“Ultimate Author Day”

Photo Fun

Our Lady Sorrows Catholic School 8th-grader Max McGwin and Dr. Kesha James, Director of Distance Education Lawson State Community College, have fun working together during Ultimate Author Day, where professionals shared their expertise with students as they celebrated their work as accomplished authors.

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“Library Fun”

Photo Fun

Renowned children’s author Kevin O’Malley recently shared his experiences as an author with the students at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School. This is one of the fun activities the children experienced this year through their school library program.


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Thank You for Your Service!

Photo Fun

“Military Excellence”

Birmingham’s Seaman Recruit Andrew Lockhart, recently graduated as the top Sailor from Recruit Training Command, earning the Military Excellence Award. Lockhart, a 2017 graduate of the University of Alabama, said he joined the Navy to achieve a sense of accomplishment. “I want to be able to say I know I did something with my life,” Lockhart said. “Many people struggle to answer when asked what they are most proud of in their life. I know that I will have no problem answering that question now.” The MEA Award is the top award presented to the No. 1 recruit of their graduating training group who best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military bearing and teamwork.


“Serving Half Way Around the World”

Birmingham native and mine hunter Micah Brown is serving with the U.S. Navy in Japan. The 2015 Bessemer City High School graduate is aboard one of the forward-deployed mine countermeasures ship, USS Patriot. Brown is proud to serve in the Pacific and fondly recalls memories of Birmingham. “If you put your mind to it, you don’t have to make bad choices to be successful which I learned from my mom,” said Brown. “She also taught me that when situations are tough, to not just quit, because there will always be hard times.”


“Birmingham Sailor Aboard USS Rushmore”

U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Reymundo A. Villegas III.

Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Shannon Diaz, left, from Birmingham, prepares video for the USS Rushmore’s Nautical or Otherwise Photographic Intelligence Exploitation (SNOOPIE) team while participating in a force protection exercise.

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Duck Dynasty’s Missy & Mia Robertson

Duck Dynasty’s Missy & Mia Robertson

Princess[es] in Camo:

“Advice I’ve been given lately, having a middle school daughter for the first time, is this too shall pass,” Missy Robertson says with a laugh of raising daughter Mia, now 14. “God is ultimately in charge but he’s given us the responsibility of leading our children, and as long as we take that seriously, we have fun with them, we’re open, [we’re going to be okay]. Basically, I think the No. 1 thing in raising kids is being honest. Letting them know when you fail. Letting them know when you mess up and apologizing for it, and then they can understand that they can do that too.”

Duck Dynasty may have aired its final episode on A&E Network last spring, but 14-year-old Mia Robertson and her mother, Missy, have found a way for the playful antics among young cousins to live on in a new book series. A fictional take on what it was like filming reality television with family, Princess in Camo (Zonderkidz, $8.99) launched earlier this year with its first two titles, Allie’s Bayou Rescue and Running from Reality. Intended for girls age 8-12, they offer the same blend of relationship building, silliness, family values, leaning on Scripture, and the great outdoors found in Duck Dynasty—but with messages fit for pre-teens and parents as well.

In the series, protagonist Allie Carroway is 12 years old and dealing with the challenges of severe allergies and the embarrassment of fame. In the first book, rumors among producers and family suggest if she has another serious asthma attack, her parents may sell their home and move from the Louisiana Bayou to Arizona, far from the homes and property where they film their reality television show, Carried Away with the Carroways. This was an ailment specifically chosen by Mia to reflect the physical and emotional struggles that she has shared with audiences nationwide. Mia was born in 2003 with a bilateral cleft lip and palate and had her first corrective surgery at three months old. Since, she has also had palate correction surgery (7 months old) and a second lip correction surgery with additional correction to nasal passages (5 years old). In 2014, Mia underwent a major bone graft surgery, in which her physician took bone from her left hip and placed it in the cleft of her upper jaw. Missy explains that the Christian faith the Robertsons vocally cling to on screen has carried the family through it all.

Missy and Mia Robertson will release books three and four of the Princess in Camo series in early September. Dog Show Disaster features famous lap dog Hazel Mae, seen here on a bike ride with Missy.

As Allie’s health challenges follow her through the book series—which will expand to four titles in early September—so do glimpses into the Robertsons’ lives among camera crews. Missy says that while the characters and basic plot of each book were dreamed up by cousins Mia, Bella, Lily, Merrit and Rowdy, there are plenty of nonfiction glimpses sprinkled throughout that give a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to film Duck Dynasty. While filming Carried Away with the Calloways, for example, Allie and her cousins hint at required wardrobe changes and mandatory gun safety training. The Diva Duck Blind, a glittered-duck decorated fort in Allie’s Bayou Rescue, is based on a real hideout Mia and her cousins decided to remodel to help Rowdy Robertson feel welcome after his adoption in 2016. And in Chapter 7, the cousins communicate covertly behind producers’ backs by drawing in the dirt. Missy says that detail was added as an accurate portrayal of the family bond that made Duck Dynasty so appealing to begin with. “Oh, they can read each other’s minds. They understand each other’s looks,” she says. “That’s what happens in real relationships. You can almost finish each other’s sentences. Even though that gave more of a visual—writing in the dirt and things like that—they are very close in real life, and I hope it came across that way in the book. I think it did.”

