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Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Birthday little brother

Today is my little brother's birthday.
To some, he's a rock star. We tease him about that. But to me, he's my little brother.

He's the one that used to sleep on my bedroom floor at night so we could sleep together.

He's the one that would comfort his bigger sister on the way into school because I desperately didn't want to go! (That's another story about a real thing called "school phobia" and some legit craziness on my part. School was scary! Except for Robbie. He would tell me "school is fun, Jojo!" That's what he called me.)

He's the one I got the brilliant idea with to pour a bottle of bubbles on top of our air hockey machine and turn it on! It was cooler than you are imagining right now!!! But obviously, we got busted and obviously, we broke the air hockey machine.

He was my duet partner. Oh yeah, his first big gig was when we sang together and won the Super Summer contest, which was the pinnacle of a music career in our minds at the time. Guess it wasn't, hu Rob?

We're the closest in age, so we always went to school together and had a lot of the same friends. We sang in a band together in High School, (the epic youth group rock n' roll band Zion. You've heard of it, right?:) rode together to school, and just hung out together a lot! I can't imagine surviving high school without him!

He's the one I sat in the back of our Astros minivan as we embarked on yet another move, and drove into teeny-tiny Magnolia, saying "holy crap! This is not like Sugar Land at all." What would that have been like without a forever-the-optimist little bro?

He's the one that lived right across the street from me in college, and comforted me when I had a big break-up and bawled my eyes out all through the night.

He can make any situation feel light, everything seem brighter, and can always make me laugh. Always has.

He's a little brother who watched out for his big sister quite a bit.

He's my little brother who's turned into a super cool Dad of three precious kiddos, and married his high school sweetheart. I remember the day very well when they met at age 15. (How long did you guys talk on the phone before you went on a date? Like two years?)

I love you, Rob! Happy Birthday!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Very Bacak Christmas: Highlights and slideshow

Hope your Christmas was wonderful! Here's our recap.
Just a few Christmas highlights:
1. Being home! We love visiting family, but it's just so good to be at home in our own beds and where life is normal for Christmas.

2. Christmas Eve Night- we bathed all the kids, and they came out of the bath to find their Christmas p.j.'s hanging on the hearth for them. Four naked kids donned cute new p.j.'s, slippers, and we got in the van to do our Santa's Wonderland drive thru! It was great!
We came home and had such a wonderful, easy Christmas Eve dinner! We had seasoned pork loin and asparagus, which Rusty grilled, and I made mashed potatoes and rolls. I melted some seedless raspberry jam for raspberry sauce over the pork loin, and it was all amazing, and amazingly easy!
We did Advent, and finally lit that inside candle. It was very special and memorable!

3. Monkey Bread for breakfast. As you can see, as usual, it's all about the food for me. White Chicken Chili for lunch.

4. We opened gifts and Christmas threw up all over my living room. I wondered, as I was gathering up wrapping paper, when did I make the switch from the person ripping open gifts to the person gathering up the paper? That's the true mark of adulthood.

5. Staying in our p.j.'s. Yep, til almost 5pm. Then we went to the nursing home we love to visit and had a good time there with the old folks, especially our sweet Mr. Gruner. What a blessing to be with them on Christmas!

6. We went to the movies. It was fun family time, but I'll tell you, I think "Tale of Desperaux" is not worth the money. The kids liked it, but Rusty and I felt like it was about 4 hours long.

7. I feel so blessed! God has truly rained down on me blessings that I don't deserve. I am so thankful, most of all for a Savior!

Click to play Bacak Christmas 08
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wal-Mart or cancel Christmas?

I just came to a sad realization.
I need to go to Wal-Mart.
I can usually make due when this need arises, avoiding it at all costs.
But today is Christmas Eve's Eve, and I need some key Christmas ingredients.
wrapping paper
So I am weighing my options.
I have five kids in the house. (I like to pick up extras, as long as they're Feldmans.) They're running around the house in last year's Christmas p.j.s that are too short at the bottom, having fun. But,
I can't make pumpkin bread.
I can't make Christmas candy.
I can't wrap a single gift.
I can't make that horrible thing on Emma's scalp go away.
Her head could rot off.
And yet...I'm not sure which is worse.
Taking all my kids to this dreaded place with small baskets and dirty floors that my kids will undoubtedly crawl on when I'm not looking and skinny aisles and...
I want to stay home.
I'll give you a million dollars to go to Wal-Mart for me.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Super Thankful for a Savior

I told y'all I'm doing the one-year-Bible reading plan, right? We started November 1st. I just read through Leviticus, and let me tell you...it's some weird stuff. One day's reading will cover skin rashes and bodily discharges and that kind of sicked me out. However, it's given me a unique perspective for Christmas this year. These are the things that really stood out to me:

1. The wages of sin is death. Yep, I stole that from Romans. But you see that for real in the Old Testament. It has been confusing to me in the past to be reading along, and see that someone has committed a sin (that might seem small to me) and then poof! God strikes them dead. What? Why? How? That seems like an over-reaction, Lord! A bit unjust. But this is the truth: We deserve death for our sins. We don't deserve anything else. Just death. We're not entitled to anything from God. We're not entitled to a life of happiness, ease, flowers and sunshine. We're entitled to...you guessed it...death. BUT! God, in all his goodness, had mercy on us and made a way for us. He offers atonement for our sins. Jesus. We didn't deserve it, and we never could. The fact that He saved us by no merit of our own, that is actually unjust. We don't get what we deserve. God's wrath would actually be just. This is a basic principle we learn when we're young. Every kids who was ever in AWANAS, G.A.'s, R.A.'s, or any Sunday School class has learned Romans 6:23
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." But reading the OT makes this real for me.

2. God is specific. He gave them unbelievably specific instructions. He didn't deliver a million people from slavery, lead them into the desert of all places, and tell them to figure it out. No. He gave them unbelievably specific instructions on how to manage the people, how to feed them, how to worship, how to make their sacrifices, and how to avoid diseases and maintain sanitary conditions. As I'm reading the rules on skin rashes, I'm thinking 'Good gracious, it was a real bummer when you got a rash.' I mean, you have to live outside the camp for a while, and then you have to shave off all the hair on your body, including your eyebrows, and make sacrifices, and...I can't imagine all the laundry that would have built up for me at home by the time I did all that. But my Mom helped shed some light on this by pointing out, these were a million people in the desert. God knew exactly what they didn't know about the spread of disease, unsanitary water, unsanitary food preparation, and keeping order. His instructions leave little room for error. How gracious of Him! When he instructs them on sexual sin, it was confusing to me that He didn't just say "just have relations with your wife" and leave it at that. But instead, He says "Don't have relations with your neighbor, your sister, your neighbor's sister, your aunt, your aunt's slavegirls, your slavegirls, your aunt's neighbor's slavegirls..." you get the picture. But then I got the picture of how specific I have to be with my kids. If my little ones are going to use markers, just saying "only write on the paper!" is not good enough. I need to specifically say "don't write on the table, don't write on your clothes, don't write on the floor, don't write on your brother, and don't color in your hair." If I don't, garuntee you, one or all of those things will happen. Until my kids grow up more, they need constant specificity. God knew the Israelites needed that too.

3. I'm super thankful for a Savior! Our minds are too numb to the fact that Jesus paid for our sins and we don't have to. Maybe it's because some of us have known that fact all our lives. My four-year-old knows that very well in his head. But good gracious, when you read through what it took for them under the Old Covenant to try to atone for their sins with sacrifices, it's overwhelming. And it makes me a little squeamish. Reading the blood and guts parts over my morning coffee made me a little ill. But it also made me enormously grateful! We live under the New Covenant. Jesus has already paid the price. This is why He came. This was God's beautiful and mysterious plan from the beginning of time. This was the reason He came to earth as a helpless infant that holy night. We deserve death, but he got it instead. We deserve God's wrath, but he endured the cross. For so long, they had to stave off God's wrath with their sacrifices and the keeping of the law. It's exhausting to read it all. But His plan was good and enduring, and He chose to save us and cover our sins with Jesus' blood. I'm very in awe of that big picture plan this Christmas as I do these readings.

