The people passing by mocked Jesus and hurled insults at Him. In the midst of this chaos, Jesus was focused on His followers. Jesus instructed the apostle John to care for His mother, Mary. John obeyed and took care of Mary after Jesus’ death. Five people were at the cross, identifying themselves as Jesus’ followers – Mary, Jesus’ mother; Mary, the wife of Clopas; Mary Magdalene; the disciple John; John’s mother, Salome, who also was John’s mother.

Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” The soldiers offered Him wine vinegar on a hyssop stalk. The wine vinegar was a cheap wine that the soldiers drank. Hyssop symbolizes cleansing (Exodus 12, Psalm 51).

After Jesus took the drink, He triumphantly says, “It is finished.” Then He willingly gave up His spirit. “It is finished” is translated “paid in full.” Jesus’ death paid for all of your sins. He accomplished the work God gave Him to do.

Jesus’ death was not an accident. Jesus was committed to completing the work God gave Him to do. He accomplished everything God set out for Him to do.

Things to Think About
  • Jesus is King.
  • Is Jesus your King? Do you live like He is your King?
  • Throughout the pain, humiliation, and ridicule of His crucifixion, Jesus loved and cared for the people dearest to Him.
  • Do you love others as Jesus loves them?
  • Jesus sees, knows, and cares for those He loves.
  • Jesus was aware of everything that happened during His crucifixion. Nothing took Him by surprise.
  • Jesus completed the work of redemption.
  • Have you been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb?

This Week’s Memory Verse
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 NIV


06 April 2017

05 April 2017

2017 brackets: Championship update and trophy presentation

Another bracket challenge is in the books.




Grandma was so excited that she won. I reluctantly relinquished the trophy to her yesterday. Avery simply acted like a goofball during the trophy presentation.

Avery is improving every year. We're not surprised that Damon is dead last this year. Though I'm sure Daddy will do such a good job passing along his basketball knowledge to Damon that he will win the trophy soon enough!

Here are the final rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

Shirley
0-1 in Championship Game
43-20 overall
700 total points

Chris
0-1 in Championship Game
44-19 overall
660 total points

Karen
0-1 in Championship Game
38-25 overall
640 total points

Teresa
0-1 in Championship Game
38-25 overall
600 total points

Jon
0-1 in Championship Game
38-25 overall
560 total points

Connie
0-1 in Championship Game
35-28 overall
540 total points

Avery
0-1 in Championship Game
33-30 overall
510 total points

Damon
0-1 in Championship Game
17-46 overall
200 total points

Until next year!


04 April 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 18:28-19:17

Welcome back from spring break! Before our short break, we saw Jesus in several illegal Jewish trials. The Jewish leaders were made up of Pharisees and Sadducees. They were staunch enemies, but they united to condemn Christ to death.

They had the authority in their own law to stone Jesus to death. But they wanted to crucify Him and could not carry out capital punishment because they were under Roman rule. The Roman governor had to approve the request to crucify Jesus.

The Jewish leaders took Jesus to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. The Jewish leaders were scheming and manipulating Pilate to get their way. Pilate asked the Jewish leaders for their charge against Jesus. Pilate told them to judge Jesus by their own laws. The Jewish leaders said they wanted to crucify Jesus and had no right to do so.

What was Jesus’ crime? Luke 23 tells us the three charges against Jesus – He led the nation of Israel astray, He was opposed to paying tribute to Caesar, He claimed to be the Jewish Messiah and King. The first two charges were lies; the third charge was true.

Pilate summoned Jesus and questioned Him. Jesus continued to reveal the truth about Himself to Pilate. Jesus told Pilate that He was a King and was born to testify about God. Jesus gave Pilate many opportunities to see and accept the truth about God. But Pilate rejected Him.

Pilate found no reason to sentence Jesus to death. Pilate offered to release Jesus. The crowd called for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus. Barabbas was a thief and a murderer who led an uprising against Roman rule.

