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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Deuteronomy 6: Love the Lord...

I decided to take the kids through the book of Deuteronomy this summer. I know, sounds daunting to me too, but one thing I know for sure is all that God said to the Israelites, he says to us, (because we're as ridiculous as they were sometimes) and I also see so much value in them getting the big picture of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
This week we came to Deuteronomy 6. This is a great passage of instructions given to parents.
Deut 6:4-9
4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. 5 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again. 8 Tie them to your hands as a reminder, and wear them on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

How much more specific and complete could this be? Talk about God's instructions when you're lying down, and when you're up, when you're at home, and when you're not...
Tie a reminder on your hand, wear them on your forehead, and write them on your doorposts.
Have we done that?
These were not instructions given to the Temple leaders in how to teach the children.
These were given to parents to teach their children about God.
Have we abdicated our God-given role to be our child's primary Bible teachers and shepherds to the church?
Our church reminds us all the time, they should only be re-inforcing what our kids are already learning at home.
Rusty and I are continuing to learn about how to do this better.
It's been an ever-involving process.
I do Bible verses or a lesson and prayer time with the kids in the morning each day before we start our school day.
Rusty does Bible teaching with the kids in the evening. We both know that Rusty is the lead teacher and is ultimately responsible for what our kids are learning in this house. I come alongside him and help him.
But this summer God has showed us the value of family worship.
We now have "mini-church" I guess you could call it, in the evening with all of us, even the little ones. We sing worship songs, and then Rusty gives a lesson. Sometimes we have drama, because our kids have always enjoyed acting out our lessons. (Last night John the Baptist (Jax) baptized Jesus (Rusty) while the dove/Holy Spirit came upon them (Emma, of course, it's an animal) and the voice of God spoke (Justus; it's pretty different to hear the voice of God in broken three-year-old language, but you get the picture.)
We're not saying our ways of doing this are the only and right way.
But we do know this...teaching our kids to Love the Lord with everything in them is THE thing we teach them. Everything else they learn from us has to take a backseat to this. If I started our school days without laying the foundation with time with Him and growing their knowledge and intimacy with Him, I would be showing them otherwise.
We did tangible things this past week, as you can see in the pictures, to remind us we need to write it on our doorposts, wear it on our foreheads, and talk about Him ALL THE TIME.
What are some ways that you guys are doing this? I love to hear how different families are teaching their kids...share!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Titus 2 kids

Titus 2 tells us that older men should teach the younger men, and older women should teach the younger women. We have taken that to heart in our church and in our lives. We have an intergenerational adult set-up, meaning past the youth group, we don't separate into college, young marrieds, older marrieds, singles, marrieds with big kids, marrieds with bigger kids, mid-life crisis group, drawing social security group, etc. (These are probably not the names above the Sunday School rooms, but you know what I'm talking about!) We have small groups, and we mix together, intertwining our lives, so that mentoring and being mentored happens more naturally. I have seen great fruit come from this!
Well, I started wondering, why don't we do that more with our kids? I mean, especially since kids are separated into very narrow age groups in schools, we think that their friends need to be very close in age to them. While there's nothing wrong with having friends in your stage of life or your age group, there's also great wisdom to be gained from older wiser friends as well!
I have to tell you, the Feldman kids (Megan and Tyler in pictures above) are the older, wiser friends for my kids. These kids rock my socks off! They love the Lord passionately. They have been well-trained in the Word, early in the morning before school, and in their everyday moments of life. It has taken root in their hearts. (I take notes when I talk to Moms like Shannan.) I have heard their prayers, and there is spiritual maturity there that I long to see in my kids at that age!
So I am taking every open opportunity to kidnap the Feldman kids and have them around my kids. My kids ADORE THEM!!! They look up to them...they hear them pray...they listen to their instruction...and they play and goof off together as well. We've had them both over to spend the night recently, and these are pictures of them in the morning, reading to my kids. In the picture of the boys, I told them to go do their Bible Study time together (something they both do daily at home) and Tyler is reading the Bible Story to Jax. What could be sweeter than this? And we all know that teaching our faith to others strengthens our walk with the Lord. So shouldn't our kids, if they are walking with the Lord, be modeling and assisting younger kids? All of our kids are now doing ministry together as well since the Feldmans have started going to the nursing home with us. They love old people too!!! And they want to be a blessing and light there with us! Love these people!
Why do we think our kids only want to be around kids just as young and foolish as they are? They long for and benefit from mentorship as much as we do!
Praise God for these older, and more spiritually mature kids!!! They're not perfect, so their Mama would say (because nobody's kids are) but their hearts and eyes are fixed on Jesus. That's all I want for my kids! These kids are told to "be a blessing" when they come to my house, and they seriously are! Last Sunday Rusty took all four of our kids plus Megan to HEB for our weekly shopping trip. (I know, is he crazy, or what?) Megan got a big kick out of this adventurous shopping trip! Rusty told me he wants to rent Megan out every time he takes the kids shopping.
I want my kids to be that kind of blessing in return to someone else! Thanks Feldmans!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jax cracks me up!