So as always, I'm thankful for God's Word. I'm even thankful for the parts I don't understand and never will on this earth. It builds my faith. If our God was so small that we could understand Him fully with our finite minds, He would not be God. I can live in awe of a great God who is beyond my imagination! This passage has summed it up best for me. Rom 11:33-36
3 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 "Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
35 "Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Luke 2 Memory Verses, by Bacak kids

I will be so sad when Jax gets that front tooth in and can talk properly. That may be wrong, but listen to him recite Luke 2. My favorite part is "swabbling cloths"!
This is the passage we learned for Advent this year.

This is Emma doing Luke 2, and then watch at the end, Justus and Treston joining in! So funny!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jax's Baptism Video

My Mom is the coolest. She makes videos of everything for us. They're awesome. This is the one she made of Jax's baptism. (short) Notice Robbie singing in the background. This made me bawl like a baby. My kids woke up this morning, and I was sitting at the computer, bawling. I'm so grateful for salvation!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Newest Seay Kids!

Finally! My brother Brian was able to introduce everyone to their newest additions on his blog today. If you haven't been following this journey on my blog or his, a brief recap: Brian works for Compassion International. (Amazing! Check it out!) He and his wife Amy felt a clear call from the Lord to adopt about two years ago. God directed them eventually to a region in Africa where he has spent a lot of time through Compassion. The court date in Africa was yesterday, which means it's official there. They had four kids yesterday, and today they have SIX! They will go there and bring them home in January! Praise the Lord with us for Yeneneh and Sosy Seay! God is adding to our family in amazing ways!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Only in a Doctor's House...

I have written a post like this before. Not normal things occur in a doctor's house. Like having urine samples in your fridge. (I know, sick!) Or having your kids' favorite toy be a pap smear stick. (They just pick them up from the office and for some reason, they're so fun.) Well, last night, my kids got their flu shots at home, and I thought, only in a doctor's house, does your Dad call you into the bedroom, and 20 seconds later, you get a shot. He really thinks the anticipation is the worst part. So he eliminates that. He says "Emma, it's time to get your flu shot." Wipe. Stick. It's done. "Now tell Jax to come here." He took them one at a time. Treston didn't even flinch. He just smiled. He was getting his diaper changed, and Rusty said "flu shot time, T-Bear." Stick. He smiles. What!? I was last. I flinched a little when I got mine! I felt like a super wimp. I was doing dishes, and here comes Flu Vaccinator Guy! He taps me on the shoulder, gives a brief verbal warning, and before I can think about it, stick.
So the Bacaks are flu immunized. Let's pray it protects us this year. We got a nasty strain last year that laughed in the face of our vaccination. It was one of our Christmas gifts at the Seay Family Christmas Spectacular. There's no debating, the flu shot is not 100%, but after having a flu-infested family last year, I'll do anything possible to prevent that again. Anything!
So flu shot, do your magic. And keep that stinky flu away!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Treston has a birthfather

Duh. I know. It sounds weird. Having heard the story of the birds and the bees, we should have known that already. But we never knew him, so he kind of didn't exist for us. You've heard me talk about Justus' birthmom, who we have a great relationship with, but Treston has a different kind of story, and sadly, we've never had the privelege of knowing his birthparents.
In a strange turn of events, Treston's birthfather entered the scene, and wanted to visit. We said okay!
So a few months ago, in a supervised visit with New Life, we met Treston's birthfather. We sat at a McDonalds in Houston, while Treston clutched me, and tried to small talk. I'm not going to lie. It was awkward. He desperately wanted Treston to respond to him, and Treston didn't have the first clue who he was and knew something intense was going on, so he mostly clung to me, while all eyes were on him, and there was a pressure for him to do something...he just didn't know what.
But it was a good visit, in that it began a relationship. It was just a small start. Treston finally had a birthparent! This was new for us...different...good.
To be honest, I hadn't put much thought into birthfathers.
I know that sounds horrible. I'm confessing this to all of you.
It's just that birthfathers are sometimes not present or involved, and in our cases, I'd never met either of them, so I had never given a thought to their loss or pain.
But I saw it right in front of me.
He was desperate for Treston to even look at him.
He teared up when he left, telling us what this meant to him.
He'd thought of him so much, and he was so glad this day had finally come.
It was a lot to process for me.
Treston's story is kind of complicated, so to be honest, I'd just left birthfathers out of the equation. But they hurt too. They feel loss. They long for something that will never be.
Forming this relationship with Treston's birthfather is giving him something he longs for. Even just a piece of it.
And really, I can't imagine what an impact this will make on Treston's life.
To have a birthparent who is in his life, who loves him, a link to the biological, a piece of his history...it could change everything for our T-Bear.
So we had a second visit this week, where we exchanged gifts. This visit was easier. Treston even let him hold him. He didn't totally cold shoulder him, and that was improvement. It's precious to me how much he wants Treston to love him.
This relationship has just begun. There's a lot of trust building, and getting-to-know-eachother ahead of us. But it's a start.
And now that I've seen the pain of a birthfather, I'm different. It's changed how I look at adoption, and that's good.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Winter Slideshow

We woke up to snow this morning. Real, live snow! Rusty woke me up to find big snowflakes falling. How often does that happen? It was a super fun morning, waking all the kids and them playing in it. (Emma lay down in it and tried to make a snow angel, but it didn't quite work. However gathering up some snow and throwing it at each other did work.) We had lots of hot cocoa this morning. It's almost like a real winter. Which is funny because yesterday we wore shorts.
I made a slideshow from a Seay family Christmas outing this week, plus our snow pics. Rusty and Emma even made a tiny, mini-snowman. It may seem pathetic compared to real, full-size snowmen, but in Texas, it's a miracle!
Click to play Winter slideshow
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Monday, December 08, 2008

You ought to know...

I have a new favorite creamer.
We got it at the store yesterday, and Rusty woke me this morning, coaxing me out of bed, saying "our new creamer is really good!"
He was right, and he knew what to say to get me out of bed.
Because I'm going to be honest folks. Without coffee and good creamer, I wouldn't be reading my Bible as much as I should. That may make me less spiritual than I should be, but it's just the truth.
Coffee helps me love Jesus.
And you all know about the tragedy we suffered with our beloved cappuccino machine, passing away not long ago, unexpectedly. (If not, you can read about it here.) I still have hopes that it's going to come to life again. But for now, I'm drinking from a tiny little coffee pot that Rusty has had since before we got married. Coffee is not the same for me. The last batch of grounds we bought was...well, horrible...and this coffee diva has been dissatisfied with morning life.
I think it's affected my mothering.
So this morning, we have better coffee grounds and THIS CREAMER! Yay! Things are looking up!
Thank you Lord for good things. Every good gift is from above. It's biblical. And I am crazy grateful for good creamer this morning.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Happy "GOTCHA" Day Treston!

This is the day we "got" Treston two years ago! December 6th is forever burned in my mind. What a day! He was so totally unexpected, and wonderful! This what I wrote last year about what that day felt like...Happy "Gotcha" Day T-Bear! Our life would be oh-so-boring without you, love.

