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Monday, September 29, 2008

Ephesians 3

I'm studying Ephesians, and this is what I read this morning...one of my favorite passages ever. I'm re-memorizing it (which should be an oxymoron, I know, but I'm keepin' it real.) This passage is so rich, I have to share it.
Eph 3:14-21

14 When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. 17 And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. 21 May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen.

I'm a fan of the NLT. I like the way it reads. Rusty calls it a girly Bible, but it's not! However when I study a passage, I read it in other versions as well. I like reading the Amplified, the NIV, and the NAS. They are more accurately and precisely translated, I believe.
The way this starts out..."When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth." I love the awe you can hear in his pen, as Paul writes from prison. Are we awed by the wisdom and scope of God's plan? Are we awed that we are able to "come fearlessly into God's presence" (v. 12) who is the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth!? Thought God is close and an intimate friend, I never want to lose the awe of who He is and that He allows ME to come near to Him, that He would dwell in ME, that He would go to great lengths to save us, who never for an instant deserved Him.
"I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit."
This is a verse that I am praying for many of us right now. I have a friend who has suffered back to back miscarriages, a friend whose husband has left her, a family in our church whose tiny baby died, and the list goes on of unspeakable tragedies. Yet God's migthy inner strength never runs out. He has unlimited resources. We scrape the bottom of our well pretty darn quickly! In our flesh, we throw our hands up and shout "I'm done!" because our fleshly resources are scarce. But his resources, fully available to us for the asking of the Holy Spirit, are limitless. Why do we try on our own? He can fill us and fill us and fill us with mighty inner strength. What a good and loving God!
"And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love."
I love the poetry of how the NLT puts this, but I also like the NIV and Amplified. They talk about being rooted and established in love or secured strongly in love. Without love, it's all for nothing. The Gospel, the foundation of all we stand on, is love. Do people who are not believers see love in us? Our roots, the foundation of who we are as new creations, has to be love! I love the word picture of our roots continuously drawing up love from His soil.
"And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God."
His love is so great, we need His power to understand even a measure of it! We can't ever fully understand it! It's wide and long and high and deep. From out tiny, finite perspective, we can't totally get it. But when we get a taste of it, we are filled with life and power!
"Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. 21 May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages."
This is good...we serve a God who exceeds what our tiny imaginations can dream. Could I have dreamed up Rusty in a million years? Never! There are so many examples of this in our lives! They're only by HIS MIGHTY POWER AT WORK WITHIN US! Not by our own! We can't even dare to ask or hope for what He's capable of doing!
I fear sometimes we forget to give Him the glory. God forgive us! May He be given the glory in our lives! We exist for His own glory! As my dear friend would put it, we are glory-stealers. We try to steal His glory when He does more than we could dare to ask or hope for. Give God the glory today! Leave a comment (if anyone reads these long, Bible type posts) for what He's done in you! We need to practice more and more exhibiting constant thanksgiving and giving God glory for all He's done!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Something tragic happenned yesterday morning.
Okay, tragic may sound extreme. But in my world, it feels pretty extreme.
So if you'll allow me to be melodramatic, I would appreciate it.
My coffee machine broke.
If you're picturing a little coffee machine wear your pour grounds into a filter and water into the top, pull out your big eraser and get rid of that image.
My husband blessed me with one of the greatest gifts any husband has ever given a wife several Christmases back. He gave me a REAL coffee/ cappuccino machine.
It grinds the beans and makes single, heavenly cups of coffee.
It makes the best coffee I've ever had. I like it better than Starbucks.
I'm a previously confessed and non-repentant coffee diva.
Please know, I'm overall pretty darn low maitenance. Ask my husband. I hate the word diva. I grew up on a budget, and with a totally non-pretentious Mom (thanks Mom!) and so there are few things that I am willing to buy that are top of the line!
But my coffee machine...it's brought me great joy. It's drawn me closer to the Lord. It's allowed me to have four kids in six years and never once sleep through them. When we travel, if possible, we pack up that enormous machine and put it in the van. I'll leave a few suitcases behind if we have to. If we can't bring it, I mourn the loss of my coffee the whole time. Y'all get it.
The truth is, I love coffee without liking coffee. I love the effect of coffee. I love that I can wake up and meet with the Lord in the 6's every morning. I love that I have enough get-up and go to attack my day. I owe it all to coffee.
I love fru-fru coffee, as Rusty puts it. When I see people drinking coffee black, I'm baffled and apalled. How? Why? That doesn't even come close to tasting good!?
Why would you drink coffee black (gag) when some brilliant person invented flavored creamer? When you have white chocolate macadamian nut creamer at your HEB? Why!?
So Rusty awoke me yesterday morning with the news.
Before I even opened my eyes, he broke it to me. "The coffee machine is broken."
I awoke with a start. "What? How? Why? Fix it! We need a new one!"
"They're expensive..." he says.
"We can sell one of the children."
Which one?" he says.
"Whichever one gets the most spankings today." I say.
So right now, I'm drinkiing normal, everyday coffee. It's really dark. It has no foam. It's sub-par. Extremely sub-par.
I know y'all don't feel sorry for me.
But if you see me and I look tired, ragged, the light is gone from my eyes, I wanted you to know why.
Sad day in the Bacak house.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I made bread in the crockpot!