This kid is hilarious.
He memorizes everything he hears. (Scary, I know!)
So he uses movie lines in his everyday vocab.
Today I was in my room, and he busted open the door and said to me
"Mom, you're so cute I could dunk you in my coffee!"
(Except it sounds like "you're so coot I could dump you in my coffee.")
What would I do without those moments?
I can tell you. I'd go insane. These moments of pure comic relief provided by my little people keeps me going! I love it!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Happy Birthday T-Bear!

Treston Jeremiah Bacak is 2 today! Man, this kid is cute!
My favorite things about Treston...his cookie monster impersonation, his "angry eyes" (ask him to do it for you! It's hilarious!), his laugh, his total adoration of trucks and how he waves at the drivers when they go by, his hair, his squatty little football body, his hugs, and a thousand other things.

Rusty says "I love the fact that he can run a 4.0 forty, and put his head down at the end of it and knock you down on your bottom...and smile the whole way."

Emma says "He's so cute, and he just makes me laugh! And his angry eyes."

Jax says "He smiles all the time and he plays with me."

Justus says...nothing. But I could tell you it would that he has a partner in his endless pursuit of mischief. They're quite a team in that respect!

Happy Birthday Treston! You are so loved!

Click to play Treston's birthday
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Friday, July 25, 2008

Rock Star Preachers

I don't know how you qualify a "rock star preacher", but the Houston Chronicle has made a list of 10 of them, and not surprisingly, my brother's in the The Chronicle again.

(This is sort of a monthly occurrence though. They love him at the Chronicle.)

Most of you know my rock star bro, Robbie, but I have two other rock star brothers.

Chris and Brian.

(Brian, you're a rock star too.)

Check out this link. You'll recognize some of the others on the list. Pretty interesting.

Chris is on the 9th page. (click the 9th box below the picture.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Birthmoms: What NOT to ask?

Every child that has been adopted has a story.
It starts with his birthparents. (It actually starts with God's perfect plan for their lives since before time began, but you know what I mean!)
Birthparents are a very real, personal part of who my boys are.
We love them and pray for them daily. We keep in touch with them, and have relationships with them. They will always be a part of our lives.
If you walk into our house, you will see a picture of Justus and Kathleen framed on our bar along with our other family photos. It's funny, because lately when new people come over, Justus goes straight for that picture and shows it to people. He knows she is super important. He never forgets her. He prays for her. He loves her. We await our visit with her on his birthday each year with anticipation.
Kathleen placed Justus with us when he was born, and we've been building this kind of relationship with her ever since.
Treston's story is a little different because we fostered him first, and are now slowly trying to build a relationship with his birthparents.
Here's what I want you all to know...
We love sharing the joys of open adoption with everyone! It's a blessing to us, and we want everyone to know what a joy it is to love birthparents and we feel this is the most biblical and beneficial way to do adoption. I LOVE to talk about adoption!
But when people ask about our birthmoms and want to know "their story" I am always caught off guard.
When you ask "Why did she give him up for adoption?"
I KNOW that you haven't thought through this the way we have. I KNOW that you mean absolutely no harm in the question.
But to this day, I still don't know how to answer this well. If you've asked me this, please know, I'm NOT offended. But I probably did stammer around for a while.
Someone asked me this the other day about the Hendricks' birthmom, (very well-meaning) and I found it easier for some reason to just let them know this is private to them.
It's our children's story to tell, not ours.
New Life does an amazing job of training us in right thinking about adoption, and how to foresee the consequences of what we say and tell now for the future.
When we spill all the details of their story, it can be hurtful to them. They may feel exposed, embarrassed, different.
Every birthmom's story and reasons for making an adoption plan is different. Some are simple. They are textbook, classic Juno type stories.
But most are more complicated than that. Most are messier than that. A lot of them are so hurt and broken inside for various reasons, they know they aren't capable of being the Mom (and sometimes Dad) that they want for their child.
It's not fair for me to spill all the details and hurts that led my child's birthmom to that point in her life.
I don't know how my boys are going to feel about all of it. But I know it's not fair to share it with every person we know in order to satisfy their curiosity.
So here's what you can ask! Ask their names, and how you might pray for them.
I think I can speak for other adoptive Moms I know (Heather and Shannan specifically) that would LOVE for you to pray for our birthmoms! Some of them are lost, and we are desperately praying for their salvation.
Our hearts break for them, and we love them!
So birthmoms are NOT a taboo subject! We talk freely about them daily in our house. We share pictures and stories of our relationships with them. I love to show how Justus looks just like Kathleen, and has some of her traits. I love the way he loves her. I love that she loves all of us. We just keep their private stories, private.
I hope I've communicated this well. Feel free to ask questions about this.
Other adoptive Moms may have totally different thoughts and opinions on this.
Most of this comes straight from the wisdom of the ladies of New Life, our agency, who have been doing this for more than 20 years and have grown children who are adopted.
My Mom is the first to share that she shared too much of my sister's story initially as our church prayed for my sister's adoption, and felt like they payed the consequences for that later.
It's not that we don't trust you with the information, it's really a respect issue to our birthparents and our children.
Thoughts, anyone? Just a little adoption education from the Bacaks. We are open for questions.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Joy and Grief