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.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Power of the Stool

Treston and the snow globe

Oh yes, Treston has discovered the power of the stool. Not his poop-stool. That would be gross (and yet wildly funny to my boys!) No, the power of the STEPSTOOL.
A whole new world has opened up.
A world formerly unavailable, unknown.
A superpower among little people.
A world of Sharpies and sugar bowls, and water faucets.
I did something very foolish today.
I took a shower.
I've told y'all before, terrible, terrible things happen when I take a shower.
I know this going in. It's just that the urge to bathe overcomes me and I think maybe this time it will be okay.
It rarely is.
So today I came out of the shower, and I do a mad dash, as always, in a robe, dripping wet, assessing the damage.
All was quiet. That can be good or very bad.
My computer screen was shut. It never is, so I fully expected there to be Sharpie on the screen, but there wasn't. Just many mad boxes telling me not to do what I just did to the computer. If my computer were smarter it would know when my kids touch it and immediately shut down for it's own preservation. That's going to happen in the future. Computers are going to outsmart toddlers. Our kids are going to have it so much better than we do when they're parents! STINK!
I go further into the kitchen. I see Treston...on the stool, where he's been all freakin' day long, and he has a tiny little cup trying to fill it with water at the water spout on the refrigerator.
It looked harmless enough.
But then I discovered he had literally flooded the kitchen holding that cup up to the water spout. He was practically floating on that little stool and there was at least an inch of water around him. I ran for beach towels.
What would I do without beach towels? They are good for so much more than swimming!
I used up five beach towels trying to cover all the water.
I just wanted to take a shower. Is that so wrong?
He has been on the stool all day searching for Sharpies. He didn't want regular markers.
No. Bo-ring. He only wanted Sharpies.
He knows which weapons can do the maximum amount of damage.
I finally found a high place for my Sharpies to hide.
He is totally in love with the pencil sharpener. I let him stand on that stool and sharpen pencils down to their nubby eraser today because it kept him away from toilets.
We're all familiar with kids throwing things in the toilet.
Yesterday he tried to flush an apple.
That doesn't work, by the way.
In the process of Rusty retrieving the apple, he found all kinds of things in there! I didn't even want to know.
He can also get high enough to throw foreign objects into the toaster. Again, let's just add fire to the mix.
The stool also gets him a view of the glass snowglobe with baby Jesus inside.
He loves that thing! (Picture above.) He asks me to turn the music on and shake it, and he says "Jesus."
Then you think "how cute is this kid! I love him so stinkin' much!!!!" God gives you those moments for a reason. They keep a two-year-old alive.
I'm going to miss this someday, right?
(*I wrote this post yesterday. Today he painted our rug with rubber cement. That doesn't come off, FYI.)

Family Worship with an Open Flame

Here is a picture of our Advent decor at my dining room table. I don't know what an Advent wreath is supposed to look like, really? But I put a wreath on my table, dressed it with a little holly bush sprigs, and put a big white candle in the center of four red candles.
Heather and I were just talking about how funny it is...doing this Advent thing is just like taking our regular family worship and adding in...FIRE! Prest-o, Change-o, It's magially exciting! With a house full of boys, there's nothing more thrilling than an open flame. Seriously!
They were constantly trying to blow it out throughout the whole devotional.
Emma raised her hand after we were halfway through and asked "If Jesus doesn't come back before next year, can we do this again?"
Yes! How cute is that?
She brought her own reading to our Advent devo last night. She read aloud from Luke two, which is what they are memorizing right now. I love the way she can read scripture aloud at every family worship time. There's just something REALLY sweet about hearing your kids read scripture.
So for those who were asking me, this is what my Advent wreath looks like. It's probably all wrong. Don't tell me. I'm just a Baptist, trying to get the hang of this. But we think Advent rocks!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent Starts Today!

The Christmas season has begun! Our house is massively well-lit. My husband lives for Christmas lights! You can see our house from 20 miles back...we are not conspicuous folks. We started our decorating time with a devotional. The world was dark for hundreds of years before Christ's birth. There were no prophets, nothing for a long, long time. It was dark, spiritually. And then a BRIGHT LIGHT appeared. What an exciting time!
Advent...not exactly a Baptist thing...at least not in this century. Why not? As we re-think how we do Christmas, I know we desperately need to keep our focus on Christ. That's what Advent is about. Focusing our attention on the meaning and the expectation of Christmas. We have never done Advent all out before, and I'm really excited. Heather put a link on her blog for this Advent devotional that we are also going to use. Rusty looked it over, and thought it was good. It's not for this year, so you need to modify the dates. If you start late, then start late! But I think this is going to be awesome. Since we are already doing family worship at night, it seems much more normal to do this together as a family. I decided that during Advent, we would eat dinner at our dining room table. That is special and very different! We hardly ever eat in there! It's my expensive, easily damaged, antique table. I love that table. I think it's going to feel really special to light the candles in there and have dinner in there. I want to make this season special and set apart...worshipful.
If I wasn't still feeling stinky (virus over Thanksgiving) I would take a picture of our Advent wreath and candles I'm so proud of. But that would take effort and I feel like going to bed.
I hope this season is full of worship for all of us believers. I hope for those of you who don't know Christ personally, it will be a time you really think about Him and His place in your life.
It's all about Him! Merry Christmas season!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Here is a copy of my Dad's daily devotional he sends out to his church. I love these, and I wanted to share this short word as we contemplate this holidays...

More Like Him

Daily Devotional November 26, 2008

"First Baptist Church of Magnolia exists to glorify God by worshipping Him in spirit and in truth, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unsaved and to lead believers to grow in the grace of God and knowledge of His Word."

1 John 3:16-17

New American Standard Version

16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

Pastor's Paraphrase

The clearest way for us to understand what love is really all about is to look at the love of Christ that would cause Him to give his own life to save us. Understanding this love, we ought to be willing to give our own lives to love and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ. We show that kind of love when we share the finances and possessions that God has given us with a brother who is in need. If we should see such a brother and have no compassion or desire to help them, how can we think God's love is within us?

"How does this help me become more like Him?"

During this Thanksgiving season, I remember a time a few years ago that was a special time of joy and celebration. There were thirty family members at our home for Thanksgiving lunch and eleven of our fifteen grandchildren stayed for an extended visit. It was a wild, crazy, and absolutely wonderful time. As you might imagine, trying to keep up with eleven grandchildren under ten years of age is a challenge.

We have in our laundry room a water cooler that dispenses chilled or heated water from a five gallon container of purified water. Having pure, clean water to drink from such a dispenser is truly a blessing. However, it can also present a challenge. Twice during the time that all of our family was home, we went into the laundry room to find everything on the floor soaked and water everywhere.

Though we could never catch the culprits "red handed", we strongly suspect that one of the not quite two year old little ones went into the laundry room undetected and held down the spigot on the water cooler and watched it flow unimpeded onto everything around it. Once the giant jug was empty, they sneaked back into the flow of "grandkid chaos" never to be apprehended. I can hardly expect a confession to a crime from a perpetrator who can't talk yet! Oh well, if that's the worst mischief we face as a family, we have nothing to complain about.

In our case, we just get another jug out of the garage and we once again have an ample supply of pure, clean water. We are more blessed than we know. That year, my oldest son, Chris, had recently returned from Liberia, where he and his church were working with Living Water International to install water wells in villages where they have no source of clean water. Children in such villages are dying in record numbers because of diseases that can be prevented with simply the availability of clean water. Not only is Living Water drilling wells to provide water to drink, they are helping to plant churches in these villages so that they can bring the Living Water of Jesus Christ to the thirsty souls of these villagers.

All this is made possible by American Christians who give of their financial resources to help others in Jesus' name who have far, far less than we do. Instead of another indulgence, they are allowing some of the resources that God has given them to be used to save lives and save souls. In reality, this should not be considered especially unusual or noble for any Christian. It is, in fact, what we all should do. If we do not, this passage questions whether or not God's love is really in us. For when His love is in us, it will come out to bless others and meet their needs in His Name.

How should I pray for Him to change my life?

Ask the Lord to give you wisdom to know how to share with others in ways that will bring Him glory and be a blessing to them. Continue to be thankful for all you have received long after the Thanksgiving holiday is just a memory. Pray that He would help you to be a wise steward of all that He has entrusted to you.

Dr. Ed Seay
Senior Pastor

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Butternut Squash and Sausage Soup

Okay, this recipe may sound a little "out there" for some of you, but you're going to have to trust me on this one. It's SO GOOD! I first had it at a Women's Ministry event at a church a few years ago, and I am grateful for that day. I love this soup way too much!

