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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Canada, Eh?

Oh, yeah.
You see this picture? We're going there.
I'm not saying exactly when we're going there, because I'm sure creepy people read blogs too...but considering that our house sitters include the biggest guy we know at our church and his lovely wife, I'm not worried.
Rusty and I are celebrating our 10 year anniversary. We went to Canada on our first honeymoon. (This is our second honeymoon! Yay!) We LOVED Canada! It's beautiful...the bathrooms are beautiful...the sewage plants are probably even beautiful. They hang flowers on everything. McDonalds is beautiful.
Last time we went to British Columbia, visiting Whistler and Vancouver. The exchange rate was way in our favor then. We had, what I always tell our Countdown couples, the best week of our life!
We have always wanted to go back, and now we are! We are taking another honeymoon. This time to Lake Louise. As you can see from this picture, it's amazing. The high will be around 50-60 degrees!!! That's reason enough for me to go. I'm packing fleece!FLEECE! I'm so excited. We're going to hike a lot. I've never done much hiking, but in my mind, I think I like it. We have filled out our Last Will and Testament, just in case we get eaten by bears. I'm pretty sure we put some un-suspecting people on the back-up list of who gets our four kids. It might be you. Are you scared?
5 days with just Rusty and I in the moutains of Canada is more happiness than my brain can compute. I'm super excited.
I can't help but ponder, in how many ways are we different from our honeymoon 10 years ago?
Four kids is pretty obvious. We're parents. We have four little people in common.
We totally love each other now, just like then, but our love has evolved and changed. We know each other better, obviously. Brand new and exciting has been replaced with read-your-thoughts and familiar, which is NOT inferior, by the way! I would still say we're smitten with one another.
We're obviously 10 years older. Hopefully, we're a little wiser.
Sleeping in on a trip has exponentially greater value. Wow.
I can't wait. I can't wait to give my husband my full attention for five days and enjoy him. I can't wait to look at mountains and read while wearing fleece. I can't wait to sit by a fire! I can't wait to eat without getting up 10 times each, and with a much lower noise level. I can't wait to just talk...talking is good.
Just let me note, we're not "getting away" because we don't love our life and our children. We do! But as married people, every now and then (in our case, every five years) we need to take a trip for more than one night and soak each other in...remember all the things we do and are together on our own...share our hearts...we were a couple before our bundles of blessings came along, and will be a couple when they fly from our nest. Maintaining that identity is important, and making it a priority takes a little fighting sometimes.
Every couple does this differently. Every couple has to identify what THEY need in order to keep this in perspective.
We'll be holding hands, taking in the breath-taking scenery, and NOT sweating for five days. I can't wait.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What happens when you take a shower?

For most people, the only thing resulting from a shower is cleanliness.
Not so in my house.
Crazy, crazy things happen when I get in the shower.
I step in, knowing that it's risky, leaving Treston unattended.
But sometimes you just smell, ya know?
I ask Emma to watch him, and she tries...but then she realizes she MUST make a sock puppet right away, and she's off.
And it's not like I'm lingering in the shower. No, I'm speed showering.
That should be an Olympics for Parents sport.
(Jogging while pushing a double jogging stroller would be another event. I have many events planned in my mind...another post.)
But recently, even with the speed showering, no matter how speedy I wash, Treston is speedier.
He finds lipstick in my drawer (lipstick? I haven't worn lipstick in about five years...but he can find the tiny free sample in the back of a drawer) and puts it all over his face (see picture)...and then the walls...and then the carpet. Why not?

Last Sunday morning I took a shower. You know,cleanliness is next to Godliness? What does that mean? Anyway, I stepped out, and then wished I could step back in and hide there until Rusty came home. (That would have been about three hours.) He had reached the kids' red toothpaste and squeezed out the tube EVERYWHERE we had carpet. Not on the wood floor. That would have been too easy. And then he found some of his books and squeezed toothpaste in between EVERY, SINGLE PAGE. Seriously? This took much diligence, focused attention, and fine motor skills. Based on that skill, I think he's ready for Kindergarten. I'm still finding globs of red toothpaste everywhere. That was all before I got the kids to church by myself. That was awesome preparation time for worship, let me tell you.