This is Hudson Isaiah Hendrick. He will come home today. My dear friends, the Hendricks, are adopting for the first time, Hendrick boy #4, and God is bringing them home today! I love this little guy so much already! I need to see more than this one picture!!!
I couldn't be more excited! God has done a beautiful thing, and brought them through one of the most sanctifying experiences of our lives, ADOPTION.
The joy of bringing this baby home will fill our lives and church for some time. There will be much rejoicing. There will be signs, balloons, showers, brand-new genius baby gadgets that have been magically invented since her last baby, birth announcements, proud, show-him-off moments in the sling at church, walking and bouncing, sleeping and snuggling, and as I set up their baby stuff in their house last night, those teeny-tiny newborn diapers just got to me!
Hudson has been pursued, as God pursues us, and brought into the family God always knew He would be in, just as their other children. Let the celebration begin!
However, when you adopt a baby and love him this much, you also fall deeply in love with the woman whose womb he slept peacefully in. You love his birthmom for giving you the hands-down best earthly gift you will ever receive. You love her for her selfless act, that I, even being a believer, think I am still to selfish to make. You love her for all her unique qualities that you will see mirrored in your child.
And there is grief for her today.
Adoption, particularly semi-open adoption as New Life does it (that I so strongly believe in, obviously) is a strange thing. You feel joy, and you feel grief for her at the same time. It's hard to know how to sort through that, where to put all those emotions.
Heather's blog has been eerily quiet this past week, when it normally spills out well-written words faster than I can read them. It may even take her some time to sift through all that's going on inside her and write. It's overwhelming.
Not only do we have two children we have adopted through New Life, and two birthmoms to love, but we have also experienced this from the other side when we housed birthmoms and became what they call a "Shepherding Home" for women who needed a place to stay and give birth. I wrote this article for the New Life newsletter about my life-changing experience from the "other side" a couple of years ago. Read this excerpt from it, and please, please, please pray for Hudson's birthmom and family today, as they desperately miss Hudson and grieve the loss.
Read about our experience with Robin, a birth mom we fell in love with.
*For those of you who don't know about New Life adoption, Hudson will always have contact with his birth family, and they will receive tons of pictures, letters, and will even visit soon. New Life does NOT let you forget your birthmom, or stop loving her for a moment!

The “Other Side”
I am Cindy Seay’s daughter. Her life work of ministering to pregnant women and placing babies for adoption in loving, Christian homes, has permeated my whole family‘s life. After my husband, Rusty, and I had two biological children, we heard a clear call from the Lord to grow our family again through adoption. Working with my Mom in the adoption of our sweet baby boy, Justus, over a year ago was amazing! Getting to see firsthand what New Life means to pregnant women, their families, and to adoptive families touched Rusty and I so much. Rusty, who is a medical doctor, became the medical director for New Life. We wonder how anyone who has experienced the miracle of adoption could remove themselves from this ministry? God’s hand is truly in it.
When my Mom mentioned she was unsuccessfully looking for a Shepherding Home for a pregnant woman, the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear “Why not you?” I had to answer that question, why not me? We have plenty to share, and the scriptures are clear, what we’ve done for those in need, we have done, or NOT done for Christ himself. Rusty and I took a few hours to pray about it. You see, this woman had just been released the day before from the State Jail. This seems like quite a risk to take with three small children in the house. But despite the risk, we felt like God was saying “This is your chance to live your faith, not just talk about it.” So we told my Mom that day that we would take her in. I am so glad we were listening to Him that day! What a life-changing experience this has been for my family! Robin came to live with us almost two months ago, and she has forever changed the lens through which I see life. I have experienced adoption from the “other side”, and every adoptive family should! Robin has become like a member of our family. She has been delivered from her past mistakes by accepting Christ as her Savior. I was able to pray with her for salvation, and spend time in the Word with her almost everyday. I have the privelege of watching her grow in her faith and knowledge of Christ week by week. As a stay-home-Mom, it is ideal. I can’t get out to do many types of ministry outside of the home, but she came to me, where I live in the day-to-day, and by walking together, I am able to minister to her and serve her. I have seen everything through her eyes now, and it has changed me. I was in the birthing room with her, holding her hand, when her beautiful boy Jacob was born. It was a bittersweet moment. What a precious moment, when we lay eyes on the little one who’s been in the warm, hiding place of the womb. But our joy was with quiet tears, knowing that we would only have him for two short days before he joined his sweet family. I empathetically, felt the love and agony of a birth mom in the moment Jacob was born. I also had the joy of announcing his birth to two very proud adoptive parents, and seeing them hold him for the first time with tears in their eyes. I remembered living it from their side, but I was on the “other side” this time, and my heart was full of joy, but heavy at the same time for Robin. I spent those last hours with her holding Jacob for the last time before the placement. I cried with Robin as she signed the papers, and as she handed him to his parents. The finality of it weighed on me, and the peace and sorrow that co-exist in that moment can hardly be described in words. Making an adoption plan for Jacob was undoubtedly the right thing for her to do. Before then, I could only imagine how hard it was. Now I know. I drove her home from the hospital without a baby. We sobbed all the way home. She recovered and needed all the aftercare a woman needs after delivering a baby...but without a baby. There's a constant reminder of what's missing. That’s the reality of adoption from the other side.
My love and respect for our birthmother has only intensified. Some of you may not be sure you want to experience the “other side”. It scares us to feel the emotions of the birthmother too much. I promise you I was scared. But I assure you, as adoptive parents, it will only enrich and deepen the spiritual experience of adoption for you and your family. What New Life has tried to teach us is that you cannot love your child, and not love his/ her birth mother. Having the opportunity to wholeheartedly love and serve Robin has been a gift to our family. She will be staying with us for two more months as she re-builds her life. It is our joy to be used by God to His purpose in her life, and we are humbled by this experience. We have so much to share, and to give. Why not us? Maybe He’s asking you, Why not you?

