spring break part 1

So the past two weeks the kids have been out of school for spring break.  The leaders each got a week off as well so my family and I were off the first week and just had some time to relax. I got away for a few days for a spiritual retreat and it was such a blessing. Some friends from church let me stay in their travel trailer in their back yard so I could get away and have some time along. Thank You!

After our week off my Mom, Dad, Me, Abbey, Jorge and Isaac have been watching the kids all week. The previous week there was a group here from VA and they kept the kids busy with activities, games and VBS all week, but there was nothing going on our week so we had to help keep them occupied. It was a great week and I will be posting pictures of it over the next week. I hope you enjoy!

Spring Break Water Day

Easter Sunday at Carl’s Jr.

There was no ham dinner for us this Easter…nope, it was hamburgers and fries all around. Thanks to the Kid’s Everywear sale we were able to take the kids out to eat after church on Sunday. This is not only a huge treat, but for several of our kids this was the first time they had ever eaten at a restaurant. I wish you all could have seen Meño’s face when he walked into the playground. His just stopped in his tracks and stared, eyes big as saucers. Each kid got their own soda cup (they almost never get soda, so this was huge) and several hours to play on the play ground after lunch.  It was a great afternoon for all of us…albiet they were a little wired from sugar after that.

Hopefully you can enjoy some of the fun through these pictures. I gave my camera to Miriam after a while and was very pleased with many of her pictures…enjoy!

catching up…

Ok, so between the trip to NC, catching up from the trip to NC, general business and then getting ready for the kids spring break…well, lets just say I didn’t exactly keep up with the reading plan.  I know, I know, being the one to initiate the “book a month” and all, you would think I would be motivated, but after I was already late I just kept putting it off and off and…you get the picture.

Good news is that though I didn’t write this post on schedule and I didn’t finish the book on schedule…I have been ready. It has been God’s grace alone and it has been such a blessing.

Here is my reading update:

Give them Grace by Elyse M Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson
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This is a great parenting book. It is not a how to or a book on consistent discipline, but rather a book that went beyond children’s obedience and addresses their view of salvation. Not just addressing their heart, but making sure that through the way that we correct and train our children we are reminding them of God’s grace. It can be so easy to discipline to get good behavior and in the end just be training up self-righteous little hypocrites. Children need to be reminded that God doesn’t respond like parents (disobedience = loving discipline) as saved and adopted children of God (disobedience = loving grace). Obviously there is so much more to this, but it was a really good read for me and I want to grown in training and disciplining these children so they don’t see works based religion from us, but rather a beautiful picture of grace and never changing love.  Anyways, I didn’t even come close to explaining it, but I would recommend it to every parent and orphanage worker.

Audio Books: So, I have had several friends give me a kind of half mocking half bemused look as they went on to comment about how audio books are for old people. Maybe it is, I don’t know, but I have found audio books to be a huge blessing in my life. I have long drives when I go to El Paso and now I work 4-5 hours a day cleaning and doing laundry.  I used to listen to more podcasts, but have started mixing in books also. I don’t know if they count as books I “read,” but I think I remember more from these audio books than the last few books I read, so…

Note: Audio books are crazy expensive and you can’t find them at the thrift store, but christianaudio.com gives away a free book each month (which is where I got the following two books) and if the book is in the public domain you might find free audio for it at librivox.org (sometimes the readers aren’t great but sometimes they are great…hit and miss).

Knowing God by J.I. Packer
Wow. This is a great book. Knowing God is a classic on the attributes and character of God. I think I need to read or listen to it at least five or six more times…can’t wait! I don’t even know what to say since it covered so much material. Starting with the difference of knowing God and knowing about God it then goes on to work its way through God’s love, grace, immutability, judgment, wrath, jealousy etc then ending with the Gospel, our adoption, trials and God’s adequacy. I know that studying who God is, has been and will be what gets me through the hard times in life. In times of trials don’t turn to self-help books, instead turn to the God who was, and is and is to come and find peace and joy in knowing Him more.

Trusting God by Jerry Bridges
Again, this is another Sovereign Grace basic that I can’t believe I have never read.  This was nothing new to me, but a great and systematic reminder of God’s sovereignty in every area of life. It is full of scripture references and covers so many questions that come up when talking about the sovereignty of God. It was timely and edifying for me and I thank God for making it available for free at just the time when I needed that reminder. Though someone told me they found it kind of dry and boring, I found it very enjoyable and easy to follow. I hope you all find time to read it and are blessed as I was.

