Archive for May, 2009
Today is the Global Day of Prayer.Â From midnight to midnight, countries and peoples across the globe will be lifting their voices in prayer for healing, for restoration, for blessing to come.
This morning as part of our service, we prayed the prayer below.Â The strength of hundreds of voices rising as one was powerful.Â The words themselves are humbling and sobering if we take the time to let them sink in.Â I encourage you to take the time to read this prayer aloud, as your own individual contribution to our world-wide prayer meeting.
If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.Â (2 Chron. 7:14).
Almighty God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
Together with believers all over the world,
We gather today to glorify Your Name.
You are the Creator of heaven and earth.
There is no one like You, holy and righteous in all Your ways.
We submit to Your authority as the King of the universe.
We pray with one voice to enthrone You in our hearts
and to honour You before the world.
Lord God, You alone are worthy of our praise and adoration.
Our Father in heaven,
Thank You for loving the world so greatly.
You gave Your only Son, Jesus Christ,
to die on the cross for our sins
so that we could be reconciled to You.
We are grateful to call You Father and to be called Your children.
Nothing can separate us from Your love.
Thank You Father, for adopting us into Your family because of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Lord Jesus Christ,
You alone are worthy to open the scrolls of history,
for You were slain and have redeemed us to the Father by Your blood.
We confess that You are Head of the Church
and Lord of all heaven and earth.
May people from every tribe and language become Your followers
so that Your blessing brings transformation among all peoples.
Let Your kingdom be established in every nation of the world
so that governments will rule with righteousness and justice.
And may Your Name be great, from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Jesus Christ, You are the Saviour of the world and the Lord of all.
Father of mercy and grace,
We acknowledge that we have sinned
and that our world is gripped by the power of sin.
Our hearts are grieved by injustice, hatred and violence.
We are shamed by oppression, racism and bloodshed in our land.
We mourn all loss of life in murder, war and terrorism.
Our homes are broken and our churches are divided by rebellion and pride.
Our lives are polluted by selfishness, greed, idolatry and sexual sin.
We have grieved Your heart and brought shame to Your Name.
Have mercy on us as we repent with all our hearts.
God of mercy, forgive our sins.Â Pour out Your grace and heal our land.
Spirit of the living God,
Apart from You, we can do nothing.
Transform Your Church into the image of Jesus Christ.
Release Your power to bring healing to the sick,
freedom to the oppressed and comfort to those who mourn.
Pour Your love into our hearts and fill us with compassion
to answer the call of the homeless and the hungry
and to enfold orphans, widows and the elderly in Your care.
Give us wisdom and insight for the complex problems we face today.
Help us to use the resources of the earth for the well-being of all.
Holy Spirit, we need Your comfort and guidance. Transform our hearts.
Lord Jesus Christ,
Because You were dead, but are now risen,
and the Father has given You a Name above all names,
You will defeat all powers of evil.
Tear down strongholds and ideologies that resist the knowledge of God.
Remove the veil of darkness that covers the peoples.
Restrain the evil that promotes violence and death.
Bring deliverance from demonic oppression.
Break the hold of slavery, tyranny and disease.
Fill us with courage to preach Your word fearlessly,
and to intercede for the lost faithfully.
Almighty God, deliver us from evil.
King of Glory,
Come and finish Your work in our cities, our peoples and our nations.
We lift our voices in unison with believers from Africa and Asia,
from the Middle East and Europe, from North and South America,
and from Australia and the Pacific Islands-together we cry:
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Be lifted up ancient doors
so that the King of glory may come in!
As Your deeds increase throughout the earth,
and as Your blessings abound to all the nations,
they will seek You, asking, “Who is this King of glory?”
Together we will answer:
He is the Lord Almighty!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Come fill the earth with Your glory as the waters cover the sea.
The Spirit and the Bride say:
Amen! Come Lord Jesus!
Today we had a beach party!Â In Texas!Â In 90-plus-degree heat!Â In a parking lot!
