The WBC team waits for the games to begin. 11yo is on the far left.

Last Saturday the AwanaGames were held for our area. This is one of dozens – I would even say hundreds of AwanaGame competitions around the United States.

And the world. Awana just celebrated the 10,000th international club.

My sister-in-law (who attends a different church) said that on Sunday she was talking to a lady who attended the games on Saturday (first time ever). The lady was quite surprised at what a big deal it was – and how competitive the clubbers (and coaches) were.

AwanaGames are competitive mostly because there are strict rules and each circle has five watching-every-toe-on-the-line judges to make sure those rules are followed. The same games are played in all competitions – games that are unique to Awana.

Balloon Volley. You can see the 11yo's face and hands, hidden behind the other member of the green team. The 11yo and N. won this heat. Look for the other pair of argyle socks.

If you haven’t attended the games, you are missing mega-excitement.

As soon as you walk in the door, the excitement emulates from the  shouts of kids finding their teams, coaches yelling at a wandering fourth grader to get back in line, dozens of girls jumping up and down with their bouncy ponytails tied with multi-colored hair ribbons.

I think first timers are often surprised that this is not a small church gym with some lackadaisical clubbers – this is for real. The AwanaGames we attended had four circles – with a boys and girls team on most lines – so I don’t know for sure, but approximately 25 teams of kids (each team having 10-12 kids). The surrounding bleachers

Last game - balloon relay

were filled with parents/grandparents/leaders cheering on their kids.

You can always tell a team who hasn’t been to the games before. While their kids are still wondering what to do, the other teams are done with the relay – especially evident in the three-legged race.

We were on a circle with churches who DID know what they were doing. In fact, if you added up the total number of AwanaGame-participating-years from just that one circle, I’m

guessing you would come up with several decades.

The 11yo said, “That bean bag grab is stressful.”  I agreed. I’ve been there and done that. (The third generation of our family playing in the games.) The whole place gets deathly still as the announcer calls out the next n

11yo and teammate wait for the next number to be called in Bean Bag Grab

umber. You can’t make a false start and you can’t NOT run the second your number is called – otherwise you won’t get any points.

The Marathon is the key individual competition with one clubber running six laps. Of course you want your fastest runner and often that fastest runner is also very long-legged, which makes it easy to knock over a pin and … then you’re disqualified. All those months of practice.

Scorekeepers don’t put up the scores for the last couple games. You need to wait until the speaker gives a short talk presenting the gospel – the most difficult speaking engagement in the world.  Hundreds of parent sit in the bleachers and a couple hundred restless kids sit at your feet. Saturday’s speaker was good. I especially liked the “We love our pastor”sign that people from his church had made.

And then the scores are announced. (We came in second on our circle.)  And the Games are done for another year.

Sea of kids listening to the speaker.

I took lots of pictures, but will only post a few.


So, my mom and I went out to lunch and ordered steak and vegetable skewers. Both of us have doctors who have told us we need occasional red meat because of the iron.

As we waited for our food, we had a general discussion about healthy foods – nothing intense. Just how often the preventative care for many health conditions seems to be eating lots of fruit and vegetables.  Mom did say something about vitamins. Her words were along the line of, “Once someone gave your dad some supplemental vitamins because the man worked at the company.”  That was all.

The restaurant had a buffet and the man in the booth behind us got up to walk over to the food. The wife got up and walked toward us. She was nicely dressed as if she had just been to church, so when she smiled and said, “Hi,” I thought maybe it was someone I had met at church, so I said “hi” back.

“I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation about wanting vitamin supplements,” she began. (Did we say that? I am sure we didn’t.) “The best thing going is ……………..  You can go to their Web site at …………………….” (Truly, did we ask for this information?)  “They have a multi-vitamin supplement that you take twice a day. You just take the powder and mix it with water and …”

I interrupted. “Actually,” I said, “we were talking how both of us have doctors that have told us NOT to take vitamin supplements because if you eat right they aren’t needed.”

“Oh really,” she said. “That surprises me.”

“Really,” said my mom, but it didn’t matter what my mom said because the lady was totally focused on me and rudely ignoring my mother.

“Well, then you have to be really careful about what you eat.  My husband and I only eat buffalo meat.”  (Seriously, did we care? Did we ask for this perspective on her life?)

Thankfully the server came up with our food right then.

“Excuse me,” I said firmly, “the server is trying to GIVE US OUR STEAKS!”

I’ve had people talk to me before while at a restaurant, and I haven’t minded at all. I’ve even been known to talk to other people. I like to meet new people, but this lady was downright rude.  I’m guessing that whatever those vitamin supplements were she wanted us to buy – SHE was selling them.

Finally, her husband came back with his food and she went back to her seat. I heard her whispering to him – probably about the crazy women with the crazy doctors.

So be it.

The steak was good and so were the vegetables.



No. No new car. Not yet. Still weighing it all, but haven’t gotten to the point where I want to actually do it.

