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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Chick-Flicks...are we affected?

Emma, Jax, Matt & Erin and I went to see Enchanted yesterday.
It was pretty good. We liked it.
But I have to tell you...the affect it had on my daughter was startling...almost disturbing.
If you don't know Emma, I'll give you a brief summary. Tomboy. She adores climbing trees. She loves animals maybe more than people. She rides horses. She runs around on all fours like a horse most of the time (at a freakishly amazing speed, I might add. It's pretty remarkable.) She plays well with boys and girls, but she plays with brothers all day, and is like a kindred spirit to Hayden Hendrick. Oh, and she hates dresses.
So my Emma is watching this movie, with every Disney princess rolled into one personified in this character. (Played very well too!) It starts out as animated, but becomes real life. It's almost completely about finding true love, "true love's kiss" which is said about 100 times, dating, and marriage.
I noticed during the movie, Emma was swooning, for lack of a better word.
She was intent on the "true love kisses" and this started the barrage of questions.
During the movie, and after, she is asking us,
Can I go on a date before I get married?
How many dates? 1? 5? 364?
Daddy, do you like kissing?
Will God give me a husband?
Can I kiss him?
Will he be my one true love?
Can we go home so I can put on a dress?
That's when I stopped in my tracks. A dress? What?
I was saying before we ever left the movie, let's talk about this later with your Daddy.
There were so many things to address after this movie!
This well-made chick-flick combined with Disney princess fairytale had a powerful affect on my little girl's mind!
First, as soon as we got in the car, I let her know that she didn't have to find a husband to have the "Happily Ever After" (another frequent phrase in the movie.) She could have that with the Lord without ever getting married. I know she doesn't understand that yet, but she needs to hear it.
She said she really hopes God gives her a husband.
Then we talked about True Love's kiss could be on her wedding day. Those people going around kissing people before they're married is not the best idea.
I know this sounds crazy to some, or totally unrealistic, but you can go back to some of my dating posts to see a lot of thought and consideration of scripture goes into that idea. We are going to teach our children from a young age what it means to flee from sexual immorality. It's going to seem extreme to the world, but if they truly choose this way, I'm 100% positive they'll never regret it. I can garuntee heartache if they don't, however.
Then we talked about how Daddy is my one true love, and yes we really like kissing, as MARRIED people, but that first our joy and contentment is in the Lord. People are searching for something that only God can give them.
But she could wear a pretty dress, and dance around, and kiss on her wedding day, if God plans that for her. But God's plans would be the best for her, we can rest assured.
To see my seven-year-old daughter so affected by this chick-flick, it reiterates to me how we as women are all affected by them.
I like chick-flicks a lot! Maybe not some of the super, super cheesy ones, but the semi-cheesy ones I enjoy.
But as a married woman, I have to keep in perspective that my amazing husband and our relationship does not have to be like a movie. In fact, I think these movies could easily breed discontentment in relationships if a woman let it. I'm incredibly blessed to have a beautiful love story of my own! And I'm not kidding! I have an amazing husband that I am still completely enamored with after 10 years! He's everything I could hope for and more!!! But our day to day interactions don't look like the closing 10 minutes of Notting Hill, ya know? More like Cheaper by the Dozen.
For single women, I've heard some say they have to avoid the chick-flicks. They can't fight the urge to fixate on those things they don't have yet. Again, discontentment could easily set in. I think it's wise to assess your heart first and make sure your contentment, joy, and thankfulness is not obliterated in a 2 hour span.
I will honestly be a little more careful about these movies for my daughter. I like this movie. I think I would just rather my Emma watch movies about animals and horses and silly kid stuff than kissy face, adult relationships that are not in her reach for another 15 years (let's hope.)
Oh, one proud moment during the movie was when the Princess was wearing a wedding dress showing cleavage, and Jax leaned over and told me she wasn't dressed modestly! Wow! Hey girls, if we ever wonder what is modest, ask my kids. They recognize it immediately.
Thoughts on the chick flicks?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Advent Conspiracy

