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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We're horse owners!


I think Christmas 2009 may be burned into the memory of my nine-year-old daughter. The year she got a horse for Christmas. That's an unbelievably extravagant gift, I know. And not one we made hastily, I assure you. This has been a decision, years in the making.
We've been riding at our beloved Carousel Acres since Emma's third birthday. I think it's unbelievably rare to find out what a child is passionate about and gifted at when they are that young. It sounds kind of strange to say she started riding when she was three, but we felt we could hardly keep her away from horses. She was born obsessed, literally, before she could talk. She had a way, as a toddler, with these huge animals, and she was this tiny little girl. She had no fear, only affection for them, and they seemed to feel the same for her. She started lessons with Mr. Brad at Carousel Acres where she rides Peruvian horses. (These horses are gaited horses, and have a very smooth movement for the rider.) We've been out there ever since.
Subsequently, we've been riding lesson horses for more than six years. Lesson horses are good for a season, but when she started showing at Peruvian shows a few years ago, I began to realize the difficulty with staying with a lesson horse. A lesson horse is used to being pulled, yanked, and basically abused by numerous little riders, learning to reign, ever NOT so gently. They become immune to proper reigning after a while, and I personally grew weary of my daughter on difficult horses, especially in the show arena, where she didn't have a chance on them.
We began to pray about purchasing our own horse to board at Carousel Acres. This is a big financial commitment, and responsibility. We leased several horses in search of the right one. We prayed for many months about the cost, if this was a wise use of our money. Ultimately, we felt that investing in Emma's gift and talent, as she continues to grow and mature, is a good investment. One Dad put it to us simply. He said "Let me tell you the best part; my daughter is fourteen and she doesn't give a second thought to boys." I think that may have sold Rusty! Girls and horses, they are something! A girl who loves her horse and spends her time on a horse, caring for a horse, being responsible for her animal, is time well-spent.
I am so glad that God has given Emma this gift with horses, and we seek to show her how to use all her gifts and talents for God's glory! We talk about this frequently. He's also given us a little "horse community" which is a sphere of influence within out community. I pray God uses us there! As for me, I'm learning more everyday about being a horse Mom. My friend Shannan is a natural horse Mom, me not so much. Everything I know, I've learned over six years time. I'm getting there! On Christmas day, we went out for Emma to ride her new horse, and she rode around the arena while Rusty and I mucked the arena. (Yes, scooping horse poop.) Rusty looked at me and said "Who ARE you!?" I looked at him very solemnly and said "I'm a horse Mom."
So meet Virrenya, the newest member of the family! She and Emma are precious together.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Taking a holiday from what?


The final lighting of the middle candle on Christmas Eve!

Our kids in their Christmas p.j.'s just before going to Santa's Wonderland.

Oh, how I love the holidays. For so many reasons. I feel like this year has been one of our best Christmases ever! Excluding one trip to Wal-Mart that will go down in history as one of the worst two hours of my life, this holiday has been restful and worshipful. That's a difficult combination to find in a house like ours.
If you're a student, Christmas BREAK is definitely a break! It's the sweetest time of year (unless you're one of those insane in the membrane people who take a mini-mester nightmare in December) where you have NO work hanging over your head. No paper looming, no tests, no reading, nothing. I remember that feeling. It's an unparalleled time of relaxation in your educational career. Enjoy it now, young friends!
When you're a grown-up, and you have a grown-up job, you might get time off. When I was a teacher, I vividly remember my break. It was pre-kids for me. So I recall staying home in my P.J.'s and baking Christmas goodies all day, watching Christmas movies, while Rusty was at work. It was so relaxing, and a blissful break from a fun but very stressful job.
When you're a Mom, there are not the same kind of holidays from our "work." My job as a domestic engineer is managing and cleaning my home while also trying to spend meaningful time with the kids. Does anyone else feel the tension in that challenge? I actually wrote "Do fun stuff with the kids" on my white board to-do list, because it's too easy to get caught up with laundry, cleaning, baking, cooking, and forget those little people who want to play games and do creative things. I want to do that too! As a homeschool Mom, any break we take from school is a time to clean. I don't have time to clean out my refrigerator or wash and scrub the walls on a daily school day basis. So that's what I've been trying to achieve. It's not the same as a Christmas break, you know what I mean? Christmas break can be awesome, or it can be chaos. I personally wither spiritually in the chaos. This year has been so good and here's a few reasons why.

So what do we break from?
This year, this was our question. Even though I have been cleaning, baking, cooking, I have also had restful, worshipful, fun time at home. Rusty and I have been thinking for weeks now about how to "holiday" without taking a holiday from things that matter most.
Our men's group met earlier in December to talk about leading their families spiritually during the Advent season without taking a holiday from spiritual things.(I'm so thankful for these guys!!!) Sometimes, when we get out of our routines, we inadvertently holiday from things like prayer, time in the Word, spiritual disciplines. Not things done out of legalistic rules, but things we do to maintain a close relationship with the Lord. The fuel we need spiritually, that keeps me going, keeps me focused on Him and not me. How quickly the focus can shift back to me when I forget to feed myself spiritually! I don't know about you, but I need His Word, I need to pray, I need to be thankful to Him, I need HIM!
So we're learning, when we vacation or have a holiday of some kind, we have to intentionally take breaks from some things. Some kinds of work. School work, which is kind of hard for me, but honestly, I've enjoyed it. Rusty's work. He needs the break. Of course our home, house work is still here, but it can be a joy to do together! We can take a holiday from BLOGGING which I obviously have. A break from FACEBOOK, which I pretty much have as well. We've tried to break from things that take up our time and energy.

Adding Advent and 40 Days of Prayer
I love that our church is in the middle of our 40 days of prayer and fasting during this season. It may seem like an odd time to do this as a church, especially as more than half of our church just left town to go home for Christmas break! But I think it's helped me focus on what I need the most! I hope it has for our students as well.
We also have done Advent family worship this Advent season. If you're like me, and grew up Baptist, you maybe are not familiar with Advent. But in the past few years, our family has taken advantage of this time of preparation for Christmas. No longer will we walk into a Christmas Eve service, trying to focus for the first time that season on it's meaning and full purpose. But it can also be hard to be diligent during busy December to our Advent worship. I love that Rusty didn't allow us to break from Advent, even during a bad virus we passed around and when we travelled! (We found Advent will travel. Flashlights and nightlights make good makeshift Advent candles!) Rusty kept us focused on the reason for this holiday. This Advent season with the kids was awesome! Even little Treston knew the names of the candles, and could answer questions during our Advent family worship times. It didn't always go perfectly, mind you. Far from it. Rusty and I laughed about some of the "Advents gone wrong" moments. I wish I had clips from our Advent bloopers to show you. If our whole life was video taped and we could go back and watch the highlights and bloopers, the Bacak clips would be very entertaining. Things like "Hark the Herod angels sing"...Justus was slightly confused on that song. But I love singing Christmas songs for worship, and what group of little boys doesn't love family worship with FIRE! That's like the ultimate for them.

Rest and Fun
We've enjoyed some amazing rest time this past week. Rusty got two days off from work, which has been AMAZING! (He's been on call the whole time, but still home with us, which ROCKS!) It's been restful, having both of us home, enjoying the kids, working in the house together, and doing fun stuff as a family! We did some just-for-fun stuff, and stuff that was meaningful. It's my hope we're making snapshots of memories for our kids. This year, we watched the movie "The Nativity Story" together as a family, and I think that's our new Christmas tradition. That was really neat, and brought the story to life for all of us. Again this year, we went to the nursing home on Christmas Eve to visit our beloved Mr. Gruner and some other residents. That makes our Christmas hopefully as much as it makes theirs. On Christmas Eve night, we bathe the kids and then they come out all drippy in their towels, to find new Christmas p.j.'s that have magically appeared in their stockings. (Okay, they know it's me.) They put on their new p.j.'s and we actually make hot chocolate for everyone and brought along the hot drink dispenser for refills, take blankets, and get in the van for a drive-thru of Santa's Wonderlands lights. (This plan was great last year, but this year Emma, who didn't wear shoes, had to find a port-o-potty for an emergency potty break. She had to put on her Dad's size 12 shoes to go in, since the rest of us were barefoot or wearing house shoes. Yuck!) We came home for our Christmas meal, Advent, and sit by the fire time. We also like to go to the movies together on Christmas night. While we watched a painful kids movie for us parents this year, the kids so enjoyed it. We've hit the amazing long awaited stage with our kids where we can all sit in a movie together. That's fun for all of us! I made some yummy Christmas meals, that were pretty darn easy as well. I think I'll post those later this week. Oh, and we made gingerbread men, which were very fun and messy to make with the kids, and fun to decorate, but it was my first time to make them and I will definitely be tweaking the recipe. They were a little too "spicy." We got to visit with Rusty's family, and even Treston's birth family, and the Seay family gathering is coming this week. This is all fun family time for us.