Yep. Bread. In the crockpot. How crazy is that?
Kyle Super McVay sent me to a blog that had good crockpot recipes, and there it was. Bread. So Emma and I put on our aprons, and it was actually a school project. (It served two purposes.) We were studying Chemistry, and cooking is chemistry! So we made bread dough, and we put it in the crockpot! I really had my doubts. But it turned out great. Easiest bread I ever made, save the bread machine.

Honey Wheat Bread

2 c Dry milk, warm/reconstituted (I had to dictionary.com this word. It means to add the water to the dry milk and make it liquid. I actually used buttermilk powder because it's what I had.)
2 tb Vegetable oil
1/4 c Honey
3/4 ts Salt
2 1/4 t Active dry yeast
3 c Whole wheat flour
3/4 c All-purpose flour (to 1 cup)

Preheat slow cooker (3 1/2 or 5 quart) on high for 30 minutes.

Combine warm, not hot, milk, oil, honey, salt, yeast, and half the flour. With electric mixer, beat well for about 2 minutes. Add remaining flour; mix well. place dough in well greased round Cake pan; cover. Let stand for 5 minutes. Place pan in slow cooker. Cover and bake on high setting for 2 to 3 hours.

Remove pan and uncover. let stand 5 minutes. Unmold and serve warm.

The Canada slideshow-finally!

Yes, it's taken me this long to get my photos downloaded and together. And I know this may be as boring as dragging you into our house and putting on a slideshow of our vacation scenery pics. But don't tell me, if so...this trip was so special! A second honeymoon is something I highly recommend, if at all possible. Anywhere, really! Just to be together and enjoy each other and rejuvenate your marriage! But we were lucky enough (with credit card points to pay for the flight) we got to go somewhere we've wanted to go for 10 years. We honeymooned in Canada (Whistler and Vancouver) and have heard ever since, you have to go to Lake Louise! There's a reason for that...it's the most beautiful place God made. Granted, I haven't seen every place God made. But I can't imagine anything more beautiful than this.
But even better, our time spent together, our conversations, our togetherness. It was sweet.
Click to play Canada slideshow
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Birthday Cake Cones & Chocolate Pound Cake

We've just completed a summer full of birthdays. Every member of our family has a summer birthday. That's 6 birthdays in four months!
When I get caught up on all of the slideshows I need to make (Canada coming next, I promise!) I will post Emma's horseback riding party pics.
But for now, I will just share the recipes I used for her cakes.
Treston, above, is happily demonstrating the cupcake cone.
These are SO easy to make and then hand out at a kids' birthday party.
No cutting the cake, serving the cake, plates or forks needed. (Napkins, always needed.)
A few of the Moms asked me for the recipe at the party, so here it is. So easy!
This is from "The Cake Doctor" cookbook, which uses cake mixes to make cakes with a homemade flair.

