Friday, September 12, 2014

The beginning of a new season

It's been a good day.  A good week.  A super busy week.

Fall has crept in and it's still my favorite time of the year.  It reminds me of love and being engaged and wedding planning and looking at rental houses with my Coach.  20 years ago.

But when "I drive your truck" came on on the way to school?  It made me cry.  And please don't ask why I was listening to the country music station.  It was sort of an accident.  Sort of.

I miss my boy.

Not that he's that kind of gone, of course.  But his truck is sitting out there.  And he's so far away.  I haven't exactly been tempted to drive it just to think of him (the muffler makes my head hurt).  But still.

It's a dark and dreary and COLD drizzly day.  Pizzas are cooking and pumpkin muffins are sitting on the cooling racks and we are headed to the football game in a bit.  After we bundle up a LOT.  Brrrr.  Even though I don't have a boy out there playing, this season, the kids still love our Friday night football games and after 20 years. . . well. . . it's just what we do.

Little Man is at a friend's house, so it's quieter than usual, even with two extra friends at our house.  I want to curl up under a blanket with the fireplace going and watch a movie.

But not The Chronicles of Narnia.  Because when "The Call" came on Spotify, it made me want to cry, again.

Dear heavens.

I need a slap in the face, apparently.

And maybe another muffin.  (Seriously, found a new recipe, today, and it's fabulous!)

I just keep thinking.  It's not that he's gone.  It's really not.  I'm so HAPPY forheavenssake.  I really truly am.

It's just that this is the beginning of SO MUCH CHANGE, here.

The end of a season.

The "all of our eight troops under our roof every night, for the most part" season.

Cooler weather and the drizzle and the smell of pumpkin (all things I love!) are reminding me that the seasons are changing.  So is life.  Always changing.  Never the same.

So I guess it's OK to be a little sad.

There is a whole lot to be happy about, too.  For sure.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Early Sunday Morn

I can't sleep, again.

Either the barista at Starbucks on our quick coffee run/date night messed up and failed to give me decaf?

Or I forgot to take a Benadryl at bedtime?

Or maybe both.

I've prayed through my list.  Twice.  Thankful for that.

And here I sit.  Mind and heart full of so many things that keep me from sleep.

With the alarm clock set for 0 dark 30 and our weekly Sunday morning "long" run.  Time is ticking and sleep is illusive and to be honest?  I want to eat cereal with milk.

Just telling it like it is.

You know what I keep thinking?  It's completely OK if you couldn't care less. . . because to be honest, I write this blog for little ole me.  I do.  Mostly because I have the world's worst memory (I blame the 9 pregnancies for that - and in some instances, I think it's just grace - because who wants to remember all of the bad?) and I do NOT want to forget this.


Life.  Like it is right now.

Yes, it's mostly the laundry and the food and the dishes and messes and practices and games and homework that we spend our time on.

But there is a lot of laughter and silliness and tears and hard things, too.  Learning to live together and forgive each other and be kind.  For goodness sake - sometimes it's SO hard to be kind.

I don't want to forget it.

I don't want to forget that the Coach?  He is amazing.  He is patient.  Loving.  Faithful.  Kind.  A seeker after Christ.  Smart.  Handsome (I won't forget that one.).  He LOVES me.  I have no idea WHY, but he does.  I don't want to forget these years doing life with him and raising these kids and sneaking off to get coffee (even if they forget to give me decaf, forheavenssake) and folding laundry during Saturday football games on TV and going for early Sunday morning runs in the dark.  I don't want to forget watching him on the sidelines at Friday night football games and seeing him bent over math homework with our kids in the evenings.

I don't want to forget that right now Son (#1) is off on the adventure of a lifetime.  That his emails and texts and Facebook posts make me cry because I am SO HAPPY that he's where he is doing what he is and following hard after Jesus.  And maybe I'm praying that he won't move to Alaska someday.  Unless that's what God has for him, in which case I'll have to suck it up, won't I?

I don't want to forget that Daughter (#2) is both amazingly beautiful and incredibly talented.  That her team just won a volleyball tournament, today, and she came home exhausted and overwhelmed with homework and excited to go see the Phantom with Grandmother, tomorrow.  That she's started on her Senior thesis and had her cap and gown pictures done.  This year with her will fly by.  For sure.