"Fail to plan and we plan to fail"
I think that's become one of my life mottos. It's not the Bible or anything, but it just seems to ring true in my life. We've learned more this year about not "breaking" from spiritual things while we're out of our routine, and planning has definitely contributed to that. Rusty and I took a date night to discuss this early in the month, and I think the preparation for this has made a difference. In some previous years, I think we have done this all wrong, due to lack of preparation and intentionality. We would end up frustrated with the kids, irritated with the chaos, and our time off seemed fruitless. But we are learning, year by year, and this year has been so good, and I'm so amazingly thankful! Around this house, it's still Christmas until New Year's, so Merry Christmas friends!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

We're running the rock...


That's right. Tomorrow (Sunday) Rusty and I will be running the White Rock half marathon. This is a race I've always wanted to do. I love to run in the cold, so a race in December is perfect for me. I'm running with Rusty, which I'm very much looking forward to. And thought this is our third half marathon, we are nervous!
We have been sick with a nasty cold for the last two weeks (downside to a December race, I've learned.) And if you are a runner, you know it only takes two weeks of not training to trash all of the endurance you have built up.
BUT- God is good about making sure this running thing keeps me dependent on Him. Because once again, even though this is my third half, I'm just as in need of Him as I was in our first race. Last spring, when I did the Nashville music city half marathon, my knees were about to explode and it was painful to even walk. And God was SO AMAZING to me! He gave me a great race I was able to do with my older brother Brian, and it was an unforgettable experience.
Here I am again, as needy as ever, for the Lord to help us do this. We are still coughing, haven't trained enough lately, and the list goes on. But we are going and I fully expect to make it and have a good time.
Let me remind you...I am not some super runner that has been built to run, former track star, natural athlete. Actually, it made me laugh outloud to type that sentence. Anyone who has known me for a long time would laugh too. This girl didn't run. EVER. In fact, exercise was just one of those things I tried to do, but felt like a big fat failure. After we got married, I definitely put on some pounds and was over weight and wanted to get it off, but felt so overwhelmed by it. I didn't know how to make exercise a real part of my life.
I never, ever thought it would be running. I didn't run. So I started with Jazzercise. Laugh if you must (and I understand, YOU MUST) but that's where I started after I had my first baby. And it was so hard, I would turn purple by the end and thought I would die. Every time. But I stuck with it. And something crazy happened. I was consistent for six to eight weeks, going about three times a week, and the pounds started to come off. And they kept coming. I was learning about how to be consistent and work hard for this, but the Lord had even more work to do in my heart.
And then, my husband was jogging, and I just decided I wanted to go with him. I like him. I wanted to share that with him, so I tried. And I started small, but I worked my way up to jogging with him, and I couldn't believe I was doing it. After a few years of Jazzercise, it was just too easy. I kind of graduated to something else. We also were adding children to our home rapidly and didn't have as much time as I used to. I found that running, while it was hard and not as fun as "shaking it" at Jazzercise, it was the most time efficient way to get a cardio work-out in.
God started doing in me what I thought I could never do. I found I could easily make exercise an idol, or make weight loss an idol. He had to show me how to keep my heart in check there. (How quickly I can go from one extreme to another!?) Finding that sweet spot of caring for my body, fighting against diseases like diabetes and other obesity related issues that were for sure looming in my future, needed to be part of it. But I think what I enjoyed most is seeing God do things in me that I never dreamed I would be doing. His dreams are always so much bigger than mine. What He has done in me or given to me by His grace, totally overshoots what I would have imagined.
I keep that in mind when I do any race. God is good. And He shows me spiritual truths everytime I do a long, hard run. I can't run uphill without thinking about perseverance as talked about in the New Testament. I pray as I struggle to breathe and keep my legs moving, 'show me how to persevere, Lord'. Endurance, discipline, these were all things missing from my physical and spiritual life once upon a time. God is such a good and loving Father to make me more like Him in these ways! He's NOT DONE. There is more work to do, I assure you. But it's all Him, and I am grateful.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Go to Spoons for Run For Compassion!


Our first official fundraiser for Run For Compassion is here! Help us get started on Run for Compassion 2010. We have doubled our goal this year to $8,000 and we have every intention of making this year's run measure up to that goal. Here's the info...

When:
Friday, December 11, 2009
Time:
12:00pm - 1:00pm
Location:
Spoons
Description
This profit share is to help us raise money for Run for Compassion, April 10, 2010. Run for Compassion is a 5K/10K/fun run to raise money for children in Ethiopia through Compassion International's Child Survival Program. The Child Survival Program works with expectant mothers and kids from babies to five year olds to combat the high rate of infant mortality.

Watch this video to learn more:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_xTwOfbq0Q

Students, please take a break from finals and come help us help babies in Ethiopia!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I'm still crying from laughing so hard...



This picture is of my longtime friend Jeremy Jansen, and his beautiful wife. I can't stop laughing, like ab work-out laughing from this photo he put up on facebook. (I put the normal beautiful family pic up, too, so you could see how attractive they are normally.) Evidently, they went to an ugly sweater Christmas party, which I am now dying to have. From now on, that's the only kind of Christmas party I want to have! Seriously! I love this!
I haven't had time to write about real stuff lately. I want to write about Treston's recent "Gotcha' day!" But my little people could set the house on fire if I sit here too long. Maybe later.
Did you see the sweater on the dog?! Seriously, crying!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Child Survival Program

This is a short and powerful video from Compassion about the Child Survival Program. This is what Run For Compassion is ALL ABOUT. I can't watch this video without crying. We are so moved by what Compassion is doing through the CSP. The statistics are staggering. We are enjoying the perfect health of so many of our sweet little ones, but the mortality rate of children under the age of five just across the ocean from us is unbelievable. Please join with us in Run For Compassion, and if you're local here, you can partner in with your time as well! Now, watch...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy National Adoption Day!


Today is National Adoption Day. Let me state the obvious. We love adoption. It's a huge part of our lives. It's become a huge part of the lives of families around us. Our sweet friends the Feldmans finalized their adoptions of Catalina and Celeste Feldman today. This day is a day to remember forever for their family! I look around us at church and am in awe of what God has done, moving in the hearts of families we love concerning adoption. He continues to move. The adoption ball keeps rolling around us.
I pray Christian families are asking God what role they play in his ministry to orphans. I pray we are asking God what role we play as professed "Pro-Lifers." I wouldn't presume that adoption is for everyone, but please know that there are crucial roles for all of us. If we did our part, New Life Pregnancy Center and adoption agency would never be low on money. But they are. If we did our part as the church at large, a Christian family would never be deterred from adopting because of finances. But they are. I love my church so much! They are in the process of setting up an adoption fund for church members who want to adopt. That is the body of Christ working for His kingdom! It blesses me to see how much our church cares about adoption and these little ones! I could cry at any given moment thinking about it!
I hope and pray, as people see our family and wonder about us, (because they do wonder about us...of this I'm certain) that they see Christ, and they see that we are no better or nobler than anyone else. But we were called to adopt. We heard that call and we are so blessed because of it! We will continue to listen to the Lord's voice in how He may want to grow this family. It's all up to Him!
Praise God for adoption! Praise Him for these precious children added to our families! Praise Him for the birthparents who are being loved and exposed to the gospel through these families! Praise God for agencies like New Life! I am thankful for all of this that God and God alone has accomplished!
Most of all, praise our God for adopting us as His beloved children through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. Adoption is the word used in the scripture for those who have put their faith in Him, and it's irrevocable, it's forever, it's permanent.
Let's celebrate adoption today!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gospel Powered Parenting by William P. Farley



