This is our life…

Berkley will turn 5 years old on August 28. That means she makes the age cut off to go to kindergarten next year…by 2 days. For many reasons, we are going to wait a year to send her.

Here’s one of the reasons…who would want to give up this lunch time company?


Lotsa Fun Weekend Adventure

This past weekend was fantastic. It started with the ladies Bible Study Friday morning. The ladies are going through “A Hole In Our Holiness” by Kevin DeYoung and I worked on building our patio while “watching” the big kids outside. We did take a few breaks for a wagon ride across the field though.

Wagon Rides.

Thad helped with the patio borders.


Jackson buried himself in the sand pile, no box.


After that we drove to Kansas City where we got to hangout with some great friends and get some needed catch up time. When Laura went to Clothes Mentor, the rest of us went to the soccer store. While in there I hear, “Dad, take a picture of me holding this guys hand.” What!? To my great relief, it was just this manikin.

Then we heard some of the most beautiful music ever as Katie Thomas performed her Senior Recital. It was great to see how God has gifted her and how hard work has polished off those gifts. Nicola played with her which was fun to see, it got me excited to know those two will be using those gifts (Nicola already) to assist Manhattan Pres musically for the next few years, God-willing.

This was her cake, half piano, half violin.

After getting to see so many people we miss, we drove home late. The drive was a little smokey as the burning of Tallgrass continued. At night it’s even cooler, a bit like Mordor and every so often we’d see a whole tree on fire. Flames burning across the hills glowing in the night.

The next morning Laura headed to the kids’ school to setup Family Fun Day with the rest of the PTO moms and the kids and I headed to Wamego for the Tulip Festival, not the T.U.L.I.P. festival, that would be different, though also cool.

Below is the rock that the first settlers…ok… it’s just a rock.

The petting zoo had baby ducks and chickens, goats and sheep (already separate), a calf and a pig.

Because of the long winter this year the tulips haven’t bloomed yet, but we did find these wooden tulips.

Captain America in chainmaille

Wonder Woman and Superman were also options.

Sadie Piper killed a fox to keep her head warm.

This guy taught us to throw axes; I think I may become an Axe Deer hunter so I can mock the bowhunters for how easy their version of hunting is.

Berkley figured out the trick to this was proximity.

Sadie never stuck it, but did have some good form.

Look close and you can see Becks axe in mid-flight. He hit the target many times.

This is my throw, deer beware.

Beckham also killed a fox and built a tent for the night. It’s amazing how much outdoors stuff he can accomplish in flip-flops.

This is Bittercreek on the left. I assumed that was a character name, but after talking for awhile learned it was the actual nickname he’s gone by since childhood. The other guy’s name was something normal like Bob.

Sadie ran ahead and wanted her picture in this neat little cabin. When I got there I realized the red rope at the door was so you could look without entering… she was already on the wrong side so I snapped a pic.

There was an old school house that was really fun. After 8th grade school was done or you went to college. So they grow up quick today, but at least we get those four years of high school with them.

This park has a miniature train you can ride for free, we did it in the fall, but skipped the big lines on this day and just walked to the next section.

I know a few folks who like John Deere Green. This is my favorite use of John Deere, it cranks a homemade ice cream bucket, a few of them actually.

This is a shot from up on the windmill. 

This is the Windmill. It was built in the 1800s 12 miles north of this location by a Dutch immigrant. His plan was to make a living grinding up corn and wheat. Only mistake was building it in the middle of cattle ranching instead of crops and few people were willing to travel that far to use his mill. When he passed away his family donated the windmill and every block was labeled as they took it apart so that they could rebuild it in this park exactly like it was originally.

A few more petting zoo pics.

Berkley called it a baby rooster.

Sadie said Mr Thomas would looooove this. I think he might find it is a little small.

Wizard of Oz Dolls.

Then we headed to the Lee Family Fun Day. Since Laura was working it, Hat took the girls and Becks and I went crazy hitting up everything.

Is this a selfie in the bathroom? Where is the phone?

Willie was there

Toilet paper toss

Green hair.

Olaf on the face.

Then for dinner we ate yummy McGuire calzones and learned how role-modeling works.

Stage One: You’re Crazy

Stage Two: We’re In

C.S. Lewis & The Mysterious Key to Christianity


Before the internet became prevalent someone shared an intriguing story about C.S. Lewis with me. Late in Lewis’ life a brand new journalist was shocked to hear he would get to interview C.S. Lewis for an article. He was a fan and couldn’t believe he would actually get to interview this brilliant man.