Pilate had Jesus flogged. What is flogging? A leather whip with knots and shards of glass or metal was used to hit the back of the criminal. Soldiers created a crown of thorns and put it on Jesus’ head. Soldiers mocked Jesus by putting a royal purple robe on Jesus and saying, “Hail, king of the Jews.”

Then Pilate brought Jesus before the crowd and announced that he could find no charge against Jesus. The crowd called for Jesus’ crucifixion.

Eventually Pilate handed Jesus over to the crowd to be crucified.

All of this happened to fulfill Scripture. More on that next week!

Things to Think About
  • Jesus withstood six illegal, unfair trials – three Jewish trials and three Roman trials.
  • The only way to overcome sin’s effects is to accept Jesus as your Savior, the One who died and took the punishment for your sins.

This Week’s Memory Verse
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37 NIV


02 April 2017

2017 brackets: Final Four update

A Final Four update really isn't necessary since Grandma has wrapped up the trophy and everyone went 0-2 in this round. But to stick with tradition, here's our update anyway!

Here are the latest rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

Shirley
0-2 in Final Four
43-19 overall

Chris
0-2 in Final Four
44-18 overall

Karen
0-2 in Final Four
38-24 overall

Teresa
0-2 in Final Four
38-24 overall

Jon
0-2 in Final Four
38-24 overall

Connie
0-2 in Final Four
35-27 overall

Avery
0-2 in Final Four
33-29 overall

Damon
0-2 in Final Four
17-45 overall


31 March 2017

8-year doctor’s appointment

We had Avery’s annual doctor’s appointment on Wednesday. I was curious to see how she’s grown over the past year. Here are her latest stats:

Weight – 46.8 pounds, an increase of almost 5.5 pounds since last year (between 10th and 25th percentile)
Height – 46.25 inches, an increase of 1.75 inches since last year (between 3rd and 5th percentile)

Nurse Janie commented that Avery is 46 squared – 46 pounds and 46 inches! While Avery is small, she continues to grow appropriately according to the growth chart. And that’s all that matters!

Dr. Roscoe said we need to continue discussing scenarios with her. She needs to know how she would handle emergencies, stranger danger, and other common situations where she might find herself.


30 March 2017

27 March 2017

2017 brackets: Elite Eight update

Don't you love watching underdogs win? I sure do! This was a thrilling Elite Eight round. Shirley has pretty much secured the trophy this year (her first victory since we instituted the sparkling gold trophy!). Avery was actually very close to winning this year. If Florida had held on, Avery would have been fighting for the trophy with Grandma.

Here are the latest rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

Shirley
0-4 in Elite Eight
43-17 overall

Chris
0-4 in Elite Eight
44-16 overall

Karen
1-3 in Elite Eight
38-22 overall

Teresa
0-4 in Elite Eight
38-22 overall

Jon
0-4 in Elite Eight
38-22 overall

Connie
0-4 in Elite Eight
35-25 overall

Avery
0-4 in Elite Eight
33-27 overall

Damon
0-4 in Elite Eight
17-43 overall


25 March 2017

2017 brackets: Sweet Sixteen update

I'd venture to say this was the most exciting Sweet Sixteen round in several years. So many close games. And brackets are busted all over the place, thanks to losses by Villanova and Arizona.

Here are the latest rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

Shirley
5-3 in Sweet Sixteen
43-13 overall

Chris
3-5 in Sweet Sixteen
44-12 overall

Teresa
4-4 in Sweet Sixteen
38-18 overall

Karen
3-5 in Sweet Sixteen
37-19 overall

Jon
3-5 in Sweet Sixteen
38-18 overall

Connie
3-5 in Sweet Sixteen
35-21 overall

Avery
3-5 in Sweet Sixteen
33-23 overall

Damon
0-8 in Sweet Sixteen
17-39 overall


23 March 2017

21 March 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 18:1-27

Jesus led His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. He chose to go to the place where He knew Judas would find Him. Judas brought a detachment of soldiers (up to 600 men), officials, and chief priests with him to arrest Jesus.