Seriously, it was the annual McGowen Family Carnival, one of our major fundraisers for the year.Â We were looking forward to being able to go to the carnival this year, since we missed last yearâ€™s because of Taylorâ€™s graduation.
Now that my scouts are Webelos, Iâ€™m more and more convinced that we need to be involved in leadership and service opportunities.Â So as we began receiving information about the carnival, the other den leaders and I decided our boys would create and man a booth for the carnival.Â We generated the ideas based on requirements from their Bear Handbook (since they could technically continue to earn arrow points toward Bear until the end of May), planned our meetings and home assignments so that every boy could have a part in creating the booth, and developed a volunteer schedule that allowed every boy and family to spend some time serving as a volunteer and some time enjoying the carnival.
Our first task was to create the game.Â We decided on an obstacle course, with 5 different activities.Â Since the theme was a beach party, our activities were based on that:
- walk across a balance beam while being sprayed with water guns (â€œgo surfingâ€)
- jump into a kiddie-pool filled with sand (â€œjump on the sandâ€)
- hop through 7 tires (â€œwalking on the hot sandâ€)
- toss a ball into a bucket (â€œbeach ball tossâ€)
- try to toss bean bags into cans attached to a wooden pole (â€œtiki tossâ€)
- earn a prize (hawaiian-themed tattoos or bubbles)
During our den meetings in May, the boys were busy creating the items for the obstacle course:
covering cans with brightly-colored tissue paper
and painting and decorating the surfboard.
We had scouts who took on projects at home, such as creating our can catcher, painting the stripe on our surfboard,Â and making the sign for our booth.Â We also had scouts who donated money or items to give away as prizes.Â It truly was a team effort!
The day of the carnival was HOT and sunny, despite all the rainy, cool days weâ€™d had in May.Â Bright, blazing sunshine with not a cloud in sight.Â But that wasnâ€™t a problem for our boys.Â They were excited and eager to help everyone have a good time.
I was so proud of the boys for their leadership and willingness to serve!
Our sign was by far the best one there!Â The boys decided on the name, and we had one family who worked together to create this amazing sign.
It may have been hot, but I think our boys and leaders all had fun, regardless!
And of course we had to show off our new cheer!
Even with all their hard work, there was still time for a little fun.Â First Trey took his turnâ€¦
And then it was Crisanaâ€™sâ€¦
But the best part is always the time spent with friends.
The “last-week-of-school” parade has begun.Â Yesterday it was “last pizza day” and last day of Art (for Trey).Â My piano students are finishing up their semester.
And today, it was the end of my first year with Moms In Touch.
I have been longing for a MIT group at our school since Trey started kindergarten.Â But I haven’t known where to go, or how to get started.Â Every time I’d think about it, I’d be in the wrong place to do anything about it.Â And when I was in a good place to research, I’d forget.
Until last summer.
The McFBC link mentioned that MIT was organizing a prayer walk for every school in McKinney.Â I called the contact person and found that there was a mom already involved with MIT at McGowen!Â I was thrilled!
But nothing has equalled the thrill of being able to pray consistently for my children, their teachers, and our school district throughout the year.Â We have poured our hearts out together, cried, and rejoiced over the past nine months.Â We have seen God do amazing things in and through our children.Â We have seen God move among the teachers and staff at our school.Â We have seen God work in our school district…and it’s all because of praying moms.Â This morning was bittersweet as we concluded our inaugural year.Â You could feel the emotion as we prayed together one last time.Â Next year, we’ll meet again…but it will be different.Â Our group will change.Â Â We hope it will grow.Â We may lose a few members.Â And we’ll journey together once more on our knees.
If you don’t have a Moms-In-Touch group at your child’s school, click on the link to find out how you can start one.Â Even if you pray alone, the power of your prayer can do mighty things in your child’s life and school.
It’s hard to believe next week is the last week of school.Â My baby has nearly finished kindergarten.Â My firstborn is practically an elementary school upperclassman.Â Where has the time gone?