You need:
28 flat bottomed ice cream cones
1 package Chocolate Cake mix
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1/2 t cinnamon
Chocolate Frosting (make your own, or go with store-bought)
colored sprinkles

You need to wrap some foil around the bottom of each cone. Try to keep it flat on the bottom so it can stand up, but this keeps the bottom part of the cones from burning.
Set your cones in a muffin pan. I used large and mini-muffin pans.
Mix up your cake batter. Pour it into the cones, filling them about halfway. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. When they spring back, take them out and let them cool. Then frost them and sprinkle them.

This Chocolate pound cake is my favorite cake! It has pudding in it! It's incredibly moist, and doesn't need frosting of any kind. I have drizzled it with chocolate syrup before and decorated with M&M's.

Mix together:
1 yellow cake mix
1 large box of instant chocolate pudding
3/4 c oil
3/4 c water

Then add:
4 eggs, one at a time
fold in 8 oz. of sour cream (I was out this time and used vanilla yogurt, and it was great too!)
8 oz. chocolate chips (I leave them out sometimes because I don't like chocolate overkill, but I know that's blasphemy to some of you.)

Pour all of that into a greased bundt pan and cook for 50-60 minutes at 350.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Seay Family Adoption- You can help!!!

You see these cute kids? These are my nieces and nephews. They're waiting for their new siblings, who are waiting in an orphanage in Africa unaware of the forever family that is theirs. God has done a sweet thing in my brother Brian and his wife Amy's hearts. He put a fire in them to adopt. I know that doesn't sound crazy, knowing our family and all, but they already have four kids...and not a big house...and not a fat paycheck. Brian does the kind of work for Compassion that we should all experience in our lifetime. Seriously, their heart for the poor all over the world has changed our whole family, and the way they live their faith in that work is what the Gospel is all about.
As you may know, adoption is expensive. International adoption is way expensive. And they are being doubly blessed with a sibling set, so the expenses are more than they have already raised.
Here's what I believe and am not afraid to say on this blog...God loves the orphans. His heart is for the fatherless. We should all have His heart when it comes to adoption. Does that mean that everyone will adopt? I suppose not, but I think it does mean that we should all prayerfully consider what part we play. Financially supporting families who are on board with this adventure is a HUGE way to help! They couldn't do this without the generosity of others. So jump on! Here is the e-mail my brother sent out explaining the fundraiser on his blog. Check it out, and buy an "unticket." You might even win a vacation out of it!

As you know, my family is in the middle of an adoption from Africa. We accepted a referral last week for an amazing 9 year old boy and 4 year old girl. I can’t share photos, names, or much of their story until the adoption is finalized but take my word for it when I tell you how beautiful and incredible these 2 kids are. We have been calling them “Y” and “S” on the blog and they are a sibling set where the big brother takes great care of his little sister and that girl can melt you with a smile from thousands of miles away.
Because of some unique circumstances surrounding our adoption, it looks like we will have to stay in Africa for up to 3 weeks when we travel to pick up our children. This is 2 weeks longer than we had planned. Because of this increase in time and the fact that we are now adopting older children, we feel it is important to take all 4 of our biological children with us to Africa. The first 3 weeks with our new children will be bonding and attachment time that we don’t want the rest of the family to miss. SO, we are working on raising some money to cover the remaining travel costs we have.
On our blogs today we began an UNRAFFLE (no raffles in this family because of our Southern Baptist heritage!) where we are selling $25 UNTICKETS. For every $25 donated, that person/family will have 1 ticket in a drawing for a 7day/night resort certificate good at hundreds of destinations. We actually have 2 of these certificates and 1 will go to the winner of the drawing and 1 will automatically go to the person/family that donates the largest amount of money.
Go to my blog (http://brianseay.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/the-unraffle/) and check out all the details. Feel free to pass this along to anyone and everyone who might be interested in purchasing an UNITCKET or 2 (or 50). If you have a blog, prayerfully consider linking our direction as we try to raise the travel money needed to get a family of 6 from Nashville to Africa and then that same family plus 2 back home.