Merry Christmas! Bacak Christmas pics will be up soon, but I wanted to link this article in the Houston Chronicle Religion section featuring my brother,and his church, Ecclesia. Check it out! Advent Conspiracy has been something inspiring to Rusty and I both this Christmas! Giving more, spending less, worshipping the most!
I definitely wouldn't say we've arrived yet, but this Christmas has been closer to that than ever. I will share.
We spend a LOT less on gifts for the kids, and my living room is still littered at this very moment still with gifts. The kids bought each other gifts at the 99cent store, and that was great! I don't think they really know the difference between $10 gifts and $1 gifts! A wrapped up toy is a wrapped up toy, and they bought and wrapped them for each other personally with their own money! They loved that!
We focused on giving through our project that was already up and running, selling salsa for Living Water. (Read more about Living Water if you haven't already!)My parents also decided to challenge us with the $50 project. They gave each family $50 and asked us to come up with our own ideas to raise money for the Child Survival Program through Compassion International (an unbelievable program saving lives of little ones, enriching the lives of babies and mothers, and sharing the gospel in doing so; check into it!) My brother Brian works for Compassion, so he has his hand in some of these amazing projects around the world! Our idea was to sell water and hot chocolate at the mall where people board the buses for the A&M and UT game the day after Thanksgiving. Hundreds of fans board there over a two hour span, and we set up our table at the mall, on the busiest day of the year, right in front of them. Good idea, hu? We had our kids helping, with pictures of the children from Ethiopia that we would be helping. We made signs, a huge dispenser of hot chocolate in styrofoam cups with lids with labels we made on them, and iced water bottles. (A lot of work! Rusty did it since I was doing my annual shopping trip with the girls in my family. Go Rusty!) However, we only profited $96. We were a little disappointed, but we worked hard as a family, and that's what we were supposed to do. You should check out my brother Brian's blog where they had a 12 hour walk in their neighborhood and raised $900!!!! Wow! They are also in the process of adopting children from that very area of Ethiopia. I just love my family!
We made homemade gifts for family members. For example, I'm way into making cute bookmarks with my awesome new laminator! (Thank you Shelby! It's one of the greatest things ever given to me!!!) I know, you're thinking homemade gifts...stinky! But for my parents' gift, I am making frozen meals for them. It's just the two of them now, and they tend to get home late, not wanting to cook. So I have frozen two meals already for them; Chicken Pot Pie and White Chicken Chili- definitely in my top 10 meals we have! I gave them everything they need to go with it. The rice, measured out with directions on it, a block of cheese to grate over it, etc. I have one more meal to bring to them. But the gift of homemade dinner and NOT cooking is meaningful to them (I hope). We are looking for ways to use our talents, time, and resources to give, while spending more money on our giving endeavors, like our church, missionaries, Living Water, etc. The whole Seay family is in on this. It's pretty fun!
We are also spending more time doing ministry as a family. I think I have written about our weekly visits to Crestview Nursing Home. We love it there! We are praying for our sick friends, sharing Jesus, and just loving on people who are lonely. We were there yesterday, and one of our elderly friends told us "Christmas is lonely when you're old...some people don't realize that." I told her we did, and that's why we were there! The kids and I so look forward to going. This particular woman has told me she was a school teacher for 50+ years. I just want to sit and soak up the knowledge! There are so many interesting people there! It was unusually crowded with visitors yesterday; some visiting their relatives for Christmas, and some just making a friendly Christmas visit. I think that's great, but I want to be mindful that we don't just do ministry during the Christmas season, and then go back to living for ourselves the rest of the year. I always find it a little hypocritical to give to needy families, visit nursing homes, etc. JUST at Christmas time. I know people have particular needs or feel especially lonely at Christmas time...I understand that. But shouldn't we be doing those things all year? So this is something we are committing to do as a part of our lives. BECAUSE of Jesus, our Christmas gift, we strive to live like Him, and focus outward in the ways He leads us.
PLEASE KNOW...we are learning how to do all of these things. I am learning and being challenged by so many of you! I'm sharing, because when you guys share, it encourages me, spurs me on, prods me to do what I know I should. So realize, we have not mastered these concepts, but are in the learning process, both failing and succeeding as we go. But praise God for the learning journey!
Merry Christmas! It's 1:40pm, and I'm still in my PJ's. That's the kind of Christmas I love!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Let's Be Salt & Pepper

I have been studying the most amazing passage this week. It's so good! Let me share it! (Don't skim! read!)
Col 1:9-14
We ask God to give you a complete understanding of what he wants to do in your lives, and we ask him to make you wise with spiritual wisdom. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and you will continually do good, kind things for others. All the while, you will learn to know God better and better.