1 large butternut squash (3 lbs.) halved, and seeds removed
2 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage (I just buy the Maple ground sausage at HEB, but really any kind will do.)
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves minced garlic
2 t sage
1/2 t marjoram
6 c chicken stock or broth
1 t cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 c heavy cream

Take your lovely butternut squash and rub it with your olive oil and salt and pepper. Put it on a cookie sheet and bake it at 400 for as long as it takes to cook all the way through and get tender. This will probably take 45 minutes to an hour, but everything takes longer in my oven.
Take it out and scoop out all the flesh and discard the peel.
In a big pot, with a little oil, cook your sausage. When it's no longer pink, add the onions, garlic, sage, and marjoram, and cook and stir for 1 minute. Then add the cooked squash and chicken broth. Bring it to a boil, stirring now and then to combine it well. Reduce to low and simmer for 30 min. Then you can either pulse it in a blender (in two batches, and BE CAREFUL not to burn yourself at the top of your blender!) or you can use an immersion blender, which I was wishing I had all these years making this, and then recently discovered I actually had all the time in my cabinet. I must have gotten it for a wedding present and didn't know what to do with it. It's like a hand mixer but it just has one tiny blade at the bottom. I just put it in my pot and mix the soup for a little while.
*I really like to leave the texture a little bit chunky. DON'T OVERBLEND. You definitely want chunks of sausage in there. I don't like it if it's so blended it looks like a bisque.
If you've just read this and think it sounds like too much trouble, I understand. But you'll be missing out on the best soup ever!!!! Did I mention I love this stuff...and food in general way too much!?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Still Overflowing with Thanksgiving...

"Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving" Col. 2:6

If I could figure out how to put videos from our camera onto this blog, you could see my precious children signing this verse, as they do every morning. Someone is going to help me figure that out, right? It's too cute.
We're still working on overflowing...the kids have named different things each day that they are thankful for, and it's been fun. But this is truly what I would consider a spiritual discipline to be worked on, as sad as that sounds. It's shameful for us, who have so very much for which to be thankful, to not be. But unfortunately, thankfulness doesn't come naturally. It's harder for some than others. And it's something we need to be cultivating in this house.
I came across an old "thankful journal" of mine that I did faithfully for years! I started this one in particular the day I got engaged to Rusty. I was REALLY thankful for him! (Still am, no doubt about that!!!) And I continued to write at least five things every night that I was thankful for. This was so fun to look back on! And I can see how it really cultivated thankfulness in me during hard times of my teaching career, where I was forced to be thankful daily. We ought to be thankful daily in our prayer time with the Lord. But I tend to go right to intercession. So I am thankful for this season in which God is teaching us about thankfulness!

Here are the kids' responses over the last few weeks:

Emma: school, drawing and making art, Treston, trees to climb on, for going to Nana and Pop-Pop's house, horses, every Tuesday is horse lesson day, my books like Tom Sawyer and Little Women (condensed classics, y'all...she's a reader but not THAT good of a reader!), and my new toothpaste.

Jax: my puppet show...I'm having a puppet show and my puppets are made out of wood, making art things fast, my store called "The Milky Way", my work at my store (located in his room, BTW), and Cody and Owen's Fall Festival, my leg armor I made, Chuck E. Cheese and Old McDonalds and Gattitown, finishing my reader, my shelf in my store.

Justus: my lollipop, my brother whose name is Jax, Emma, God, T-Bear hugging me, Erin's baby, Matt, our whole entire city, elephants and dinosaurs and birds and even God.

Treston: Bible, Da-Da, Dis-Dis (the dog, Disney), God, Pop-Pop, trucks, Mama (I finally made it!), Dis-Dis.

I pray you guys will be overflowing with thankgsgiving today too! I am specifically thankful for my friends, the Feldmans, finalizing their adoption of Isaac today! I'm headed out to share their joy in court this morning! Praise God for adoption. We are thankful for adoption, as always, and most of all that we have been adopted by the King of Kings!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Adoption Awareness Month

I have little time to write this morning, but I know Heather is writing about this on her blog, and I want to open the door of conversation here...
Since the election, there have been questions that have haunted me.
For many believers, the one issue that is raised and even voted solely upon is being Pro-Life. On election years, the issue of abortion comes up in churches and in our conversation. We are vocal about this issue, and rightly so! There are heated debates. There are lines drawn. There is passion. And I'm glad!
But what are we doing in our day-to-day lives, between elections and outside of the voting booth, to further this cause? Where does our vote and our life collide and we live out our conviction to save babies and minister to women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies?
There is so much we can do as believers! My Mom is one of those people working in the trenches for this cause. She works for a crisis pregnancy center and adoption agency called New Life. She does ultrasounds everyday on women who come in for the free testing, and are completely abortion-minded, and God does something amazing when my Mom has the chance to show them their tiny baby on that screen, and they walk out in tears, valuing life. Her stories are continually miraculous and moving! That's the real work. She also sacrifices much in her life to see babies placed in Christ-centered families' homes. What a way to further His Kingdom!
I happen to catch a show I never watch last week that was dealing with the issue of abortion. They posed the question for a young woman to either abort her baby, or live on welfare in poverty and be a parent long before she's ready. They debated this in a court setting and not one word was mentioned about adoption as another viable option. WHY? Are we talking about this enough? Are we thinking about this enough? As believers, do we even stop to ask ourselves if this is a possibility for us?
And there are so many ways to support agencies who do this work. There are people who need money to adopt. God is always faithful to provide, and I continue to see this firsthand when people are obedient to the call, but He may want to use you to do so.
New Life is a non-profit agency, and there are some seasons where they can't pay their own employees because they just don't have the funds. This should never happen!
I haven't heard Christians during this election, no matter who they voted for, argue that abortion is okay. I have seen disghust and sorrow over this issue on both sides.
But do we live this, or do we just say it?
As a side note, adoption is not something we have done out of obligation or just as charity work. WE are the ones who are blessed to have these kids! We are the recipients of the blessing! There were holes in our family that could only be filled with Justus and Treston. That was God's perfect plan for our family, and we just followed His lead.
We know God values life. We know his heart is for the fatherless and the orphan. We know that He uses adoption to describe us as believers, born sinners, and adopted into His family by His grace alone.
I pray God would soften our hearts, as a nation of believers, and not only ask ourselves this question about life, but also about poverty, education, and the other pressing issues that we spoke up about and voted on in this election. I firmly believe the hearts of the people in our nation must change concerning these things even before the hearts of our governmental leaders. It has been a convicting time for us to evaluate what we are voting versus what we are living.
That was heavy, pointed and brief, but someone has to get breakfast ready, right? There's so much for me to write about adoption. It's truly been the most sanctifying and beautiful thing we've encountered as a family. But I can only write about it in pieces. It's just too big. I hope you can string together the pieces on this blog and get a picture of what it means to us.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jenn's favorite clean things

Okay, I'm not Oprah and millions of people don't clamor in anticipation to know my favorite things, but don't we all have those little products that we love? Well as a home Administrator/ Domestic Engineer (that's right, think of your self a fancy title if you're a stay-at-home Mom, you deserve one!) I have a few things I love right now. You might too.
#1 is the Huggies Clean Team handsoap. Okay, this is really fun! It is a foam handsoap with a dinosaur dispenser head that lights up when you use it. It will flash a light for 20 seconds, which is how long you want your kids to wash their hands. It really works! You want to keep washing until the light turns off! Now, the Amazing Dr. Bacak would tell you the one of the best ways to keep your family healthy this season is to KEEP HANDS WASHED! He washes his hands about 300 times a day, and when someone is sick, he tells me "keep everyone's hands washed" here at home. You should always listen to the Amazing Dr. Bacak. We had sweet little Ashton over yesterday. (We love that kid! Have you seen him singing songs on Heater's blog?) But they have had some vomiting going on at their house, so as soon as he got here, I introduced him to the fun new flashing soap. He liked it. We all kept our hands washed, and everyone feels good. If it costs more than your regular soap, it may pay off in your lack of diseases. Just a little tip.

#2 And I've posted this one before, but it's worth repeating...The Magic Erasers. I don't know what to tell you, except they're MAGIC. I used to want to cry when one of my kids Sharpied a white coffee table or cabinet, or say, my computer screen. But now I reflexively look with horror, and it melts into a smile. The Magic Eraser. It will rescue me. I don't have to cry. I use these on my walls, which get pretty bad sometimes, and baseboards, and basically on everything. It's magic.

