Friday, July 18, 2014

What doesn't kill you. . .

I'm not proud to say it, but one of my kids' current favorite is. . .
A country song.
(This is when I feel that I have completely failed as a parent. So don't expect a link.)

Country music.


I did my best.  But for some reason they don't really care for pop music of the 80's.  Go figure.

Turns out that what doesn't kill you doesn't, in fact, make you stronger.

It makes you blonder.


Not sure how that works, exactly (considering the investment I make on a regular basis to stay browner), but since I smile and/or laugh every time I hear it, I figure it's a win-win.

Laughter IS, indeed, good medicine.

And we need all of the help we can get, right?

The Coach's birthday on Wednesday night with our parents.  Good times.

I am, in turn, both completely amused by my kids (all comedians, depending on the day) and completely frustrated by them.  OK.  Maybe not by THEM.  More like their ROOMS.  OK.  Maybe not by their actual ROOMS, but rather the state of complete piggishness that they seem comfortable with.

And yet, I find myself fighting the urge to obsess (Because in the long run, who really cares if the clean clothes ever get put away?)  (Oh.  That would be me.).  While at the same time, realizing that my time is up with Son #1 - in many ways - and the fate of his ability to keep or not keep his room neat and orderly will have to be met out on a roommate come September.  Yikes.

These balances.  Needing to be firm.  Remembering to laugh.  Needing to hold them accountable.  Extending grace.  Needing order.  Accepting the reality of LIFE.  Needing some kind of sanity.  Knowing it's probably not going to be this side of heaven.

These balances are my current challenge.  Every day.  Almost every moment.  Well, except when I give up all together and watch HGTV while braiding the girls' hair (have you SEEN "Fixer Upper"?  Super cute.).

And maybe we've done too much of that this Summer.  The giving up.  I had high hopes of reorganizing the house, getting through the piles of school papers (Don't ask how long it's been.), sorting through clothes, makes new curtains (I know, I know. . .), spending time doing projects and swimming at friends' and baking bread.

Turns out, it's a full time job just to manage these people I love.  Having clean clothes and a sort of clean house and getting them all where they need to be.  Which is sometimes Haiti (for two) or Mexico or Alaska or Africa.

When I can't sleep at 4:30 AM, because my mind is racing wondering if I wrote this or that down or who was supposed to have such and such form filled out or a check for this and that and DID I make that bank deposit or return those clothes or drop the shirts off at the cleaners for my Coach?

Maybe then.  It's time to remember that my success as a mom is NOT determined by whether or not I get it all done.  It's not even determined by whether or not my kids put their clothes up without being asked (or threatened).  No, it's not even determined by whether or not my kids do right or well or what they should or shouldn't (Because HELLO they are human just like their momma!).

Nope.  My success?  Is found when I depend on the Lord.  Cry out to Him in my short-comings and failures and overwhelmedness (bet you didn't know I could make up so many words!).

And teach my people to do the same.

Happy Summer Friday, All!  There aren't many of these left. . .

(Is HGTV on this early in the AM?)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Messy Monday and Choosing to be Grateful

It's the day after Mother's Day.  There were kids to get off to school with bleary eyes, lunches to make, school clothes to find, shoes that were illusive, and sharp words between kids.  There is laundry to fold and I lost track of how many shirts to iron and dinner... they'll be wanting that, too.  There was a workout in the rain and Weight Watchers (I hate that scale) and even after a week of good choices and extra hard work... a non-loss.

Time to be honest.  I'm having a hard time finding my gratefulness these last few days.  Maybe it's the end of the school year.  Maybe it's hormones (although I don't recommend you suggesting that to me unless you duck afterwards).  Maybe it's simple exhaustion or a calendar that is almost ineligible with things to do and be done.  Maybe it's the long term effect of broken relationships and intentional pain and hurt that doesn't stop.

Maybe it's the reality of SO MUCH CHANGE that's coming to the troops.  Maybe it's a busy, preoccupied, overwhelmed Coach.  Maybe it's that my son is leaving in the Fall or that 5 mission trips loom on the horizon or that Summer seems less relaxing and more exhausting each and every year.  More teens.  More jobs.  More trips.  More camps.