I have read/listened to some interesting books lately.

29. Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman. Mary Beth wrote this book to detail life in the Chapman family (as in Steven Curtis Chapman). She talks about adopting their three daughters and then the tragic loss of Maria when she was hit by a van in the driveway of the family home. Mary Beth is honest about what they’ve been through – not only a child’s loss, but the guilt of the child’s young sister who told Maria to go get Will (the teenage brother driving the van). Also, relates Will’s struggle as the one driving the van (the accident was just that – an accident. He couldn’t see his younger sister.)  Good book if you’re facing a particularly tough situation, if you’re interested in adoption or if you simply want a thought-provoking read.

30. I Beat the Odds by Michael Oher (with Don Yaeger).  This is the story of Michael – the central focus of the movie, The Blind Side. Here Michael tells things from his point of view. Quick read and interesting. No, there were not any monumental discrepancies in the movie or bubbles that this book will burst. But Michael had made the choice to do well in sports, to choose good friends and to stay out of trouble before moving in with the Touhys. If you liked the movie, you can read this book in an hour or two for the rest of the story.

31. The Appeal by John Grisham.  This book is sad. Not sad, like wiping the tears from your eyes sad, but sad in the sense that you know these things are really happening and sometimes life is unfair.  The book gives a perspective of politics, big business, etc. You may agree with it. You may not. But it was worth the several trips to work and back that it took me to listen.  Grisham on CD is good commuter stuff. Disclaimer:Grisham’s books always include some bad language.

Currently I am reading the Imam’s Daughter and listening to President Bush’s Decision Points. Both thought-provoking.


… was rather profitable.

I went to a good movie.

I enjoyed Portillo’s with a friend.

I bought a spring jacket to take the place of my very favorite jacket ever that I left in the Missoula, Montana airport last fall.

I interviewed a lady for an article I’m writing about a coffee shop. (Yeah, me writing about a coffee shop!)

I worked in the church library for a couple hours.

Oh, yeah, and then I did this super stupid thing that has to do with toxic sunflower seeds. Don’t ask! (Well, MOST of the weekend was profitable.)



We did not believe in luck BEFORE we visited Lincoln’s tomb.

We did not believe in luck BEFORE we rubbed Lincoln’s nose (no matter what people say).

We did not believe in luck AFTER we rubbed Lincoln’s nose.

Twenty minutes later we were driving through an intersection and the van was totaled.

We do believe in thankfulness, however. We are thankful to the Lord that we were all fine and none of us came out of it with more than a few, not-even-worth-noticing bruises.


Before heading for Springfield a couple weeks ago, I asked a friend at work to tell me which restaurant we should go to for the quintessential Springfield eating experience. Jeff (from work) suggested Charlie Parker’s, a place known for its horseshoes which is a “delicacy” found in Central Illinois and nowhere else (so I’ve been told.)  Jeff grew up in Springfield and his family still lives there, so I figured he would be the one in the know.

CP’s has been featured on Food Network – Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

If Jeff hadn’t told us about it, we never would’ve found it. Tucked away on an off-the-main-road, primarily industrial side street, even if we had found it, we probably wouldn’t have stopped. The restaurant is in an old quonset hut (originally an airplane hanger in World War II) and that day the parking lot was mostly mud.

We weren’t that hungry, so we didn’t get the horseshoe (or even one of the pony shoes), but the grilled cheese sandwich I did get was absolutely delicious – as were the sandwiches and food of everyone else in the family.

The horseshoe, by the way, is two pieces of toast, meat (ham, bacon, chicken, hamburger, fish, etc.) on top of the toast, eggs on top of the meat, then cheese sauce (or sausage gravy or both) on top of that, and then a ton of french fries or hash browns on top of all of it.  Their pancakes are huge – if you eat four of them, they’ll pay for your meal, but no one has ever done it. They are sixteen inches in diameter and hang off the edge of a pizza pan.

Here’s the video of when Guy Ferrari visited there for the show and how they make the horseshoe. Fun to see.


For the past four days I have been at Summit from morning to night. Summit is the annual Awana youth gathering where more than 800 teens converged on Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois to have fun, learn about God’s Word and compete in Bible Quizzing, volleyball, AwanaGames and six areas of Fine Arts.

For the past several years, I have been head judge for the Creative Writing competition – always fascinating to see what the kids are writing.  Kids send us  preliminary writing sample and then write a second piece on site.

I spent a lot of time this year talking to leaders and kids, finding out what they liked and didn’t like.

Also, I checked wrist bands at the volleyball tournament (30 teams eliminated until one was left) and watched the 25 AwanaGame go from 25 to 1. I think someone told me that we started with 120 Bible Quizzing teams. Those were eliminated until 10 teams were left for the platinum round at the closing ceremony and then those went down to one.

The speaker, a pastor who grew up in Awana, was extremely good and well-received.

All in all, a great time!