And then there's the times when I've come out to find him on the computer. Not only has he Sharpied the screen of my laptop, but pulled up about 15 different screens, doing things that never should be done to a computer. How did he find a Sharpie?

If you know Justus well, you know I have boys who are incredibly gifted in mischief. They are just plain talented. This makes life crazy for me now, but I have no doubt that God is going to harnass their talents for good and not evil someday. He has to.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Rusty! (& his favorite recipe)

I wouldn't call this my husband's best picture, but it's one of the most telling.
I love this man.
I love how he comes home from a long, draining day ready to swing the kids and have a wrestle-fest. (The kids live for this all day long!)
I love that he makes lunches with us a top priority.
I love that he still dates me regularly.
I love that he is at work right now, prayerfully treating his patients and even sharing the gospel with them. (A man gave his life to Christ last week when Rusty shared the gospel with him in the hospital! How cool is that!)
I love the way he loves the Lord.
I love the way he loves us.
I love the way he loves the church.
He is a servant leader to the core.
I feel so blessed to celebrate him today!
We love you, Daddy! Your five biggest fans are thinking of you all day!
Happy Birthday!

*Rusty's preferred birthday dinner is Taco Soup with Jiffy cornbread and cobbler and ice cream for dessert (instead of cake.)
Here's the recipe for Taco Soup:
(Put the following in the Crock Pot for 8 hours)
1-2 lbs. of group beef or turkey, browned with an onion (we use ground turkey, cause that's just how we roll)
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
1 package Taco Seasoning
1 can corn
1 can Ranch Style Beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can chopped green chiles
2 cans stewed tomatoes

Serve with cheddar cheese on top, and with crackers or cornbread.
This makes my husband happy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Amanda!

Amanda cringes when I use pictures of her, but tough! It's your birthday, and your picture is going up on my blog!
What a blessing this girl is to our lives! There are times when I am overwhelmingly grateful to live in a college town. Not necessarily when I'm driving around, like this week, and 50,000 people come back at once to clog up Texas Ave., but other than that, I'm SO grateful! Because it means that I have girls like Amanda in my life. Girls that I keep lasting relationships with. (I miss you girls, who have left me, much to my protest!) I am trying to keep Amanda here as long as possible. Of course, that means, she's working at our office right now. We'll employ her as long as we can. She'll use her super-organizational powers on our office for a while.
Thanks, Amanda, for loving my kids almost as much as if they were your own. Thanks for being their "favorite babysitter" who brings fun movies and lets them eat popcorn with M&M's in it. Thanks for always calling me when you're going to the store to see if I need anything. (EVERY Mom needs someone like that in their life, am I right?) And thanks for being teachable and growing right before my very eyes. We love you! Happy Birthday!

Also, for those of you who also love my Emma, check out her latest blog post "If I was a movie director." I think it's so cool! I love seeing her budding relationship with the Lord played out in her creativity! She also created a book club last night for her and the girls from our Core Group who come over for prayer each week. They decided they would read about Neil Armstrong and get back together next week to discuss it. Emma made her own sign-up sheet and everything. How cute is that?

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Dad: Leaving a Legacy of Godliness

If I didn't know and love the Lord, I would be without excuse.
I have been shepherded by parents who have modeled faithfulness and devotion to Him in a way that I am seeking to follow now as a parent.
My Dad is a pastor, and he writes daily e-mail devotionals to his church. He goes through books of the Bible, verse by verse, in these daily devotionals. I receive them, because I like reading what Dad has to say each day from the Word. (It's a little like sitting at the breakfast table when I was a kid and him reading to us from his little devotional book in his p.j.'s...but not quite.) I particularly loved what Dad wrote today. It's a lot like 2 Corinthians 7:1 that I'm memorizing right now. "Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body and spirit, and let us work toward complete purity because we fear God."
The other day, I was having a conversation with some folks and the term "preacher's kid" with all it's negative connotations came up. I quickly told them I was a P.K. but all five of us kids are grown now and loving and serving the Lord. They asked what was the difference in our home? There's an easy and clear answer. My Dad never put shepherding a church flock above shepherding his home flock. He was a real, Godly man at home and he taught us to love God.
I wanted to share a little snippet of my Dad with you, to show you the legacy that I have received, and bless you with him. Many of you may be the first generation like him, passing this down to your children. What an amazing testimony to God's goodness!