Monday, July 21, 2008

"I pray for them every time I poop."

Yes, that is my husband's direct quote. I shared this with Sally in an e-mail, and I'm sure it touched her.
To explain, I put our wonderful missionary friends, the Estes', picture on the wall facing our toilet. It didn't start out there. It used to be on our bathroom mirror, but I quit seeing it there. So I moved it to face the toilet. I sit down there several times a day. I forget boys only sit down to poop. Good thing my husband's very regular. TMI??)
I try to keep it visible on a daily basis so that I NEVER FORGET to pray for them. Why? Because, we are their Senders.

Rom 10:13-15
13 For "Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

Jon and Sally were in our HOPE group. We heard their hearts, broken for the lost, and burdened for North Africa, where you could fit all the Christians in their large country in our one church building...probably in our fellowship hall...maybe in our house. Anyway, this young couple with a little boy (the same age as Treston) left everything and everyone behind for atleast a season of life in North Africa. They are learning what has to be the hardest language to learn, Arabic. Sally has been so good to share with me the joys, struggles, and culture shocks along the way, helping me to know how to pray for her. I have tried, and could definitely be doing an even better job, to let them know they are not forgotten.
We are all called to be missionaries. And all of us should play a part in international missions. I want to not only financially support mission work in places that are so dark and desperate for the Light of Jesus, but I want to encourage and help hold up those who are actually going!
There was a time when a missionary was completely disconnected from home, except by letters, if they made it.
Now, we live in a new time. We have SKYPE!!! Wow! We have e-mail, we have cell phones, we have texting!
Sally and I can talk face-to-face on Skype on our computers, and I get to pray for her, see her belly grow, (she's due in about 2 weeks for their second baby!) and love them.
I need to do that more! I need to send more packages! I need to do a better job of keeping them updated from home! I want to be the Sender that we're supposed to be.
So here's my encouragement in this...pray for your missionaries. The kids and I cover our missionary friends daily in prayer.
Make sure they know they are not forgotten.
Pray like crazy for their effectiveness in the Kingdom where they are.
See their fervor for their mission field, and be convicted for your own.
Pray for Jon and Sally, little Jude, and baby Brennan to come. They will be delivering with medical care not quite up to our standards, and language barriers are their biggest enemy in that. (They are learning Arabic, but people also speak French there. They are not learning French.)
Pray for their team, and their continued guidance on where God wants to use them.
Be a native missionary, and a Sender.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Menu for the week

I make my menu and grocery list on the weekends. That way we get shopping for the week (the one and only trip to the land of HEB) done before the week begins.
I used to shop during the week, but several things had to change when we took on homeschooling. You know, like leaving the house on a school day.
So my big Friday night last night...I watched three Gilmore Girls in a row while I scoured my recipes and made a menu.
Two out of four of these are Southern Living recipes. I swear by them. They're almost garunteed to be good. Once upon a time, when I got magazines and had time to look in them, I got Southern Living, and many of the very best recipes I have are from them. You can also get their recipes off their website for free, I think.
Here it is, for anyone who is interested.
You'll notice that these meals have common ingredients. This is something to keep in mind when saving money at the store. However, the expert on saving money is definitely Kyle McVay. She's the bomb! Check her out. She posts her menu also!
Okay, here goes...what are we eating this week?

Mon.: Easy Honey Mustard Chicken, rice, steamed broccoli with cheese on top.

Honey Mustard Chicken
This recipe calls for chicken breasts, but I like to use tenders instead sometimes because they're kid friendlier and soak up more flavor in recipes like this where the sauce is SO good! I got this recipe from an old church cookbook.

1/4 c margarine, 1/2 c honey, 1/4 c mustard, 1 t curry powder, 1/2 t salt, up to 4 chicken breasts. (If you're making this for a crowd, like me, you might double the sauce.)

Melt margarine in a baking dish. Stir in all the other ingredients. Place chicken in the dish and bake at 375 degrees. If you're using breasts, bake 20 minutes on each side. For tenders, it won't take as long.
Serve over rice.

Tues.: Southwest BLT wraps, chips, and salsa
This is a pretty light and VERY easy recipe from Southern Living. It's Jax's favorite! I make my own salsa when I make this. Once you've made homemade salsa, that jar stuff at the store will make you gag.

Southwest BLT wraps
1/2 c salsa, 1/3 c frozen corn, thawed, four tortillas, a package of turkey bacon, cooked and broken in half, butter lettuce (or whatever kind you want to use),
Avacado Lime Sauce: 1 avacado mashed, 4 t fresh lime juice (3 mini limes), 1/2 c mayo, 1 t chopped fresh cilantro, and salt to taste.