I don't like busy.  I certainly don't like the glorification of busy.  As if the busiest wins a prize.

I'm not in the race.  Because in that race?  Everyone loses.  Unlike Weight Watchers.  Ha.

And I have eversomuch to be grateful for this morning.  I do.

Sweet kids.  Loving Coach.  Precious cards with sweet words and crayoned pictures... a movie/dinner date on Saturday (Captain America and Pei Wei)... a new label maker and phone case and Starbucks with my biggest girl.  An encouraging message at church, brunch with family and my precious Mom and Grandma, even a short nap.

So why do I feel so... cranky?

Mother's Day isn't my favorite.  I do so much WRONG and fail in so many ways, the last thing I want is to draw attention to my mothering.  Because we all know having the babies is the easy part.  Even if that's not easy.

I even told the Coach that Mother's Day shouldn't be on Sunday.  I mean really.  Sunday?  Come on!  As if getting kids to church and getting oneself presentable (And applying enough make up that no one says, "Are you OK?  You look tired."  Thanks.) and figuring out lunch for 10 and homework and laundry and lists for another school week aren't enough?

He said, "So what day should it be?" with his "you are amusing me" grin.  Touche'.

It makes me uncomfortable when kids say, "You're the best mom ever" - even though it's sweet.  Because I'm not.  Lord knows.  The kids know, too.  But they're kind enough to say it, anyway.  When your mom has a "moment" (Have you seen "Mom's Night Out"?  Ha!) ON Mother's Day AFTER sweet gifts and loving kids and an extremely thoughtful kind Coach?  Because the laundry is everywhere and no one closes cabinets or drawers and there are shoes all over the floor.  Floors.  And backpacks and books and cups of Sweet Tea and all everyone wants is for me to log on to my iPad or phone for them so they can play games and run the battery down so I can't read at bedtime?

See what I mean?

A moment.

So today?  I'm choosing grateful.  I'm choosing to remember that no matter WHAT the mess, be it household or heart - there is enough grace.  Because I belong to Jesus and HE is enough.  Even for Mom moments and cranky attitudes (mine) and messy kids and imperfect bodies and houses, busy calendars and tight budgets.

HE is enough.

And no matter how many other things I have to be grateful for?  That one wins.  Every time.

Thank you, Jesus.

If you don't hear from me for awhile?  I'll be in my closet hiding from the kids with my freshly charged iPad.  So there.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Late night ramblings. . .

Sometimes, your kids have a knock down drag out screaming fight in the hall at 11:00 PM over who is in the bathroom and who needs to be. Because the "boys" bathroom is under construction and they think that sharing a bathroom is the pits even though I keep reminding them they can come use our bathroom and that we only HAD one bathroom in our previous home and they are dumbfounded.  Of course they were all 10 and under which is not quite the same.  They took up much less space.

Sometimes, the gas company turns the gas off and tells you it *might* be back on by the end of the week so you all 10 of you can take hot shower and dry the laundry and run the dishwasher.  Thank heavens the weather is beautiful so no heat is needed or we would have moved out for the week.  But when you have running water and flushing toilets and electricity and FOOD and grandparents who let you use their showers, it's all quite bearable (except on the occasions mentioned in paragraph one).

Sometimes, a friend sees your name and address on the gas company repair schedule and takes the time to do everything they can to move it up from Monday to Friday.  Bless him.  I think I will make him some cookies.

Sometimes, when this 40 year old mom gets woken up at 11 PM by screaming kids and slamming doors thinking that quite possibly someone has broken in the house and is trying to kidnap her children, I can't go back to sleep.  Go figure.

Sometimes, navigating my kids through life's frustrations and difficult relationships. . . Not protecting them from everything but helping them work through things, BUT protecting them from more than I probably should and doubting what I do and what I don't do and wondering if they will need extensive amounts of counseling (like the rest of us) and oodles and oodles of grace not to hate us later on.