Ultimately, Missy says the books reflect lessons that are vital to the pre-teen years, including perseverance, family bonds, and sacrificing for those you love. As Birmingham Christian Family parents and youth head into summer and plan for a new school year in the fall, Missy shares four of the lessons found in the book series:

  • Speak Up. In Allie’s Bayou Rescue, Allie’s father tells her not to worry so much, but Allie is quick to inform him that 12 years olds do, in fact, worry quite a bit. It’s a moment that represents a child learning to lean on her parent and a parent realizing his daughter can listen to her own instincts and build her own faith. For Missy, it’s this slow growth toward independence that should make a parent proud. “They are going to have to start making decisions on their own as individuals and not just lean on their parents to make every decision for them. They are going to have to step out on their own and have their own faith,” she says. “That sometimes is hard for parents, especially if it’s your firstborn.”
  • Trust in God’s Love. It’s a matter of bravery to pray for God to remove a specific challenge from your life and know it may not happen. “God has his reasons for doing and not doing what he does and doesn’t do, but you have to trust that God loves us more than anything else on earth and wants that relationship with us,” Missy says. “Sometimes he allows us to go through things to draw us closer to him, to lean more on him, to understand that we need him. The will of God is for his kingdom to grow…. so even though we may not have all the answers figured out, we need to learn that God loves us more than anything. More than the sparrows. More than the trees. He loves us individually.”
  • Resist Poor Influences. Each Princess in Camo book touches on being yourself in the face of peer pressure. In Finding Cabin Six, the cousins are praying and sleuthing to save their favorite Christian summer camp from getting sold to a resort developer. A character named Madison seems to bring out the worst in Allie, who has to decide whether or not to give in and “join that negative club” or show mercy and “extend that olive branch,” Missy says. “A lot of that has to do with the people around you, especially with girls in that age group influencing each other in what to say and how to say it. Each one of those books hit on that a little bit.”
  • Stay Put. As Allie and her cousins dream of a life away from the cameras in Running from Reality, sometimes we’re all tempted to completely rewrite our lives. However, it’s possible God has given us opportunities we shouldn’t miss right where we are. When what used to excite us about life becomes mundane, count your blessings.

In 2015, Duck Dynasty’s Missy Robertson authored the book Blessed, Blessed…Blessed chronicling her family’s journey of raising a child born with a cleft lip and palate. Now she and daughter Mia are co-authoring a series of fiction chapter books for young girls with seasoned Faithgirlz author Jill Osborne. Pictured here are Mia, Cole, Missy, Jase, Reed, and Brighton Robertson.

Finally, Missy hopes parents and girls invested in the Princess in Camo series will look to Romans 5:30 for encouragement—as Mia has done with her cleft lip and palate, and as fictional Allie does in the face of her own health challenges. Faith nurtured in youth builds character, and Missy is proud that her daughter can speak (and write) so freely in a way that credits God for her blessings and perseverance. “She is the epitome of that verse because she is able to rejoice in her sufferings. The world just laughs at that,” Missy says. “Yet Paul was writing a lot of his books in the Bible sitting in a prison cell, saying you should rejoice. That is such an oxymoron to the world. Yet it’s so true…. That suffering produces perseverance that makes you either choose ‘I’m gonna give up’ or ‘I’m gonna trod on through.’ Perseverance of course produces character, and that character gives us all hope.”


  • Camille Smith Platt

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Restoration Ride: By God’s Grace

Restoration Ride: By God’s Grace

Faith @ Work

Brought to you by: State Farm, www.ThomasWaters.com

Last year Waters’ team raised $11,000 for MS. Seen here (L to R) are Al Schlosser, Thomas Waters, Eric Riddle, and Shane Roberts. Every dollar raised helps fund critical research, programs and services for people affected by MS, www.bikems.org.