This is the best parenting book I've read yet. I know that sounds extreme, and I'm only through chapter four, but I love the approach to this book and everything about it so far. I feel like I can never say that about a book or writer! There's always a clause, a caveat, some kind of disclaimer. Maybe it's coming. But the title alone speaks accurately as to what this book is all about.
It's about the gospel.
The subtitle is "How the gospel shapes and transforms parenting."
Discerning Reader gave it this rave review.
But let me tell you why I like it...this book proposes that all we need for our parenting instruction is in the gospel. The heart of the gospel, if it drives us, if it informs our theology, if it shapes how we think, respond, instruct, correct, and live life as parents, is our complete parenting manual.
I feel like I could take a deep breath when I read this. I don't need a new method, I don't need to adopt someone else's style, and if our home is gospel-centered, I haven't missed the boat because I was caught unaware of the elusive methods of Godly parenting. It's all there, in the gospel.
However, what we need is to dive deep into the cavernous depths of what the gospel is and means. If you grew up in the church, you may remember the gospel message, when delivered in a sermon or somewhere else, tuning out, thinking "Yeah, yeah, I know this." I knew it was life-changing, but I hadn't done enough "gospel realizing" as Tim Keller puts it, to let it begin to soak in. I love how Farley says we don't need parenting books on technique because we act out of our theology, what we think about God and ourselves, and that is how we parent. What we need is right theology, an accurate view of ourselves before a holy God, and an ever-deepening grasp on what He did for us in putting all of our sin and thus His wrath on His Son Jesus in our place...His infinite love and astounding grace.This parenting book is covering the fear of God (and what that really means), God's holiness, His grace...and I'll have to keep reading to see how he extrapolates these things to parenting further.
He also continually shifts our focus of parenting as eternal. He says "Christian parenting is the process of preparing our children for the day of judgment." Our greatest goal for them is regeneration, where God and God alone gives them a new heart that loves Him and fills them with the Holy Spirit, giving them the power and desire to do what pleases Him. There is nothing, NOTHING, we can do to regenerate our children. But He points out that God chooses to use parents as the primary medium to evangelize our children.
There's so much good in this book, I can't write it all here. But I do highly recommend it, and would love to hear your thoughts on it also.
I'm discussing it with a small group of Godly women, and our discussion was as fruitful for me as the reading. God is using this book and other things to continually bring us back to the truth: Our lives need to be totally Gospel-centered and gospel-powered. There is such peace and joy in this!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009



This cute idea was not my own. They rarely are. I think this came from Kendra, or Ashley. Not sure which, but they both have a cute thankful tree in their house too.
I loved this idea! We really try to focus on thankfulness during this season. Well, we need it year-round, but thank goodness, there's a holiday that helps us in the discipline of thankfulness.
Our theme verse this time of year is Col 2:7
Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.

I do believe that thankfulness is a discipline that needs cultivating in our lives.
I'm appalled at my own absence of thankfulness in moments of complaining and irritation. I need to put on thankfulness, as we say so often around here.
So we love the thankful tree! The kids each have their own color leaves, and each night we write what they are thankful for today on them and put them on our colorful tree. Rusty and I write ours on the tree trunk. We are kind of the "trunk" of this family...and my hands were crippled from cutting leaves.
Some of my favorites have been, I'm thankful for "monkeys" "I like Emma" "doing homeschool" "a happy family and happy parents".
I love this new tradition! (Thanks for sharing Kendra and Ashley!) Happy Thanksgiving season, folks!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Leader of the Day


(photo above by Ryan Price Photography-check out his website! www.ryanpricephoto.com)
There are a million little tips out there that can help us run our homes smoothly. The more children we have, the more organized and creative we need to be to reduce the chaos. I love those little brilliant ideas that change your life. So in hopes that you all will share yours with me, here is one that we love.
I can't remember where I got this idea. I would give credit where credit is due, if only I could remember who it was due to. I think I read this in a magazine. Once upon a time, in a former life, I read magazines. I had more time to read for leisure then. I used to even have a subscription to Southern Living. Those were good times.
Anyway, I loved this idea and remembered it for years and we started doing it a year or so ago.
We have a leader of the day. Sun. is Treston, and Emma is Monday and Thursday, Jax is Tuesday and Friday, and Justus is Wed. and Saturday.
When you're leader of the day, you get the special priveleges, and special jobs.
For example you could choose the morning cartoon, or you would set the table.
Any special privelege opportunity that might arise immediately goes to the leader of the day rather than the kids squabbling about it.
I also grab the leader of the day when I need something done.
The Leader has daily leader jobs, such as gathering all of the laundry from all the baskets each morning and sorting it, wiping down a bathroom, and taking the sheets off of his bed to be washed (ensuring everyone's sheets get washed once a week).
The kids also get to spend their "nap" time (no one naps but Treston but they are supposed to be quiet and read in their room) in the play room.
The kids LOVE to be the leader, and it solves any dispute over who gets the special priveleges or chores. It's a great system that works well for us, so I thought I'd share it.
One day, and I don't know when, Treston will realize that he only gets to be the leader once a week, and he'll have to be okay with that until God adds another day to the week. For now, this system holds nicely.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Director of Planned Parenthood resigns, Change of Heart!

*This was a recent article in our paper. It seems the prayers of the faithful people on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood have been fruitful! This is AMAZING!

Planned Parenthood has been a part of Abby Johnson's life for the past eight years; that is until last month, when Abby resigned. Johnson said she realized she wanted to leave, after watching an ultrasound of an abortion procedure.

"I just thought I can't do this anymore, and it was just like a flash that hit me and I thought that's it," said Jonhson.

She handed in her resignation October 6. Johnson worked as the Bryan Planned Parenthood Director for two years.

According to Johnson, the non-profit was struggling under the weight of a tough economy, and changing it's business model from one that pushed prevention, to one that focused on abortion.

"It seemed like maybe that's not what a lot of people were believing any more because that's not where the money was. The money wasn't in family planning, the money wasn't in prevention, the money was in abortion and so I had a problem with that," said Johnson.

Johnson said she was told to bring in more women who wanted abortions, something the Episcopalian church goer recently became convicted about.

"I feel so pure in heart (since leaving). I don't have this guilt, I don't have this burden on me anymore that's how I know this conversion was a spiritual conversion."

Johnson now supports the Coalition For Life, the pro-life group with a building down the street from Planned Parenthood. Coalition volunteers can regularly be seen praying on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood. Johnson has been meeting with the coalition's executive director, Shawn Carney, and has prayed with volunteers outside Planned Parenthood.

On Friday both Johnson and the Coalition For Life were issued temporary restraining orders filed by Planned Parenthood.

Rochelle Tafolla, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson issued the following statement: "We regret being forced to turn to the courts to protect the safety and confidentiality of our clients and staff, however, in this instance it is absolutely necessary."

The temporary restraining order contends that Planned Parenthood would be irreparably harmed by the disclosure of certain information, but does not bar Johnson or Coalition For Life volunteers from the premises.

As of Sunday evening, neither Johnson nor Carney had seen the complaint filed against them that prompted the restraining order.

A hearing about the order has been set for November 10.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall Family Fun Day 2009!

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We love FFFD! It's one of my favorite days in the Bacak fam.
This was our seventh annual Fall Family Fun Day! I can't believe it!
It starts in the pumpkin patch.
I love pumpkin patch pictures.
The colors are unbeatable.
Then there's caramel apples.
The caramel apples were best ever this year! I made the caramel sauce with the wrapped caramels in a bag and added half and half to it. It melted into the best caramel we've ever made on FFFD. I have fine tuned the caramel apples for the least amount of mess and sticky as possible, and have increased the caramel to apple ratio. Cutting the apples just makes more sense. Everyone got their own caramel bowl this year, which was brilliant.
The pumpkin decorating and carving is fun too!
Enjoy the slideshow.

Run For Compassion 2010


Our first Run For Compassion was last April, as some of you remember. It was a special time for this family as we gave our all for a cause that has moved us. We sponsored a Child Survival Project in Ethiopia from this run, and because of so many of you, sent almost $4,000, which was wildly exciting! Here is an excerpt from our Run For Compassion website about the CSP...