Sometimes, when you have a son who is graduating from high school (and others following right behind), you find yourself asking the Lord where is the best place for your son to be and where will he be pushed to work hard and stand strong and grow and learn.  And be safe.  And close enough to drive home on holidays.  And when I miss him.  And you remind yourself that he WILL BE FINE wherever he goes because he belongs to Jesus and no where he can go will be out of His hands.  Even if it's too far away to drive home to see his mama (see the above paragraph).

Sometimes, someone who has known you since before you were born and loved you so well and been there when you needed them to pray, to encourage, to make you smile and laugh and feel LOVED, leaves this earth and meets Jesus face to face and you are SO HAPPY for them and the end of their journey on this fallen earth and the beginning of their FOREVER with Christ, but you are still so sad.

Sometimes, the Coach snores and I love him, anyway.

Sometimes, my legs ache at night after a longish run, but I'll go out and run again, anyway, even though I feel old and fat and tired.  Maybe not tomorrow, though.

Sometimes, the sound of my hammering away on the keyboard wakes my Little Man and he comes stumbling in, all bleary eyed, asking me to rub his back.  He's getting so tall.

Sometimes, life is WAY more than I can handle and God's grace is WAY more abundant than I can imagine and my husband is WAY more patient than I deserve and my kids are WAY more amazing than they would be if their development solely rested on my shoulders and not on the goodness of the Lord.

And look.  It's Wednesday, already.

Sometimes when I can't sleep and its the middle of the night and I'm concerned about my kids and their relationships and the schedule tomorrow and how long the gas really WILL be off and when the bathroom will be DONE already (this is week three). . .

I still have so much to be grateful for.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Remember that time??

Dear heavens.  What a week.  And it's only Thursday.

Tuesday morning I took the four oldest to the dentist.  Ran to Target while waiting for them because Son (#1) needed something for school.  When I got back, they told me they'd had to pull one of Son's (#4) teeth.  Hmmm.

You know it's going to be an interesting day when your dentist is the one to tell you that your son had a baby tooth stuck to the side of a permanent tooth.  And you had no idea.

What can I say?  I plead eight kids.

So from there we headed back to school.  Dropped Son (#1) off and as I was parking, he came out the door, waving me in.  I rolled down the window,  "WHAT??"  I was headed to meet Little Man at the park with Grandmother, who had field trip duty while I was at the dentist with the big kids.

"Um. Mom," Son (#1) begins. . ."my passport is expired."

Now it was my turn.  "WHAAAAT?"

Because this was Tuesday.  And Wednesday evening?  He was leaving to drive down to Dallas.  And Thursday morning EARLY?  He was flying out of Dallas for a mission trip to Mexico over Spring Break.

So it began.

Even just 48 hours later, I look back with amazement.  Our sweet friend at school got online, found out where he needed to go, got him an appointment, and helped him gather the necessary paper work.    Son and I headed out to get him last minute trip stuff, passport photos, and he got his truck ready for the drive to Dallas. Tuesday night we gathered as a family to pray for his safety and God's provision.

This letting go stuff is hard.

He's 18.  But by the time he left at 6 AM yesterday morning ALONE to drive to Dallas and find the downtown rush passport office?  I was a bit nervous about the whole thing.

And you know what?  He did great.  Made the trip without difficulty.  Got to where he needed to be an hour before his appointment.  Had all of the right documentation.  Met my cousin for lunch (thanks, Daniel!), went back to pick up the new passport, shopped at Cabelas, ate dinner, went to a movie, and met up with the mission team last night.

This morning?  They are on their flight to Mexico.

Here at the troops, the other kids are off to school, the Coach is in Virginia at a conference, and tomorrow is Daughter's (#6) ELEVENTH birthday.  Oh my word.  And Spring Break will commence shortly.

These days are exhausting.  But OH the memories we are making.  And someday. . .when Son (#1) has kids of his own. . . we'll all be sitting around talking about his mission trips and the adventures he's had and one of us will say, "Remember that time you realized your passport was expired the day before you were leaving for Mexico??"

My heart is full.

And grateful.

And I need a nap.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Daylight Savings Time and Other Stuff. On a Monday.

I hate Daylight Savings.  And yes, now those of you who love it can commence the hate speech in my direction.