11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father, who has enabled you to share the inheritance that belongs to God's holy people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and he has brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son. 14 God has purchased our freedom with his blood and has forgiven all our sins.

What an amazing prayer Paul was praying for the Colossians! Wouldn't you like to have Paul praying this for you? Every sentence is something I desperately want! It's the burning desire of my heart!

1. To have a complete understanding of what He wants to do in my life. Anyone else want that? Raise your hand...

2.That he would make me wise with spiritual wisdom. That's the only way I'm going to be wise. I don't feel wise, and yet in James 1:5-7, it says we only have to ask for wisdom and BELIEVE He will answer! "If you need wisdom- if you want to know what God wants you to do- ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord."

3. Then the way I live with always please the Lord! Rock on!

4. I will continually do good and kind things for others. I won't miss out on opportunities to bless others, which I undoubtedly often do. We will be fulfilling His desire for us, as in verses like 2 Timothy 3:17, that He's equipping us with His Word to do good things. In essence to be salt and light for Him.

5. I will know God better and better! Yes!

6. I will be strengthened by his glorious power, with more than enough patience and endurance. Hello!!!! I have four little ones!!! Please pray this for me!!!

7.I will be filled with joy, and always thanking the Father! Wow! I want that. That would solve a lot of my sin issues.

If anyone wants to get my family something for Christmas, just pray this prayer for us. This is amazing. I want it all so much! Can you imagine what our lives would be like if we had all of this all of the time? Amazing!
When it talks about continually doing good and kind things for others, that reminded me of a talk I had with Emma recently. She heard a lesson in children's church by Mr. Howard (who by the way, Jax calls Mr. Coward...ha! He is not slamming Mr. Howard. He's just mixing up his words in the cutest 5 year old way! Who can correct that?) He talked to the kids about being salt and light to the world, from Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5. This made such an impression on her! First of all, she didn't understand the analogy of salt. That was confusing at first. I think she raised her hands several times during the lesson. But when we got in the car, she actually told us about it, and you could tell, God was speaking to her heart. (Remember, Emma knows the Lord!) We talked about it again a few days later, and she wanted to know how SHE could be salt and light, except she kept mixing it up and saying "salt and pepper." (Again, so cute!!!) She and I stopped and prayed that God would show her how to be salt and light to the world in specific ways. I told her, because the Holy Spirit lives in her, He would nudge her heart when there was something He wanted her to do. (She had also been asking me good questions around that time about how do you know when God is speaking to you? Yes, she keeps us on our toes.) Then she gave me an example of a time God spoke to her heart about how to bless someone else. We started going to Crestview Nursing Home around that time. Rusty has patients there, and we took our HOPE group there one night to sing for them. Well, turns out, my kids are AMAZING with old people! I really love them too, so we have been going there once a week for most of the semester to visit with them. Emma felt the urge to go talk to one particular woman sitting in the lobby, and she did. You should see God working through her at Crestview! I wish you all could witness it!
This has been our way to be salt and pepper to the "widows", the often times forgotten, talked about in James 1:27. ("Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us." Our family in the past few years has taken this call to orphans and widows more seriously than ever!) I may not have found all my kids niche in their sports abilities, or their hidden talents, but I have found an amazing ministry ability in them in ministering to sometimes very sick, older people who will face eternity soon. We have prayed over some, and last week got to ask one of our favorite of Rusty's patients if she assuredly knew Jesus. She was sure she did, and she has been very ill in the hospital this week. What a blessing to know that when she dies, my kids and I can celebrate her being with Jesus and that we'll see her again!
I will try to post some pics of my kids with our friends at Crestview. And really, if anyone ever wants to go with us, let me know! We would love it! Come be "salt and pepper" with us!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007


This is so stinkin' exciting! My brother Robbie's song "Rise" is being featured on this season of American Idol. We're not sure exactly how they are going to use it, but click here to go to the site to see the commercial it's already on.
Awesome! Oh, and if you haven't bought his CD yet, go! It's so good!