Make your avacado lime sauce. Then stir together salsa and corn. Now top your tortillas with lettuce, corn salsa, bacon, and drizzle with avacado lime sauce. Serve with chips, to dip in either your salsa or avacado lime sauce.

Wed.: Beef and Lime Rice Salad
I know this says Beef, but I usually ignore that and use ground turkey. We think it works for most recipes!

1 lb. ground turkey, 3 c water, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t cumin, 1 1/2 c long grain rice, 1 t grated lime rind, 1 T fresh lime juice
Suggested Toppings: salsa, shredded cheddar, tortilla chips, sour cream, chopped tomatoes, chopped green onions, avacado slices.

Brown your meat. Bring the water with cumin and salt in it to a boil. Add rice. Cover, reduce heat, for 20-25 min. or until water is absorbed and rice is tender.
Stir in meat, lime rind, and lime juice.
Serve over chips and add toppings.

Thurs.: I'm trying a new recipe for Beef Tips and rice. I've never made this before. I'll let you know how we like it.

Desserts: I have ingredients to make two different desserts this week. I don't know which I'm making. Apple Dumplings, which I got from Leslie Wakefield...at least that will be her name later today! She's marrying Clayton today! Yay!!!
I also have a new recipe for Pound Cake that I got from Ashley Kinnard. She made it for us last week at her house, and it was awesome!!! My daughter actually asked her for the recipe so that we could make it at home. How cute is that?

Apple Dumplings
2 cans of crescent rolls (any recipe with crescent rolls in them is a winner!), 2 large Granny Smith apples, sliced and peeled, 2 c sugar, 2 sticks margarine, 1 t cinnamon, 1 can Mountain Dew

Wrap slices of apple with crescent rolls. Place in a greased baking dish. Melt margarine, sugar, and cinnamon on stove top. Pour mixture over the crescent rolls. Cover with Mountain Dew! (Isn't that crazy?!) Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 min. or until apples are soft. I suggest serving with vanilla ice cream.
This is so good!!!

Ashley's Pound Cake:
1 pkg duncan hines butter recipe cake mix
4 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c water
1/4 c oil
1 stick melted butter
1 8oz. pkg cream cheese
mix everything together. Grease pan w/ butter & roll sugar around on it. Cook at 350 for 50-60 minutes. If not done at 50 min, turn down to 325.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What's for dinner?

These rolls. All week long.
Several of you asked for my menu again, and I would love to put all the recipes for this week up, but I haven't had time.
But one thing I HAVE to share with you is this recipe for dinner rolls.
They are the best rolls we've ever had. They're very sweet, and we like that around here.
It makes a lot, and the dough lasts me all week. I have shared them with people as well, so if you are just making this for you or a small family and you don't like to share, you might want to half this.
The dough lasts for a week in your refrigerator, and you can roll them out whenever you want to. Remember to let them rise for an hour before you bake them.
I would give credit to the source of this recipe, but I don't know them, sorry!

Perfect dinner rolls
2 pcgs. active dry yeast (this is 4 1/2 t according to my yeast jar)
1 cup warm water
3 cups warm milk
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter flavored Crisco
4 cups flour
+ 4 more cups flour
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t baking soda

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl until it gets a little foamy.
Put milk, sugar, Crisco, 4 cups of flour, and yeast mixture in your mixer. Beat until smooth. Cover and let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours. (I always let things rise on my oven top with it set on low so it's warm.)
Mix together 4 cups of flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
Add it to your dough and mix it in thoroughly. THIS IS A SUPER STICKY DOUGH! PREPARE FOR STICKY HANDS!
You can put it in the refrigerator until you're ready. I suggest giving it a little time in the fridge to firm up a bit.
Flour your hands (still so sticky!) and roll them into rolls. Let them rise for 1 more hour! Then bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. Keep an eye on them, until they're a little brown on top.
Enjoy them!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Blown Opportunity

This is Rusty... I almost never blog, but felt compelled to share what happened at our office yesterday. A 21 year old girl died within a minute of being wheeled in to our front office. Apparently Shawna (not her real name)had been sick for weeks with vomiting after a "night of hard partying" (according to her mom who brought her in), and one urgent care visit did not fix her, so they decided to make an appointment with me first thing in the afternoon. On the way to my office, she started to lose consciousness and was wheeled in to my office (she is a paraplegic from a car wreck when she was a teenager) in and out of it. Kaycee and Gabby immediately saw how bad she looked and called me (as I was literally walking through the back door) and 911. By the time I had walked to the front room she had stopped breathing and lost a pulse and we got her on the floor and began CPR. We did everything right...the paramedics did everything right...the ER doc did everything right... Shawna stilled died a horribly early death.

I have no idea medically why she died. It is possible that she had such messed up sodium and potassium levels from weeks of being sick that she went in to a funny heart rythm... or maybe had a clot in her legs from being stuck in bed sick, that it dislodged to her heart/lungs... We may never know. God is sovereign and knows the numbers of our days and there is nothing modern medicine can do to thwart that.