THANKS in advance for your help!

Brian Seay

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Emma!

My little girl went to bed last night a seven-year-old, and woke up this morning an eight-year-old. For some reason, that sounds really, really different to me! Eight!? My firstborn child cannot be eight! When did I blink and eight years went by?
Nonetheless, she is eight, and we are so proud of who she is.
A few things about Emma...as you can see in the picture above, she loves horses. In fact, she loves every animal God made, but she can't ride all of those animals and do cool tricks like she can on horses. (Although she absolutely would ride a cheetah if it were possible. She's convinced that will happen in heaven.)
Emma and I took a girls trip last weekend to her horse show in Glen Rose. We originally were all going to go, but Ike changed all our plans. So it was just us girls. I don't think we've done that since she was a baby! We did the horse show thing...I watched her ride and dazzle us with her amazing ability to control an enormous horse with her tiny little frame...we stayed in a hotel room together, and snuggled up at night, reading Ramona books together...we got take-out and had a hotel room picnic...we watched a movie, went to a strange church together, and had plenty of good conversation. It was just fun! I feel like I know her even better, and I can see how those kinds of weekends are going to be paramount to a sweet mother-daughter relationship as she gets older.
I'm proud of a lot of things about Emma, but most of all, what I tell her constantly that I'm most proud of, is the way she loves God. Her heart is His! She loves the Lord, she longs to please Him, and she loves the Word! Last night, her Daddy was teaching from Matthew 7 in family worship time, when Jesus tells us not to judge, and tells us to deal with the log in our own eye before we address the speck in our brother's eye. These sort of analogies can be difficult for children, who are concrete thinkers, to decode. However, I'm amazed at how the Holy Spirit speaks to them and gives them the ability to understand the scripture. Rusty started to explain this, and Emma shot up her hand and said "Oh! I know what that means! See, the speck and the log are sin! And it means you should confess your own sin before you try to help someone else out with their sin." Her explanation was even more thorough than that, and Rusty and I just sat there with our mouths open. Rusty then handed her the Bible and asked her to preach on!
Her pointed questions and observations continue to teach me. I'm watching her grow right before my very eyes.
Eight years ago, she kept me up three nights in a row laboring and delivering her. Yes, her labor was a marathon. She came into the world with wide eyes open, searching for us, and taking everything in she could. She hardly ever slept, afraid she might miss something. (She still doesn't sleep.) She cried...A LOT!!!...and was a high-maintenance, yet gorgeous, baby. (She loves these stories, how I came home from the hospital so tired from three nights sleep lost, exhausted to the point I couldn't do anything but cry. And how I would rock and nurse her and Rusty would walk in to find me bawling, and I'd say "I just love her so much!" Having a baby can make you crazy in the head.) But in truth, this day eight years ago, I was transformed into a new facet of me, which is Emma's Mom. It's been amazing, and sanctifying, and precious every day. Not a day has gone by, no matter how difficult or easy, that she hasn't been an enormous blessing to us. We are so grateful for you Emma! You are a gift entrusted to us by the Lord!
Our Bible reading this morning I selected for breakfast was Psalm 139:15-18. I memorized this chapter when I was pregnant with Emma. As amazing as it is, no matter how much we love all four of our children, God loves them more. Our love pales in comparison to His. His love is great. His love is sacrificial. His love gave His own Son for us. It's important for Emma to know she's loved by us. (And of course, she does.) But it's most important for her to know how God loves her.
Thank you God for September 18, 2000. We are thankful for Emma Michal Bacak.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hope, Coffee, and Melody right here in town!