Barbie and modesty

We had a humorous incident with Barbie the other day.
I don't know what to think about Barbie sometimes.
Some people have super, strong feelings about Barbie dolls.
I probably haven't fully thought it through, because my daughter is mostly too busy playing with animals to think about Barbies. (I fear she prefers animals to people sometimes.) We've never actually bought her one, but other people have, so we have a few around the house.
Well this particular Barbie had on a long sleeve top that was cute, but a super short skirt. It was a rare occasion that Emma was playing with it, and I asked her "do you see anything wrong with Barbie's clothes?" She looked for a minute, and then I pointed out that Barbie didn't have much of a skirt on. So Emma went in search of something to make Barbie more modest. She tried to change her into some pants off of another Barbie, but the pants wouldn't fasten at the top, so Barbie's bottom was completely showing. We were on a quest to make Barbie modest now, so that wouldn't work. So Emma put the skirt over the pants, and put together a stylish outfit that was modest. Way to go Emma!
Emma and I have been talking about modesty a lot over the past year. Especially when it came to swimsuit season last year, and we even talked here on the blog about modesty during swimsuit season,and had a great discussion! But I am trying to instill in her the Godly quality of being modest for the purpose of obedience to God's Word and godliness.
How do I show her this in practical terms, without sounding judgmental of everyone we see dressed immodestly?
Well we dont point people out in the grocery store and say "SEE HER? THAT'S HOOCHY-MAMA! NOT MODEST, NOT MODEST!!!!!"
But I do make observations on TV with her, clothes in a store, and even dolls like the dreaded Brat dolls who are all dressed Brittany Spears, or Barbies wearing bikinis, showing their middle, or wearing not much of a skirt. Emma knows we are not going to show our middle, no matter what age she is. She purposefully changes clothes if something gets too small for her so that her belly won't show, on her own! She also often puts legging pj pants under her nightgowns so that they're not too short, on her own. I am trying to carefully show her what modest choices of clothing are, as I am prayerfully figuring it out on my own! God has been teaching me, and is still teaching me about modesty! I am pretty sure that Emma would call me out if I wore something inappropriate at this point. Cleavage, IF I had some, never okay. I was the most modest I'd ever been this summer, and I enjoyed swimsuit season like never before because of it. (I work a tank top and a cover-up skirt over my swimsuit all the time.) I took the wise advice from my Mom to NOT wear a swimsuit, even a modest one by the world's terms, in the presence of other men, and as confining as that may sound to you, it was so FREEING! I never worried about how I looked! I enjoyed our beach vacation so much more! Thank you Mom for shooting straight with me! I became much more careful about my work-out clothes. God is surely not done teaching me about this, but I am SO glad for what He's taught me already. In turn, I can teach my daughter at a young age.
Anyone else have ideas about teaching their kids about modesty? How are we dropping the ball on this, like allowing our little girls to wear things that we would definitely not wear? I'm even mindful of certain websites for girls, like the Barbie website, and these "fashion for girls" websites. (Praise God, that's SO NOT my daughter's interest anyway!) Thoughts?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Caramel Hot Chocolate

Quick! Make this hot chocolate recipe before it gets to be 80 degrees again! Cold weather only comes in brief windows of time, so as soon as it drops under 50 we build a fire and make hot chocolate.
This is a GREAT recipe for hot chocolate. Hot water and packets of cocoa just don't compare.
This recipe makes 2 cups. I doubled this and still didn't have quite enough for my whole family.

1 T sugar (I was out of sugar last time and used Splenda, and it was great!)

1 T unsweetened cocoa

1 3/4 c milk

2 T (or however much you want to put in) caramel topping

A little bit of coffee creamer, like chocolate caramel, vanilla caramel, or Peppermint Mocha! I added this, and it makes it fabulous!

Top with whipped cream, like the kind you squirt out of a can. That's fun! My kids loved it!

Combine sugar and cocoa in a saucepan. Stir in remaining ingredients. Stir CONSTANTLY over med. heat until mixture is thoroughly heated and caramel dissolved.
Enjoy by the fire.
Yay for cold weather!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

My $2 bike!