The Child Survival Program through Compassion is saving the lives of children. You can sponsor a child, beginning at age five, through Compassion. We do, and we highly encourage you to do the same! But the mortality rate is so high for children under the age of five, they have to live to five first. That’s where the Child Survival Program comes in. This is straight from their web site. Tragically, nearly 27,000 children under age 5 die every day, mainly from preventable diseases and related causes. Through the Child Survival Program (CSP), Compassion is battling for the lives of vulnerable children and their caregivers, providing: prenatal care ongoing health screening infant survival training for mothers and caregivers spiritual guidance and education Help save lives. It’s hard to sum up everything a Child Survival Project is doing in their work with children and mothers or caregivers, but in short, they are doing all that it takes to give them life, and not just physical life. Spiritual life as well. Your registration fee will not just possibly make a difference. It will make a difference. Lives will be saved and people will come to know Jesus as their Savior. What better reason could we have for running for Compassion? A couple of Christmases ago, my Mom and Dad decided our family was going to raise money for the Child Survival Program. My Mom’s life work is at New Life, a pregnancy Crisis Center and adoption agency in Houston. (Two of our kids have come from New Life.) She has given all she has to babies, born and unborn, and their mothers. It was not hard for my parents to connect to this work. So they gave us $50 and told us to make more money with that seed money. At the end of the year, we would collect our money and send it to a Child Survival Project. We did. It was exciting! God moved in us as He used us. So we got our $50 again this year. And the idea of a Run for Compassion was born. That’s where you step in to this story. Literally.

We are just as passionate about this cause this year, and more sure of what God can do through us, just simple, broken vessels for Him. We knew nothing about being race directors last year. Not one thing. But God did good things, despite all of our shortcomings. We have full confidence that He has a good work through this run planned for this coming April 10, 2010.
The planning has just begun. Basically, all we have is a date. But I have started assembling a team of precious girls who are going to help me this year, and make this successful and profitable for the Kingdom.
If you are interested in being on this team who raises sponsorship money, advertises, helps with race day logistics, works on the website, manages finances (that's not for me!), and collects prizes, let me know. We will have a chairman over each area of this race, and I would like for these chairmen, or chairwomen, to have a full committee so that no ONE person has to do all the work. It was amazing for us last year, but it was too much work for a few people. We need a team.
If you're interested in being a team player for Run For Compassion, let me know!
If you're interested in running, then get your shoes on! You can train to do the 5K or 10K this spring, no matter who you are! More to come on Run For Compassion...get excited!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

H1N1 shots are in at the Amazing Dr. Bacak's office! FYI!

Advent Conspiracy!


I love this video! I posted it last year, but take just a minute and look at this inspiring and fun video from Living Water on what they call Advent Conspiracy. It's been a blessing for the Seay/Bacak family as we have heard God call us to deeper worship through giving in the Advent season and all year long.
Christmas is a special time of year. No doubt about it. But what makes it special for us, and what emanates from us during this time should tell the world what is hapenning in our hearts during Advent; adoration for our Savior, and a deeper drive to live like He did.
I hope this gets us started in considering what God has for us this Advent season!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Flu Shot, and only in a doctor's house...


I've done a few posts over the years about the occasional strange hapennings of a doctor's house. Like having a urine specimen in your refrigerator, or your child's favorite toy being the pap smear stick thingy. (If you don't remember that post from years past, don't worry...it's not as creepy as it sounds. It's like a tongue depressor they use during pap smears. You've probably never seen one because, let's face it, we don't know what's going on down there. But they're harmless little sticks that once were Jax's favorite thing to play with.)
Well, only in a Doctor's house does a child get a flu shot in his sleep.
I know, how scarred are my children!?!! Rusty had brought home our shots (NOT the H1N1 shots- they're not in yet. Still waiting) over the weekend and we realized on Sunday night, after tucking all the kids in, that he forgot to administer all of our shots. So we decided to see who was up, and go for it. Emma, always awake, rarely asleep, was the first victim. She started hyperventilating right away, turning ashen in the face, and then quickly it was over, and she immediately went back to normal and said "that wasn't bad, Dad! I hardly felt it. That's the last time I'm going to freak out over a flu shot." Wow! That went well!
Treston, who has been getting in BIG trouble at night, getting out of his bed, and doing terrible, terrible things in the house, of course, got out of his bed. Normally, he would have been disciplined for this, but instead...Rusty gave him a shot. Come to think of it...I don't think he's gotten out of his bed since then? Maybe we're onto something. Treston takes shots as stoically as a Marine. He is expressionless. Doesn't even wince. He takes his band-aid and goes on his way. Last year, I think he even smiled. It's really remarkable.
But the other boys were out cold. Rusty, my dear husband, was convinced that he could give the boys their shots in their sleep and they wouldn't even wake up. I, on the other hand, thought this was the worst possible way to screw up our children. Can you wake up to your parent putting a needle in you, and ever recover from that? That's what horror movies are made of, right? It's like a scene from Alias.
But my husband was fairly certain he could pull it off. I adore this man. He is right most of the time. But not this time...
Jax woke up, screaming, crying, and disoriented. What in the world were his parents doing to him? And WHY????? It took me about 10 minutes of snuggling with him in bed to calm him down and get him to go back to sleep.
We obviously aborted the plan after that one. Justus got his later on, and he was fully awake. So I'm guessing only Jax will need the intense therapy later in life.
Needless to say, we ARE getting flu shots this year. I've had a lot of people ask me, so yes, we actually always get the flu shot. We will also all take the H1N1 shot. Rusty feels confident in it's safety. He says the flu is more dangerous than the shot, for sure! I understand people's concern over the fact that this flu strand is new and therefore the vaccination is new, but Rusty says that flu strands are really different each year, so every vaccination is different. It's not so different with this swine flu. Because we are exposed to it more than most, being that Rusty sees the flu each and everyday, (please don't cough on him if you see him with the flu!) and we go to the office often as well, if the vaccination becomes available to us we will get it. Luckily, God has miraculously protected us so far! We have been exposed many times already!
Just so you know, we do have the regular flu shot available at our office. (695-3570) We personally are thankful for flu shots and other vaccinations that have been a protection from diseases that kill. As far as the flu shot goes, we know we could still get the flu. But we're going to do what we can to avoid it! And of course, Dr. Bacak would say prevention method #1- wash your hands with soap frequently! And wash your kids' hands with soap! Anti-bacterial gel is nowhere near as good as good ol' hot water and soap. There you go! Stay well, people!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Spoons: My new office


College Station friends: A new day has dawned for us.
Frozen yogurt has been restored to us, after much waiting, anticipating, lingering in this barren land of strictly fatty desserts.
Spoons has opened! And this place is brilliant! It's a self serve yogurt shop, with fun toppings to choose from, and they just weigh it, and you pay it.
I love it! I went twice this weekend. Friday, on the Grand Opening, on a hot date with my husband, and then back on Saturday night with my sister.
I had to restrain myself from driving by on Sunday to see if they were open.
There are many choices, but I have a favorite already. Pistachio with Andes mints topping. It's like chocolate chip mint ice cream, basically, but it's only 100 calories per 1/2 cup.
I've decided I must do all business there from now on.
When I meet with college girls, we're meeting there.
It's my new office.
Why? Because Titus 2 says I should be mentoring younger women, and some versions of the Bible might imply to do that over frozen yogurt.
The owner checked us out on Friday, and he said this was a class project that took off! He got an alumni to be the investor, and here we are! Blessed with yummy frozen yogurt!
I might school my children there later.
See y'all there!
(This was in no way a paid endorsement from the owners of Spoons, like on the Biggest Loser when they do those oh-so-subtle commercials for products that will "help" them lose weight. This was completely inspired by my own excitment over pistachio frozen yogurt. But I am going to check with them to see if they'll pay me from now on...)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Butternut Squash and Sausage Soup


This soup is THE BEST! It just screams fall to me. I love fall. I love soup. I LOVE Butternut Squash. I think it's even on sale this week! Yee-haw! So here's the recipe...
1 large butternut squash, halved, seeds removed (see if a strong, capable husband or male will do it for you. Also, using Cutco knives has helped me a lot!)
a little olive oil
1/2 t salt
pepper
1/2 lb. sweet sausage
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
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

Lightly coat the squash with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until tender 45 min. - 1 hr. Scoop out the flesh. I sometimes do this in advance and keep it in the refrigerator.
In a large pot, cook the sausage and onion. Add the garlic, sage, marjoram, and cook stirring for 1 min. Add the cooked squash and chicken broth, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 30 minutes. Then pulse in a blender in batches, or just buy an immersion blender thingy. That changed my life. I saw one on a cooking show and thought how cool it would be to have one and never have to pulse hot soup in a blender and burn myself again! Turns out, I had one in my kitchen all along. I got it for my wedding and didn't know what it was so I never used it. How crazy is that?
Finally, add the cider vinegar and the cream. Don't forget! I sometimes forget the cream and then get really mad at myself! How could I forget cream?
I have served this with a sourdough bread, made in my bread machine, and salad.
Be sure to invite me over for dinner when you make this, k?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Winkflash books for Christmas!