James 1:21

New American Standard Version
Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

Pastor's Paraphrase
Understanding that He has a plan for each of us to become more like Jesus each day, let us rid ourselves of anything that even resembles the immorality and impurity so common among those who reject the Lord.

"How does this help me become more like Him?"
Many years ago, I traveled to another country and witnessed something I had never seen growing up in America. At that time in this large city in Asia, the sewer system ran above ground. There was literally human waste running in the ditches of the streets. As you can imagine, the smell was not pleasant and I cannot even imagine the potential health hazards that such exposure to filth posed. I am sure that to live in such conditions, one would have to take great care and precautions not to become infected and become ill.
Thankfully, in our country today there are strict standards and guidelines to protect our physical health from such filth and infection. However, there is far less protection morally and spiritually. Sin and immorality flow freely in our society. Guarding yourself from spiritual infection is even more difficult than biological infection because the pollution of the heart and soul is much more acceptable in our culture. We have become desensitized to that which can pollute our hearts and poison our minds.
We find our plan to safeguard ourselves in Romans 12:2, where Paul commands us not to shape our lives according to the morality and practice of our culture. Instead, we are to allow the Holy Spirit to teach and apply the principles of Scripture to our hearts so that He may use them to transform our lives. We must live in a culture that flows freely with spiritual and moral pollution but we do not have to swim in it. The challenge is to live in this world without becoming polluted by it.
We must use wisdom and discernment to make the right decisions concerning what is immoral and unwise. We must teach our children and grandchildren modesty and good taste. We must help them understand behaviors that put them at risk for the attack of the evil one or a hindrance to their testimony for Christ. Most of all, we must model for them and teach to them the priority of bringing glory to Christ with all of their lives. As His children, we are not our own to do as we please. We have been bought at a very high price - His own blood.
We must remember that we are not citizens of this world - we are here on assignment from our King. Our loyalty and allegiance, as well as our values and behaviors, must come from our homeland. We must live here for Him for now but we're just passing through.

"How should I pray for Him to change my life?"
Pray for the protection of the Holy Spirit upon your mind to protect you from the pollution of this culture. Ask for strength to withstand every temptation to blend in with and become comfortable with the immorality of our day. Allow the Holy Spirit to do His transforming work of renewing your mind each day.

Dr. Ed Seay
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Recipes: Peaches n' Cream Pie/ Manicotti

Here are some special recipes from this week.
First, we had an Olympic Party last night. I made a Peaches n' Cream Pie (because I wanted to be American, but I like this better than apple pie), and I made the Olympic rings out of extra pie crust on the top and carved USA in it. Fun! I love making fun things on the top of my pies with cookie cutters, etc.
(I can feel Heather making fun of me right now.)
We watched the Olympics together. Is anyone else loving this? But Rusty really takes issue with the syncronized Men's diving. He wasn't sure he wanted our boys watching that. (ha!) The gymnastics is our favorite.
The kids thought it was hilarious that those people were swimming in their "chonedogs" as brief underwear are called at our house. (Thanks to Landon Carl!)No Olympic Party is complete without a group of mini-Olympic athletes flipping around the living room. How many people sign their kids up for gymnastics after the Olympics air? I bet gyms love the Olympics for this reason!

Make a Peaches n' Cream Pie and ice cream! You won't regret it. And it's super fast and easy!
2 Pilsbury pie crust
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c flour
1 bag of frozen peaches
1 c heavy cream
a sprinkle of sugar on top

Fill a pie crust with the frozen peaches. Mix together the flour and sugar and sprinkle in the pie shell, distributing it well.
Fill the pie with the heavy cream.
Cover with the other pie crust, press to seal.
Sprinkle a little sugar on top and bake at 350 for about an hour. (You may want to protect your crust with some foil. I have a super awesome pie crust shield that I use. I love it!)
Serve with ice cream, of course. It's our favorite pie!