I know y'all have seen these before. I actually buy the generic brand of these, but I have found these really helpful in my kids helping out with cleaning the bathrooms. One of their jobs in the morning is to go wipe down their bathroom sink, and they can just grab one of these little wipes, and clean up the sink, toilet, (which is pretty nasty with little boys in the house) or an accident on the floor, instead of them going crazy with a spray bottle of some kind. Anything that helps my kids get their clean on works for me.
Now please! Give me some of yours!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

De-commercializing Christmas

I thought I'd continue the discussion about changing how we do Christmas. I'm still thinking through this practically, so I do a lot of thinking out loud on this blog. And I really, REALLY have enjoyed your personal stories and tips you've shared. Keep them coming! I will share some suggestions and sites to go to for them in this post.
So just to recap, why are we changing how we do Christmas? Not because giving gifts is evil or material things are wrong. I don't want anyone to feel condemned by these posts! This is a personal journey for our family, and the extended Seay family, as we give more globally to those in need and realize how excessive our lives are. My brother Brian is in the process of adopting from Africa. All of my brothers are heavily involved in organizations like Compassion and Living Water. The ripple effect is felt in our family. It touches us at the core of our relationship to God and it must change us.
So we've decided to give more handmade gifts, spend less money on Christmas gifts, and give cheerfully and thoughtfully, but less from the wallet. We are joining so many others in Advent Conspiracy, so that money will go to Living Water, doing amazing work for the gospel and saving lives!
A LOT of people complain about the commercialism and hectic, carnal season that Christmas has become. But what are our ideas to reclaim Christmas? I want to not complain, but generate change. We can buy a "Jesus is the reason for the season" lapel pin and wear it everyday, but what does that mean? I feel an urgency in knowing, because my kids are in their formative years, and we are laying the foundation for who they are and what they think. I also desperately want to please the Lord with my heart's intentions. I want to do this right. Mainly, I want my kids to think back on Christmas, and remember worship and rest and enjoyment and reflection, and not immediately go to presents. When we talk about "doing Christmas" that usually means presents. I know that our propensity to love money and be greedy is great, and God abhorrs it according to the Bible, so I want to guard against that in our family.
But how?
First, we are thinking a lot about what we are making for people we love, and then putting time and energy into those gifts. It only takes one day of madness Christmas shopping (where people will literally sell their children to you and eat yours for the cheap TV/DVD players on special at Wal-Mart...what a way to celebrate Jesus) and a moment for me to whip out my credit card to check someone off the list of MUST BUYS for Christmas gifts. Some of you love to shop. I DO NOT. So this is a much more expressive way for us to give.
Secondly, two things we have prohibited.
1. Looking at catalogues and commercials. The catalogues are coming in the mail daily, and they feed my kids' desires for things they don't need. I have one child in particular who is obsessed with catalogues, because his greatest sin tendency is the love of money (stuff!) and he struggles with this constantly. (I also have children who are oblivious to stuff, so we have to really know our kids). I have to be wise in what I let him look at and think about. If I didn't limit things like commercials and catalogues, he would lie awake all night and think about the things he wants and talk about it constantly. The desire for something new can never be satisfied. That's how greed works. So I have outlawed catalogues. They have to go in the trash immediately. We zip past commercials on DVR. We should know enough by now to avoid temptation and stay far away from the things that draw us into sin.

2. We don't allow Christmas lists. This is something I heard from Heather a few years ago, and it makes perfect sense. We ask our kids to make a greed list at Christmas. We know they need nothing, and some of them can't even think of what they want because they are so saturated with possessions. For some reason, we think it's cute when they're little. (I don't know why.) But it's not cute for long. And I would only be feeding the sin issue if I asked them to make a list of things they want for Christmas. I am taking notice of things they like and are intersted in. I let them tell me those things from time to time. Jax is wanting a basketball and a skateboard, and I plan to go to Play It Again Sports (a sports resale shop) for that. Emma is devouring books, so I plan to find as many used books online as I can for Christmas. Justus is into dressing up. This is his latest superhero costume...

This costume he put together is a bandana, which cost $1 at Wal-Mart, and then a hand egg-beater, also probably found at a dollar store. For some reason my kids love that hand mixer! You just never know! They like that and my eyelash curler best of all "toys" in the house! Treston...who knows. Food and tennis balls. That would be plenty for him.
Here's some more ideas I have.

1. Winkflash is running a special on photo calendars for only $7.77! That's pretty good! Parents and grandparents love that stuff!

2. Go to my sister-in-law, Liz's blog. She had some great stuff posted about using Modge Podge to make these really cool wooden pictures! They turned out so cool! She gives step-by-step instructions. She's super creative. Check out all her ideas. They are also into Advent Conspiracy.

3. Someone else's blog talked about giving the gift of presence or shared activities. They gave a day at the zoo to one of their kids, or other activities that your family loves. If that is someone you know's love language, that would be a wonderful gift to give! Make positive sure that you follow through, and give specifics on the when and where.

4. Food. This is my love language (not actually in the Gary Chapman book, but if I were to write a book, I would add it as the sixth one). I like to bake and cook for people, and I think people enjoy it. (At least I hope so.) I mentioned before I gave meals that I froze for my parents to use whenever they needed them. I also make homemade salsa, candy, truffles, banana bread, etc. I think this is a labor of love, and everybody likes food, right?

5. Someone mentioned to me the other day as we discussed this, they choose to make a big deal out of birthday gifts rather than Christmas gifts, because birthdays are meant to be about celebrating that person's birth, and Christmas is supposed to be about celebrating Jesus. We love birthdays and half birthdays around here, so I liked the idea of making people feel special on those days especially.

So this doesn't mean we won't do gifts. We will. But we will spend less and there will be less fanfare.
The questions we really want to ask ourselves is "How can we make Christmas about Christ, and how can we imitate Him?"
Going into debt at Christmas time with unnecessary spending probably wouldn't do.
I do believe this will look different from person to person, family to family. I don't think we can follow a formula on Christmas, and be right. I know it's about our hearts and our willingness to go against the flow in effort to please Him more. But just because I'm thinking outloud for us on this blog doesn't mean your Christmas will look like ours. I hope we are all challenged, though, to examine our hearts' and where our focus is, 365 days of the year. We want to make our lives all about Him, all of the time.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Overflowing with Thanksgiving in November

Colossians 2:7 says "Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving." (italics mine)
That is what we're focusing on this month in our home. As Thanksgiving approaches, we are preparing our hearts for true thanksgiving to God. It can't be a day that's all about turkey and parades and football. Of course, we'll learn about how this tradition began in our country with the Pilgrims and the Native Americans coming together to be thankful. But more than that, we want to seize this opportunity to check our hearts and lives. Scripture talks about us giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18), to always be thankful (Col. 3:15) and so many times tells us to have thankful hearts. I like Col. 2:7 in particular because of the word picture it gives us. We should be so full of thanksgiving that we spill it out on everyone who comes in contact with us, like the picture above. I have to ask myself, what am I spilling out on others? Is it thanksgiving?
I realize I am lacking thanksgiving when I am grumbling or complaining, even when it's not outloud. That is alarming, because I have an infinite number of things to be thankful for. Undoubtedly, I should be overflowing, if for no other reason, because Christ chose me and saved me when I deserved nothing but hell and death.
Rusty and I want to cultivate in our hearts here in the Bacak home constant overflowing. Not just in November, all year long. But I really enjoy the preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday because of this.
So the kids and I talked about this verse every morning this week. I taught them to sign it, which it darling, by the way. And we wrote on our white board (which I think is incredibly handy whether you homeschool or not...what did I ever do without my giant white board?) what each of us was thankful for each morning this week. Here is a list of their responses. (Some of these really cracked me up.)