I am working through two more books I will report on soon and am hoping to listen to Martin Luther’s Commentary on the Epistle of Galations. Please pray that God will give me and extra bit of concentration for this one.

pictures i forgot

oooops…I forgot that while I was in NC I lost a bunch of my pictures somehow from my camera, but Nick salvaged them…yeah!!! I was very happy because there was a great pic of my parents with Coen and all the pictures from Silas’ birthday party. Hope you enjoy! Grandpa, these are especially for you! Love you!

 

I especially love the picture of my Dad reading the bible stories to Silas and Evelyn. I bought them the same one year children’s bible that Dad used to read to us when we were kids. So beautiful to see family traditions passed down.  I have even found it in Spanish and it is one of the things we cycle through with the kids at the Ranch also!

the blessings of going back home

My whole family was soooooo (yes I am one of those dorks who puts lots of ooooooo’s) blessed to be able to go back home to North Caroline to spend a week with our family and friends. The opportunity to go, just came up out of now where and we jumped at the chance. It was a straight through 30 hour drive to get back, but we made it in time for Silas’ 5th  birthday party. John and Deana didn’t tell the kids we were coming so it was fun to be their surprise. Through Silas touts that he knew we were coming all along.

It was a very busy week, but it was so great catching up with my brothers and their families. I got to spend several days at John and Deana’s and played a new train game that I liked a lot and I don’t usually like playing games all that much. I also got to hang out a couple of nights with Nick and Ashley as well. It was so great to hear their testimonies of how God has been working in their lives through this extremely difficult year. Nick has been in and out of the hospital and suffering so much more than I can even imagine, but they continue to hold strong in their faith that God is good and His providence is at work through it all.  Nick got called in for his last surgery the day we planned to leave so we stayed an extra day to be at the hospital with him and Ashley for the surgery. I have never spent much time at the hospital, but it was an eye opening experience. I’m not saying I have any idea what it has been like for them this past year, but I think I have a much better idea now and am much more passionate and informed in my prayers for them both. Please keep Nick in your prayers that this recovery time will go quickly and he will be able to function well with his newly attached intestine for the future!

We were also blessed to meet with our pastors and be blessed by their love, care and wisdom for our family. I have never felt safer emotionally or spiritually than I did sitting in that room with those men. God is so good to give us friends and family who love us as they do!!! To everyone back at Sovereign Grace, don’t ever take for granted what amazing leadership you have!

Well, I will leave you with some fun pictures of us hanging out with family land friends, though somehow the kids managed to obtain most of my camera time…they are just so cute and growing up soooooo (there it is again) fast.  Book A Month review is LATE but coming soon! More updates on the Ranch kids coming soon also!  Love …..

reading and accountability

I love to read, but so many times I get tired or distracted and just don’t sit down to enjoy a good book. A couple years ago I had a friend and we made a commitment to read at least one book a month that year. I was amazed that when I was actually committed to reading through a book quickly that instead of just one book, many times I finished two or three.

Since then my reading has slowed to an almost halt. I think I finished maybe four or five real books last year. I have also found that since moving away from my home church in Raleigh, NC I am not as challenged to read “hard” books. I am so thankful to my pastors and especially Michael Stalker (my singles leader) for always pushing us to read things outside of our normal reading levels.

So, all that to say that I would like to start reading AT LEAST one book a month again and was wondering if anyone out there would like to start an online reading accountability. We could commit to blog about or e-mail each other a quick report/overview whatever of the book we read by the end of the month. I know my weaknesses and personal discipline is not one of them. So let me know if you would like to help me to grow in grace and discipline by joining with me in this. You can e-mail me at mschlax(at)gmail(dot)com.

My February reading is Give Them Grace, Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson.

Book Recommendations (from last years reading)

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
I actually read this book because a friend wanted accountability to read it. I haven’t read many books on apologetics but I was very surprised at how easy he was to understand even when he was explaining some complex issues that in the past have usually gone a little over my head. The has several GREAT chapters near the end on sin and living the christian life that blessed me soooo much.

Confessions by Saint Augustine
Ok so this was the harder book I took on last year. I found it at the thrift store and I always hear pastors quoting him so I thought I would try it. I was happy to find that while a few of the concepts he addresses went over my head they book was very readable. I love how he traces the grace of God through his entire life and the way he calls to you  to live unreservedly for God. I think I need to read it like six more times to begin to understand the depth of some of his statements, but I was blessed even by my limited understanding of it.

I found so many inspiring quotes and couldn’t pick one so I just opened up the book and found this part highlighted. It challenged me anew as I read it and I want to share it with you.

