The Power of Teamwork

Dear jerry,
One of the most important life lessons I have learned in the past three years is teamwork. Three and a half years ago I moved down here to Florida from Michigan, and started going to a church called Grace Baptist. There I met some of my best friends. When fall came around one of my friends told me about how our paster is the coach of a homeschool basketball team, and wanted to know if I wanted to play. I had never played basketball before but I have been around it my whole life because of my older brother Michael. So I thought to myself, why not?
That year was amazing, most of the girls that were on the team had never played before so we all learned together and became really close as a team. That year flew by and we ended up going into state as number one in the district and undefeated. We got second that year, yes it was not first, but considering where we had come from, it was amazing.
We would had never been able to make it that far without our amazing coach that taught us how important team work is, and how we ALWAYS need to have a good attitude. Teamwork is everything in basketball, if the point guard just decides that she doesn’t want to play and just stands there, we would be at a huge disadvantage. Same with our post players, if they just decided that they didn’t want to rebound, there would be MANY issues. No matter what position you play, you are important, and your team is counting on you to do the best you can.



30 Things in 30 Years

Dear Jerry,

I can’t believe I volunteered to be a regular writer on this blog. What was I thinking? This started out as a way to encourage my oldest students to write, write, write but before I knew it I actually agreed to practice what I preach and put up my own posts along with theirs.

Of course, now that I’ve agreed to do it, I’m going to work hard to fulfill my commitment. You see, that’s something I’ve learned over the last thirty years – it’s important to follow through when you agree to do something. It’s not something that I do perfectly (or even very well) but a lot of life is like that – learning and trying, and learning to keep learning and trying even when you mess it all up.

So here you go, Jerry. Here are thirty things I’ve learned in the last thirty years. Thirty things I that I mess up regularly, and that I’m learning to keep trying with, over and over and over again.

  1. Tell the truth. Even when it’s hard.
  2. Hug your parents. You are never too old to do this.
  3. Don’t pick your nose. Seriously, it’s so gross.
  4. Feed and play with your pets. It’s a good measure of your responsibility how well you care for an animal that depends on you.
  5. Take your medications. Especially in Florida. Especially if you are allergic to dust.
  6. Brush your teeth. I’m thirty and I have no cavities. Brush your teeth.
  7. Try new things. Try fish-head soup. Try rollerblading. Try sewing. You never know what new talent or favorite thing you might discover.
  8. Try things that scare you. Try parasailing. Try crossing a mountain gorge in a rickety wooden cable car. Try speaking in front of a crowd.
  9. Get back up. Every time you mess up or get knocked down. Cry, get mad, take a second to wipe off the blood – whatever. Just get back up.
  10.  Keep your commitments. Even when it inconveniences you. Especially when it inconveniences you.
  11.  Get a job. Learn to work under someone else’s authority. Learn the value of hard work. Discover the pleasure of your first paycheck.
  12.  Hang out with your siblings. Spend time doing things together.
  13.  Be crazy sometimes. Play leapfrog in the rain. Have an impromptu dance party. Dress in character for a midnight movie premier.
  14.  Read. Read, read, read, read, read, read, read. READ!
  15.  Study the Bible. Really work hard to understand God’s Word. Ask questions. Dig deeper. Learn about the most important Being and what He has done for sinners.
  16.  Make your bed. It’s way easier to keep your room clean if your bed is made.
  17.  Laugh at yourself. Don’t be that person who can’t take a joke.
  18.  Invest in a nice outfit. Ladies, have a go-to little black dress. Dudes, own a suit. And please, buy the proper shoes to go with them.
  19.  Attempt to complete some big writing project every year. Never, ever stop writing.
  20.  Go to church. Make worship with God’s people in God’s house the most important thing on your weekly schedule. Go when you don’t feel like it. Go when it’s inconvenient. Go when it’s hard.
  21.  Learn to shoot a gun. Be aware of your surroundings. Take a self-defense class. Be prepared to protect yourself and others.
  22.  Travel. Travel the world. Travel to beautiful places. Travel to hard places. Try not to act like a stuck-up American.
  23.  Pray. Communicate with God daily, hourly. Do not be afraid to tell Him the truth about your feelings and fears. Do not be embarrassed to burst out in praise for the awesome things He’s done. Do not hesitate to confess your sin. Do not doubt that He is able to do all and more than you can ever ask or even think.
  24.  Learn to eat anything. Even red beans and rice. Even homemade pickled carrots. Even things you’d rather not actually know the names of.
  25.  Write letters. Real ones. With paper and pen. Put a stamp on them and mail them.
  26.  Play sports. Play sports you may not be good at. Play sports you have to work at. Learn to stay humble and don’t quit.
  27.  Make friends wisely. Choose to spend time with the people who will build you up. Hang out with the folks who encourage and challenge you. Don’t give up on a friendship easily, but be willing to walk away if you must. Also – guys and girls can never be just best friends. Take my word for it.
  28.  Repent and apologize when you sin. Be a quick repenter. Don’t let pride get in the way of making things right.
  29.  Forgive those who have sinned against you. Even when it’s almost impossibly hard. Even when they never say they’re sorry. Don’t let bitterness grow.
  30.  Look to Jesus and live. There is no other hope for thirty-year-olds (or anyone else) but in Him. He is willing and able to rescue sinners, so don’t ever stop turning to Him for forgiveness and help. And that’s the most important thing I’ve learned in thirty years – the most important thing I’ll ever learn – no matter how many more milestone birthdays I see.