He thought about what he most wanted to know from him and eventually he came up with a deep, profound question.

The day came that the young journalist had nervously been looking forward to. He sat down with C.S. Lewis in a small cafe. As they talked he asked a number of introductory questions before finally laying out the main question running through his brain. “Sir, What is the key to Christianity?”

Lewis was silent thinking for a bit. During that time the young journalist mentally began considering what might be the answer. Simplicity of life, Reading your Bible daily or quiet times, going to church weekly, prayer, Scripture memory. As the silence continued he was getting anxious to hear what it might be.

Lewis then responded with just one word, “Sleep.”

That’s not what the young man expected. Lewis declined to explain it any further and the man walked away baffled.

I remember when I heard this story it actually made sense. I had experienced what he was talking about. When I stayed up late and didn’t get enough sleep I felt it the following day. I felt groggy, I was more likely to sin in thought, in word and in action. My lack of sleep made me less willing to dig into Scripture or take time to pray. This was brilliant advice really, it was something I could make a priority in my life that would help give me consistency to my new Christian life that seemed so up and down.

The thing I find most unusual about this whole story is that there is no record of it actually happening. Lewis’ life is documented better than most people and yet this interview, this young journalist, even the basic idea to the best of my research never shows up anywhere.

So it is. When I learned that this great story has no basis in reality it led me to wonder, Is the statement any less profound given it wasn’t from the mouth of the great C.S. Lewis? Was it even profound to begin with or did the man carry the weight of the statement?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized the reason I have constantly remembered the story all these years isn’t just that C.S. Lewis said it, but that it continues to prove empirically true in my life. It continues to be a key factor in my Christian Walk. Nothing shapes my days like the previous nights sleep. Nothing helps me to seek the Lord like getting the sleep I need at decent times. Also nothing is a bigger struggle in my self discipline than going to sleep when I would rather read news or watch tv or just about anything besides sleep.

If anyone knows anything else about this, I’d love to hear it.

Berkley and Brian at soccer practice

You know those days when two parents have to have a detailed plan as to how to get each kid to where they need to be? That was this past Monday. Brian and I made the plan…and then I did all of my part…except the part where I was supposed to pick up Berkley from Beckham’s soccer practice on my way past the fields heading home. So Brian had Berkley in a field. This is what they made.

(for the record, it’s sand from sliding down the sand pit in our backyard, not something else. You’ll know what I’m talking about…)



Sometimes I’m afraid if I look back I’ll stumble going forward. So I try not to look back and in those times I miss opportunities to be thankful to God.

That’s where I stand right now. Manhattan Pres is moving forward, establishing worship, taking members, looking to find permanent worship place, figuring out small groups, Christian Education, better discipleship and looking to find ways to care for the community we dwell in. So my tendency is to look at that list and focus there. But it’s been a year since The Manhattan Project became public knowledge. Since then, God has answered prayers in ways greater than we ever dreamed.

Early on Laura and I were talking with Andria and she mentioned she wanted to come to Manhattan to be a part of this. With this we felt a weight of responsibility. She said she wanted to get on board and our response was “we are not sure this boat will float.” Looking at this “boat” then we saw cracks and holes and very few sailors, and none with any experience in the open seas.

She responded something along the lines of, “Then I will go down with the boat.”

What do you say to that?

I think we sat silent, I think we concluded she should be living up in a tree. What we should have said was “get on board and mend that crack, let’s set sail.” After that, others got on board too, and in Manhattan yet others climbed on board, and each new sailor God has brought aboard has come with new abilities, experience and skills. Now this ricky old boat is starting to look downright sea worthy.

See, that’s the moment I fear. Looking back and seeing a boat God has built that isn’t in shambles, that isn’t sinking. It’s like I’m afraid acknowledging God’s work in building this boat will cause the boat to fall apart and that’s stupid and doesn’t match anything I see Scripture.

So I’ll shun feelings and superstitions and believe this instead: God has worked in amazing ways in this past year and I can’t wait to see how He challenges us and grows us and glorifies Himself in this Covenant Community in the months and years to come. Please join me today praising God for his grace in our lives and in the life of the church.