Ps 39:4-5

4 "Show me, O LORD, my life's end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.
5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath.

But I also can't help but wonder why she died within a minute of arriving in our office. This may be way too focused on me, but I can not help but think God is trying to get my attention on this one, Big Time! If she had passed out a couple of minutes before, she would have just gone to the ER and I probably would have not even known she had died... a few minutes later and maybe we could have seen how sick she was and prevented it from happening. But God's sovereing plan was for her to die right there and then.

There is more to the story here. You see, about a month or two ago, Shawna came and saw me for a yearly check up. She was a student taking classes to go in to law enforcement. She was always very pleasant and fun to be around. I always really enjoyed seeing her on the schedule. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, she was always really upbeat and did not feel sorry for herself etc. etc. The last time I saw her, she was reading her Bible and we were able to have a small conversation about the Lord. I had never brought up any Spiritual issues with her before, but found out that she was not going to church and got the feeling that she was isolated from other believers. I knew that she had the "partying" history as I think that is what led to the car wreck that maade her a paraplegic. I got her number and told her that I would call and take her to church with us sometimes.... BUT NEVER DID. I remember praying for her around that time and was always convicted that the Bacak clan needs to get her plugged in to our church....BUT NEVER DID.

Now I know that it was clearly Shawna's time to die... and I can not assume that if I had really plugged her in to a church that she would not have potentially partied herself to death (and I don't really even know if that had anything to do with her death medically yet). But as I was giving her mouth to mouth waiting on the paramedics, I couldn't help but think...I NEVER DID! God gave me an opportunity and calling to love on this really bright, funny young woman, above and beyond just my call of encountering her in my office. But I didn't do it! I never called... I was too busy...Did we have room for her in the van?...I had to teach Living By the Book class before church and it would have been really difficult to have picked her up across town...The excuses piled up and eventually I forgot about her. Obviously convicting - How about instead of teaching Living By The Book, I had actually lived by the Book and taken care of one of the least of these.

God rattled my cage yesterday! How many opportunities do we have around us to really love on and impact people's lives? Are we taking them... or are we too busy? Are we too focused on ourselves to even notice the dying and hurting and LOST all around us. Yes, Shawna was reading her Bible that day. But do I really know if she had a saving relationship with the Lord? Do I really know if she had surrendered her life to Him as Lord and Saviour, or was she just searching and hoping that someone would notice? Life is short! Really short. Opportunities abound for us to show Jesus to others...but will we do it? We sang a song at church this weekend, "Rescue the perishing" that is all about truly caring for the lost and dying. The question it keeps asking is "Do we really care? When will we care?" The answer is "church open your eyes once more and see what Christ died for!" Eph 5:15-16

15 Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity

2 Tim 4:1-2
4:1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.

Today, I pray that I make the most of the opportunities the Lord lays out for me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

15 Years Ago Today- I Had Brain Surgery!

Yep. It's true. Surgeons sucked a tumor out of my brain on this very day, July 14, 1993.
For those of you who didn't know this about me, I had a tumor on my pituitary gland that was being quite a bother.
So after my Senior year of high school, while other kids were having summer jobs as lifeguards and youth interns, I was having brain surgery.
What a life-changing experience it was!!! (I think my Mom will agree with that.)
I remember how terrified I felt.
I was sort-of brave while they prep-ed me, put my IV in, had me sign all the papers that said if I died my family wouldn't sue them, etc.
But when they wheeled me into this room full of patients in Hermann Hospital, all lying on those wheely-stretchers, all waiting for their surgery, quietly, eerily...I lost it. I had just turned eighteen years old, but I started bawling like a baby for my Mama!
They took pity on me and went and retrieved her for me. I got a few more minutes with her.
They basically took apart my face to get to my pituitary gland (sort of in the center of your head), and didn't shave any of my hair. That was a relief!
Until I saw my face for the first time in Neuro-ICU when my bandage fell off.
I looked just like that Planet of the Apes show! Seriously! I started crying so hard, I almost busted all the stitches in my face. (I was 18! Of course I was vain!) I didn't find my teeth for weeks. The swelling was unbelievable.
I sort of looked normal by the time I left for Baylor six weeks after that. But only sort of. My upper lip was paralyzed for almost a year.
No cancerous material was found, so no further treatment was necessary.
I went about my life, tumor free from that day on.
It was a recovery I'll never forget.
I've never wanted to be with my Mom more! (A feeling re-visited in part when I had a baby.)
I learned to depend on the Lord in a beautiful way!
I had to trust him with my life, for real! He, of course, was good to me, and received the glory.
This will always be a pause and take notice day for me, and maybe even my family.
Let us never forget what God has done for us!