But here's the deal.  Yes, the evenings are lovely.  Once school is out.  But have you TRIED getting four little kids to bed when the sun is still shining brightly?  Not fun.  I'm not a fan.  Maybe once Little Man is in his teens it won't be such a big deal.

But it is what it is (as the Coach would tell me).  And we survived the first morning back in school after losing a very much-needed hour.  In spite of the hour lost, I would have loved spending some time on a walk or in the yard, yesterday.  But four of my men needed hair cuts and we were out of bread and the Coach had a meeting and there was Corduroy's journal to fill out and beginning readers to finish. . .

A fairly typical Sunday.  With lots of back-door-slamming and trampoline jumping and chicken chasing (Not really.) and showers and homework and clothes for school.  It's the life.

And I'm perfectly serious - It's a beautiful life.

No.  There isn't much time for writing.  I can't fix that.  Son (#3) had surgery on his foot on the 25th and WOW what an adventure.  Two days afterwards we were back at the ER for pain.  Then another ER visit on day 5 in an ice storm.  Fun times.  (I'd post pictures, but it wouldn't be right.)

He's MUCH better, now.  Still has a pin from the end of his toe into the middle of his foot.  It's like having our very own circus side show.  Lots of visits from friends that first week just to see the bizarreness of the whole thing.  But he's back at school, "heel walking" as they say, all caught up on school work (Who does that?  Misses a week and catches up in a couple of days?), and making us all laugh, once again.

Son (#1) leaves on a Spring Break mission trip to Mexico on Wednesday.  Even though technically,  Spring Break isn't until NEXT week.  The Coach has a little trip to Virginia this week, as well.  And Daughter's (#6) 11th birthday on Friday.  And the boys' shower is being torn out on Monday (Probably time to make a decision on tile choices.).  With volleyball tournaments this weekend and next.  Sprinkle in eight dentist appointments, another trip back to the surgeon for Son (#3), an ear appointment for Daughter (#2), two field trips, a talent show at school on Friday (the three little girls are participating), and a postponed 5 mile race from February and hopefully an early morning at the DMV to get Son's (#3) permit.  Throw in a LOT of laundry, a few ongoing organizing projects, grocery shopping way too often, and cooking dinner every night and. . .

Blogging is pretty far down on the list.

However.  In spite of my lack of writing, this blog IS a chronicle of life at the troops.  And there's been a LOT of life going on.  I don't want to miss one second.

I love football and basketball seasons - from August through March.  But I am VERY much enjoying having my Coach around more now that it's his "off" season!  He's my favorite.

Son (#1) will head off in the Fall.  Leaving fewer troops around the table every night.  Which makes me sad.  And excited.  For him and for the grocery budget.  He's not only headed to Mexico this week, he's also headed to California in April (for my sweet cousin's wedding!), Boston in May (Senior Trip), Colorado in June (with all of us for vacation) and Alaska in July (more missions).  Which means he'll be gone almost as much as he's here between now and August.  (sniff)

So no more blinking.  No whining allowed.  And as much time as possible spent enjoying these amazing eight that have my heart.

Happy Monday!
(And if I don't get myself to the grocery store, we won't be having dinner tonight.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

God Knew We Needed Her...

My first pregnancy was rough, I'll admit it.  I've written about it, before.  Sick.  Sick.  Sick.  Newlyweds, just getting to know each other, - months and months of our first year of marriage I spent puking.  My poor Coach.

But that baby?  That first, sweet, tiny, little guy?  All 5.5 pounds of him?  Amazing.  Ate well, slept well, SMILED all of the time.  In spite of our inexperience and still figuring things out?  He was just perfect.

When Son (#1) was just about six months old, I began to suspect that I was pregnant, again.  Now, I wanted babies.  LOTS of them (my dream was an even dozen!).  But he was still REALLY baby.  And never, in a million years, did I imagine having another one so quickly.

I cried for two weeks.

Not because I wasn't excited to have another baby!  But because the thought of being SICK, again, and on meds and bed rest. . .with a 6 month old and a hubby who (bless his heart) wasn't quite sure what to do with a wife who left the room constantly to vomit.  Lovely, right?