Jesus asked the soldiers who they were looking for. When they responded, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus responded, “I AM.” He was proclaiming His position as God. The soldiers fell down at Jesus’ glory.

After the soldiers picked themselves up, Jesus again asked who they were looking for. Again, He said, “I AM.” Jesus commanded that the soldiers let His disciples go. He was trying to protect His disciples.

Peter drew a sword and cut off a servant’s ear. Jesus rebuked Peter and told him to put away his sword. Peter was demonstrating his rebellion against the will of God. Jesus healed the servant’s ear.

The soldiers arrested Jesus, bound Him, and took Him to Annas. Annas was the former high priest.

Jesus was in full control of this situation, and He was in full surrender to God’s will. Jesus accepted His Father’s will and submitted to it. Jesus did not fight against God’s will. He knew God was in control. And He knew there was no other way for us to be with God unless Jesus died on the cross.

Annas led the Jewish trial against Jesus. It was an illegal trial for many reasons, including because it was held at night, Annas asked self-incriminating questions of Jesus, and Annas should not have led the trial.

Peter and another disciple were in the courtyard and witnessed Jesus being transported from Annas to Caiaphas. In the courtyard, a servant girl asked Peter if he was a disciple of Jesus. Peter said he wasn’t. More people in the courtyard asked Peter if he was a disciple of Jesus. Peter said he wasn’t. A relative of the servant whose ear Peter had cut off told Peter that he saw him with Jesus. For the third time, Peter denied knowing Jesus. Then the rooster crowed, reminding Peter of Jesus’ prediction earlier that night.

At the same time that Jesus willingly faced God’s plan, Peter was fearful and denied knowing Jesus. When we are focused on fear, we are led astray from Jesus.

Things to Think About
  • Jesus was not a victim of circumstance; He was a victor.
  • Jesus willingly let Himself be arrested and willingly subjected Himself to unfair trials, leading to an unjust crucifixion.
  • Do you deliberately choose to accept and submit to God’s will, even when it involves suffering, pain, and loss?

This Week’s Memory Verse
Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” John 18:11 NIV


20 March 2017

2017 brackets: Second Round update

Wow! What a Second Round that was! There were some tight games and great upsets. Chris and my dad are looking pretty good with more than 40 winners guessed correctly. The girls in the family are in the middle, even Avery! And poor Damon is pulling up the rear.

Here are the latest rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

Chris
13-3 in Second Round
41-7 overall

Shirley
12-4 in Second Round
38-10 overall

Karen
10-6 in Second Round
34-14 overall

Jon
9-7 in Second Round
35-13 overall

Teresa
10-6 in Second Round
34-14 overall

Connie
10-6 in Second Round
32-16 overall

Avery
9-7 in Second Round
30-18 overall

Damon
3-13 in Second Round
17-31 overall


18 March 2017

2017 brackets: First Round update

Honestly, I haven't gotten into the tournament so much this year. I've barely watched any games, so Chris has kept me apprised of the scores and standings. The first round went pretty well for everyone. It's a pretty tight race right now...well, except for Damon who lost his champion already!

Here is our first update of the tournament (rankings are in order of ESPN points standing):

Chris
28-4 in First Round

Shirley
26-6 in First Round

Jon
26-6 in First Round

Teresa
24-8 in First Round

Karen
24-8 in First Round

Connie
22-10 in First Round

Avery
21-11 in First Round

Damon

14-18 in First Round


16 March 2017

15 March 2017

2017 brackets: Our picks

The tournament begins tomorrow! So tonight we completed our brackets.

Since this was Damon's first time to join the friendly family tournament, we captured the momentous occasion on two videos.




Damon's First Round picks




video
Damon's Final Four picks




video
And Avery couldn't be left out of the fun. Here are her Final Four picks.

For the full picture, here are our four brackets:




Chris




Teresa




Avery




Damon

Good luck to everyone!