Before I begin feeling too melancholy, I want to focus on the positive.Â What I’m most grateful for this year is not “things”.Â No, what I am thankful for are the people who have made this such a great year for my family.Â I’m grateful for my childrens’ teachers.
I’m grateful for Ms. Sifferman, Crisana’s teacher.Â This class has had its challenges, but she has faced each day with cheer and enthusiasm.Â Crisana has loved going to school, and has loved the friends in her class.Â She has grown by leaps and bounds in her reading and writing skills, and has grown into a confident, eager student.Â I am grateful for Ms. Sifferman’s patience and dedication to each student in her care and for the way she has celebrated them and their accomplishments throughout the year.
I’m grateful for Mrs. Snyder, Trey’s teacher.Â I am especially grateful for her faith, for her Christian walk and the way she lives it out in front of the students.Â I am grateful for her prayers for our family throughout Matt’s treatment, and her compassionate and sensitive heart.Â I’m grateful for the way she has nurtured Trey and helped him to achieve more than he ever dreamed possible.Â I’m grateful for her enthusiasm toward her class and her job, and the dedication she displays day in and day out.Â I’m grateful to not only be her assistant room mom, but also her friend.
I’m also grateful for the staff at McGowen.Â The sense of family within the school walls is so real it’s almost tangible.Â The teachers, staff, and support personnel truly care about one another as well as the children and the families they represent.Â It’s a special place, where children are truly valued and respected.Â I’m so grateful for the office staff, who were lifelines for us in our times of greatest stress.Â I’m grateful for their support and care for our children, as well as their genuine concern and friendship toward me and Matt.
Above and beyond, I’m grateful for Jesse McGowen.Â I’m grateful for his legacy as a man of faith, a man of principles, and a man of learning.Â I’m grateful for his presence in the school and in our childrens’ lives.Â I’m grateful for his encouragement of the students and the staff, and the way he makes it a priority to be involved in the goings on at the school that bears his name.Â I’m grateful for the privilege of having my children at “his” school.
And while my heart breaks just a little for the days gone by, I know that there are better days that lie ahead.Â That there is even greater joy in watching my children grow and develop in the year to come.Â That there are more moments of celebration in the accomplishments yet to be.Â For all that has been, I am deeply grateful.
My son is famous.Â Betcha didn’t know that.
He’s a great American, an elder statesman, and a valiant soldier.Â My son is none other than Colin Powell.
Perhaps I should back up and explain a bit.Â The third graders have been studying citizenship this six weeks and as part of their culminating project they created a living history museum.Â Each student was assigned a famous American to research.Â They then wrote a speech about that person’s life and delivered it, dressed in character.
On the day of the museum, students stood at attention while guests milled around.Â In order to start the presentation and bring the character to life, you had to step on a button on the floor.Â Each student was graded on their ability to deliver their presentation, their inclusion of the required information, and their costume.Â Trey did a great job as Colin Powell – just watch for yourself!Â (you may have to lie on your side to do so, unfortunately.)
Itâ€™s not like we didnâ€™t have anything else to do.Â But there wouldnâ€™t have been any peace in our house if we had allowed this weekend to go by without seeing this movie.
We left the Worship & Arts family picnic rather abruptly to make it to the theater in time, and though we didnâ€™t opt to see this one in IMAX 3-D or HD 3-D, our kids were thrilled to be watching it nonetheless.
As sequels go, our expectations were low.Â Most of the time, the sequel isnâ€™t nearly as good as the original.Â And true to expectation, this one wasnâ€™t.Â Worse yet, this sequel isnâ€™t a â€œstand-aloneâ€ â€“ meaning much of the humor is lost if you havenâ€™t seen the original movie.
