First Time at NASCAR

NASCAR at Kansas Speedway May 2016

I’ve always had a distant interest in NASCAR. During Seminary and the first years at Redeemer Laura and I would nap with NASCAR on between morning and evening worship. We’d kinda pay attention when there was a wreck and even had a favorite driver in Tony Stewart. However, since the races are normally on Sundays we’ve never been able to pull off going to a race and it’s just sat there on my bucket list of things I’d like to experience.

Over the years I stopped watching races at all and vaguely knew some of the racers names. Then this Spring our good friends Brandi & Kyle were able to get us tickets for a Saturday race on May 7th in Kansas City. Which had me pretty pumped until I learned Berkley’s dance recital was the same night. So I did what any good father would do and I went to her dress rehearsal before telling her I’d be skipping her first recital to watch rednecks race around a track with her brother.

NASCAR at Kansas Speedway May 2016

Above you can see our seats and below you can see how the whole track is actually in view. I didn’t realize that when watching on TV.

First thing I learned was it’s loud, like really really loud. I was warned so we had noises muffs for Beckham, but I thought I’d be fine. Lap three I went and bought earplugs cause wowzers it’s loud.

NASCAR at Kansas Speedway May 2016

Second thing I learned was it’s awesome. I was pretty hooked and having Kyle there to answer questions about stuff was very helpful.

NASCAR at Kansas Speedway May 2016

Third thing I learned was this guy behind me did not think it was as awesome as I did. His sister next to him read a book the whole time as well.

This guy was not as intrigued with NASCAR as I was.

Since that race we’ve watched at least a portion of every NASCAR race on TV and the Indy 500 which wasn’t as interesting cause I really like the characters that race NASCAR. Our favorites have been Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart (retiring after this year), Danica Patrick and Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne. Sadie Piper would really like Danica Patrick to win something, but she’s pretty excited when Danica gets in the top 20 and says she likes that Danica keeps trying! 
NASCAR at Kansas Speedway May 2016

Thank you Kyle and Brandi for making this happen and getting us into this redneck experience.

Summer Sledding

This was one of the things on our summer bucket list: ride the pedal cart down the sledding hills. (yep, Brian’s idea, not mine! The only part of the idea that was mine was “wear your helmet”)

Beckham volunteered to go first. I was impressed…cause let’s be honest, we aren’t exactly sure how this is going to go down.

June 2016

This was the smallest hill…

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It was slow enough for her to pose. So we moved to the middle sized hill.

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This hill went a little faster:

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Best picture of the entire day!

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Her faces were awesome!!!

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She made the same faces every time she went down!

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But she made it!

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Oh yeah, and just like sledding, you have to get the cart back UP the hill. Berkley was a non-contributing zero. Par for the course. June 2016

Beckham was yet again the first to try the straight down hill.

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He did it!

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Brian did the big hill

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I would only do the middle hill. And I insisted on borrowing Boo’s helmet.

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Brian was sore the next day. Best dad ever.

June 2016

This looks like a Mario Kart picture!

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They found the mud

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Here’s the fun video Brian made:

Summer Sledding In Manhattan, Kansas from Houghs on Vimeo.


Trampoline Fun

When we moved to Manhattan, I had an idea that I wanted to see if Brian could get on board with: I wanted to get the kids a trampoline. Brian and I had never discussed one before, and I was ready with my reasons why we should consider it: good exercise for the kids, we want to be the house their friends want to come hang out with, and a trampoline would be a draw for many years. But I knew my biggest point was going to be “they are so much safer now with the nets!”

May 2016

So when I approached him and said “Ok, I want to suggest something, hear me out. What do you think about getting a trampoline?” and he immediately said “Sure, I think that’s a great idea” yet I still proceeded to explain to him my reasons, cause I can’t waste that effort I put into my argument…and he heard me out and said “I feel like you are the one who needed the convincing, not me. Think about the two of us Laura, who is more concerned with safety?”

Well, that’s an excellent point you have there Brian.

So we have a trampoline. And one that Brian said was like a “huge pack n play it’s so safe in there” when he assembled it.

May 2016

And it’s one of those things we still agree was a great purchase.

The kids play on it a lot, but their favorite is when Brian comes out with them. Cause he throws balls at them and makes it a game. And who doesn’t love being hit with a ball?

  May 2016

I’m sensing a little taunting from SP in this one

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Also, it’s been great for playing with bullfrogs in.

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Why is she ok putting this frog so close to her face?!?

May 2016

I taught Sadie Piper Psalm 1 and she ruined my day

(This is originally by Brian from 2012…stumbled upon it and thought I’d share again.)

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.  Psalm 1:1–4

Sadie Piper made a very interesting point about ministry to me today and she has no idea she did. Here’s how it happened.