Tonight's dinner is definitely worth sharing!
Special Cheese Manicotti:
8 oz. package manicotti shells
2 c shredded mozzarella
+1/2 c more shredded mozzarella
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
3 T minced fresh parsley (I used less of what I had of dried parsley)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/8 t ground nutmeg
1 egg slightly beaten
3/4 c sour cream
1/3 c Italian dressing
1/2 c shredded zucchini
a jar of Spaghetti Sauce

Cook manicotti shells and rinse in cold water. Don't over cook!
In a large bowl, combine the 2 c mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and all other ingredients through zucchini.
Very carefully fill the shells using a baby spoon. Then pour spaghetti sauce and the 1/2 c shredded mozzarella on top and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.
I served with a great salad!
This is awesome!
Hope y'all enjoy these.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rules with Reasons

My kids and I were talking to another parent the other day, and as we were talking, I corrected Emma in saying "yes sir" to him.
He told me about his own three-year-old, and how they were trying to teach him to say "yes maam" and "yes sir." He said his little boy asked why he had to say this?
And he explained to him that it would help in how other people perceived him...that essentially he would make a good impression in life.
I thought to myself 'that's a pretty lame reason.'
So I was thinking about the rules we have made in our home. Do our kids understand all the reasons behind them? I'm sure we've explained them once before, but do all four of them remember that moment, and know for certain that there are reasons behind the rules? And do we have legit reasons for them? Or are they just there so we feel less annoyed in life?
The verse we are learning right now is "Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105
To illustrate this verse's meaning, we walked around with our eyes closed and bumped around aimlessly. Then we walked in the light, with our eyes open, and talked about how we wouldn't know how to live without God's wonderful Word! God's Word gives us guidance; guidance we so desperately need as parents to know how to lead our children.
So we have been evaluating our rules with the kids, showing them the reasons behind them in scripture.
Some are pretty obvious. Treston can't play with the oven because he could die.
He can't play in the street because he could die. Some of these are common sense in keeping our kids from danger.
But let's take the "yes sir" rule. I know not everyone has this. In fact, I would never assume that we would all have the same rules. Our houses are different, our kids are different, and how we interpret the same principles and flesh it out in our homes is different. That's okay! But the "yes sir" rule for us stems from respect. It's just a tangible way to respect your parents and elders, as they also learn to honor and obey us. We're also working on teaching and reinforcing real first-time obedience. By repeating myself, I'm teaching them not to obey the first time.
And then there's the building each other up rule.

Eph 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.

Proverbs 27:2
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.

Phil. 2:3
Walk in humility and consider others better than yourself.

We have to be on guard in our house always that are words are building up, and not tearing down. Also that we are not bragging or even sneakily putting ourselves up, but rather considering others better than ourselves.
Sadly, this is not only difficult for the children. But we are accountable to one another for this, and I will often hear the kids even ask each other "were you building him up just then?" (They love to catch each other in it, of course.)

And then there's complaining and whining.
Phil 2:14-15
14 In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing,

The Bacak paraphrase includes in this verse whining. We think whining is most certainly a form of complaining...the most annoying form.

And then there are so many things we do just to be courteous to others. Part of this is considering others before yourself (Phil. 2), and doing or not doing things so that we are a blessing to others. We just went over Phil. 4:5, "Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do." Being considerate by not yelling, trampling on people at church while they have a wrestle-fest in the hallway, using good manners, holding open doors, etc. can testify to their love for the Lord.

These are just a few examples we are going over with our kids about rules with reasons.
The main thing I want my children to know from us is this: Our goal in parenting them is NOT to produce good children, that make a good impression in life and are successful people. I hope those things turn out to be true, but our goal is GODLINESS. That is all we can hope and pray for! Our hearts ache to grow children who know and love and serve the Lord all the days of their lives.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Happy 10 Year Anniversary, Love!