But the requisite characters were all there: Larry and Nick, Akhmun Ra, Sacagawea, Teddy Roosevelt, Lexie, Dum-Dum, Jedediah and Octavius, and Dexter.Â The storyline weakly attempted to connect the two museums and the characters, but the result ended up as more of a special-effects fest for the CGI artists than as a showpiece of masterful storytelling.Â Of the new characters introduced in this movie, only Kuman Ra had any depth or persona.Â I had hoped for more from the other â€œevilâ€ guys â€“ certainly Al Capone could have had more substance.Â And I was sorely disappointed with the museum directorâ€™s change â€“ he actually spoke in complete sentences this time!Â Blasphemy!
There was a poignant moment at the end once the tablet has been returned to New York when Amelia Earhart has to fly back to the Smithsonian and return to her non-existence as a wax figure.Â Realizing her future lies as a lifeless exhibit in a dusty museum, she is nonetheless grateful for her one night of life and adventure.Â A good lesson to bear in mind for all of us: do we enjoy the moments we are given, do we appreciate the life we live, and are we grateful for the adventures we have â€“ or do we waste our lives, our talents, and our gifts hiding in the daily grind of work and home?
All in all, itâ€™s a great popcorn flick.Â Our kids loved it.Â The special effects certainly are entertaining.Â Just donâ€™t expect a terrific story or oscar-quality acting, though you might find a nugget of truth if you look hard enough.
On a recent rainy day, I had a hankerin’ for some soup.Â But most soups are filled with carbs and sodium and therefore on the “forbidden” list.Â I decided to try my hand at some homemade soup.Â If you know me, you know I don’t “do” soup.Â That’s what Campbell’s is for.Â So this was a real stretch for me.Â The recipe turned out to be pretty easy and there was enough to have leftovers, which made the rest of the week a little easier.Â I would imagine this would freeze well so you could make some now and enjoy it in the fall when the weather is more soup-like.
CHUNKY CHICKEN AND VEGETABLE SOUP
1 T vegetable oil
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (4 oz.), diced
1/2 C chopped green bell pepper
1/2 C thinly sliced celery
2 green onions, sliced
2 14-1/2 oz. cans chicken broth
1 C water
1/2 C sliced carrots
2 T cream
1 T finely chopped parsley
1/4 t dried thyme leaves
1/8 t black pepper
1.Â Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.Â Add chicken; cook and stir 4-5 minutes or until no longer pink.Â Add bell pepper, celery and onions.Â Cook and stir 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
2.Â Add broth, water, carrots, cream, parsley, thyme, and pepper.Â Simmer 10 minutes or until carrots are tender.
Calories – 130; Carbohydrates – 5g; Fat – 8g; Saturated Fat – 3g; Dietary Fiber – 1g; Protein – 9g
Well, at least it is once a year when you’re part of the Worship & Arts ministry at McKinney Fellowship!
We attended the second annual W&A family picnic at Springhill Retreat Center in Richardson.Â We think it’s no small coincidence that they started having these affairs shortly after WE joined the church, but that’s a topic for another day.Â Despite the heat and the fact that it was a holiday weekend, attendance was great.Â And this year, we even knew a few people!
Trace does a great job of putting this all together.Â There was plenty of fun for everyone.Â Of course our kids had to get their faces painted…
There was a whole grilling ministry going on, with a great team of volunteers cookin’ up the dogs and burgers.
There were games for the kids…
And for the grownups, too…
But there was still plenty of time to hang out, relax, or just play in the sand with a friend…
When my children were babies, our Saturdays weekends revolved around activities where we could be assured of being home in time for afternoon naps.Â At least one of us would be tied to the house for a good three hours between lunch and dinner.Â Sometimes Iâ€™d sigh longingly and be anxious for the day when we could have the ability to do whatever we wanted for however long we wanted.
That day has arrived, and sadly itâ€™s not all itâ€™s cracked up to be.
Take today, for example.Â The day began with a special scout activity for boys in Pack 303 and Troop 303.Â We met up at the historic Pecan Grove Cemetery in McKinney to place American flags on the graves of deceased soldiers and service men and women.Â We listened to a brief history of the project, which was developed by a young man in Troop 303 several years ago as part of his Eagle Scout project.Â That young man was later killed in action in Afghanistan, and is now buried in Pecan Grove cemetery.Â This project has taken on greater significance since his death as it represents part of his legacy.Â It was definitely worth waking up early to be a part of this significant community service project.