The Robbie Seay Band, i.e. my little bro. and his homies, plus my big bro. who's on tour with him, will be in concert in our most awesome concert venue in town...The Palace Theater. Who doesn't love this place? An outdoor theater (which especially rocks in today's weather!) in historic downtown Bryan. I actually love it more because it has a little area on the side for our kids to run around and be kids during a concert.
I don't know what to say about Robbie and his music without being the obnoxious sister. So just know, this album is phenomenal, and you don't want to miss out!
Also, Robbie will be talking about Compassion and what it means to become a sponsor. My other brother, Brian, does AMAZING work for Compassion, and I could not be more proud of their work and their hearts for Compassion's work. So go to the concert, and then become a sponsor for Compassion! I think that's all worth a whoop!
Here's the info.- please tell a friend, blog about it, pass out flyers, whatev.
Event Info Host: Robbie Seay Band
Type: Music/Arts - Concert
Network: Global
Time and Place Date: Thursday, September 18, 2008
Time: 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: The Palace Theater
Street: 105 South Main Street
City/Town: Bryan, TX

Tickets are $10 and are on sale at www.tickets.com and as available at the door.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Truth and Grace Memory Books

We've started a new scripture memory book this past summer that I absolutely love and wanted to share! My friend Ashley showed it to me, and I purchased it online at www.founders.org for around $5 I think.
Truth and Grace starts with 2 and 3 year olds and goes all the way through high schoolers. It is a basic scripture memory program, but also includes memorizing some hymns rich in theology (like Jesus loves me, and Holy, holy, holy, my kids' favorite). It also includes a catechism for children to learn. If you're like me, and the average Baptist, you've never, ever done a catechism. I wasn't sure what that was about. But it's a basic question and answer format for learning theology. I have been amazed at how easy and fun it is to do with my kids, and they're learning doctrine that is so vital to their foundational understanding of God! (and mine.) Every answer to a question has a list of scripture references from where it came, and you could spend time on every question, looking at it in scripture if you wanted to. I can see my kids gaining a clearer understanding of who God is through this method. It may sound boring, but we rather enjoy it.
This book is not meant to replace your Bible study time or family worship time. But like AWANAS, or whatever scripture memory program you have used, it lends the organization and structure to our mornings that I love. For us, we do scripture memory and prayer over breakfast each morning these days (our routine changes during the summer versus school year) and sometimes spend a little time teaching through some of their verses. We never start our day without prayer. We need it! Rusty does the teaching, expositorily, or straight through books of the Bible, in the evening family worship time.
Hiding God's Word in their hearts is priceless! But for us to rush through their verses and not let them seep into their hearts would be tragic. They could memorize the whole Bible and several catechisms during their time in this house, but if they are not captivated by the cross and living in love with their Savior from the heart, it will mean nothing. I want to be mindful of that...no book or program can replace us shepherding their hearts in the everyday moments of life toward the Father. I desperately want our kids to LOVE God's Word, because they love Him. We don't follow the "rules" of family worship, Bible study, and scripture memory for the sake of legalistic, holy, going-through-the-motions. NO! Our hearts are for our kids to LOVE Him, and to follow Him, and desire the Word like David talks about in Psalm 119. We want them to grow up, waking up, and getting into His Word, eager for a word from Him, like it's the most natural thing in the world. We are indeed training our children, but we know this must all come from the heart, and only He can draw their hearts.
This book has been a great tool for us so far, and I thought some of you might want to know about it. I always like to hear what other Moms are doing as well!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Honey Mustard Chicken Salad

Y'all know these dressings are awesome, right?
We love them.
This is an easy recipe that we came up with when we were first married. (I love the recipes we make that take me back to our tiny apartment in Waco, before my children were a twinkle in our eyes. How different life is now!) We made it last night and I had forgotten how good and easy it was!
My kids even liked it.