Before I even opened my eyes this morning, I thought "10 years...thank you Lord!"
It's hard for my brain to take in and inventory. 10 years of marriage.
Can we be that old? Can we be this blessed?
10 years of learning what it means to serve one another, letting God sanctify us, and love each other.
I remember this day. How amazing it was that God had given me this man, that I so clearly didn't deserve.
We'd known each other less than a year, and we were without hesitation as we committed our lives to each other, said our vows with utter joy, and I took a new name.
No trace of hesitation...until we got in his car, decorated with crude sayings thanks to his friends, and started driving into the night of Houston towards our hotel. I was nervous.
And then the best week of our lives. Our honeymoon. I would go back and re-live it a thousand times if I could. Canada...no heat, all new-ness, looking over our shoulders for our parents or chaperones, and realizing they were long gone. We were real grown-ups, and really ONE.
Our early married life...in a tiny apt. that was plenty big (except for all of the wedding gifts we had to store away for a later time.) Learning to sleep together, because Rusty claimed that I wasn't the friendliest sleeper and occasional used my flying arms as weapons in a dead sleep. (What a wimp:)
The thrill of the nightly slumber party...nobody drives away!!! Staying up talking and laughing.
Quickly learning I can't sleep without him. I never want to.
Inviting little people in...discovering pregnancy in all it's excitement, joy, glory, and misery.
Giving birth.
And then there were three.
We were overwhelmed with love for Emma.
Who were we before this? We felt our selfishness being ripped away little by little.
Suffering through pregnancy again, and wondering if we had enough love for another one. How silly we were!
And then there were four.
I was smitten with Jax from day 1.
God grew us spiritually, causing us to love His Word more and more.
He moved us to College Station, and firmly planted us.
Countdown! We began teaching from our marriage semester after semester.
Refining, refining, refining.
Sharpening, sharing, baring, pouring our marriage into other couples.
Sanctifying. Praise God. Teaching us about who He is and who He wants us to be through the process.
I remember embarking on that drive with two little ones buckled in the back and an empty car seat between them...wondering if we would bring a baby home or not.
And then there were five.
Bonding, loving, protecting, cherishing this little one.
We didn't know there would be six. Thank you God for your perfect plan.
Precious Treston. We scooted over and made more room and all of us poured our love into this little one. We didn't know if he'd stay.
But he had to. There was no other option. He was our baby.
God confirmed in the courts what we already knew, and there were six.
How many date nights passed in ten years?
Countless. I'm not good enough at math to know.
Countless dinners where we sat across from one another and had conversations we were so deeply entrenched in the wait person felt intrusive approaching us, piercing the invisible bubble of intimacy around our table.
And others where we sat, without much to say, but so comfortable, so easy, content.
And some with serious things to hash out. So productive.
Ten years of dancing together. I can follow him blindly. It's so easy.
Ten years of holding hands instinctively. Our hands were made to fit each other's.
Ten years of learning.
We have not been perfected yet. But we keep striving, immersed in gratitude today.
Thank you, Lord, for ten years with this man.
I can't imagine following anyone else.
I can't imagine any man putting my needs above his own like him.
I can't imagine a better ten years, despite the trials.
Without the trials, we wouldn't be as glued together.
Thank you Lord. For ten years of marriage.
And he's not sick of me yet.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

31 Days of Praise

I have this little book by Ruth Myers called "31 Days of Praise." It's a daily guide of prayer and thanksgiving, drawn straight from scripture. I am touched by the author's invitation to sincere and intimate praise and thanksgiving, especially knowing she wrote this book in the aftermath of some of losing her husband. She was a young widow and mother. Yet she filled these pages from the overflow of a thankful heart. Some of the prayers written in the back of the book have been meaningful to me as well. Here's the beginning of my favorite one:

"Lord, I'm Yours. Whatever the cost may be, may Your will be done in my life. I realize I'm not here on earth to do my own thing, or to seek my own fulfillment or my own glory. I'm not here to indulge my desires, to increase my possessions, to impress people, to be popular, to prove I'm somebody important, or to promote myself. I'm not here even to be relevant or successful by human standards. I'm here to please you."

The rest of the prayer is wonderful as well. I think I need to read this daily. How easily I can get side-tracked and forget our purpose in life!
Have a great day today, and live it to please the Lord alone!