We had to leave quickly, however, to be able to get Trey to his soccer game on time.Â Since my mom had gone to the zoo with us yesterday, she had stayed overnight so she could come see their games.Â Itâ€™s been an interesting season with both games and practices cancelled due to rain, but I guess the important thing is that our children have had fun and weâ€™ve seen an improvement, albeit a slight one, in their soccer skills.
Once again, we made a fast getaway to get home and changed before our Cub Scout end-of-year party and parent meeting.Â One of the parents had graciously volunteered to host a swim party for all the boys and their families.Â With a den as large as ours, that can be quite an overwhelming number!Â But we had a great turnout and the kids all had fun!
By the time the party was over and we were headed home, it was around 8:00.Â Trey and I had been gone since about 7:45 that morning!Â And there were still baths to do, stories to read, and prayers to say.Â And I needed time to prepare for Sunday morning worship with my preschool friends.
Yeah, maybe this whole â€œbusyâ€ thing is overrated.
At least that’s how it must feel to the kindergarten teachers at the end of the year!
No, wait…we really DID go to the zoo!
The kindergarten classes were schedule to go to the Dallas Zoo on May 8.Â Everything was all set: forms returned, money turned in, schedules arranged…and then the swine flu hit and every out-of-district activity was cancelled.Â Including our zoo trip.Â But thanks to some quick thinking and hard work by the teachers and zoo personnel, we were able to reschedule our trip for today!
We invited Grandma to join us for this big day, and she arrived around 8:15 to go to school with us and get checked in.Â Much to our disappointment (NOT), we weren’t allowed to ride the bus.Â So instead we began the day with a visit to Manna Donuts for a well-deserved coffee break and then began the long drive to the zoo.Â We arrived just behind the McGowen buses and were instructed to park in the north 40 in overflow parking.Â Believe me, in all my days of going to the zoo, I’ve never had to park in overflow parking.Â Of course, I usually take the train – but still!Â We were concerned with how crowded it would be.Â Â School group after school group filed through the parking lot, and we wondered how we would be able to navigate the exhibits!
Finally, we were allowed in to the zoo…and believe it or not, it wasn’t as crowded as we had expected!Â Crisana was paired with a little girl named Julia, who kept us stepping lively the whole day at the zoo.Â We were already in need of a rest after our first stop.
We saw the raptors, the large mammals (elephants, giraffes, and hippos), and then headed toward the reptile building.Â On the way, we had to stop and climb the turtle sculpture.
We wandered through the butterfly garden on the way, but saw very few butterflies.Â The docent informed us that the butterflies were hidden among the flowers because it was cloudy.Â They are active and fly when it is sunny.Â So we headed toward the snake building so Julia could see her rattlesnakes.
We also saw something I had never seen before in my life: an albino alligator.Â Pretty cool, even if it is a vicious predator.
At this point, it was lunchtime.Â We headed out of the reptile building and found a great picnic table just outside the butterfly garden.Â We enjoyed a delicious lunch (and entertaining conversation, thanks to Julia) in the great outdoors.
And then…the sun came out!Â We hurried back into the butterfly garden and saw hundreds of beautiful little winged creatures fluttering about!Â A few even held still long enough for me to get their close up.
We hustled through the rest of our exhibits: the camels, rhinos, cheetas, llamas, bongos, ibex, and tigers before it was time to head back to the bus.Â On our way, we passed by the monkeys who were having a great time just hanging around.Â I thought this was just too funny not to take a picture of:
Yep, that’s truly the definition of “hanging out.”Â We drove back to school where we promptly picked up our little zoo adventurer and her brother and headed to McDonald’s for some ice cream and play time.Â Amazingly enough, we made it before the after-school crowd arrived.Â Thankfully that was one part of our day that WASN’T a zoo!