I got a bike for me for $2!!!
I went to a friend from church's garage sale this weekend.
I got there at around 8:30, which is after the hard-core, serious business garage salers have gone, and taken the really good stuff, but before the total slackers.
So there wasn't too much left, except...
my wonderful bicycle.
Just sitting there, waiting for me.
I walked up, and said "how much for the bike?"
Wow! That bike had been hanging out for years in a garage with flat tires, just waiting for me, ready to hit the road again. New adventures to come.
But I haven't had a bike since my pink huffy in 3rd grade.
I loved that bike!
I had a basket, AND a nameplate! You're jealous!
I literally don't think I've ridden a bike in my adult years. I can't remember when?
So Rusty was a little nervous after he aired up the tires for me and sent me out to ride with Emma.
But it was great! I didn't throw myself over the handlebars. I didn't fall at all! I took a ride with Em, and I really felt like a kid again. Emma likes to go up the steepest hills and ride down fast. Surprise! The child who will do a 50 ft. zip line at age 4 is really not afraid of too much. So I went with her, and I gotta tell you, I was a little nervous.
But it was so fun! I want to ride everyday with my kids!
Emma couldn't really figure out why I was so excited about this bike.
She said "Mom...it's not that pretty, but...at least it's not broken!"
I know it's not that pretty. It's speckled with gray paint...on purpose.
But it's my bike, and it cost- that's right- $2!
I'm pretty sure I need a basket and nameplate now.
I'm positive that Rusty needs an old, ugly bike to match mine now.
Does anyone have any insight on attaching baby seats to bikes?
Can you really do that?
Is it legal? Safe? Child abuse?
Someone let me know.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

How do you know if you have the flu?

I figure we can offer you a few practical tips as we enter the flu season, as well as some interesting history about the flu.

How do you know if you have the flu?
A lot of cold viruses are mistaken for the flu. Some people don't believe in the flu virus because they say they were vaccinated but still got the flu. Rusty has actually just seen his first real case of the flu. (There's a test for the flu virus.) Flu season actually usually starts around January, or even as late as February, like last year. We may be seeing an early season this year.
Flu symptoms are high fever (Over 101 degrees), achiness, extreme runny nose, and cough. I had an achy, cold like-virus recently, but no fever, so it definitely wasn't the flu. Rusty says that the flu often shows up suddenly, like you feel fine, and then twelve hours later, you are miserable with those symptoms.

What should you do if you think you have the flu?
Would it be wrong to put our office number here? Who cares! (979) 776-5191.
You should call your doctor and if he thinks you have the flu, you can get on Tamiflu. This shortens the duration and intensity of the flu considerably! But you must get on it in the first 48 hours of the virus.

Is it too late to get my flu shot?
There may still be places that have shots in stock. We are out of adult vaccinations. We still have a few kids' vaccinations left. They are approved for kids ages 6-36 months. We vaccinated ourselves and our kids. We obviously run the risk of high exposure in this family because of Rusty's job, and my kids actually play in a doctor's office when we eat lunch with Daddy.

Is the flu dangerous?
It can be. But I think the best reason to vaccinate or protect your family from the flu is we never know when a particularly nasty or deadly strain of the flu could occur. I believe the strain is always changing.
Here's for the history lesson. Do you know about the flu epidemic of 1918? For some reason, it's not a well-known piece of history. Rusty says that it has been lost in history because it coincided the end of WWI. Read these few factual paragraphs I got off of this website. You will be amazed. It is the greatest epidemic of all time. I saw a documentary on it years ago, and it was heart-breaking. Most families lost at least 1 family member, or even multiple family members died within days of each other because of the flu virus. Check this out.

World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One fifth of the world's population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history.

The plague emerged in two phases. In late spring of 1918, the first phase, known as the "three-day fever," appeared without warning. Few deaths were reported. Victims recovered after a few days. When the disease surfaced again that fall, it was far more severe. Scientists, doctors, and health officials could not identify this disease which was striking so fast and so viciously, eluding treatment and defying control. Some victims died within hours of their first symptoms. Others succumbed after a few days; their lungs filled with fluid and they suffocated to death.