~ Miss Sarah

Playing that “girly” sport

Dear Jerry,

All my life I’ve played basketball. I grew up watching my siblings play, my Dad coach, and waiting impatiently until I reached that glorious age of eligibility. I had never even thought to expand into other sports. That changed this summer, when my oldest sister became the Athletic director of the Lee County HomeSchoolers. And the volleyball coach! Of course she tried to persuade me to play on the team.



That’s a “girly” sport.

I’m not kidding, those were the things I was thinking! But through a lot of persuading, I decided to give it a try. I missed the first month of practicing because I was in Texas. So when I got back, I had one practice before our first games. I admit unfortunately, I went into that practice just KNOWING I was going to fail and that no one would like me because I had no idea what I was doing. So I might as well not even pretend to like it. Well let me tell you what, I was dead wrong.


Those girls welcomed me onto that court like I had been there for ages. They helped me know where to be and what to do. They encouraged me even when my lack of coordination showed itself greatly. And it is not a girly sport ya’ll! I’m not sure I have ever been that sore in my life!  But you know what happened? I liked it! I don’t think I really let myself believe that for a little while. I felt almost like I was betraying my favorite sport by liking this sport too.

Now it’s true, basketball is and will always be my favorite sport. I have a passion for it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a passion for other sports too. And I’ve found more and more in the last few weeks that I really like volleyball! And more than that I really love the girls I play it with. They are sweet, funny, encouraging and sometimes very crazy! I love my coaches, they are constantly encouraging, especially when I get really frustrated with myself because I missed that spike or that serve was too weak.

What I’m trying to say is that don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something scary. And don’t judge someone or something before you know more about it. You might find you really like it. And at the very least, gain some wonderful new friends, which I have! It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, as long as you’re doing it Soli Deo Gloria!

– Hannah


The Day Our Horse Killed Himself

Dear Jerry,

I know it sounds terrible but you just have to hear this story!
It all started when we got a new horse from a trainer in Tennessee. We all watched as my dad rode him to see if he was good enough. The horse did alright with all the tests so, we bought him. We took the horse home to Georgia and placed him with our other horses. About three months after we got him, my dad went to ride our new horse Which we named Merrill. My dad saddled him and got him ready. My dad put one foot on the stirrup and tried to mount him but the horse reared up! My dad woke with a cheek, three ribs, and his shoulder broken! Needless to say, he went to the hospital! At the time I was not with him, my sister and I were in Florida at school.
After five months my dad was healed and we were all back in Georgia. Our whole family took the horse back to the trainer. They said they would retrain him. One trainer tried to mount the horse and he again reared up! The trainer jumped off just in time! The horse panicked and backed into a hay spear!!! A hay spear is a bucket like tool utilizing three sharp points made of steel. Our whole family stood there and watched the horse bleed to death! We watched the blood ooze out of him like water! The horse was now dead and we were actually happy!!! He had it coming after what he did to my dad!!