When The Fields Were On Fire…

Ross King is hands down my favorite singer/songwriter. I turn on his music when life starts to beat me down and he never fails to point me to Christ and something bigger than myself in His plan. He speaks truth into my life when I need it most.

His song, When the Fields were on Fire, was in my head when we were watching the fields burn today. When I went back and listened to it today–it’s about KANSAS. It’s also about our refinement to look more like Christ. I highly recommend his stuff!

We have heard about fields being burned around here and really wanted to check this off our bucket list. And today we got to! We stumbled upon “top of the world” (a lookout overlooking…well, overlooking our little world here in Manhattan!) being burned today and it was even cooler than we had hoped!

Here you can see that the burning isn’t an entire field on fire (as I imagined) but a line of fire.


It’s a super fast burn. The grass burns very quickly. They do this yearly so new grass and plants are able to grow. It renews the fields. They said two weeks from now the entire fields will be green again. I can see why Ross was inspired by this analogy.


County and city firefighters spent today (because of perfect conditions of moisture and wind) burning fields all over town. It smells very smokey outside today!

There’s a science to this that we learned and were fascinated by (I’ll spare you). It was much more controlled and they were much calmer than I would have expected!

 The landscape begged for a Walking Dead picture

We also couldn’t resist this:

Fire Before

Fire After

Here’s when they had only done one side.

Light side vs Dark side #mhk #fieldburning






No Berkley in any of these pictures. That’s cause she’s deathly afraid of fire. She spend the entire time in the car!

And pictures in a tractor is a given too:



Brian didn’t want to be left out of the scooper pictures! 

When we got home, Brian tried to burn our front yard.

But we don’t have grass…

Manhattan Pres Game night

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

Let me start by saying one of the many, many great things about Morgan is her love for people. She decorated the chalkboard wall, and when Sadie Piper asked to help, she let her. Really let her.

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

She let SP draw the “night” and all the stars on the right. And she didn’t redo it to match with the rest of her wall that took her forever to do. She let her really help. SP was so proud that she got to be like Morgan. And Morgan didn’t love perfection more than she loved Sadie. I want to be more like Morgan like that.

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

I think this is some sort of game lingo that means “this is Joe’s cup”

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

This is some serious gaming…

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

The other room housed the less intense gamers. You know, the ones who just write their name on their cups using the lame English alphabet.

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

Sam and Tim

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

I think these two may have been kicked out of the serious game room…:)

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

Nicole and Nicola. Our beautiful pianists!

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

Joe as a “meeple.”

MPC Game Night February 28 2014

Junie B Hough’s life

This cat.

Momo said it best I think. “It’s a good thing Junie B has the personality she does or else she wouldn’t still be around.” (as in, we would have given her away…we have done that a time or two when an animal doesn’t “work out”!)

Junie B and Berkley are best buddies. We are not sure why though. Here are some more spots she’s been put in:

Boo was so excited to hold Junie B’s hand…

And then I think she was trying to make her smile for the picture?

She’s gonna hug her and squeeze her and love her forever!

See the cat’s arm?

Here she is…in the box

I’m not positive what this pose is…but Junie B COULD be running away and hiding under a couch. But she’s not…why???

Berkley was using the bowls as ice skates. And giving Junie B some love too!

“I was covering her mouth so she would be quiet for the camera”

Best friends forever. They even hang out at bath time.

Best Friends Forever. They even hang out at bath time.

And snack time.

Junie B just stays, why does she stay? Stockholm Syndrome?

The fact that we got this on video was priceless! Berkley is trying to bury Junie B…but Junie B evades it, and Berkley doesn’t know it! 
Before you think we are horrible people, here’s what we can’t understand: Brian and I have given this cat a bath. Both of us together have a VERY hard time. So, if Junie B wants to get away, she can. This we know for sure. Berkley does have to put her down when she meows, but really, she just takes most of this. And then, when we put the kids to bed at night, Junie B walks around their doors meowing for them. We just don’t get it. She also tries to sneak in their rooms. I find her in Berkley’s bed many nights.

But then there’s Sadie Piper. Junie B loves that this girl doesn’t treat her like a doll. Sadie’s a breath of fresh air for her!


Reading Junie B books with Junie B!

Day in life 2014

Sadie did figure out that Junie B has “crazy eyes” as we call them around here

Kitty Camoflauge

Kitty camouflage.

Berkley talking “cat”