When Beckham graduated from Children’s Church they gave him an ESV Children’s Bible. It’s the actual text of Scripture rather than an abridged version with only stories. Problem is he reads at a 12th grade Arkansas level, which of course is a 1st Grade Kansas level so there are not many words in it he has a grasp on.

He likes to bring it to the Worship service at Redeemer and flip through it, but he has really wanted us to read it to him during the service. I told him we’ll read it later and then for awhile in a disappointing father way I did not read it to him. Mostly just forgetting about it, but also with some dumb idea that he wouldn’t be able to track with what I read.

So this week at breakfast I began to read and explain Psalm 1 to Becks and Sadie Piper. It’s only day two and I can’t guarantee day three will happen so don’t be too impressed. Anyway, the plan was to read them a chapter a day. Day one we finished two verses and I only kinda think they understood.

Best I remember, the first two verses by the end of talking were reduced to… the man who wants to be happy should not listen to the bad advice of people who don’t love God. But they should love God’s Word and they should think about God’s Word as much as they can.

This morning was day two and we read verses 3 & 4. I’ve learned already that they learn better from my asking questions about the text than just my talking.

So our verses read like this, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”

I told them God is comparing one thing to another to teach us something. Like I might say Beckham is as fast as a lion. Do I think Beckham is a lion? No. I’m just trying to tell you I think Beckham is really fast.

The following is lacking rabbit trails and completely unrelated comments that make the whole experience funnier. 

So I asked Beckham and Sadie Piper

– What do trees need to grow? Water

– So what happens if I plant a tree in the desert? It won’t grow cause there is no water (don’t get caught up in the details)

– Do you know what a stream of water is? lakes, ponds, creeks, “really really really long lakes”

– So if a tree needs water and you plant it next to a lake what do you think will happen? It grow big big big, Becks even rose in his chair to show me how big they grow.

So God is telling us that the person who loves God’s Word and who thinks about God’s Word all the time will grow up strong like a tree planted next to water.

– What would happen if you went outside and tried to push our tree over? It wouldn’t move because it’s too big.

– Y’all know what chaff is? No.

– Me neither, but I know it’s kinda like those leaves (we are looking out back window at leaves we’ve failed to rake up at this point, they may even be from Fall 2011), dead pieces of plant that are not connected anywhere. What would happen if you pushed on them? We could pick them up.

– What happens if the wind blows a tree? Nothing. Why not? It’s big and strong.

– What happens if the wind blows those leaves? Crazy Talk, I lead them to see that the leaves will go wherever the wind blows because they are not strong.

So that was fun, but then Sadie Piper kinda ruined my day when she said this afterwards,

“Dad, we could fill up buckets of water and pour them on our tree so it will grow bigger.” (because our tree is not planted by a stream of water)

Hmm… My head is already thinking analogies and it occurs to me what she just said is a bit of what we actually are doing.

I think of how much time I spend in God’s Word (sometimes great, other times pathetic) I think about the way many of our youth at Heritage and Redeemer function in this analogy.

We talk about being in God’s word, being planted next to a stream of water like we see in Psalm 1 and while we aren’t necessarily in a desert (some of us at some times are) we are often planted in fields away from water.

So what do we do to minister to youth who are not delighting in God’s Word and who are not meditating on God’s Word (Psalm 1:2)?

In a sense we fill up a bucket of water, of God’s Word, and we pour it on them. We pour a bucket on them Sunday morning, we pour a bucket on them if they come to youth group, we pour a bucket on them in Chapel and a bucket in Bible Class.

I know this well because I fill these bucket and I lug these buckets and I pour out these buckets (along with many others) and I see that it is good for some, they grow. But for other students, it’s like throwing water on hard soil where only some of the water ever soaks in. My prayers are often filled with a plea for God to soften the soil and cause growth. If you’ve actually read this far I ask that you would pray too for covenant children, particulary those in their teens.

So, all this lugging of water works ok, but I guess the real concern here is what happens when we are no longer there to pour buckets of Scripture on them a few days a week?

Maybe you see now why Sadie Piper ruined my day.

I want so badly to see our students like trees planted along side streams of water, rooted in the Word of God. Delighting and meditating on that which gives vision to what really matters in life. I desire this for our students and the lugging and pouring and lugging and pouring of water, while good, is not the end goal.

The bigger question is this: How do we help to dig up these trees where we find them and plant them next to the river?

I’d love to hear other people’s ideas on this, but here is where I’m at right now. 