1 package of chicken tenders
1 bottle Brianna's honey mustard dressing
Lowry's season salt (or whatever kind you use)
red bell pepper
other salad veggies you like (I like grape tomatoes, carrots, etc.)

Season the chicken tenders and either grill them, or cook on the stove-top, using about 1/2 the bottle of dressing.
Then make your salad to your liking...I use the above listed salad items. I use the honey mustard dressing on the salad, but not too much. The chicken already adds a lot of flavor. Rusty used a different dressing on his, but I think that's weird.
I serve with crescent rolls, and there you have it.
Easy, hu? And it's so good!
Hope y'all like it!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Evangelism in the Home

I love this Normal Rockwell painting! It conjures up all the feelings of special times around a dinner table. I love sharing a meal with people in our home.
Hospitality and ministry out of my home is a huge part of our lives.
I work in the home. For several years, I thought that limited my ministry abilities. But God has been faithful to continue to bring ministry opportunities to my own front door. I don't have to be away from my home to do ministry or evangelism. This blog is just one way of doing that.
Another way has been having people live with us.
It's a unique time right now that there are no non-Bacak people living in our home.
We have made our home open to that for several years now. The first time was to a pregnant woman without a place to live. Her name was Robin. She came straight from prison to our house. We were a little nervous, but knew God was calling us to open our home. We did, and fell in love with her! It was wonderful and heartbreaking all in one. But we loved Robin, and the baby she place for adoption, and that experience changed us.
We've been a shepherding home for pregnant women, and we've been stop-over housing for college girls who needed a place to live for various reasons.
This has been fun. It's also been hard at times. Sometimes inconvenient. But it's ministry at home, and this kind of hospitality seems spelled out in scripture. We have room, and this house does not belong to us. (I don't mean it belongs to the bank...I mean God!) All that we have is His, and I notice sometimes we are holding onto it like it's ours. I don't want to do that. It needs to all be for his glory!
So Rusty and I also determined to have our home open for things like HOPE group (our church small groups), Countdown, the marriage prep class we have been teaching for over five years now, and various other things.
But what about EVANGELISM?
Having Robin live here, and other pregnant women, who didn't know the Lord was true evangelism, in it's purest, rawest, most intense form.
But everything else we are doing is in service to believers, WHICH WE LOVE, wholeheartedly believe in, and won't stop doing!
But what about my lost neighbors, that I don't have time to really know and have over because I'm too busy doing ministry?
(One of my neighbors once asked me why we have "parties" all the time? I explained they were Bible Studies. All she knew was that we cluttered our streets with cars twice a week.)
What about the other families that we make connections with through our kids' sports and other events?
What about Rusty's patients that he is witnessing to and wanting to go deeper in relationship with for that purpose?
When do we develop that? When do we have them over? When do we share our lives with them and hopefully allow them to see a difference in us and point them to Christ?
We would...except we're a little chicken...and we're just too darn busy doing ministry. Last year, we couldn't squeeze one more thing into our schedules or it would all explode!
And I realize, I stink at evangelism. I hate it, but it's true. I've shared what Christ means to us to one of our neighbors, and they all know we're Christians, but I don't know where to go next...I don't know what else to do. I realize a big part of it is needing to build an authentic relationship with them that's not there. I need God to train me and equip me more fully for this!
This has been the dilemma in our hearts this summer.
Our lives are crazy, as are yours. Many of you do all the same things we are doing.
Small groups for church, and all the other activities, GREAT things, that go with a busy family.
I don't want to stop doing those things.
But I know we need to make room in our lives for evangelism. That's even messed-up, the way I wrote that. We want evangelism to be the driving force in our lives! We should be sharing the Gospel with the people God has put in our path. I think this is going to take some creative shifting in our schedule. But holy cow! What could be more important?
I would like to see our weeknights more free for hospitable evangelism.
And let me not leave out-FAMILY WORSHIP- and the evangelism in our own home being a top priority as well. We are making little disciples in this house, and that cannot and will not be neglected. When we have people over, they join us for family worship, and my kids always enjoy that! It's fun to include people in our little service in the living room.
Rusty and I are thinking through what things need to go (any of the fluff! Not critical church involvement, obviously!) and also asking God to open our eyes to all of the lost around us that we are missing opportunities with.
I am afraid we are missing a lot!
We are probably not the only family with these questions and quandries. I posted this because some of you may be thinking through some of these same things. Comment with any encouragements you have and what God is showing you as well!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