14 March 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 17

In this week’s passage, Jesus prayed aloud to God. He had a conversation with His Father, out loud, and invited His disciples to enter God’s throneroom. Jesus prayed for Himself, for His disciples, and for all believers.

Jesus’ prayer for Himself was that He would glorify His Father and that His Father would glorify Him. What does it mean to glorify God? To give Him honor and respect, to reveal who God is to other people. Christ brought the Father glory by completing the work God gave Him to do. This work was to make God known on earth.

Jesus gave eternal life to everyone the Father had given to Him. Jesus considers believers to be gifts from God.

Jesus knew He belonged to God, and He lived accordingly. He brought glory to God with everything He said and did. We should do the same. We should live as Jesus’ treasured possessions.

Jesus’ prayer for His disciples was that they would be protected and sanctified. Jesus was going back to the Father, but the disciples were staying on earth. Jesus asked God to protect the disciples by His name, by His nature. Jesus asked God to protect the disciples from Satan. Jesus asked God to sanctify the disciples, to set them apart for God’s holy use.

Jesus noted that the disciples were in the world but not of the world. To be in the world is to be present in the world. To not be of the world is not to follow the world’s system in regard to belief, behavior, and standards. Believers are present in the world but don’t have the same beliefs, behaviors, and standards of the unbelieving world. God called us to live in the world but to be so different than the world that people would be drawn to God through our words and actions.

Jesus prayed that all believers would be unified – one message, one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God. We should be unified on the essential truths of the Christian faith.

Things to Think About
  • Jesus’ prayer for Himself was that He would glorify His Father and that His Father would glorify Him.
  • Do you desire to bring God glory? Do you ask God to glorify Himself through you?
  • Jesus’ prayer for His disciples was that they would be protected and sanctified.
  • Jesus’ prayer for all believers was that they would be unified.
  • Is prayer your first resort or your last resort?

This Week’s Memory Verse
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3 NIV


13 March 2017

Here we go!

I’m sure you know that we’re quickly approaching the National Chris Clark Holiday. This special four-day holiday commemorates the start of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. How do you plan to celebrate? Chris will be doing it with pizza, wings, and hours upon hours of basketball games on TV.

Once again, we’re hosting a family bracket challenge. This will be Damon’s first year to complete a bracket. I can’t wait to see what he does with that! This year’s bracket is a tough one, so I’m not sure that I’ll be able to retain the trophy.

Will you join us in our bracket challenge? Complete your bracket online and join our “C2 Family Group” in the ESPN Tournament Challenge. As always, we’ll keep you updated on our results throughout the tournament. May the best basketball fan win!


10 March 2017

Smile for family pictures!

Whenever Casey and family are visiting, we always take some “formal” family pictures. It’s fun to look back at these photos and see how quickly the family has grown and changed! Luckily, all of the kids were in good moods and were happy to cooperate for some fantastic pictures.




Front: Caden, Mike, Damon, Connie, Avery
Back: Shin-ya, Casey, Elvie, Chris, Teresa








09 March 2017

07 March 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 16:5-33

Jesus warned His disciples that they would experience grief and trouble in this world. But He promised them that their grief would turn to joy and that they could live victoriously because Jesus has overcome the world.

The disciples were grieved at the thought of Jesus’ leaving them. Jesus told them it was better that He go away. That way He could sent the Holy Spirit to live with them and all believers.

On earth, Jesus was limited to being in one place at one time. But the Holy Spirit is omnipresent – he can be everywhere at one time.

Jesus explained who the Holy Spirit is and what He does.

  • He leads and guides believers to the truth of God.
  • He lives inside of all believers.
  • He teaches and reminds us about the truth of Scripture.
  • He proves the world wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment.
  • He convicts believers’ hearts when we sin against God.
  • He glorifies Jesus.
  • He gives gifts to each believer.