“By God’s grace I am here. I have been the beneficiary of God’s ocean of grace,” explains Thomas Waters as he remembers the bike ride he took through Irondale a year ago this month. “I felt the car’s front end hit me and the next thing I knew I was lying in the middle of the road.” With a low back fracture and a severe soft tissue injury to his shoulder, Waters struggled to get out of the road. With help from fellow cyclists, he did and avoided being hit by on-coming traffic. The driver of the vehicle that hit Waters never stopped and has not been caught. “At first, I had a lot of anger,’ says Waters. “I was angry and grateful at the same time.” As a State Farm Agent, Waters team focuses on living out their mission to “be there for you in life’s toughest moments.” Waters confesses it was hard for him to understand how someone could leave the scene of an accident not knowing the well-being of someone else. “The accident has refined my personal ministry to give out more grace. Be kind to everybody even though sometimes that kindness isn’t easy to offer,” explains Waters adding, “Al Schlosser and Rex Seaborn were examples of God’s grace to me as they called for the ambulance and came to check on me in the emergency room.”

While riding his bike June 26, 2017, Thomas Waters was struck by a hit and run driver in Irondale. Fellow cyclists, Al Schlosser and Rex Seaborn, helped Waters to safety.

For twelve years Waters enjoyed cycling, but after the accident he struggled to ride again. “Every time a car passed I would think, this could be the next hit.” The only thing that kept him riding was a commitment he made with his cycling team to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). “I had so much mental pressure not to ride, but my friends gave me the confidence to ride to help people who really needed it.” Three months after the accident, Thomas and his team rode two, 80-mile rides in one weekend and raised $11,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “I thought, as soon as the ride is over, I will quit,” says Waters. “Anxiety and fear are crippling, but that ride restored my soul and my desire to ride. My friends lifted me up. Two of them, Adam Hodges and Jonathan Schaefer, escorted me into the end of the race the second day. I was struggling and they both sacrificed good positions to help me cross the finish line.”

Waters and his team are preparing for the MS Ride again this fall. Bike MS: Tour De Beach is September 15-16, 2018 in Orange Beach, Ala. The team goal is $15,000 and Waters personal goal is $5000. To learn more about how you can support or participate with Waters’ team visit, www.main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/StateFarmBikeTeam2018

Brought to you by: Community Partner www.ThomasWaters.com, 205-879-1988.




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Students Recognized for Artistic Talent

Education Extra

Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School 1st-grader Addison Jackson proudly displays her artwork of Our Lady of Fatima’s Crown and her blue ribbon for placing first in the Homewood Library’s Student Juried Art Contest.

Our Lady of Sorrows (OLS) eighth-grade student Houston Alford’s artwork was recently chosen by the Birmingham Museum of Art to be displayed at the museum. His picture entitled “Man cave” is graphite on paper, drawn in one-point perspective.

In the Homewood Library’s Student Juried Art Contest, two OLS students were also recognized for their outstanding work. In the K-2nd grade category, 1st-grader Addison Jackson won the 1st-place ribbon with a mixed media drawing of Our Lady of Fatima’s Crown, while 2nd-grader Addison Praytor placed third for her drawing and collage of a dinosaur in its habitat.

OLS student Houston Alford’s artwork is on display at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

“We are very excited about our students placing in these community competitions,” said OLS Art Teacher Andi Arteaga, who enjoys teaching the students how to use their creativity. “Learning technique allows a student’s talent to shine its brightest,” she said. †


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Dad & the Outdoors: Mark’s Outdoors

Dad & the Outdoors: Mark’s Outdoors

The Great Outdoors  

Looking for that perfect Father’s Day gift? The staff at Mark’s Outdoors is ready to assist you in finding a gift Dad will love and use. Besides being a one stop shop for hunting and fishing needs, Mark’s also carries a wide variety of lifestyle products for the husband or father in your life. Here are just a few ideas for Father’s Day.

Keep it Cool. Out in the Alabama summer heat, Dad is sure to appreciate a Yeti or Orca gift. Mark’s has in stock Yeti coolers ranging in size from 20-210 quarts and they all come with a five year warranty. Orca coolers are also available in 26-58 quart sizes and each comes with a lifetime warranty. Mark’s also offers both Orca and Yeti beverage options from small to tall to keep Dad’s drink ice cold or piping hot ($20-$30).

Play it Safe. Shirts with sun protection are a great gift for the dad who spends anytime outdoors. Mark’s has sizes ranging from small to 3x in great colors and styles from the top men’s sportswear brands including Columbia, Simms, and AFTCO.

Enjoy Function, Style & Craftsmanship. Mark’s Outdoors knife specialist Chris Thompson oversees the inventory of the Southeast’s largest and best selection of knives ranging from “mild to wild” in design and price. In stock selections include brands like William Henry ($350-$2200 range) and Chris Reeve ($400-$500 range). Besides knives, the William Henry brand also offers a great line of men’s jewelry that has the same distinct style as their knives. Particularly popular is the William Henry bracelet made from leather and forged damascus steel and accented with gem stones ($400).

Besides remembering your Dad with a gift this Father’s Day, most importantly, we hope you will have the opportunity to spend some time with your Dad- if at all possible, in God’s great outdoors.