1st Day of School!

Today is our first day of school, and I'm so excited!
Yes, we are starting late because of our awesome trip to Canada, though I usually start with the school calendar here. I'm not a slacker, I PROMISE!
I've been obsessively preparing over the last month for our new year, and now it's here. Emma is in 2nd grade, Jax is in 1st grade, and Justus is starting Pre-K.
We have freshly sharpened pencils with erasers not yet bitten off by Treston!
We have brand new journals filled thickly with pristine pages yet to be filled with color and words and imagination.
We have brand new books and readers, waiting to be read and learned from.
We have a new school schedule, totally different from last year's, and a new list of "Approved School Snacks."
I have brand new dry erase markers and a new eraser, which is my little indulgence each year. How I love a rainbow of colors of dry erase markers.
We have newly decorated school boxes with crayons still in the box, markers, all with their tops, and scissors, never yet used. Every marker and supply labeled with their names in Sharpie. I love to label with my Sharpie.
I have a new school closet that is the perfect picture of organization right now. RIGHT NOW.
You get the picture. I like this stuff.
Which is funny, because I hated school so much when I was little.
It was not the school supplies or learning that bothered me. I just hated going to school. That was a great irony when I ended up teaching public school for two years. The place I abhorred so much I volunteered to go back to. I really loved teaching Deaf Ed. Pre-k and K for two years.
But I LOVE, LOVE teaching my kids! I love watching them light up with something new! I love being with them, despite the craziness of this house!
Every year, when I write about our homeschooling, I feel like I need to apologize for it. That's not what I actually want to do. God led me (drug us really) to homeschooling, which was right for our family. But that does not mean that we are against every other avenue of schooling! The "evils of public school" is not what led us here. A little Emma with a unique and creative mind, totally lost in her Pre-K class, led us here. Homeschooling didn't even dawn on us. I was working with her one-on-one at home, and it was so effective, and I still didn't even think about it. God was clear, long story short, and He totally changed Rusty's mind and mine about homeschooling. There we were, doing the one thing we never, ever thought we would. We were amazed at how Emma was transformed into a wonderful pupil!
So we didn't make this decision, looking down on all other forms of education in disapproval. (The kids I know and admire most in their walk with the Lord attend public school...Feldmans...my nieces and nephews) We just followed the Lord, as so many of other parents have done in whatever they chose for their kids, and saw the fruit of obedience.
I would never in a million years do this if I didn't know God was choosing this and equipping me. I am fearful of teaching my kids for one day on my own! I don't know if we'll do this forever. Rusty and I will pray about this every year, and follow His lead. We feel confident we are where we're supposed to be right now.
So today is the day! Second grade! That sounds so big! I have three kids in school, as crazy as that sounds!
We'll use our sharp pencils today, and brand new crayons, but we all know the tops of markers will be lost next week, so I'm going to enjoy the newness while it lasts.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Keeping the Sabbath Day holy...how?