The plague did not discriminate. It was rampant in urban and rural areas, from the densely populated East coast to the remotest parts of Alaska. Young adults, usually unaffected by these types of infectious diseases, were among the hardest hit groups along with the elderly and young children. The flu afflicted over 25 percent of the U.S. population. In one year, the average life expectancy in the United States dropped by 12 years.

It is an oddity of history that the influenza epidemic of 1918 has been overlooked in the teaching of American history. Documentation of the disease is ample, as shown in the records selected from the holdings of the National Archives regional archives. Exhibiting these documents helps the epidemic take its rightful place as a major disaster in world history.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Treston's story in a nutshell

I wrote this last December, marking the one year anniversary of Treston's placement in our home. In November of 2006, our adoption agency, New Life, unexpectedly called us asking us to pray about taking a baby who needed a home. It would be a "foster-to-adopt" situation, meaning we should be willing to make it forever, but we could have to relinquish him at any time. Wow. We weren't expecting another baby, although I think I'm ready for another at any time...my husband, not-so-much. And I certainly didn't like the idea of taking him in and letting him go. But my Godly husband prayed and searched the scripture and was drawn to James 1:27. "Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our father means that we care for orphans and widows in their trouble, and refuse to let the world corrupt us." God had made plans for our family that we were unaware of, and as always, His plans rock. So we got on a scary faith ride that took many twists and turns, but in the end, we knew our Father better, and God filled a hole in our family we hadn't even been aware of before. I'll let you read this post now...if any of you have questions about adoption, contact us! We love to share with people about adoption, and especially trans-racial adoption! Comment below if you need our e-mail address. So thanks for reading. We are thrilled to share the news of Treston's adoption with you...more than you can know! God bless!
Treston came to the Bacak house.
One year ago today, we drove all dressed-up with an empty strapped in baby seat, and a reconfigured seating arrangement in the Bacak mini-van.
We stood in the New Life building...a building I have know more than half of my life, and is probably the place my children think all people get babies from.
We stood and waited. Nervous.
We signed paperwork.
We talked about that this could be for forever, and it could be for two weeks. No one knew.
Foster-to-adopt? What did that mean?
It meant uncertainty, and faith, and risk. A great big risk.
I couldn't make any promises to my kids. We didn't know.
And in came the baby who was well worth the risk.
God went to great lengths to place him in our arms.
His loving foster Mom placed him in my arms, with tears in her eyes.
Rusty and I looked at him. (Actual picture above.)
We had a baby.
We hadn't been in the process of waiting, and praying, and preparing...this was all so different...unexpected...scary...WONDERFUL.
I was head over heels in love with this little guy already.
You know, just like many of you Moms felt when you laid eyes on the baby that you birthed? Same feeling. Minus blinding, life-threatening pain.
We circled up with granparents and Sara and prayed for Treston.
Then we drove home.
New beautiful brown baby in the formerly empty seat.
A baby bag stuffed with his few belongings in tow, as well as his favorite swing.
We came home, and Melodi Henry and Kaycee brought us tortilla soup.
We ate it, and watched him in the swing.
We had a baby.
We didn't know how long he would stay, but it sure felt like he was mine.
That's because he was.
He was ours before we brought him home.
He was ours before THE phone call and we knew he existed.
He was ours before he was even born.
He was ours because God planned it before time began.
We didn't get to send out a birth announcement.
We didn't have "It's a Boy" balloons.
There was no celebrating, but we had a baby.
(That's why when the celebrating day came, we've been serious about it!)
We went to church and showed up with a baby, and confused people.
We saw the brilliant Christmas play at church, and I cried a lot, mainly cause we had a baby.
And then they announced baby dedication, and I ached to get up at church and hold him proudly and dedicate him as his parents, but we couldn't.
I love baby dedications!
The last one we had at church on Mother's Day was very difficult for me. We still didn't know how this story would end up. I wanted to be up there so bad!!! I bawled, like embarrassing cry, right there in my seat. Rusty had to go chase down some tissue. I was a mess.
But our dedication day is coming. He is ours!!!!
December 15th we get to stand before the church and make a commitment as his parents to raise him to know and love the Lord.
God has big plans for Treston. He didn't do this for nothing.
We praise God for this day a year ago, Demeber 6th, 2006.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Jax and heaven