Yes, I definitely have Christmas gifts on the brain already!
And these books were a great deal for us last year!
You can make a photo book up to 100 pages for $19.95!
You may find books you like better, but none cheaper that I know of.
I gave them to grandparents as gifts last year, and they loved them!
I just finished our 2008 book last night, and I finished at exactly 100 pages.
It's not as cool as scrapbooking, with minimal backgrounds, fonts, creative
possibilities, but you know what, I got it done! And I have three more
books to make before the special runs out on October 24th, I think.
So get busy if you are like me! I'm photobooking at every possible free moment, which are incredibly few.
It takes a while to upload your photos on the site, but I let my run for like
two days, highlighting all of them, and it finally finished and I was ready to go!
For next year, I'm re-evaluating. I'm thinking about a new system...but for now,
these cheap books are too good of a deal to pass up!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Where is your treasure?


First let me say, I have not abandoned blogging. We are having serious internet issues. It's down every night, without fail. So frustrating!
During the day I could blog...if I didn't have a few other pressing matters around here!
So here is what I've been thinking about lately...
Matt. 6:21 says "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
This is a verse that should bring much self-examination.
I thought of this as I've been sitting on the sidelines of children's sporting events lately. Jax is playing soccer, and Emma occasionally competes in horse shows.
What happens to seemingly normal people when they're kids get on a field (or horse arena, in our case)?
The constant coaching and yelling and frustration from the parents, I want to just cry for these kids. And sometimes I want to punch these parents in the face.
And I'm embarrassed for the parents.
Now I know, this could easily be us. None of us is above this kind of junk.
How do we check ourselves to make sure we are not ridiculous, raving, sports parents?
The heart issue has to be where our treasure is.
And that question is "What makes us most proud?"
I read an article in the newspaper recently from a sports writer talking about how watching his son play football, he was the "most proud he'd ever been" of his child.
Wow. That stinks.
So what makes us "most proud"?
When do we want to beam, as parents?
When our kids score a goal, or when we see evidences of grace in their lives?
When they win, or when they are getting up on their own to read God's Word?
There's nothing wrong with winning. I'll be the first to admit, winning is fun.
And sometimes, we put a lot into our kids' interests and sports teams. It's nice to see them advance.
But it's fleeting...it's like the wind. It's not eternal. Col. 1 talks about setting our minds on what's above, what's eternal.
So I am checking my heart. What makes me most proud?
There is nothing in the world like seeing my kids grow closer to the Lord! That has to be our focus. Their spiritual development! Everything else can't even hold a candle to that. And if they perceive us as holding non-eternal things like sports us as so important, we are sending them a clear message.
That message is messed-up.
There's no time to re-read this or edit. I've got a day to start. It will be light soon. Hopefully I'll have internet regularly soon. Don't give up on me!

Monday, September 21, 2009

A drama-free slumber party...what's that?


We celebrated Emma's birthday with a slumber party.
I approached this idea with great caution. Why?
Because I went to slumber parties. If you did too, you know what I'm talking about.
This is what I know about girls...we're born mean.
Oh, you might think that's an exaggeration, but it's not.
We're born with the tendency toward gossip, forming factions that gang up on someone else, and with the innate ability from the age of three on to merely whisper and giggle with another girl and destroy her in an instant.
Am I right? Can I hear an Amen?
I noticed this when my own daughter started playing with a group of girls at a very young age, and it all came rushing back to me. Oh yeahhhhh, I remember this.
We are horrible, horrible creatures.
They could make a movie called "pre-school mean girls" and it wouldn't be too far off.
Why? Because we're sinners. Plain and simple. We're fallen and born with a sinful nature that is yucky through and through. There's no denying it.
And what is the root of this ugly behavior in girls? Looking back, why did I do what I did?
Putting others down in any form or fashion somehow lifts you up. Whether it's being funny at someone else's expense, or trying to exalt your friendship with one girl over another (also at her expense) so that you feel more popular. Exalting ourselves to make us feel better can look like several things, but it's always destructive.
Are we grown-up girls still capable of this today? Of course. We all have to be aware of this, even as we can disguise this more mature version of ugliness in us still.
We have to work at our friendships making sure we look after others' needs and feelings as best we can, and including others as much as possible.
I have also guarded against this junk with my daughter. I think because she's homeschooled she's slightly ignorant of the enormity of this business.
But I had this very talk with Emma before her party...making sure everyone feels included...no one feels left out...being sure to put others desires above her own...all that good stuff.
I think intentionally teaching our daughters how to be Christ-like friends from a young age will help them resist the temptation to be a "mean girl." And ultimately, their relationship with the Lord gives them the power to overcome sin!
I was so proud of the group of girls we had at our house for this slumber party!
There was no drama, no ugliness, no factions, and no "light as a feather, stiff as a board" (anyone remember that one?).
We had a sweet time of devotional on loving others like Jesus, and I had the privelege of hearing their sweet prayers. What a blessing! I can't wait to watch these sweet girls grow up into Godly, young women who honor the Lord with their lives.
So there WAS pizza, there WAS cake and ice cream, there WAS pin the tail on Emma's horse, there WAS a dance party in our pajamas, there WAS whispering in their beds, but there was NO drama and ugliness, and I was thankful for that!
Anyone, thoughts on how we train our girls to guard against our tendency toward this sin, and encourage them to love like Christ? Older Moms, wisdom to offer?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Emma!


9 years ago today, after about 45 hours protest in labor, little Emma entered our world. She was obviously comfortable where she was, and didn't come willingly.
She was born at 2:55am at Northwest hospital in Amarillo.
She had the loudest cry of any baby I'd ever heard, and the biggest, most alert, blue eyes. They seemed huge to me. From the moment she was born, she seemed determined not to miss a thing (so sleeping was not an option, naturally) and it was as if she was sure she could tell us what to do and we would comply.
I remember bringing her home and having the revelation I think many young mothers do...about how much God loves us as a Father, how much my parents love me, and not believing how much I loved this new little person.
So of course, I cried, rocked and nursed her, and Rusty would tentatively say "Are you okay?" wondering where his even-keeled wife went, and who was this blubbering woman in the rocker?
I would sob "Yes. I just love her so much!" Sob. Sob.
Post-Partum. There's nothing like it.
So entered Emma into our lives, and what a precious life change!
We've watched her grow, from that super active, strong willed little one, into the little girl we know who submitted her life to the Lord and loves Him with all her heart.
Some of my favorite things about Emma:
1. How she loves God and His Word! (It's 6:30 and she's sitting on the couch right now doing her Bible Study book. What's better?)
2. The way she reads. She is a voracious reader, and that has been one of my great aspirations for my kids. She devours her library books, and then we must make an emeregency library trip when she's done.
3. She begs me for "homework" and lots of it. I don't seem to give her enough work, in her opinion. Clearly, she gets the "nerd" genes from her father. It pays to marry a brainiac.
4. She's so her own person. Maybe this is intensified because she's homeschooled, but she has always been an intense animal lover, seriously, since before she could talk. Her obsession with elephants came first,before she was two, then dinosaurs, then horses. That one stuck. And if you know my daughter, one of her great talents is being able to "run like a cheetah", and she'll gladly race you on all-fours. It's a little uncanny how quick she is. She's just Emma. Not a girl who likes princesses, purses, dresses, or pretty shoes, but can tell you anything you want to know about animals, habitats, and is what we call the "animal whisperer."
5. She's a little bit fearless. I think her desire and willingness to do what she does on horses, and then compete against a group of older, more experienced riders at horse shows demonstrates this. I love watching her in action! There is nothing sweeter to me than this girl and a horse.
So Celebrating you is our joy, Em! Happy birthday, love! I hope today is a memorable one.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Help me!

I would like to find the ultimate photo sharing, storage site. I'm on winkflash right now, but I can't really access my photos like I'd like. I want to be able to store them on a site, but then access them to put on my blog, e-mail them to myself, or do whatever I want with them. I also want to make super easy photo books that don't cost a fortune, and have high quality prints. Winflash is cheap, and I love cheap! But I don't think the quality is the best, and it takes forever to load them on the site. Does anyone have a magic site you can tell me about? I'm wondering about sites like photobucket and seehere.com, but it's hard to find answers to these questions just by looking at their site.
Help me! Someone out there must have an answer for me!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A crazy Mom would...