Emma: a family who knows God
My Mom and Dad
animals, especially my pets
Disney (our dog)
and horses

Jax: My candy store and how it's going (he thinks he's going to sell his Halloween candy and turn a profit...yes we have some work to do there.)
going on dates with Mom
My homemade store where everythings just $9.00!
Dad AND Mom

Justus: Mommy and Daddy
Nana and Pop-Pop, Grammy and Grandpa
His glory
My talking cereal (he's referring to Rice Krispies that make that popping sound)

Treston: more cereal
ba-ba (that's his paci. He's a serious addict. We're working on lining up some baby rehab.)
Fire! (that's firefighters, as Justus said)
Matt (Matt Mosier, his Godfather and fun playmate.)

Mommy (that's me): I'm most thankful for Jesus saving me
for Daddy. He rocks.
homeschooling my kids (I do love it)
coffee (thank you, Jesus)
the Fall

How great are these? I think I will continue to post these each week as we overflow with thanksgiving. We'll keep learning verses about being thankful and hiding them in our hearts.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

You have to hear this!

If you're interested at all in church...God...church structure...church planting...children...evangelism...you know, some of the biggies, I think you will be interested in this interview with John Piper, Matt Chandler, and Mark Driscoll. I really enjoyed it! No, I LOVED IT!
Had to share.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Voice

My brother was in the Chornicle again. It's like the millionth time. They love him over there.
They're on to something.
My brother has headed up this massive Bible translation project for several years now, published by Thomas Nelson, and the New Testamant is out! it's so exciting! It's truly a captivating and narrative form of scripture unlike any translation I've ever read. I have already purchased it for the kids for Christmas. I expect them to be very drawn in, as we all are, by a good story. The scripture is full of good stories! This translation will bring them to life.
Check it out on Amazon. Just search "The Voice" and the New Testament will pop-up in there.
Makes an excellent Christmas gift!

Our Holiday Letter 2008

Well, as for an update on the Bacak Nation, it was a pretty uneventful year in that we didn't adopt, foster, or birth any new babies. I know...BO-RING! Our kids are ages 2, 4, 6, and 8, so we were due for one, but God is choosing, in all His infinite wisdom, to keep us where we are! Our house is full, busy, and fun! We are still homeschooling, as long as we feel God's directing us to, and really enjoying it. Our little sponges are soaking in so much, and most importantly, growing in their relationships and understanding of our Savior.
As for a little news, Rusty is moving his practice from Bryan to College Station. Not a huge move, but still pretty significant to us. This will be a huge undertaking during the holiday season, but we are thrilled to have a new office in a building that is on the feeder road from our subdivision. Literally, it's about one minute from our house. That was just too good to pass up. We are praying for God to grow our practice and bless this new location. Much prayer went into this, and we are relying on Him in this change.
More importantly, I guess I would just like to share what God is doing in our hearts as pertaining to the holidays. Every year I feel like He is pushing us to understand what this season is about and how to make it all about Him. Hopefully, we are "getting it" more and more. But we are trying to drown out the white noise of a busy holiday season and focus on Him. We are trying to spend less money on the mounds of gifts we would normally give, and give more to organizations like Living Water who provide clean water wells all over the world and share the Gospel as they go, bringing physical and spiritual life to the nations. We are making more and more handmade and thoughtful gifts, hoping to understand what giving from the heart means instead of just from the wallet. We are hoping to not overextend ourselves during the Christmas season (which includes me getting projects like mass Christmas cards out before December to alleviate stress) so that we understand what it means to take time to reflect and enjoy God's presence during the time we celebrate Jesus. There's so much for us to learn about this, but we are aiming to learn to worship Him more, and teach our children true worship at Christmas time.
The Lord used this passage to speak to me recently:
1 Kings 19:11-13
11 "Go out and stand before me on the mountain," the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Elijah wanted to hear from the Lord. But he had to attune his ears to hear a whisper. Rusty and I want to make sure we have eliminated the white noise in our lives enough to hear God whisper to us. We want to be ready to hear what He has to say.
We pray God's nearness to you this season, and that you can drown out some of the white noise in your life as well and hear the Savior whisper to you.
Happy Holiday season! Enjoy a season of thankfulness and of worship of our King!
The Bacak Family
Jenn, Rusty, Emma, Jax, Justus and Treston

Precious Words

My Emma loves mustard. So while we were eating lunch, she said "Mom, if mustard were a real guy, I would want his autograph."
I loved that!

Later on, I was reading a story to them before nap time. I read from Emma's reader a story called "The Arrogant Geese". I was explaining to them what arrogant meant, and how the Bible tells us to always be humble. Emma said "Mom, am I humble? Will you tell me if I'm not being humble? I don't want to be prideful."
I told her, we could both keep each other accountable to that. She ASKED ME to hold her accountable!? She genuinely did not want pride in her life.

How great is this kid!?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Read through the Bible in a Year

One of the things I know I can't stress enough in my life and with my children is to LOVE THE WORD. It's living and active, (Hebrews 4:12) it judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts, it tells us who our God is, about His character, and how to worship Him. When we let the Holy Spirit use the Word, it changes and renews our thoughts and attitudes. We can be changed from the inside out.
When I was a brand new mother, in a season of my life when I had the least time I'd ever had alone with the Lord, my parents gave each of us a "Read the Bible in a year" to read. It was their Christmas gift to us (yes, I have amazing parents.) I would describe myself prior to that a "picker" of the Word. I read my Bible regularly, but I would pick and choose what I wanted to read. I would do a Bible Study, or pick a topic, or pick something that suited my particular need that day. I would even pick out something to justify my wrong attitude or situation. It's easy to do that. Pick what you want.
So reading through the Bible in a year changed me radically! I didn't pick. I started feasting on God's Word. I mean, really feeding on the meat. I wasn't reading texts according to what I was looking for, I was just learning about the Lord and His character. I stopped asking "How does this apply to me?" right away. I started asking "What does this say about YOU, God?" I matured so much in one year! I read all kinds of things I'd heard or read before, growing up in the church and in the Word, but hadn't had eyes to see before...I read things that totally baffled and confused me. Daily, I would go to Rusty with questions, and if he didn't know, I called my Dad, who is a pastor and has a Doctorate in Theology, on top of being very wise anyway. I sifted through the confusing, the sweet, the new, the familiar, the piercing, and it was GOOD.
I was different after that year. I couldn't get enough of Him or the Bible after that. I learned how to study scripture without a necessary Bible Study guide or aid in place. I started learning, and am obviously still learning, what it means to be a student of the scripture.
Our student pastor sent us a link to a read through the Bible in a year schedule he recommended. It seemed to me the right time to do this again. So I started yesterday. (It began on Nov. 1, but you can start it right now and finish a year from now. It's your deal!) All you have to do is click on this pdf file and download the plan. It's so easy!
God's Word is good. It's return is amazing. You will undoubtedly reap the reward of studying what He says, and asking Him to change you through it.
I began a brand new beautiful journal to write my observations and questions (and I have a lot of questions!) in, and having only done two days, I'm loving it! Start this holiday season off focused on Him. Set aside a disciplined part of your day for study and prayer, if you haven't already, and meet with Him. Let me know if you decide to do this, and maybe we can discuss some of our obvservations together!

Saturday, November 01, 2008


As you can see, the kids were cuties.
Our Princess,
Darth Vader,
Barrack Obama,
& an adorable bear for three seconds, and then back to his Superman pj's.
Oh, and Rusty was an excellent security detail for Senator Obama.
Justus went around, shaking hands and saying "I'm for change!" and "We can do it!" (instead of "Yes we can"...he got that one a little confused.)
Some houses on our street greeted him warmly (blue houses),
while other houses, red houses, begged for a different kind of change.
We thought it was very funny.
Of course the costume is not a political endorsement...it's just hilarious!
How many of your kids can pull off Barrack Obama? Pretty great, right?
So we had a wonderful time. We trick-or-treated and then went to the Hendrick's.
The last picture of Jax counting his candy cracks me up. That was first thing this morning. Then he organized his candy into different labeled bags, and made a few trades. I vividly remember the organization of the candy and the very serious trading my brother Robbie and I did. Awesome!
Halloween was fun.
We did a Bible Study in the morning and talked about why we stay far away from evil and darkness. (Ephesians 4 was a great text for that.) But Rusty and I have decided that the silly costumes and candy are not evil or dark. I know every parent makes the call on that one. Costumes are the every day norm around here, so we just add in candy, and it's a perfect day for my kids!
Thanksgiving is next, and I can't wait! I love holidays!