Being the Oldest of Five Siblings

Dear Jerry,

Did you know that I am the oldest in a family of five kids? On one hand it is a HUGE responsibility but on the other hand a HUGE blessing! I am almost sixteen and my four younger siblings are 14,12,6 and 6. We often have our arguments or squabbles but we always work them out. (Usually with minimal help from Mom) The biggest responsibility of being a big brother to three younger girls and a boy is being sure I set a good example. Anything I do or say -good or bad- trickles down the lineup fairly quickly so setting a good example is imperative! Another big responsibility is frequently being put in a position of authority over my four siblings. This responsibility is fun because it can lead to a better relationship of mutual understanding and trust. Playing the cards right and giving just enough commands to reign in the chaos but not enough to anger my charges is tricky business!
This often stressful position of authority is a small price to pay for the blessing of having two adoring six-year olds who love me with all their heart! I enjoy being the eldest not because of the various perks, but for the blessings I can give to others by being a good leader. That is all there is to it. You have to be a good leader. It is simple, but not easy!



The Blessings of a Niece!

Dear Jerry,

There is this amazing blessing that God has given me. Her name is Alexis, and she is my beautiful niece. I will NEVER forget the day that she was born. It will go down in history as one of the craziest days that I have ever experienced. It was just a normal day in sunny Florida when we got the call from Alyssa that she was headed to the hospital (up in Michigan where she lived) because she was going to be induced the next morning. Long story short my mom and I were up there within hours. The next night Alexis was born.

Now as you know my family and I live here in Florida, and Michael (my brother), Alyssa and Alexis lived in Michigan. It was hard to live so far away from them, and I had never had a niece before so not being able to see her all the time was awful, but that’s not where the story ends.

Last December the three of them moved down here and now I get to see Alexis every day. It has been so amazing. Now we get to wake up every morning to the sound of her cute little laugh, and her crazy bed head. It is so funny to see. Ever since she was born she has had a lot of hair, and it is so much fun to give her some pretty cute hair styles. It is also so funny to see her army crawl around the house to come find us, and when she does she starts yelling for you to pick her up as an award. She is one crazy baby.

The role of an aunt is awesome. We get to be a friend, a sister, and a second mom. We also get to spoil like a grandma, which might just be the best part of it. I am excited to be able to see her grow up, but at the same time I want her to stay small forever. I look forward to all the crazy and exciting times ahead of us!

From, Maddy



Our beloved Dog Hunter

Dear Jerry,

We used to have two dogs but, sadly, one of them passed away. Our dogs are very special to us, so it was very sad to receive the news. One of our dogs is a mix between a Pekingese and a Bijon. His name is Scampy. He is calm but loves to play and meet new people. Our other dog, Hunter, was a German Shepherd. His personality was very similar to Scampy’s. They were both kind and both loved to meet new people. These two dogs grew very close to each other. Sometimes I would come home from school and I would see them playing together or, on a rainy day, I would see both of them in the doghouse together. But the thing is, it wasn’t Scampy that passed away. It was Hunter. There is somewhat of a mystery surrounding his death. We don’t know exactly how he died. My parents, my little sister and me were on vacation in Cuba, but my Grandma stayed home. We came back Sunday afternoon, but Hunter had died Friday morning. We didn’t get the news until Monday morning.
I got out of bed and found my little sister crying. I asked her what was wrong and my parents told me Hunter had died. I was shocked and felt sorrow, but my little sister was the one who was closest to Hunter. She was the one who took the biggest hit. Hunter had this little spot where he would rest. Between our grill and a bench in our backyard. That was his final resting place. His favorite spot. He was very special and we miss him dearly. He was very young. Only three years old. We planned to have many more fun times with him but those times will never come to pass. We plan to get another dog. A Chocolate Lab we will name Hunter in memory of our late dog Hunter. He was the best dog ever and he will never be forgotten.