Jesus reminded the disciples that He was leaving them, but they would see Him again in a little while. The disciples questioned what this meant. Jesus did not ignore or rebuke their grief and sorrow. Instead He acknowledged their sorrow and put everything into a big picture perspective.

He warned them that what was to come (His arrest and death) would be a trying time for them. But He promised to see them again, both after His resurrection and eternally in heaven. Jesus told the disciples they would weep and mourn as the world rejoices at Jesus’ death. But their sorrow would turn to joy when Jesus arises from the dead.

Jesus reminded the disciples that they can pray directly to God the Father. He said that they will receive anything they ask in Jesus’ name. This means praying and asking for things in God’s will, according to God’s Word, and for God’s glory. The Holy Spirit enables us to pray in this way.

The disciples confessed their belief in Him. Then Jesus told them they will be scattered. Jesus promised that we will have trouble in this world, but He also promised that we can have peace in Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

Things to Think About
  • We are living in a world filled with troubled times. But God is always faithful to us.
  • We live our lives to the glory of God by relying on the Holy Spirit’s help.
  • Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to lead you, to help you, to guide you into God’s truth?
  • Jesus provides everything believers need to live a victorious life in this troubled world.

This Week’s Memory Verse
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13 NIV


02 March 2017

28 February 2017

BSF 2016-2017: 1 John

In the Gospel of John, we’ve been studying Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples just before His crucifixion. Last week we saw that Jesus instructed His disciples to remain in Him. This week we studied the full book of 1 John. This letter, written by the same John who wrote the Gospel of John, tells us how to remain in Christ.

The book of 1 John uses the word “know” 40 times. John explains how people can know Jesus is God and how they can know they have eternal life. 1 John is called the Book of Certainties.

God is light (1 John 1:1-2:2). “Light” is used six times in this letter. God is light. His holiness penetrates the darkness of sin and evil. Light indicates life, glory, radiance, purity, holiness.

Chapter 1 includes three claims and three remedies. For the claim of habitual sin, the remedy is obedience. For the claim of sinlessness, the remedy is confession. For the claim of perfectionism, the remedy is the Advocate Jesus Christ who pleads our case.

Sin is any lack of conformity to the will of God. Sin is more than a behavior problem; it’s a character and judgment problem. Sin has eternal consequence. All of us are sinners. Sin affects all aspects of our lives because it causes us to fall short of God’s standard. Sin contaminates our attitudes, actions, and relationships.

God is love (1 John 2:3-4:21). “Love” is used 33 times in this letter.

God calls His followers to obedience. As we live in Christ, we will be obedient. Our lives need to match our words. Loving fellow believers is a true test of our genuine faith. Love of the world squeezes out love of God. God calls believers His children. He deeply loves us.

Next John explains how to identify and defeat false teachers. He presents three characteristics of false teachers: they are not in fellowship with other believers; they deny that Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man, died to pay the penalty for sin; and they try to deceive the faithful.

Loving God includes loving people. John presents three facts about God that lead us to love others as He has loved us:

  • What God is – God is love.
  • What God did – God sent His Son.
  • What God is doing – God abides in us.

God is life (1 John 5:1-21). “Life” is used 15 times in this letter.

God gives victory over the world. We cannot overcome the world by fighting it; we only need to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

John ends his letter with a warning – keep yourself from idols. Anything that stands between a believer and Jesus is an idol. Reject what is false and embrace what is true.

Things to Think About
  • Regular confession of sin is necessary. How do you model confession of sin to those in your life?
  • In what ways are you seeking worldliness instead of God?
  • How can you use God’s Word to defeat Satan’s efforts to lead us to worldliness?
  • Either we have Christ by faith or we do not; there is no middle ground (1 John 5:12).

This Week’s Memory Verse
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9 NIV


23 February 2017

21 February 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 15:1-16:4

At the end of chapter 14, Jesus instructed the disciples to leave with Him. His conversation and teachings with them continued, whether it was still in the Upper Room or on the road as they traveled to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus continued to comfort His disciples before His death.