Friday, July 11, 2008


Something that has been made clear to my recently is how mucho importante communication is in a home.
I feel like teaching my kids to really communicate with one another is on the top of my list right now. So much of conflict resolution depends on communication. We teach about communication in Countdown with our engaged couples, and have had countless marathon conversations at our table about how a couple communicates (or doesn't communicate.) They develop these patterns within their home.
I encounter the same problems in dealing with college girls and their roommate issues. Every single time a girl comes to me with a roommate problem, it boils down to COMMUNICATION (or lack thereof.) It's caused me to look back and realize what a lousy communicator I was with my college roommates. It's always easier to gossip about a roommate than pray for them and confront them in love, right?
It may be possible that many of us are grown, mature people, walking around, with disabled communication abilities. We could draw disability for it, I think, because people draw disability for some pretty bogus stuff (they come into my husband's office asking him to sign the papers, so they can get disability for like, color blindness.)
Anyway, as I teach my children to love each other, build each other up, encourage each other, navigate their way through daily conflicts, and most importantly share their faith, they need to know how to articulate these things.
How many of us would say: We know about God, we walk with God, we have a grasp on how we're saved, but we don't know how to articulate that well when the time comes.
I feel like I am equipping (or not equipping) my children for life, healthy relationships, strong marriages, and most importantly, being communicators of the Gospel when teaching them about communication on a daily basis.
I have two kids who are speech delayed. If you've read this blog for long, you know this about Justus. Sign Language was his first language, and about a year ago, he could barely put two words together. Now, he can be a faucet of words that won't stop flowing. Most we can understand, many we struggle to. But Praise the Lord, he can talk!
However, because his speech was so late in coming, and he still struggles to be understood, his first responses ingrained in him so far are still non-verbal.
For instance, if you've been to our house and Justus wants some attention from you, he probably has come up to you and done something physical to get your attention.
Some people are taken by surprise by this with my boys, but non-verbal kids do things a little differently. They are loud, scream a lot (oh, how we're working on this with Treston!) and in Justus' case- he pouts! When he couldn't communicate what he wanted, he would get easily frustrated or angry and act out, pout, whine, or give the silent treatment.
His ability to communicate has definitely improved, but words have always been more of an effort for Justus. I'm not as good at mind reading as he'd like me to be. So he is still more inclined to pout. He is disciplined for this, and has always been, but it's a struggle to break this pattern. Rather than communicating what he wants, he will pout.
Sometimes, as grown-ups, we're not much different.
We want everyone to read our minds. It takes more of an effort to communicate what we want, what hurts our feelings, and what we actually meant.
I'm still trying to teach my older kids, when a game they're playing, (like chase the girl and tease her relentlessly) is bothering her or hurting her feelings to COMMUNICATE that instead of coming straight to me.
I won't be there forever! I would be disabling them if I refereed every dispute and cleared up every miscommunication between them. I want them to say, without whining or yelling or tattling, "This game is hurting my feelings, Jax." or "I don't like it when you come into the bathroom without knocking" or "When my friends come over, can you stop running through the house naked?" (ha!) Instead of the normal "MOMMMMMMM!!!!!!!"
Is anyone feeling me?
It's honesty, put gently, not harshly. The Bible says to speak the truth in love. That's our goal.

We also have a strict rule about words in our house. It's Ephesians 4:29.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Boasting is our natural sin tendency. It starts VERY early! Building ourselves up, and tearing others down.
I wish I could say I had mastered this, but Lord help me! I confess this almost daily! So the kids and I have this standard for all of us in this house!
I am training them to build each other up! To have kind words ready on their tongue for their brother or sister. It's going to take a long time. (For me too.) But this is the standard of holiness we will adhere to! Of course we fall short so often, but God is renewing our minds and hearts.
So we're learning around here...learning how to really communicate, in a loving, honest, and encouraging way.
It's a tall order. But thankfully, I don't have to do this in my own power.
And I want to send out grown children who are equipped to communicate effectively, honestly, and promptly in their lives.
Any tips, older, wiser Moms?