Friday, October 31, 2008


I should have posted this before, but I knew the deadline was creeping up...www.winkflash.com is running a deal on photo books. You can make a 100 page photo book for $19.95. That's an amazing deal!!! The deadline was supposed to be today (thus me up before dawn working on it) but they extended the deadline until Monday! There's still time! This is an inexpensive and thoughtful Christmas gift for grandparents. It took me a long time to download my pictures to the site, but no time at all to put the book together. So if you're interested in doing this, start downloading your pictures as you do your life, and when they're all done, you can put together your book. I've looked around, and this deal seems unbeatable to me. Also, the site is running a deal on 6 cent prints. Also an amazing deal!
So if you're trying to get a jump on Christmas gifts, and you're doing inexpensive, handmade, and thoughtful gifts, get on it! I plan to be completely finished by December.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Adoption Day Treston!

One year ago today, we dressed up, nervous, excited.
We were going to court. Finally! We had fostered Treston for more than 10 months, completely in the dark on what would happen at the end of this story. But we knew what God had done in our hearts...he made him ours. As determined as I was going into this fostering thing to see things realistically, I did not. That lasted about half of a second. When I lay eyes on Treston and held him for the first time, he became my own sweet boy. This was a dangerous but inevitable feeling. We sought the Lord. We trusted Him. We waited, willing months to pass and for our case to be seen. On October 29th, that day arrived. A judge would finalize what God had done in our hearts long before that day. Treston would be a Bacak forever. His name was changed to Treston Jeremiah, because just as God set Jeremiah apart from birth, so had He with Treston.
Adoption. I wish I could total up, hit enter, and print a receipt of all the things God has taught us so far through this ride. But we're still learning. It's tangible, and it's ongoing. It's hard and it's good. It's stretching and rewarding.
Most of all, we have learned that God is faithful. He's so faithful, and we're supposed to shout his faithfulness to all who will listen.
I'm shouting! HE IS FAITHFUL!
If you haven't walked along this road with us, here is the link to what I wrote about the day Treston was placed with us.
We're doing fun things today. We're celebrating what God has done in giving us Treston through the miracle of adoption, and ultimately, how He's adopted us all when we didn't deserve it. If we fail to recognize that every time we think of adoption, we're missing it.
Happy 1st adoption day T-Bear! We love you!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My FAVORITE pumpkin bread recipe!

Pumpkin bread...I'm a fan. I've tried several recipes, but this one that I got off of the Food Network website has been my favorite, by far! My family is eating it for breakfast right now, and I had to share. Also, my friend Shannan wanted this recipe, because she is such a good wife, she hates pumpkin with a passion, but will make this for her husband. Way to be, Shannan. This recipe makes a lot, so you can share with friends. I often make mini-loaves for friends or family at Thanksgiving and add an "I'm thankful for you" tag, and Bible verse to it.

Awesome Pumpkin Bread

3 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
4 eggs
16 oz. pumpkin
3 1/2 c flour
2 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t nutmeg
1 t allspice
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
2/3 c water

(Spray 2 loaf pans, or 6 mini-loaf pans- great for sharing with friends.)
Stir together sugar and oil.
Then stir in eggs, one a time while mixing, and add pumpkin.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in increments, alternating with the water.
It's hard for me to tell how long this will take in your oven, because my oven is sick. It runs very slowly, and everything takes forever. It took about an hour for my regular loaf pans to bake, but the mini-loaf pans will obviously take much less time. Just test it by inserting a clean knife in the center and when it's done, it will come out clean. (This is for our new bakers, just a little FYI.)
You're going to love this bread!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I had a brilliant idea...

Justus could totally be Obama for Halloween!
Can you see it? Put some slacks and a long-sleeve polo shirt, sleeves rolled-up, on the kid...it would be perfect!
However, this would have to compete with his ideas of what to be for Halloween.
His top ideas right now are: 1) Jaba the Hut 2) a monkey 3) a penguin
I'm going to work on it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Christmas...thinking it through

I know, it's a little early to talk about Christmas.
But it's not. Christmas time sneaks up on us, and suddenly, it's December, and there's a trillion things to do, host, shop for, wrap, bake, and oh, by the way, worship the God of the universe.
That doesn't seem to work for me.
So for the past few years, we've been really thinking through the CHRISTmas season, and trying to make it more and more of what it should be.
Every family has different ideas on how to do this.
But one that I have to throw out there: spend less. SPEND LESS!
My brother, Chris, started a beautiful campaign called Advent Conspiracy with Living Water (an organization we love that drills wells all over the world bringing clean drinking water and life to whole villages of people, and sharing the Gospel of Jesus, bringing real life at the same time! Read more about it on their website.) My brothers have been heavily involved with Living Water, and they are on to something.
This short video will get you thinking about how we do Christmas here in America.
So Rusty and I are committing to spending less, and giving more to further the Kingdom of Christ. We are going to be making hand-made, thoughtful gifts to our friends and family, keeping it simple with our kids, and giving money in it's place to Living Water. Last year, I made meals for my parents and put them in their freezer as their Christmas gift. They both work full-time, so they appreciated that. I've made fleece tie blankets for family members, and they loved it! There are so many things we can do that cost less, and mean more.
We have already started talking about it with our kids in preparation for this season. In fact, my kids loved this video. It inspired them.
Making homemade gifts will take time and planning on my part. Would it be easier to run around like a crazy woman the day after Thanksgiving and buy a bunch of junk instead? Probably. But if I start now and plan carefully, my kids and I will enjoy this much more, and it will mean more on our end. Will people feel jipped by us on Christmas day? I don't know. But it only costs $1000.00 in some parts of the world to bring an entire village clean water and give them life, so I'm thinking they won't be feeling jipped. Most of us spend much more than a thousand dollars on Christmas gifts yearly.
Most importantly, we have to break free from the greed that grabs hold of us and put all our love and worship on the King. Ephesians 4 says that a greedy person is really an idolator, loving the things of this world. You know how God felt about idol worship? Read the Old Testament! It's generally frowned upon! And no matter how we dress it up, the way we spend and expect material things in the name of Jesus' birthday is greed in it's purest form.
There's nothing wrong with gifts. There's nothing wrong with giving as an expression of love. But there is something heinous about the way we go into debt at Christmas time just to keep up with the expectation of excessive gift giving.
So let's re-focus...check out this video, and look into Advent Conspiracy. This is something your whole church can commit to, and make an eternal difference.
Also, something I'm doing, is thinking ahead to the things that stress me out in December, and trying to pre-emptively accomplish those things early.
For example, a mass mail-out of Christmas cards. That gets me every time. So I've already ordered my early holiday photo cards and will send them out in advance. (BTW, Winflash.com has a great deal running right now!)
My hope is that this season is less about stress...less about stuff...and more about worship, rest, and reflection. I want more than anything to honor Christ in that way.
If you have any other ideas on how you and your family do this, let me know! I want to hear them! (OH, and my sister-in-law, Liz, who is brilliant with gifts, has some great ideas on her blog and recommends Martha Stewart's new holiday magazine for awesome creative ideas.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

FFFD 2008

Fall Family Fun Day...a Bacak family tradition. (And you know how I love traditions!)
It was actually a Fall Family Fun Weekend, because it's hard to squeeze this much fun into one day with four kiddos. When we started this business, we had only two. We've doubled the fun...and the mess.
There's no better photo op with your kids than a pumpkin patch. It's the superior photo op. I love the color!
Every Bacak kid gets to choose their own pumpkin. We had to resort to the HEB pumpkin patch, because the others are just so expensive! Kyle McVay would grow her own pumpkins. She probably does. We probably could have gone to the McVays.
This year we painted pumpkins. I loved this! Creativity without the risk of someone dying, and NO pumpkin guts! I hate pumpkin guts!
Caramel apples...it's so good, and it's only once a year! We've fine tuned this sticky mess. We cut up the apples and dip them and roll them. It's awesome.
Here is a slideshow of our best fall pics.
This is what I want my kids to look back on fondly when they leave this home. We love the holidays, and our own self-proclaimed holiday, FFFD, kicks it all off!
Below this, I'll post the recipe of Pumpkin Pie Crunch. You DON'T want to miss this one! It has two sticks of butter. Seriously!