The pregnancy wasn't nearly as bad.  I was grateful.  And our little guy still napped twice a day and slept 12 hours at night, so I was able to rest a lot and it was OK.  Then 14 1/2 months after we welcomed our first-born son, we welcomed our first-born daughter.

Oh.  My.  Word.

(Son #1 has adored and taken care of her ever since.)

When I think of this girl?  Happy.  Sweet.  Cheerful.  Beautiful.  Smiling.  Always smiling.  Smart.  Kind.  Friend to EVERYONE. Diligent.  Hard working.  Athletic (like her daddy!).

Our lives, our home, our family NEEDED this girl.

And you know what?  I'd do it all over, again.  Because the Lord?  He knew.  He knew we needed her.

Thank you, Lord, for loving us more than we could ever know.  For giving us what we need, even when we don't know we need it.

(We WERE an average sized family for a little while!  And yes, I know the Coach hasn't aged.  It's genetic.  And I don't have those genes.  Love him.)

(Her name means HAPPY.  She is.)

(Wasn't long before she had six younger siblings to keep in line.  And she does it, well! I miss those squishy little people.  Where has time gone??)

And Happy Birthday to my Beautiful 17 year old Daughter.

So blessed to be her Momma.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Words to Live By

Honestly, being a mom sometimes feels like the most impossible job.

I can't do it.  For a moment or two, maybe?  Every now and then, a day?  But overall?  I just keep failing.  Keep falling short.

I'm not patient, as I should be.  I lose my temper.  I don't get enough done.  I don't keep the house clean, have healthy meals ready every night, stay organized and calm.  And yes, even though I use natural remedies and do my best to keep my kids healthy?  They still get sick.

It's so easy and natural to judge ourselves and others based on how we perform.  Ugh.  We can't see into the hearts of others (the way God can), so we take what we see (at least our perception of what we see) and come to conclusions about others.  And ourselves.

But it's so important for us to know (and for us to communicate to others) that we are LOVED because of WHO we are, not what we do.  I'm learning.  Slowly.  To communicate unconditional love WHILE teaching and training.  I can enjoy my family, laugh with them, LOVE them well.  Even when I don't always like what they might DO.  Please tell me I'm not the only one with extended family who is CRAZY?  Ha!

My point?  Unconditional love is a difficult concept for all of us.  We love what we like.  We are pleased when we get what we want (and feel justified when it's the "right" thing). And it's difficult to love what we don't like or love when we are not pleased with someone and their choices.

A few months ago, the Coach and I were able to hear Andrew Farley speak at a local fundraiser.  He's the author of "The Naked Gospel" and "God Without Religion".

His talk was long and good and real.  But one thing he said just stuck.

He was speaking about God's sovereignty and how who we ARE is who CHRIST is in us.  Understanding our nature IS that of Christ.  Even when we don't behave as we should, it doesn't change who we ARE.

Do you see where I'm headed?  Christ's love for me has nothing to do with what I DO.  It's not based on my performance.  My success in being a "good" wife or mom.  My ability to always obey.

When God sees me?  He's sees His Son's nature.  Perfect.  Complete.  Pleasing.  Loved.

Andrew Farley said, for those who are in Christ, "You can't mess this up."

What?  (as my eyes filled with tears)  I can't?  Even if my kids rebel (One of greatest fears!)?  Even if my husband isn't always happy and content with me (I am SO not good enough for him!)?  Even if my house isn't always warm and welcoming (We are NOT magazine material around here!)?


When we experience heartache in our lives or see tragedy in the lives of those we love?  He is still God.  Still in control.  Still loving us.  Whether the pain in our lives is because of our own actions, the actions of others, OR just allowed by God (And we can't see any reason for it at all!  Enter Job.). And OH to see it all fit together when we reach eternity and the big picture is clear.

What makes us think that our behavior (good or bad) will ever trump God's power in our lives?  Kind of silly when you think about it.

I am pleasing to HIM because I have Christ in me.  The Hope of Glory.  And He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Thank you, Jesus!

The truth is, even though we should never sin just to experience God's grace (see Romans 6), sin IS the field in which grace grows.  For me.  For my kids.  For those I love.  And there is no shortage of sin or opportunity for grace.  At least around here.

Happy Wednesday.