We are back from Lake Louise in Alberta Cananda...I think the most beautiful place God made. Seriously. It was heavenly.
Rusty and I enjoyed five days together (God bless my parents for keeping my four kids that long!) where we just talked, and relaxed, and it was amazing! We did a pretty awesome hike, that resulted in my severe shin splints, and crippled me for a few days. But nonetheless, it was awesome.
We had a few questions on our mind to discuss this trip. We have already been mulling over and discussing how to free up our schedules a little this semester. (Yes, when you live in a college town, even adult lives revolve around semesters.)
Like many of you, we're too busy. That's another post.
Another question we have and were asking of the Lord during this trip was 'How do we keep the Sabbath Day holy?'
Up to this point, I'm not sure it has been. I started feeling this conviction a while back, and was noticing our Sundays being just like any other day. Busy. Filled with chores and to-do lists, and groceries to fight for at HEB...(it's hard not to want to ram your cart into the hundreds of roommates standing in front of the yogurt, blocking you, saying "I don't know...what kind of yogurt do YOU like?" "I don't know...what about YOU?" MOVE OVER!) Oh yeah, and church. Like many of you, there are no days off during the week, and we homeschool, so the errand running and to-dos take over the weekend. We're very involved in church, so there are meetings and classes as well.
But what about the Sabbath? What about rest? What about the concept of a holy day, in addition to our commitment to corporate worship in our body of believers?
We are looking at scripture and trying to determine what that looks like for us.
Some might consider the concept of keeping the Sabbath as an Old Covenant/expired idea. (As part of the Law that we were set free from.) But it is included in the Ten Commandments, which are all still very applicable in our New Covenant! I don't think it's expired, though that's how we treat it.
Jesus spoke out against the legalism of keeping the Sabbath by the pious Jewish leaders. They reprimanded him for healing on the Sabbath, and feeding his disciples. As always, Jesus was about the heart, not the rules! I know he wants our right heart in this.
I don't think there are rules to be enforced for all of us in keeping the Sabbath.
So what is there?
We looked at this passage, Isaiah 58:13-14:
13 "Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don't pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD's holy day. Honor the LORD in everything you do, and don't follow your own desires or talk idly. If you do this, 14 the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and give you your full share of the inheritance I promised to Jacob, your ancestor. I, the LORD, have spoken!"

Keeping the Sabbath and not pursuing our own interests on this day should be our delight! We ought to look forward to our time of worship, rest, and reflection all week!
So this is what we've determined so far. In order to not "pursue our own interests", meaning our to-do list, chores, grocery shopping, errands, on Sunday, we need to shift things around in the week. We are trying to do a lot of shifting in our week anyway, and this is going to take forethought. It's going to take saying no to certain things. It's going to take commitment.
Secondly, as we are purposeful in doing this, we want to impress upon our children the spirit and delight of this commandment, and not rules or a bunch of "don'ts." Last week on the Sabbath, the kids and I watched one of my all-time favorite shows together, "Little House on the Prairie." The Ingalls...how I love them! And they kept the Sabbath Day holy! They were a God-loving, prairie-dress wearing, (tv) family! We decided that could be one of our new Sabbath traditions together. The kids LOVE that show too, which is a life long dream fulfilled for me! My husband has mocked it for so long, finally, someone in this house appreciates good, wholesome, cheesy, 70's tv with me!
One other little thing we decided was that I would not cook a huge meal on Sunday. I have done that some recently, because I wanted a special meal with us all here, but it eats up most of my day. So we decided our Sunday dinner is going to be BBQ sandwhiches. I just shred the chicken, and put in into the crockpot with a lot of BBQ sauce and a little soy sauce. Let it cook all day. My family loves this meal so much! So it's our new Sabbath, keeping it simple and holy meal!
I want our Sabbath Days to be marked with rest...togetherness...no rushing, no HEB, definitely no Wal-Mart! I want it to be a day that's different, because we've set it aside for the Lord. Yes, everyday is his, and everyday should be about worship. We're not missing that fact! But God said this day should be different, and that it was made to benefit us in that way (Mark 2:27) so we're going to aim for a real Sabbath these days.
What about y'all? Any thoughts, good ideas about this topic? I'd love to hear them!