This is one of my favorite pictures of Jax. I tried looking for a semi-serious picture of him, but there just aren't many. He's so fun!
I am overjoyed to share the news of Jax's salvation!!!
We knew that Jax was getting nearer to accepting Christ. He has known the facts for sometime now. Being around Emma helps! AWANA verses every morning really helps! He has memorized so many verses about salvation in two years of Cubbies and this year as a Spark, it's awesome! We talk about the verses, and what they mean each morning. He understands. He came to the point where he grasped his sinfulness and need for a Savior. But we were waiting for it to reach his heart. Well suddenly, it did! There was no stopping him! As much as we wanted to slow him down to be sure, he was adament that he would have Jesus in his heart! Today! I think I knew for sure when he overcame his long-term fear of baptism. Baptism has just freaked him out. But suddenly, he wanted to be baptized! (He's not one who likes to be the center of attention, so to say this, without fear spoke volumes!) Praise the Lord that Jax's eternity is secured in his accepting the gift of salvation that Jesus offers us! I am praying boldly for his life to reflect holiness and purity, and that God would do unimaginable things through him! My heart burns with a desire to see my kids passionately serve Him with all of their days. The Holy Spirit has come in and taken residence in his life. His prayers already sound different to me. After all, the Bible says we are NEW creations! This happenned right before church on Sunday night, so when we got there and started singing songs about forgiveness and salvation, I just wept! My sweet little boy now knows that salvation!
After Jax prayed a sweet prayer with Rusty and I, he then promptly asked when we were going to heaven! I love that!
In fact, just earlier in the day, Emma asked me the same thing. Her little friend Suki the fish died. She was of course, devastated, knowing Emma and her overwhelming love for all animals. (At least this time Justus didn't murder her fish. That was bad. Remember that post?) She was in my lap, crying her eyes out, and asked if Suki would be with her in heaven. I said I thought so. And she said "Mom, when are we going to heaven??? I've been waiting SO LONG!!!" How precious that my children already long for their real home. Do we ache for heaven like this? Or are we too busy loving this world? That got me thinking.
Then at Sunday night church we studied Romans 5, which talks about our hope that we have, in sharing in God's glory, and persevering through trials by clinging to this hope.
That directed me over to one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, Colossians 3. These words have always pricked me heart, but I don't think I'd given them their due thought process in my mind.

Col 3:1-4
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honor and power. 2 Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. 3 For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Most other versions say set your mind on things above. The King James Version says "set your affections on things above."
So what does it mean to set our mind, heart, and affections on things above? On heaven? On the eternal?
I like part of this commentary I read by Matthew Henry.
(v. 2): Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. Observe, To seek heavenly things is to set our affections upon them, to love them and let our desires be towards them. Upon the wings of affection the heart soars upwards, and is carried forth towards spiritual and divine objects. We must acquaint ourselves with them, esteem them above all other things, and lay out ourselves in preparation for the enjoyment of them. David gave this proof of his loving the house of God, that he diligently sought after it, and prepared for it, Ps 27:4. This is to be spiritually minded (Rom 8:6), and to seek and desire a better country, that is, a heavenly, Heb 11:14,16. Things on earth are here set in opposition to things above. We must not dote upon them, nor expect too much from them, that we may set our affections on heaven; for heaven and earth are contrary one to the other, and a supreme regard to both is inconsistent; and the prevalence of our affection to one will proportionably weaken and abate our affection to the other.

I especially like that he says things here on earth are set in opposition to things above. We can't love both. As Jesus said, we can't serve two masters. The more we love God and the things that have eternal value, the less we love this world and the things that are fleeting.
So being the practical girl that I am, decided to make a list in my journal of the things in my day, my life, that are eternal and that are temporal. When am I pouring my energies into something that is wasted? More than anything, I want my kids to spend their lives on the eternal; to be passionate about the things of God. That means I have to set ALL my affections on those things now.
This has been challenging for me. I am still asking the Lord what it looks like to let heaven fill my thoughts, and to set my affections on things above. I think He might still have a lot more to say to me about it. Rusty has read the book "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn, and recommends it. I hope to read that soon. I read his book "Safely Home" and it totally changed the way I thought of heaven, and definitely about missions and awakened me to persection of the church today in other countries.
I hope heaven and eternal things will fill your thoughts and consume your affections today! Mine too!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Peeling back the layers of Christmas