My soul, you too must listen to the word of God. Do not be foolish; do not let the din of your folly deafen the ears of your heart. For the Word himself calls you to return. In him is the place of peace that cannot be disturbed, and he will not withhold himself from your love unless you withhold you love from him(?). In this world one thing passes away so that another may take its place and the whole be preserved in all its parts. But do I pass away elsewhere? says the Word fo God. Make your dwelling in him, my soul. Entrust to him whatever you have, for all that you have is from him. Now, at last, tired of being misled, entrust to the Truth all that the Truth has given to you and nothing will be lost. All that is withered in you will be made to thrive again. All your sickness will be healed. your mortal body will be refashioned and renewed and firmly bound to you, and when it dies it will not drag you with it to the grave, but will endure and abide with you before God,  who abides and endures for ever.

fellowship, fun and pictures

After leaving our grandparents in Colorado (my Mom’s parents), we drove over to Prescott Valley, AZ to visit my Dad’s parents.  We had a great time of fun and fellowship just hanging out and talking. I got to see my cousin Sarah and her two little ones, they are so cute!!! (most of my pictures are of them…I just can’t resist a cute kid) I always enjoy getting to talk to them and they share my love for John Piper’s sermons (actually I think they listen to even more than I do).

We were all sick the whole trip with bad colds and it kind of nixed our plans to visit the Sovereign Grace Church in Phoenix, AZ and to see our cousin Ashley’s new little baby, but it was a great trip and we all had a good time together.

Here are some pics because I just can’t help sharing them with the world. Enjoy!!!

christmas at the ranch

This year we kept all the kids who didn’t have a place to go for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  On Christmas Eve we made waffles with the kids, played games, took them to Carl’s Jr. and then had the Mexican Christmas Eve dinner of tamales with beans and rice. We ended the evening with cake, ice cream and The Grinch who Stole Christmas.

Christmas Eve Pictures

For Christmas Day we had our typical Schlax Christmas with Cinimon Rolls, the Christmas story (in spanish), presents, games a movie, gingerbread house, and we invited another staff family over for games and deserts that evening.

Christmas Day Pictures

It was an exhausting few days, especially with Alan (a VERY special needs kid) but we all had a great time together and were so blessed to be with them.

We are off for the next week to visit both my grand parents and we are very excited for a few days off and to get to spend time with family!

snow

Last night it started snowing. I thought it was just a few flakes that would melt on contact, but when I left the kitchen to go back to the dorm…the whole ranch was covered in white. It was so pretty and in a random act of photography, I actually grabbed my camera and went out to shoot some night snow pictures.  I don’t think I have taken pictures that weren’t of the kids for some event in years.  They didn’t come out perfect, but the street lights created a pretty light and so Valeria Norma and I went traipsing around in the dark. I fell on my rear end once and the dog caught us by surprise and I think we woke up the director’s family…but it was a fun little adventure.

The next morning we took all the kids out to play in the snow and they had a great time. They even made a make shift sled out of a piece of wood paneling and used it to slide the the mound of dirt out back.

 

 

I was hoping to get a little extra sleep this morning, but the girls were up and disobeying by 7:10. I wish I could say that was still sleeping in for me, but I guess that is an area I still need to work on.  About 10am I got a call from the director that the group from Tularosa, NM was coming in to bring some Christmas presents and we needed to have everyone outside in less than an hour.  So, we rushed through our morning chores and tried to get everyone showered and looking pretty before they arrived. The gave our presents after lunch and the rest of the afternoon has been a breeze since they kids are all excited to play with their new toys. No “i’m bored” today! (Pics of opening presents coming later…when I have unlimited internet at the library.

I have also wrapped most of my christmas presents and they look so pretty under my tree. A special thank you to all my girlfriends who participated in the exchange of Christmas ornaments for the last…who knows how many years. I not only have beautiful things to hang on my tree, but friends and memories to go along with them. A pretty tree is great, but one that reminds you of those you love is even better. (tree: $15 on clearance!!!!)

The dinner bell is ringing and the girls are rushing off to eat…I have about 20 minutes of quiet before they come back!

If you haven’t noticed…I am working on getting back in the habit of blogging! Since I am can’t seem to get a newsletter out more than once a year (current issue in progress) my new goal is to keep up this blog to let you all know what God is doing.  In the past years I was working mostly in the office and there are very few of you out there who would have any interest in know the weeks of work I put into reconciling all our mexican accounts and getting all the books back on track, etc.  But this past year I started working a little more with the girls and this coming year I am hoping it will be even more..maybe to the point of working only once a week in the office (an answer to years of prayer). Hopefully it will make for slightly more entertaining posts. I will also try to periodically post some pics and stories that I neglected to post last year.

Well enough rambling for now…I hope you all are having a great Christmas season. My church gave out a great Christmas Advent Guide from the Village Church. You can download it free here.