1. We’ll need prayer, for illumination, for soft soil, for love of God’s Word.
2. We’ll need parents who read the Word with their children, who will encourage their children to spend time in the Bible with as much diligence as they encourage finishing homework and sports and cleaning their rooms.
3. We’ll need older believers and younger Christians and peers in their life pointing them ever back to Scripture for everything.
4. We as parents will need to be sure we are planted personally next to the river. After all, the normal way God works is a lot like an acorn falling from a tree. Be planted near the water that brings delight.
5. And we’ll need more buckets and more people lugging it to the trees who simply aren’t planted near streams of water.

Note: I admit there may be errors in this analogy, I don’t hold on to it like I do Scripture, but I find analogies help me understand and felt I ought to share it with you as well.

Little Apple Pedal

Manhattan Park and Rec organized a really fun family friendly bike ride event this Spring! (Beckham was at his Jr Zookeeper training, so it was just us and the girls!)

They had a run bike rodeo (which was code for “check to make sure everyone’s brakes work” in a fun way!)

Little Apple Pedal 2016

Then when you passed that they made you a “bike license.”


I’m pretty sure it was meant for kids, but what adult could pass that up?!

This cracked me up cause I didn’t even mean to photo bomb this pic, but there’s no denying I did!

They had helmet fittings (and even had free ones there if you needed one!)

We introduced girls to Smokey the Bear! They had never heard of him before…what kind of parents are we!?

Little Apple Pedal 2016

Little Apple Pedal 2016Then there was a 6 mile bike ride!

Little Apple Pedal 2016

Sades and her sweet friend Ava  Little Apple Pedal 2016

We stopped about halfway to regroup and for snacks and potty break

Little Apple Pedal 2016

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Little Apple Pedal 2016
Then we got popcorn on the way out…and we laughed cause the girls wore their helmets the whole way home. Safety first!

May 2016

Chick-fil-a love

Our Manhattan CFA has had some really great events!

Mother Son Date Knight, the theme was Narnia!:

April 2016


This one was AWESOME: Stuffed Animal Sleep over. You take your stuffed animal to CFA on Friday night, make them a sleep mask and name tag, and tuck them into the tent!

May 2016

They had quite the crazy night, and the CFA staff documented it and made EACH kid a photo book of their stuffed animal’s adventures!

May 2016

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You pick your friend up the next morning, kids thought this was the best!!

This picture was on the entry way into the store advertising Daddy Daughter night; Brian and Berkley were excited they made the cut…Sadie Piper pipes in “HEY! My arm made it!!” It was just like that last scene in Monsters, Inc when Mike W gets so excited about making the cover of the magazine even when his face is covered by the UPC!

April 2016

Thanks CFA for being the best!

Farmer’s Market, two ways

Sadie Piper came home with a $10 credit to the Manhattan Farmer’s Market from school and asked if we could go so she could spend it. I was excited cause I love going to Farmer’s Markets when I’m with Carolyn in California, but we have just never been to ours.

K-State Spring Game Adventure

I bought two tomato plants: cherry and grape. I was so excited!! I may not be the best with plants can’t keep a plant alive to save my life, so I was asking the guy a lot of questions, here he is explaining how easy it is. I got this!

K-State Spring Game Adventure

He told me not to plant them yet. I wasn’t sure why and forgot to ask, I assume it needs to be warmer? So I obeyed. But maybe the actual “not planting” wasn’t as important as bringing them in during the hail storm or watering them? Either way, they were dead 10 days later.

Sadie bought honey and these great flowers with her credit! Her flowers are going strong. I think it’s cause I haven’t touched them.

 K-State Spring Game Adventure

But here’s one of my favorite things about our kids. When we come home from just about any event, they spend the next 2 days “playing” it. So today it was Farmer’s Market. Here’s their stand!


They took a few of the things we bought and used them (olive oil, apples, honey) but my favorite is the Altoids sign, it says “free samples!”


8 Wonders of…Kansas

Yeppers, it’s a real thing! The 8 Wonders of Kansas!

We stumbled upon it on our way home from Colorado Springs when we saw this building from the highway and Brian decided we needed to go explore it.  Co springs

As we were reading the plaque outside it mentioned that St. Fidelis Church is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas. That’s a thing? How have we missed this for so many years??

So we explored this beautiful church, knowing we were gonna need to research this more for sure!

Co springs

The most impressive part: “The stone for this massive Romanesque structure came from a quarry seven miles south. The extracting of the stone, loading it, hauling it, and then dressing it was a gigantic task and an amazing feat considering that it was accomplished without automatic lifts and power tools.”

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We also stopped at The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene. This is the home he grew up in, unmoved even.

Co springsBut it was after 5:00 by then (although we thought it was 4:00 cause we hadn’t changed our clocks back from being on Mountain time and thought it was odd they closed so early!) so we will have to revisit this one!