Monday, July 07, 2008

A True Wife and the Persecuted Church

I got to reconnect with an old friend this weekend. It was so great! I remembered all the reasons we were friends in the first place, long before we were "grown-ups" and Moms. She and I were friends, dating back to about 1992. We ended up getting married six years later in the same summer, singing in each other's weddings, having our first few babies at the same time, and it seemed our lives were taking the exact same paths. Both of us married believers, Christian leaders, that promised to love us as Christ loved the church, and lead us to Him.
But that's not how it turned out for her. I don't want to tell her whole story. It's not mine to tell. But in short, her marriage deteriorated, she was betrayed in the worst possible way, and she was left to be a single mother in the end.
In talking with her this weekend, she was sharing with me what it was like to be a wife in a hurting, struggling marriage.
She told me that even her ex-husband would attest to the fact that she was the best wife of their entire marriage in the last three years, when it was the hardest.
She fully understood something that I teach semester after semester to college and engaged girls about being a wife...that submitting to, following, and loving our husband is an act of obedience and worship to the Lord, not to our husband.
She loved him purely out of choice, as she put it.
She loved him when she got nothing but hurt in return.
She served him when he was unworthy of her service.
She followed him when his leading was foolish.
I sat there, realizing, this now unmarried woman knows so much more about being a wife than this happily married woman. She has put real feet to what I teach and know to be true about our callings as wives.
I know that loving and following and submitting to Rusty is as unto the Lord. Rusty's not perfect. But I have to admit...he's made it pretty easy for me. I don't know what it's like to love Rusty and not feel loved by him.
He's totally smitten with me for some reason, and always lets me know it.
I don't know what it's like to follow Rusty when he's leading with a disregard for Godly wisdom.
Do I need to say again? He's not perfect. I'm not perfect. Our marriage isn't perfect.
But it's happy. It's healthy. And we strive to honor God in it.
So I have such great respect for the wives I know who are honoring God in this situation.
Would I be the same wife if those were my circumstances? I honestly don't know. I kind of doubt it.
Yet I can't imagine the spiritual growth that took place for her during those years.
I felt like this was such a parallel to being a Christian in America versus living the Christian life under persecution.
I love that our church prays for specific persecuted believers around the world during our prayer hour before services. If you're interested in how to do this, go to www.persecution.com, and hear "the voice of the martyrs." Real people living under horrific persecution, beyond our imagination, today, right now. Beaten, loved ones taken from them, imprisoned (and not in cush American prisons), and even killed. Husbands. Pastors. Mothers. Children. This is so far from our reality, it's hard to imagine.
We've been studying the life of Stephen in Acts at church as well.
Talking about persecution makes me uncomfortable. I don't like it.
It makes me a little fearful. Because we don't even understand what it is here in America. Persecution to us is being made fun of! How ridiculous is that?
The Bible says we WILL endure persecution, and it may very well come looking for us here in America someday.
I'm going to be honest. I'm a wimp. I hope not to be alive in that day.
But we know that persecution grew and fostered incredible growth in the church in Bible times.
We know that persecution is as real as ever in parts of Asia today, and the church is spreading like wildfire. The church doesn't grow in spite of persecution, I think it might grow because of it.
What kind of a REAL Christian would you have to be?
Would I be the same kind of Christian that I am today?
It's so convicting, I don't even know what to do with it.
I pray God would made me faithful in all these regards. Without Him, I can't be.
Thankfully, we're never left to do anything on our own.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Menu for the week

In my last post, my sweet Emily told me I looked like a cute college girl in my apron pic...and then she asked if I would post my menu for the week. Anything she asked after that statement, I would grant her! Or just anything- period! So I've made my menu for this week, and I'm posting it.

Monday: We are eating with the Feldman family! Yay! I am bringing a salad with lots of good vegetables (grape tomatoes, avacado, red bell pepper, Craisins, pine nuts and croutons) and I'm making my homemade dressing. I got this recipe from my sister-in-law, Lisa, and I posted it months ago. Check it out! Also, my goal is to make homemade rolls to bring with me.

Tuesday: White Chicken Chili. This stuff is heavenly!
2 lbs. cooked and shredded chicken, 2 cans Great Northern beans, 2 cans Rotel, 2 T minced garlic, 1 t chili powder, 4 t cumin (it seems like a lot, but trust me!) 1 t oregano, 5 c chicken broth, 3 c Monterey Jack cheese, 1 t salt, 1 t pepper, 1 c fresh chopped cilantro, 1/2 a bag frozen corn, and 1 c sour cream. I put everything except the cheese and sour cream in the Crock Pot for the day. Then about 30 minutes before I serve it, I add those in. I serve over rice, and offer sour cream to top with again. So good! This recipe came from Tamara Wingfield in a cookbook. I just added in the corn. Thanks Tamara!

Wednesday: homemade pizza. I make pizza crust dough in my bread machine, roll it out, and top with whatever we like. Cheese for the kids, veggies for us. Bake it until it's brown and bubbly. My kids love it!

Thursday: Grilled cheese and tomato basil soup! I love this recipe, and I didn't think I liked tomato soup! It's the La Madeline recipe, contributed by Ashley Garratt in a cookbook. So easy...1 stick of butter (that's how every tasty recipe starts, unfortunately), 7 leaves fresh basil (we grow it in our herb garden! Go Rusty!), 4 c tomato juice, 1 big can crushed tomatoes, 1 c heavy cream. Mix together all ingredients in big pot and simmer for 30 minutes.

Friday: Date night!

Saturday: I try to do something in the Crock Pot because it's our church night. I am making BBQ chicken sandwiches. Put Chicken or meat of your choice in the crock pot (slightly browned) and cover it with BBQ sauce of your choice. Heather adds soy sauce and cilantro to hers. Serve on hamburger buns. I like Swiss or Cheddar cheese slices with mine. I'm serving with salad and chips this week. (Left over salad ingredients from earlier in the week.)

That's it! As you can see, just about everything I'm making this week I've accumulated from church type cookbooks. They're the best! I tweak them from time to time, but when you have friends that are good cooks, it helps!
As you can see, we don't eat meat every night, which saves money. The White Chicken Chili will help feed the larger groups we have on Tuesday nights for HOPE group, that usually show-up hungry, although I fear I never will have enough food in our house for college boys! What will I do when I have three teenage boys and a growing girl???
As for shopping, I live by a menu and try to NEVER go back to the store if I don't have to. I avoid HEB during the week like it's the plague.
If y'all have any meals or planning tips to share with our sweet new wives and Moms, bring them on! I always love new recipes too!

*Emma put a recipe she found for us on her blog too! It turned out great, so it's worth sharing!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Emma's educational blog-

Check it out. It's short and sweet (so sweet!) and you might learn something about bats. I just love this girl!!! And she treasures your comments.