Turning History on its Head

Dear Jerry,

So this past week in history, we have been learning about Christopher Columbus and his journey to this ‘new world’. As I began to read through my history book, I noticed that everything I used to think about him was pretty much a lie. I thought he was some amazing heroic person that discovered this new place and everyone loved him. Well I soon learned that, that wasn’t the case.

You see what we know about history is based on how we were taught. What I knew about Columbus was based on what I had been taught in one of my history books, so what I thought about him was based on what the writer of that history book thought of him.  Most people either remember the good or the bad about people in history, and nowhere in between. We either take the good and leave out the bad, or take the bad and leave out the good.

The fact is that we need to take ALL of history and not just what we want to remember. What I knew about Columbus, or what I thought I knew, was that Columbus was some heroic man that sailed the Atlantic ocean without running into any issues, found a new world, and he lived in peace with all the Indians and lived happily ever after, but that is not true. Though, that is the way that we are taught history, either the person is all good and did all these amazing things, or the person was all bad and did nothing right. Neither of those ways are right, we need to take history as a whole and remember people for who they really were.

So now that you know what I used to think, let me tell you what I have learned. In the year 1492 Christopher Columbus got on one of three boats and started sailing to what he thought was going to be the West Indies. He kept two logs, one that was real and kept to himself, and one that was not true and showed the crew, he did this so the crew would not get discouraged. After a few months the crew found out what he was doing and gave Columbus a dead line that if they did not find land soon they would turn back. On the morning of that dead line they found land. Columbus was kind to the native Americans at first hoping they would become Christians, but soon he and his men became cruel to the natives, they abused the women, and some were taken back to Spain as slaves.

It is important to study history so that it does not repeat itself, but let’s make sure that we are studying the truth and not what we want the truth to be.

From, Maddy


Journey to the Ocean

Dear Jerry,

  A few weeks ago we had gone to Key West to go lobster fishing, and to do that you have to get in the water and go get them. Which if you know me at all getting in the ocean is one of my BIGGEST fears. So before we even left the house I promised myself, my family and even some of my friends, that I would get into the water, so that not only am I accountable to myself I had many people that were going to be asking how the trip went.

   My dad took me to the dive shop and I got my first pair of goggles and snorkel. The next day we packed up the cars and headed south. It was my family and the Brumagin family. When we arrived at the condo we unpacked, got the boat, and headed out to find some lobsters.

   When we got to the first stop, everyone (with the exception of the moms) suited up and got in the water. As I sat on the edge on the boat with my goggles and snorkel I began to regret ever promising to everyone that I would get in. The water was a bit foggy, and jumping in to the waters of the unknown just didn’t sound so inviting.

  I took a deep breath, and jumped in. It happened all at once, water was leaking into my goggles and when I jumped I had already had the snorkel in my mouth and sucked in a large amount of salt water. I came up, found the back of the boat and jumped back on.

   I had my mom fix my goggles and I sat back down on the back of the boat watching as everyone else have fun in the water. I finally worked up enough courage to try it again, but this time I did it a little more gracefully. Instead of jumping in I slid my way in and looked down to what was beneath me.

  There wasn’t much to see at first because as I mentioned it was pretty foggy. I began to get frustrated because everyone was saying ”Wow! Did you see that down there?” and I wasn’t seeing anything! I finally realized why they could see stuff and I wasn’t, they were diving down and as they got deeper they could see all the wonders on the ocean floor. So taking a deep breath I dove down, and everything started appearing. Huge pieces of coral and sea sponges covered the bottom. It was beautiful.

  As the weekend went on I could hardly stay out of the water. It was like a whole different world down there, and to think, if I would have let my first experience of getting in the water stop me, I would have never been able to experience any of it. It just goes to show that stepping out of your comfort zone can lead you to places you never thought were possible.

  From, Maddy