We love Christmas. LOVE IT!
If you didn't know that, you've obviously never seen our home during the Christmas season. We celebrate Christmas big!
But there are things about the Christmas season that many people dread. To name a few...
1. Commercialism
2. An over-booked month
3. Spending too much
4. Shopping
5. Greediness
So Rusty and I have been searching for the way to de-stress, de-clutter, and de-secularize Christmas for our family.
Our goal is just that Christ would be the focus, and we would truly worship and celebrate during this season!
So we decided to spend less. I think we've made that decision each year for several years now, and we're starting to get the hang of it. We are giving more than ever as a family, and spending less and less on stuff. I don't say that to bring glory to us in any way, but to give all the glory to God for teaching us how to give Him more glory with all of our resources.
Shopping for parents, grandparents, my kids' 13 first cousins, and close friends overwhelms me! So this year I decided to get the bulk of our Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving. This has been GREAT! I feel NO STRESS right now about shopping, which is miraculous. I have never liked to shop, and shopping with four small children is a very real form of torture. I bought several things on-line, and Rusty and I did a lot of it while on date nights. Even Wal-Mart is enjoyable when I go with Rusty on a date night. It was even fun!
We are being very careful in guarding our children's hearts from the "Gimmies", the greedy spirit we find acceptable for children to have at Christmas time. We instead are focusing our fun and creative energy on what they are giving rather than getting. They have told us one thing that they want for Christmas and that's more than enough. They need NOTHING! They have a playroom full of toys! God is teaching us contentment and thankfulness, and I just can't see that we can have those things, commanded in scripture, when we have a long list of things we want and will be disappointed if we don't get on Christmas morning. That definitely shifts the focus off of Christ. Gifts are not bad! But wanting things to the point of discontentment or lack of thankfulness is, for sure! My kids are responding beautifully to this so far. I am so proud of them! They are so excited about getting each other special little gifts.
Another thing we do to de-stress Christmas is stay home for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Being with extended family is definitely one of our favorite things about the holiday, but travelling is difficult with lots of kids, and stressful even under the very best circumstances. We decided a long time ago that we would go to our own church Christmas Eve service and our kids would wake-up in our house on Christmas Day. Christmas day is very relaxing! We have many traditions to keep, like eating monkey bread for breakfast and Christmas Chili for lunch. We stay in our pajamas all day and play! It's wonderful! We celebrate Christmas with both sides of our family either before or after Christmas, which works best anyway when you are coordinating so many family schedules.
We are not anti-cultural traditions when it comes to the holidays. We really enjoy a lot of the Christmas-y food, movies, decorations, etc. But in everything, we remind our kids that everything special about the Christmas season points to the reason this season is so special. Did you have to read that sentence twice? I mean Christmas is and should be a BIG deal to us as Christians, because Jesus is everything to us. We ought to let people know that we celebrate and worship during this season in many fun, festive, and even reverent ways because it's a big, fat, stinkin' deal!!! We have a cross as our tree topper, and I love that because Jesus' birth points us towards Jesus' death and resurrection, and that should bring us to our knees in thankfulness for our Savior! As we put the Christmas lights on the tree, we talk about how Jesus is the light of the world. When we put the cross on, we talk about the significance of the cross at Christmas. And when we were done decorating the tree this year, Emma went and put baby Jesus at the bottom. (See picture in the post below.)
So we are trying to pull back all the layers of junk on our Christmas and make it truly enjoyable and worshipful. For each family, I do believe that is going to look different. We must examine what draws our hearts and eyes away from the Lord. That's going to be different for each adult, and for each child. I hope that our kids see Rusty and I fixed on Jesus during the Christmas season, and not stressed-out and too busy.
Hope this season is off to a good start for all of you! I treasure every day that our Christmas tree and lights are up. I adore sitting in the living room with the lights off and the tree on. I also love the new p.j.'s the kids get on Christmas Eve, the Christmas candy and bread baking I do, and I like driving through the lights at Santa's Wonderland with the kids. We already went once this year, and Treston, a man of few words, kept saying "Wow! Wow!" That's fun!
What are things that you and your family love at Christmas?