Co springs

Sheri informed us there’s a kids’ presidential library passport that you can get and kids can collect stamps at each one! Which got us researching yet again. And guess what? This library is one of the 8 Wonders too!!

Here they all are, cause I know you are on the edge of your seat:

Big Well, Greensburg

Kansas Wetlands Complex of Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

Cosmosphere, Hutchinson (boys went to this one!)

Kansas Underground Salt Museum

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum

Monument Rocks and Castle Rock

St. Fidelis Church

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve


presidential libraries

The Dance of Corporate Worship

Bates Shake2
I really love Bates Dance Recitals each year. I love the fact that it’s not a “Christian” dance studio, so the music is a wide variety of songs, most of which are in the realm of secular music; yet throughout the show you see the marks of Christians being a part of this production. Teachers have the freedom for their faith to be incorporated without it being required and the result is a beautiful image of how our love for Christ should look in all aspects of our lives. Not living in some walled off Christian Utopia and yet not living as Christians incognito. It’s life in the culture, but not of the culture (John 17:14–19), I love it!
This year the finale, which includes every single dancer, was put to Shake by Mercy Me which included the lyrics, “Ain’t no explanation, How I saw the light, He found me and set me free, And it brought me back to life” as well as “Great God Almighty done changed me, Great God Almighty, He done changed me!” It was full of joy and celebration at the work God has done for us.
This year the dance that stood out to me more than any other was one choreographed by Heidi Hilton and put to the song Oceans by Hillsong United. The dancers were older and very talented and thus communicated the emotional tone of song very well. They wore flowing blue dresses that together looked like an ocean of water. At one point three dancers were lifted into the air across the stage making three crosses.
But you know, the dance has stuck with me these past few days because as I watched and listened what I saw was an image of corporate worship. Let me explain. During the dance there were times when the dancers were all doing their own individual choreography or a small group would dance the same and then something changed in the music and every dancer on the stage came together in sync dancing the same choreography together and it was like a force of emotional wind burst out from them.
And I’m not a cryer, but my eyes got a little watery because that’s corporate worship. We spend our weeks all doing different things. Attempting to calm a crying baby or replying to emails from our supervisor or memorizing things in Latin we don’t know in English and in all of it we’re trying to glorify God. But then Sunday morning comes and the call to worship is like the that point in the song where the music changes and we all come together in sync singing to God and responsive readings and prayer of confession and the Lord’s prayer together and the result is just beautiful as we lift our voices in harmony to worship God. The diversity of our individual lives is beautiful, but so is the coming together in union for corporate worship.


We have LOTS of dance parties. Sometimes ballet, sometimes jazz. Today it was breakdancing, they dressed like b-boys! Those poses though…My Adidas! Thanks Damian for playlist!

This looks like an awesome beach. It’s really just a sand quarry (that was blowing up sand in our eyes)! Kansas Beach (quarry)

Brian got up into our attic for the first time, and he came down with a bag full of wrestling brackets from 1994, a garment bag and that hat. He wore it all day. Weird. April 2016

Four out of five times so far this has been successful on Berkley Boo’s ailment. And with a fruity grape taste to boot!

I have high hopes for the newest member of our medicine cabinet...especially for its effectiveness on the Little One.

Brian and I were walking and we saw a dumpster. So I looked in it, of course! And I found a table for our back yard!!
She watches one season of fixer upper and now she's dumpster diving for furniture.

I’m gonna paint it!!

Berkley doesn’t like the crescent roll part of pigs in a blanket (strange, I know!) so she told me “my pigs are all hot, they don’t want blankets.”

April 2016

Really really love our new door hanger! April 2016

It’s like real life MarioKart!
The world has thawed.

He done gone and got himself stuck in the mud again. Ugh. Done got stuck in the mud again.

This is the second time two kids lost a tooth in one night! Not counting the time Becks lost two molars in 10 minutes!

This is the second time we've had two lose teeth in one day (third if you could the time Becks lost two in 10 minutes!)! What are the chances?

Brian told me “You have ruined the fun of Amazon. I used to get excited when a box came, but now it’s just dish detergent and tampons.” Hello! He must not know I saved 15% on those tampons with their Subscribe and Save program otherwise he’d still be excited! Sheesh! I also point out that I can go the store and purchase it, OR I can order it, and in two days it’s on my doorstep (also meaning I didn’t need to spend more than I needed to in Target “just” picking up shampoo). That’s a no-brainer! He also threw me under the bus and told our sweet mailman I have a shopping problem. Now I need to corner our mailman next time to explain myself. He cares to know the truth, right?

Brian: "You have ruined the fun of Amazon. I used to get excited when a box came, but now it's just dish detergent and tampons."

Boo and I were twinkies!

MPC Sunday April 24 2016