Jesus called Himself the true vine. As the original vine, Israel was supposed to make God known to the world. Israel was God’s righteous representatives to the world. Now Jesus was the true vine; His mission was to make God known to the world.

Jesus called God the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t bear fruit, and He prunes every branch that does bear fruit to make it more fruitful. Judas (an unbeliever) was cut off; he lived and worked among the disciples but never placed his faith in Jesus. The other disciples (believers) were pruned; sin was removed from their lives so they could be more fruitful for God. To be pruned is to be cut back not to be cut off. Every Christian will be pruned.

Jesus commanded His followers to remain in Him. How? Through worship, studying His Word, meditating on His Word, prayer, and service. The Holy Spirit helps us accomplish all of this.

We cannot bear fruit unless we stay connected to Jesus, the vine. We cannot remain alive without the vine. Without Jesus, we cannot bear spiritual fruit. We can do nothing without Him.

All believers are called to bear the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. All believers are called to obey God’s commandments. All believers are called to display Christ-like characteristics. All believers are called to be united with each other.

Jesus began to warn His disciples about hatred and persecution from the world. He told them this so they wouldn’t fall away from Him and so they would have peace.

“The world” here is people who reject Jesus and His followers because they do not believe Him or the Father who sent Jesus. Jesus promised His disciples they would be hated and persecuted, but He encouraged them to remain in Him. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to empower and remind His followers about Jesus’ teachings.

Things to Think About
  • God tenderly and purposefully prunes believers.
  • Every Christian will be pruned. Ask God what He wants to produce in you through this pruning.
  • God prunes us with grace and kindness. He doesn’t use a hatchet but carefully and kindly examines us and removes the bad from our lives.
  • Christians do not belong to the world. We belong to Jesus. Because we belong to Him, we will be rejected and hated by the world.
  • God empowers believers to persevere through hardships, hatred, and persecution.
  • Troubled times are coming, but cling to Jesus and remain in Him and His promises.

This Week’s Memory Verse
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 NIV


Eight years

Oh my.

I remember Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009, like it was just yesterday. It was the day our family changed forever.




This beautiful baby girl was born, and my heart exploded with a love I never knew existed.




I can't believe that this precious baby now is 8 years old.




She is a loving, caring, smart, funny, talented young lady, and she continues to surprise us every day.

Avery, you are an amazing girl. Keep relying on God as you learn and grow. Without Him, you can do nothing. With Him, you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams!

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 NIV


20 February 2017

20 questions with Avery :: 8 years old

It’s time for another installment of Avery’s annual 20 questions! Check out her previous responses.



1. What is your favorite color? Neon pink

2. What is your favorite toy? Barbies

3. What is your favorite fruit? Raspberries

4. What is your favorite TV show? Henry Danger

5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Cold pizza, if we have any

6. What is your favorite outfit? My Supergirl shirt and leggings

7. What is your favorite game? Operation

8. What is your favorite snack? Candy and sour bubble gum

9. What is your favorite animal? Cat

10. What is your favorite song? Uptown Funk

11. What is your favorite book? Captain Underpants books

12. Who is your best friend? Savannah (at school)

13. What is your favorite cereal? Lucky Charms

14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Ride my bike, with no training wheels

15. What is your favorite drink? Sprite

16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? My Pillow Pet

18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Pop-Tarts

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Texas Roadhouse

20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A teacher


16 February 2017

15 February 2017

The Japan Clarks' visit in pictures

We just finished up a wonderful visit with Casey and his family! It was 10 days full of family, fun, and food!

I'm always amazed at how quickly the kids adjust to being together. And this time Damon was no different. He made two new friends in his cousins Shin-ya and Caden.

Here are plenty of snapshots from the week's activities.
























Since Shin-ya's birthday is coming up in a few weeks and we've never gotten to celebrate with him, we had a little surprise party for him, complete with a basketball-themed birthday cake. He really was surprised!










While we were all together, we took some semi-professional group pictures. I'll post those separately later!