Emma and I just got back from her horse show.
It was great Mother-Daughter fun, and this horse Mom was tired, but thankful for the time we had together.
Sometimes it's the funniest things that end up being the most fun on these kind of outings.
Ours was an hour long game of "A crazy Mom would..." in the car.
We came up with about 102 answers to that question, which kept me awake while driving, in conjunction with some not-so-bad gas station coffee, and made us laugh outloud.
But here's my best answer to that question.
A crazy Mom would put her little girl in pageants.
Have you seen this show "Toddlers and Tiaras" on TLC?
Our DVR was broken for a while, and without anything conveniently waiting for us, pre-recorded, I defaulted to TLC. I think that's what I watched before the DVR. That, and "Little House" recorded.
This is one of those, drop your jaw, are you kidding? shows.
Highlights: fake teeth for the little girls, fake hair, spray tanning, Halloween level of make-up, and the saddest part of all, swimsuit competitions. (They don't allow g-strings, they said on one of the shows, just because it's hard to pull off without the perfect body. I couldn't sleep that night.)
The whole thing is a not-so-distant cousin to pedophilia.
I don't think that would be most parents' intent, but what in the WORLD are they thinking, sexualizing their little girls like that?
And that led to an interesting discussion I had with my Mom.
She is teaching soon to her ladies about ways that we sexualize our children early on. I think this is something we need to be very aware of.
How are we doing this, in our culture, and in our own families?
The obvious would be to put make-up on your child, dress them up like a hoochie Mama and teach them to dance around suggesstively in front of a panel of judges to be scored based on their hoochie dancing abilities, their bodies, and their facial beauty.
(Is this not obvious to them!?)
But what are more subtle things that we might be doing with our daughters that have become so accepted in our culture that we aren't aware of it ourselves?
I'm trying to be especially aware of this in the area of clothing for my daughter.
Any thoughts, Moms? Dads? Everyone else?
(Oh, and anyone who is feeling the tiniest bit defensive for pageant Moms, please watch "Toddlers and Tiaras" and then get back to me. If you are willing to go to bat for these pageant parents, I would love to understand why! Let's talk!)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

What goes on the plate?


I call this the honeymoon phase of our semester.
We have completed the first two weeks of the Bacak Nation Academy, and while I've been dropping in bed each night, exhausted (literally exhausted...once last week I fell asleep at 9:15pm. I haven't done that since I had the flu. And obviously too tired to blog!) we haven't had TOO much on our plate.
That sounds weird. Getting into the groove of a new semester, and especially teaching three kids, is plenty on my plate. So let me clarify.
My days are very full and I am full-time schooling, parenting, horse-Momming, cooking, hosting, etc. HOWEVER, some of the other things that tend to make my calendar threaten to explode, and me feel like I'm too busy to breathe, haven't really started yet.
The first two weeks of a semester, our nightly activities are up to our discretion, not pre-scripted and mandated.
So here's a question:
What are we going to put on our plate this semester?
If you are like me, it tends to be too much.
And I know me when it's too much. I'm not the best me. We're not the best us. And I'm not protecting my family and this home from OVER doing like I should.
As the manager of this home, I deal with scheduling our "stuff" most of the time, running questions by Rusty when needed.
And I think activities tend to multiply, don't you think? I think it's just a little thing, and then our activities started making babies like bunnies and it's out of control before I know it.
So I think we have to look at the bare minimum, and decide where to go from there.
The last two years have flown by so quickly, so busy, so hectic, that I don't think I enjoyed life, or savored it as I should be.
I think I gobbled it down whole and didn't even chew.
I don't want to do that! My kids are growing right before my very eyes. There are opportunities to share Christ, practically touching me, and I've been too busy to see it.
I don't want to live that way.
One challenge we face (and experienced Moms, help me out!) we have a lot of kids. And as they are growing, so does their level of activity.
Also, because we are homeschoolers, I want them to have opportunities to engage their peers, and for us to develop intentional relationships with lost people. The avenues opened up to us naturally for this are soccer, horses, 4H, for example.
So those things are important for more than one reason.
I don't want to strip away all activities.
Therefore, I think a conversation that would be helpful for me, and maybe some of you too, is how to be in something without doing everything. Every fundraiser, every class, clinic, every little thing that we put our names on sign-up sheets to do.
This is what kills us. Is this okay?
Is it irresponsible to be in something, and not do it all?
Or should we learn to say NO to things for the sake of our sanity?
I appreciated our pastor challenging us this week by asking us to stop and consider: What are our motives in saying YES to all we do? Is it recognition, or a true heart of service? And he even challenged us to have self-control in saying NO to good things, when they may not be for us. (I hope the "Rev. A. Diddy", as we affectionately call him around here, real name- Allen Duty, would not feel misquoted in this, but just in case, go to our church website and listen to a GREAT sermon from 9/6/09 called "Own the Vision." You will be so glad you did!)
So if you too want to ponder this, let's talk about what we put on our plates, and even hold eachother accountable to not having "eyes bigger than our stomachs" as we fill it up.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy 5th Birthday Justus!

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Do you just feel like the Bacak birthdays never stop coming in the summer? It's because they don't.
Now it's Justus' turn. Our adorable brown baby is turning FIVE!
You gotta admit, this kid is handsome. I can say that because he didn't get it from me. You can see his birthmom, Kathleen, in one of the pictures. He obviously gets it from her! She's beautiful!
He can be a real charmer. He says to me regularly, "Mom, you're so bootiful" which I love, of course, but I find it's usually when he's doing something sneaky or wrong and he's trying to distract me from it.
He's good.
Our boy is wicked smart. He's been doing the older kids' work for years, only when he thinks answering Jax's question will thoroughly annoy him (and it does!) and for no other reason! We can't wait to see how God is going to use Justus' gifts and talents for Him! (Yes, someday He will use all this for good and not evil!)
Justus loves to snuggle at night, which I am trying to hold on to with my boys as long as possible! He can be the sweetest big brother to his "buddy" Treston you've ever seen. And he is absolutely the wittiest five-year-old I know. He's always had a quick-witted response, far beyond his years, that keeps us in stitches around here.
We are overwhelmed with gratitude to the Lord for his birthmom, Kathleen, giving us the greatest gift a human can give. We hold fast to God's purposes in that, and feel blessed to be Justus' parents.
Happy birthday sweet boy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Bacak Nation Academy is now in session!

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I love the start of school. I put a lot of hard work into our school room in August. Work that I rather enjoy, to tell you the truth. I love a place for everything, newly organized shelves, fresh packs of clean paper, art supplies like beans and macaroni in jars, about 30 newly sharpened pencils (which will dwindle down to two in about three weeks- I don't know where they go? It's like my kids eat pencils!) Brand new school boxes, decorated with their favorite stickers, and...well you get the picture.
I had done much preparing, as this year I am teaching three different kids and grade levels. Emma and Jax are in third and second grade, and Justus started Kindergarten this year! Woo-hoo! I love Kindergarten! It's my absolute favorite year. Also, Treston is our three-year-old pre-schooler, and as you can see by the pictures, he LOVES his journal! I think that's precious!
So I lesson planned like crazy, starting in July. I got a pretty notebook and printed my lesson plans for the year. Then I came up with new systems to give me overviews for a week, or lesson plans in a glance, with the older kids and Justus' side by side.
All of this stuff makes me very happy, and my lesson plans have never looked so awesome, so I was feeling good.
But the first day of school, despite my planning, was not what I had envisioned. I had not done enough prepping. That's pre-cutting, printing, etc. for my lessons. (I was out of town with Justus visiting his birthmom over the weekend, which was just poor timing for our first day of school.) Consequently, our first day of school didn't go as I had planned. Actually, it was pure chaos for the most part. Not the parts caught on camera here. I obviously don't pull out the camera to capture chaos in our home. No, these were the good, happy moments in our first day. But the schedule I had agonized over all summer and posted on our wall was not quite accurate. I had never taught this many kids, so I was behind and a little overwhelmed. I was wondering on Monday if I could do this.
But God was so good to remind me that He is the one who called us to do this. Not because it's for everyone, but because as He dragged us kicking and screaming toward homeschooling (which I swore I'd never do, naturally!) He had a good plan for our family in it. And it has been so good! And I enjoy teaching so much!
So Tuesday was a new day, as I told the kids.
And it truly was! It was a thousand times better, and yesterday was a thousand times better than that! I do love teaching and schooling my kids.
It's not easy. On MOnday, I couldn't help thinking about all the parents I had seen standing at the bus stop with their kids as I was jogging that morning. I was wondering what they were doing, as I dealt with a three-year-old tantrum, cleaned up his potty accident, while juggling a reluctant (to say the least) Kindergartener and confused about what was expected of them older kids.
But we are starting to settle into a rhythm, and it feels good. Truly, I wouldn't miss this for the world. I enjoyed teaching little ones when they were other people's kids, and I especially enjoy teaching my own little ones. Besides, I am pretty sure I was totally ignorant before I started homeschooling. I can't imagine how educated I will be when I get up to fifth grade with them.
So The Bacak Nation Academy has begun, and it's going to be a great year!
Here are some first day of school pics.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Rusty!