Mark’s Outdoors 

1400-B Montgomery Highway, Vestavia 35216

205-822-2010, www.marksoutdoors.com

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Best Books

Best Books

Always Fall Forward

Birmingham author Todd Gerelds’ latest book is a great gift idea for a new graduate or for dad on Father’s Day. Find it at Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts.

I love to watch a great game, especially if a team I favor is winning against a superior opponent. Tell me who the under-dog is, and I’ll cheer them on like the most ardent alumni. Even so, I’ve never really understood why anyone would want to play high school or collegiate football. If I’m going to work that hard and give up that much time for something, I want to get paid for it. I also want to come home with my bones intact.

Todd Gerelds knows why so many young men play football. It’s love. Some guys were simply born to play the game. The same applies to great coaches. In his new book, Always Fall Forward (Tyndale, $17.99), Gerelds offers fifty-two life lessons he learned from his father, Coach Tandy Gerelds. Todd Gerelds first wrote about his dad in his book, Woodlawn, which became a major motion picture recounting the events he witnessed as the son of the longtime Woodlawn High School coach.

Always Fall Forward combines scriptural principles with lessons he learned from his dad. These “coachisms” include concepts such as- pay attention to what’s around you, always speak the truth, give your best effort in whatever task you’re presented with, and always show honor and respect to others.

Author: Todd Gerelds

Football has the potential to build fortitude, responsibility, and discipline. These are virtues which can serve our faith as we endeavor to run the race set before us. One day we will come to the end of our last quarter and we will give an account for our life. When it comes to our faith, let’s leave it all on the field.

-Darrel Holcombe, Owner 
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster


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Splash into Summer at Alabama Splash Adventure!

Splash into Summer at Alabama Splash Adventure!

Are We There Yet?

Dan Koch and his mom Pat, the “The General,” welcome you to a great day of family fun at Alabama Splash Adventure.

Alabama Splash Adventure has opened for the summer season with the largest expansion in park history. Enjoy six new amusement attractions, the Pirates High Dive Show, and many more enhancements to provide more fun all summer long. Depending on your mood, enjoy a relaxing lazy river ride or amplify the excitement with monster slides and waves. On the amusement end, check out the Rampage Wooden Roller Coaster that reaches speeds of 56 mph for a family thrilling ride.

Owners, Dan Koch and his mom Pat, also called “The General,” have over 60 years of experience in the amusement and waterpark industry. Over the past five years, the Koch family has added numerous amusement attractions to the park, restored the world-famous Rampage wooden roller coaster, and introduced many valuable extras such as free parking, free unlimited Pepsi drinks, free sunscreen, free inner tubes and free Wi-Fi. Both Dan and Pat Koch are at the park daily from open to close greeting customers, cleaning, and you may even see them in the restaurants making funnel cakes. Pat Koch 86 years old says “We have an incredible staff and you really feel like family when entering, everything must be spit spot clean and all you have to do is relax and have fun.”

The Rampage Roller Coaster at Alabama Splash Adventure is ranked as one of the top 25 wooden coasters in the world. A season pass to the park has been lowered, check it out at www.alabamasplash.com.

Alabama Splash Adventure has received a series of positive rankings including being chosen in 2017 as one of the top five friendliest parks in the world by readers of Amusement Today, a national amusement industry news leader. The park was also named as one of the best theme park values in the USA by MSN News. “We will build upon these honors. We are definitely moving in the right direction,” says owner Dan Koch. “Thank you, guests, team members and the great state of Alabama.”

The park’s new attractions include the Scrambler/a spinning frenzy family ride, the Yo-Yo/experience the feeling of flight in open air seats, the Tilt-A-Whirl/encounter a series of spins and twists, Rocking Tug/enjoy rocking and spinning motions in this wild ship, Royal Express/gentle train ride off the rails throughout the park, and Splash Island/kids slides and play area. New enhancements to the park include a renovated Island Cafe Restaurant, additional lockers, more seating and dining tables, more shade structures and additional premium cabanas.

What are you waiting for? To say THANK YOU for reading and supporting the businesses and organizations that advertise with Birmingham Christian Family magazine and make spreading Good News possible, we have THREE GREAT WAYS you can enter to win 4 tickets to Alabama Splash Adventure and enjoy a full day at the park. Tickets good through 2018 summer season!

THREE Winners (FOUR Tickets Each) & THREE Ways to Win!

1.Sign Up for our E-newsletter at www.birminghamchristian.com

2.Like Our Facebook Page AND Like & Share the Alabama Splash Adventure Post

3. Follow us on Twitter AND Retweet the Alabama Splash Adventure Post

Offer Ends 6/20/18. Winners Announced 6/21/18 on Facebook and Twitter

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