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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent Starts Today!

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

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

More Like Him

Daily Devotional November 26, 2008

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

1 John 3:16-17

New American Standard Version

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

Pastor's Paraphrase

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How should I pray for Him to change my life?

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

Dr. Ed Seay
Senior Pastor

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Butternut Squash and Sausage Soup

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

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

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

Friday, November 21, 2008

Still Overflowing with Thanksgiving...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Adoption Awareness Month

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

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jenn's favorite clean things

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

De-commercializing Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Overflowing with Thanksgiving in November

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

You have to hear this!

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

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Voice

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

Our Holiday Letter 2008

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

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

Precious Words

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

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

How great is this kid!?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Read through the Bible in a Year

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

Saturday, November 01, 2008


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