My sweet husband wanted to skip his birthday.
They are getting less fun, you know, the older we get.
But there's no skipping birthdays in the Bacak house!
Oh no! There is cake, and dance parties, and presents.
We celebrated early because I am in Las Vegas on his birthday with Justus and my Mom
visiting Justus' birthmom Kathleen.
This was sadly, the only date my Mom could go with us.
But here are pics from the party we had already.
The boys made confetti out of construction paper (hopefully not the new pack I bought for our school year) and threw it everywhere for the dance party.
There is nothing better than watching all four of your very different kids bust their moves. Emma was river dancing, Jax was break-dancing (which we decided is somehow instinctive in all boys. Don't know where they would pick that up- they just do it!) and Justus and Treston hopefully are retaining some sort of non-white rhythym that God gifts them with. Rusty is convinced that this house full of white people is sucking them dry of rhythm, but I disagree.
Also, I made a cake.
I am very critical of my cakes, to the point of driving my husband crazy.
If there is something to do wrong with a cake, I've done it. I've learned the hard way. This cake was good but not the best cake, but the very best icing I've ever made. It was my cream cheese icing with real strawberries cut up in it. Divine! The real problem with the cake, however, was that it was three layers, and it leaned very definitively to one side. Not the prettiest shaped cake, but it was good. My husband asked for a strawberry cake, and I made a cake with real strawberries in the batter and the icing. I like that. I intend to make small improvements and develop it into the best cake ever.
But as for my husband's birthday- there's no way we could NOT celebrate this man.
I adore the day he was born, because I adore him so.
He is way more than I deserve, and consistently loving to all of us.
One of my favorite things about him: The kids and I never wonder if he loves us or approves of us. He is so affirming. Did you read the blogpost he wrote about me on our anniversary? Ridiculously flattering to me, and just an example of the way he loves us.
I am thankful for his life and all God has done in him.
Happy Birthday, love! I'll be home soon.

Emma got her ears pierced!


This was Emma pre-piercing.

This is Emma post-piercing.

Emma has been asking about getting her ears pierced for a while. We had decided when she was little that we would wait until she was older and make it a privelege that she looks forward to.
I also wanted her to be able to clean her ears herself and handle the aftercare. So we waited...she would bring it up and I would remind her that it hurts a little. She would drop it.
Then she decided she was brave enough. So Rusty told her she had to prove she was responsible enough by keeping her room clean for two solid weeks.
She did, so we had a special Mommy/Daughter date to the mall, just the two of us.
First, we got her hair cut. It looks so cute, don't you think?
Then we had a pretzel together, just us girls.
She was super excited, and a little nervous as we went into Claire's.
We stood and watched a little girl in front of us get her ears pierced, and she went from a little nervous to terrified.
My girl is pretty tough. She hardly flinches when she gets shots, so I think the anticipation got to her.
But look at her face- she was beside herself in fear.
I'd already stood there with her for a long time and filled out the paperwork, so I decided she was not backing out. We had built up to this day, and what were the chances that I was going to work out another time to go with her alone? So I told her she'd be fine. She was going to do it.
The lady doing the piercing lied and told her it wouldn't hurt. Come on, it hurts a little. We all know that.
But she did it! She said it did indeed hurt, that it felt like they stapled her ears, but not for terribly long, and she was so pleased with the way her cute little ears looked!
She got to pick out some earrings to wear when she can remove the gold balls. She chose cupcakes, the letter E, and bumblebees.
It was a precious day with my growing-up, third grade girl.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What is clean?


What is clean?
Clean is definitely in the eye of the beholder.
I'm not an expert or anything, but in this house, the clean standard is set by me.
So it's not clean until I think it's clean. Am I right, Moms?
In fact, one of the things we heard my Mom say ALL the time, was "Would I think it's clean?"
We would usually have to go back and try to see it through my Mom's eyes.
I think I was a grown woman before I understood that.
One of the things I'm trying to equip my children to do is determine what is clean?
One of the struggles we are having with keeping their rooms clean is not just laziness, but truly "seeing" the mess.
They just don't see it.
So I have to help them see what needs work before it can meet the cleanliness standard.
And it's not fair to ask them to do things that are totally subjective in their eyes, really. They are kids. They need black and white clear directives.
So here is the clean chart for this year.
This has evolved over time.
When they were young, I had pictures of them putting their toys away, and making their beds.
But this clean chart has graduated to higher standards.
The little ones just have to try to keep up.
I put things on the checklist that they just aren't seeing. Like "corners clean", meaning, there's just junk piled up in the corners. And they don't seem to notice. So everyday they have to check the corners of their rooms to look for piles of junk, and I'm teaching them to sort through a pile of junk and make piles, according to where it goes.
(We have just had the summer end Organization/Clean-Out Blow-Out around here, so everyone has had some practice lately!)
I could clean it for them each day, or I could teach the kids to fish, and hopefully end up with kids who know what clean looks like by the time they leave this place.
I am certain their college roommates and spouses will thank me someday.
Each day, when they check off each job (approved by us) and color in the smily face, they work toward an allowance.
My kids have never made an allowance before.
Honestly, we feel like we don't owe them any money. Any work they do around here is to be a contributing member of the family. It's just expected.
But we do want them to learn responsibility with their money on a higher level, and also give them the ability to give generously of their own money to what they feel led to, as well as tithing their own money to the church.
So we explained to them that though we don't owe them money for work done, we are choosing to let them earn allowances with their daily jobs for those reasons.
One task on the chart is Leader Jobs.
Each day we have a leader. The leader gets to choose the cartoon, or the flavor of ice cream, or anything special like that. The leader also has extra responsibilities. Collecting all laundry, sheets to be washed, and cleaning a bathroom.
I love new school years, new systems, new organization, new schedules.
We are doing a lot of that this week, so I will try to write more about it as the week goes on.
We've been doing the charts for two days, and so far, their rooms look great! But the real test will be two weeks in.
I'll let you know.
I would love to hear things you do with your kids to help them know clean, or things your Mom did with you to teach you to clean.
Tips?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Mosiers


I love this town. I meet so many students that I fall in love with.
The problem with these wonderful people is most of them leave, and I have to watch them drive away.
People I love, who have become apart of the rhythm of our week, who have bared their hearts in our living rooms.
There have been many tough goodbyes in the past six years.
I could list atleast 10 of you that I'm still secretly plotting to find you a job here and convince you it's God's will, and some of you have been gone for years!
This month has been killer.
We have been bombarded with tough goodbyes, and I've tried hard to stay in denial about all of them so I can survive it.
But tonight. Tonight was the hardest goodbye of all.
(Erin, if you're reading this stop right now, because it won't help you stop crying.)
Matt and Erin are such a part of this family.
They started out in our HOPE group, these precious kids, still in college.
I knew they were going to be a favorite of ours when they ASKED us if they could come pick up our kids and take them out for pizza.
They were around when we got our little Treston, and for the whirwind that was for us. They became regulars for dinner, and Sonic dates, and such.
Erin and I hit it off quickly, and she became my mentee for Her Hands and took Countdown at the same time. There are just some people that are so comfortable and easy. That's me and Erin. It's just so easy.
We grew very close to them before they were married, and even more so after!
My children prayed hard, and Matt ended up doing grad school here. It was the power of the pure-hearted prayers of the Bacak kiddos.

Matt and Erin became some of Treston's godparents, and they have faithfully loved, adored, spent time with, and prayed for our little boy.
We went on vacation together that summer, with all Treston's wonderful godparents, Matt and Erin and Nick and Carissa. That will always be a great memory for all of us!