Click to play FFFD 2008
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Pumpkin Pie Crunch
1 can pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk 12 oz.
3 eggs
1 1/2 c sugar
4 t pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t salt
yellow cake mix (butter recipe)
1 c chopped pecan bits
1 c butter, melted (that's 2 sticks!)
Cool Whip (if you can find the vanilla Cool Whip, you're in luck!!!)

Grease a 9X13 pan. Then combine ingredients pumpkin, milk, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Mix until smooth. Pour into pan.
Pour cake mix evenly on top of it.
Sprinkle pecans on top.
Drizzle melted butter on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 min. Let cool and serve with lots of Cool Whip.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Dirt Cake"

I put that in parenthesis, because it's not actually made of dirt.
But so good! I made it last night for our potluck church gathering, and yum!
And so fun-looking for the kids.
Here you go...

8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/4 margarine, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 small pckg. instant vanilla pudding
1 small pckg. instant chocolate pudding
3 1/2 cups milk
12 oz. Cool Whip
20 oz. bag of Oreos or, if you're like me, "Twisters" HEB brand
1 pckg. of Gummi Worms

Mix cream cheese, margarine, and powdered sugar together. In another bowl, mix together the puddings and milk and let is set for five minutes until thick. (It needs to have that pudding consistency.) Combine, adding the Cool Whip in.
In a food processor, twist apart your Oreos, and pulse in your processor or blender until fine, looking like dirt.
Then, in whatever container you wish (like a flower pot lined with wax paper, a glass bowl, whatever) layer your Oreos, then pudding mixture, a few times, starting and ending with "dirt".
Sneak a few gummi worms into your layers, and also arrange a few on top.
You can also serve this in individual clear cups.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Justus and Kathleen: Open Adoption

See a resemblance here? Me too.
That's because this is Justus' birthmom, Kathleen. Isn't she gorgeous?
I realize I'm WAY behind in blogging about a birthday that happenned six weeks ago, but I really want to share with y'all about Kathleen.
Justus turned four, and this was our third time to invite Kathleen in for his birthday celebration. Kathleen moved far away after she placed Justus with us, so we don't have the advantage of proximity in our relationship, but we do have the advantage of openness.
Open Adoption. I know these are two words that strike fear into many people's hearts who are considering adoption.
Because of that, I want to share where we are coming from on this.
New Life, our agency, does semi-open adoptions. This mean you are chosen by the birthmom, you meet her, you visit and write letters and send pictures, all under the supervision of the agency. In other words, they are the go-between in all those things. You don't exchange last names or addresses or e-mail addresses usually. The agency handles your communication, but requires that you communicate. They encourage the building of a relationship that is beneficial to both the birthmom and your child. Why is this beneficial? So many reasons.

For the Birthmom
I think there is a lot of misunderstanding concerning a birthmom and her motives for placing her baby. My Mom has been doing this for about 20 years, and I will be making generalizations based on New Life's experience with birthmoms and what I've seen over the majority of my life as she's done this. Not every birthmom is the same, of course, thus the word "generalization."
Birthmoms want what's best for their baby. They carried this baby to term for a reason. They love their babies, and as heart-wrenching as it is for so many of them, that have come to the realization that they can't parent in a way their baby deserves to be parented. Some of them grew up without fathers or in homes that were less than ideal. They don't want that for their own babies. They want them to have Moms, loving Dads, siblings, a dog, a house, and all the things they can dream up for their child. (Every birthmoms dream is different, of course, but I think they definitely have dreams for their kids, like you and I do.) For various reasons specific to them, they are overwhelmed with their own lives and problems, and in such great humility that so many of us lack, have to admit they can't give those things. They are heart broken over this decision. But they put their baby's needs above their own...something I know I should do as a believer but still fear I would put my own feelings first...and they make the most difficult decision they'll ever make, and choose to make an adoption plan for their child.
This is not something they take lightly. There is much grief, tears, and doubt that surrounds this decision. They have very real fears. They fear that they'll never see or hear from their child again. They fear that their child will think they don't love them. They fear that they'll feel abandoned by them. They fear the adoptive parents will divorce or worse. They fear their child will be sick and they won't know about it. They have a deep need to know that their child will be okay.
Communication is so important here! New Life requires a good deal of communication by letters and pictures in the first year, and this is such a relief to them! They get reports on their health and well-being. They get to see how their growing and changing! This means the world to them, and every picture and letter is a treasure.

For the adopted child
In trying to keep this brief, let me just say, we wholeheartedly believe a child knowing his birthparents, feeling totally secure is their love for him, certain of the reasoning for his placement so that he doesn't feel abandoned or unloved, is in his ABSOLUTE best interest! Instead of seeing birthparents as a risk, we choose to see them as a loving part of our extended family! They made this very wise choice! They gave us the greatest gift of all time! Who are we to say "thanks for the baby! Now...go away!" Where is the Christ-like attitude in that? Every family and agency has to decide what are the wise boundaries in this relationship in order to keep it healthy, (and this will of course vary from situation to situation!) but in the end, a relationship is ideal! When a child who's been adopted has questions about the circumstances of his birth, his birth family history, where he gets his color eyes and hair, we know where to go! What comfort there is in that! Adoptive parents need to get over the feelings of insecurity and fear and think about what is best for the child. I alone am his mother. If you call Kathleen Justus' Mom, I will always correct you. I'm his Mom. But she is his birthmom, and that is something I'll never be. She is important and special in his life, as Lynda is to Treston as well.

How open are we?
With Justus' birthmom, we've gone all the way open. I love it! It didn't happen overnight. We built a relationship that has taken time and trust. Slowly, with the blessing and supervision of New Life, we've crept more and more toward open until we busted it wide open with this last visit in August. She came to OUR house, stayed here in our home, and spent the weekend loving on Justus. She's amazing! I don't want to include a lot of details about her life, but she has overcome so much, and we are so proud of her. She's very different from us. In fact, she was Muslim when she placed Justus with us, and we have spent the past four years praying for her salvation and talking to her about Jesus. She is closer than ever to believing in the Truth! She knows we love her. She knows Justus loves her and knows her. They have a special bond that blesses us! We love seeing them together. We know that only good will come from their open relationship and his feeling loved by her.

We have learned SO, SO, SO MUCH from this process. We tell people starting out on this journey, this is the most refining, sanctifying process you'll ever go through. You will know yourself and be stripped of junk you didn't know you were wearing by the end. Praise God! I wish I had time to list all of the good things we have learned through this, but my children need to eat breakfast.
But praise the Lord, He can take away all fear, all prejudice, all selfishness, all wrong thinking, and replace it with HIM through this.
We firmly believe that open adoption is a ministry to children and birthmoms equally. We have seen it serve more purposes than we actually dreamed of. God filled the holes in our family with beautiful children we didn't deserve, and he's taught us about loving people we never would have known or had a clue about before. We're not the same as we were before this. Were we scared? Were we selfish? Were we uncomfortable with being totally out of control? YES, YES, YES!!!! But those were all things that God was more than big enough to handle.
If you have questions about adoption, feel free to shoot them at us. We're not experts. We have only our own experiences, and I have a little benefit of growing up in the shadow of New Life and my Mom's life work, but in the end, I understand that there are different perspectives on this and we respect that. However, we feel compelled to always share what God has done through this for us, and for our children and birthmoms alike.