Erin ended up working for us, here in the house with me every morning, and in the office with Rusty in the afternoons. She knows this house like her own. She has watched my kids grow, pray, be disciplined about a million times, read them hundreds of books, and folded their clothes. Matt and Erin have been at probably every birthday party we've had since we met them, and my kids even gave Erin a Bacak birthday of her own.
I remember so well the day she told me they had started praying about starting a family. She came over to lie out with me on a Spring afternoon and the two of us were lying on the trampoline talking.
Shortly after that, Erin was pregnant with Cade.
She called me when she saw the two lines.
I was there the day he was born, waiting in the waiting room.
Watching Matt hold him up through the nursery window with tears in his eyes, and tears in mine...helping Erin nurse for the first time.
I watched our little Matt and Erin morph into parents. Real live grown-ups. They did it so well.
Somewhere along the way...and I'm not sure exactly when...Erin went from being a mentee to just a wonderful friend and peer.
I have been so proud of them!
They are light years ahead spiritually, for their age, and their commitment to the Word and His Ways encourages me so much! They are just solid.
They were never allowed to leave here, as far as I was concerned.
I was certain we could pray that away. We'd done it before.
But God obviously had a different plan.
Matt got a great job with the weather service, and off they go tomorrow to Ft. Worth.
I've cried many tears these last few weeks.
I watched my kids cry many tears tonight, telling them goodbye, and it was hard.
It's going to be hard. I will miss our weekly lunches and the comfort of being with them at church weekly. I'll just miss them in the day-to-day life.
But as Erin and I keep saying, we have to put on thankfulness that Ft. Worth is not so terribly far away! They could have gotten a job in Washington State, so how can we complain?
I love these people.
I would let them move into our house and live here if I thought they would.
But I have to let them go, and I know that God is going to use them where he plants them.
They're going to transform lives as the Holy Spirit uses them to teach others what they have soaked up here.
I can only pray that they have people come under their care that were as teachable and moldable as they have been in their time here.
I guess it's time to share them.
But tonight, I feel incredibly selfish. I don't want to share. I haven't stopped crying yet.
But God is good, and I would be remiss in writing this if I didn't acknowledge how grateful I am for the sweet people and friendships he gives us. It just doesn't get any better than Matt and Erin.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

OUR ANNIVERSARY - AKA "MARRYING UP" BY RUSTY

11 Years ago I pulled off one of those monumental, one-in-a-lifetime, David vs. Goliathesque, 1980 American Olympic Hockey team over Russia type of a feat: I married Jennifer Seay! It was like all of those cheesy 80s movies where the complete dork ends up with the hot babe (which is ironic because I still live in those movies in my head!). See you have to understand the significance of this event (and I am sure knowing and looking at us - it comes as no surprise at all for those of you who know us): I totally "up-married." I highly recommend that for all of the college guys I am around here in BCS - find a wife that is Godly, intelligent, nurturing, funny, and gorgeous and then allow God to pull off something only He can do: make her actually fall for you! God is good! Prov 18:22 says " He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the LORD." AMEN!!! And Prov 19:14 " Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD." And of course Prov 31 let's us know to aim big when it comes to your wife:
" 10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life. "
Gentlemen: totally up-marry in the Lord (I should write a book - I bet I could make millions: "Your Best Wife Now" - I could put a picture of us on the cover and lonely single guys would say "dang... if that guy can pull that off, there is a God and a hope for me!")
You see my wife is a one in a million find. She is a woman who seeks after the Lord's heart; is incredibly intelligent (blows me away); funny (although her laughing at my same jokes for 11 years may discredit her in this category); caring (she hasn't locked the kids in the closet yet - which is a pretty amazing feat in itself); supportive and encouraging; an incredible manager of our home; a phenomenal mommy to our kids not to mention educator for them; and is hotter every year I know her (an admitted bonus for me!). OK - if you are a college kid who we are encouraging the courtship model to : "do as we say and not as we did"; but when I first met Jenn she was being pursued by EVERYONE! She had stinking 3 dates the first weekend we went out! Yes - 3 dates! I had less dates in the last 3 years of medical school than she had that weekend alone! She was a catch and the fellers knew it. How the heck the Heart of Texas Rodeo and Fair date wooed her away from all of those suitors is totally a God thing (although I did pull out my dance card on the first date - my ace-in-the hole... but desperate times called for desperate measures). So men - count on our God to provide (Go watch "Facing the Giants" or something)! He will! He gave me the most incredible wife, now of 11 years, and Lord willing for another 40 years +. I am more in love with my bride now than ever and can not wait to see what our future holds together. I do not deserve her... but our God is good.
Happy Anniversary Babe!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Countdown


Our Fall Countdown class will begin this semester, only about a month away, and we still have three openings!!! This rarely happens, so please pass this along to anyone who you think might be interested! Anyone who is engaged, or is about to be engaged, that is. Below I have copied an excerpt from our Countdown blog to give a fuller picture of what this ministry is all about. We are passionate about marriage ministry, and though we've taught it for more than six years now, it's equally as fun and exciting each semester when my living room fills up with these adorable couples on the brink of something great. Read all about it, and if you're a Countdown alum, feel free to stand up and testify in the comment section...

Is Countdown for You?
You're engaged! You have a ring! You are looking at churches, cakes, invitations, and a lot of family tension! Congratulations!
The engagement period is so exciting.
It is a journey between two people falling deeply in love, and going from two to ONE!
This time can be totally consumed with planning the "Big Day," as it's called, but we would like to challenge you...put aside wedding planning for a bit and do some marriage planning. That one day is so special, but it's just the beginning. Having the wedding of your dreams needs to take a backseat to having the marriage of your dreams, so to speak.
What kind of marriage do we dream of? Is your goal to stay married without totally hating each other, or do you really long to be old and gray, and as in love as you are today?
Well, the adventure you are about to embark on is exciting, it's passionate, it will thrust a mirror in front of you that will reflect your selfishness and sin like you've never seen, and it's a new birth. The birth of a family, of a ministry team, of a new YOU. It will change who you are, your relationships, and your view of the world.
Have I scared you? I hope not. But this thing called marriage requires more preparation than any of us realize. We invite you to explore God's Word for what His purpose for us is in marriage, and what the fullness and abundance of His plan for us in marriage looks like.
We want to teach you how to build your marriage, and every aspect of it, on the rock solid foundation of Jesus Christ. Everything else is sinking sand. "When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built." Luke 6:48. You have already started building your house. What is it built on? If it's built on compatability, romantic love, friendship, or shared interests, these are faulty foundations. They are foundations of sand. They are blessings in marriage, but they cannot bear the weight of your house. There is only one foundation that will never crack. Our God.
We say this all the time, but we believe everyone wants a fantastic marriage. But good marriages don't just happen. Desire is not enough. We must be taught. Taught from the Word, the ultimate, flawless authority in our life, totally relevant to our every need and desire. Without being taught, we are floundering for elusive bits of advice to apply to our real lives. It is like water through our hands, trying to grasp the reality of God's gift to us: marriage.

What, When, and Where do we teach?
Countdown is a 9 week class, taught in our home on Thursday nights from 8:30-10:00pm. We teach a class every semeseter. The semester is concluded by an overnight retreat.
We teach a curriculum written mostly by us, from our marriage, incorporating written assignments from us and also from Byron and Carla Weathersbee. They are our mentors in Countdown, founders of our parent ministry Legacy Family. (legacyfamily.org) Rusty and I were students in their Countdown class in Waco, Texas when we were engaged in 1998. They founded this ministry to engaged couples and families in 1995 and have been used by God to change lives since then! We feel blessed to be under their ministry, and to have been trained by them personally.
In Countdown, we will discuss a different topic each week. The topics include: God's Purpose for Marriage, Roles and Responsibilities, Money Matters, In-Laws, Spiritual Growth, Sexual Intimacy, Commitment, and Communication and Conflict Resolution. Each week couples complete their assignments, some seperately, but mostly together, before coming to class. It is an informal, discussion oriented time. Everyone comes ready for dessert first, and we have a great time!
Part of the fun is walking through your engagement and learning alongside other couples. Couples who are experiencing the same things you are. We often see friendships among the couples forming, and we have a few social events for fun. The retreat culminates all we have learned in a semester, and is the highlight for me! We have so much fun, with a few surprise for our couples.