I don't want to forget that Son (#3) is a kind, thoughtful chauffeur these days.  That he's car shopping and looking forward to his drivers license and doing SO WELL after his two surgeries last year.  That he's running, again (this time last year that was only a dream!), that he's constantly making me laugh and that really, he and I shouldn't sit next to one another at the dinner table because sometimes I can't stop laughing and I snort.  Sometimes.

I don't want to forget how much Son (#4) has grown this year.  That he's way taller than his momma.  That he cringes when I mention a hair cut and he's both strong and athletic.  And smart.  He might possibly drive me crazy before he's a grown man, but I love him dearly.  As well as his grin.  And his orneriness.  He's completely in heaven because it's FOOTBALL SEASON!  Woohoo!

I don't want to forget that this is Daughter's (#5) 7th grade year.  Junior high!  How is is possible that my tiny "Boo" is in Junior high?  Lockers and changing classes and volleyball and tons of homework and she's handling it beautifully.  She's quiet and sarcastic and has a spark that makes up for how petite she is.  And she hasn't gotten run over, yet, in the halls with the big kids.  So that's a relief.

I don't want to EVER forget that Daughter (#6) is thriving in life and in school (because we have experienced the flip side).  She's a good friend.  She's blunt and sometimes loud (OK, most of the time - but we'd be bored without her!), she says what she thinks and you never have to wonder how she feels about something.  But she also works the hardest and helps the most and I'd never make it through all of the grocery shopping without her.

I don't want to forget how happy Daughter (#7) is 99.9% of the time.  That she sleeps hard and wakes up early (almost always before the rest of us) and goes full speed all day long.  She sings, she loves Mandisa, she has lots of sweet friends and she's still "little girl" enough to care less about clothes and makeup and more about playing school and office in the sunroom.  Thank heavens for that.

I don't want to forget that right now, Little Man is both a delight and a joy and OH MY HEAVENS what would our family be without him?  He still gets excited about icees and bugs and painting and kids meals and learning new words and we'd be ever so bored if he weren't constantly creating things and doing "projects" (that means messes).  His big brown eyes and his smile can light up the room.  He truly makes our troops complete.

So see?  Sometimes I need to have insomnia so I can remember how blessed I am.  How precious these days are.  How much I love my people.  My troops.  How they are RIGHT THIS MOMENT because they will grow and change tomorrow and I don't want to forget.

My bed is calling.  Even if I can't sleep, I can pray through my list, again, and listen to my Coach breathe next to me and thank the Lord for all of these gifts.  I don't deserve any of it.  Especially His grace.  But OH how grateful I am for it all.

Happy Sunday.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Letting Go

He was 13 that first time we shipped him off.  Our first born, who had never been to summer camp or spent the night at a friend's house (only cousins, really), whose entire experience traveling without us had been to 5th grade science camp with his class from school.

At the time, we knew it was the right thing to do.  I'm sure our friends thought we were nuts (but that's nothing new).  And as you know, with a first born, they always seem so mature.  Until they aren't 13 anymore and your 5th is 13 and you think, "I sent him WHERE when he was this old?"

Perspectives certainly change as the years go by.

He had an amazing trip.  Life changing.  Souls saved.  His heart stretched.  We were grateful.

Since then, we've packed him up and shipped him off countless times.  Brazil.  Africa, again.  Mexico (twice).  Summit worldview camp.  Boston.  Alaska.

It's become less and less of a big deal to send him off and watch him walk away for a few weeks.

But this is different. This time it's not for a couple of weeks.  Or a month.

Instead it's for the entire school year.  A visit at Christmas, but otherwise it's going to be texting (except for right now, because they are on a media fast - ha!), phone calls and Skype so the littles can see their biggest brother.  They already miss him.

My heart is full.  And grateful.  I'm so very proud of the young man he's become.  I know he'll do well.  I know he'll grow and be stretched even more, and prayerfully I am hoping that he will not only know Christ more fully when this year ends, but he'll understand more deeply who he is in Christ and get a bigger glimpse of his place in God's plan for this time in history.

I have great expectations.  Of him.  Of this program.  Of the staff who is already pouring their lives into him.  Most of all, of God's ability to work in and through those who are surrendered to Him.

A full heart.  A grateful heart. An expectant heart.

I'm going to miss him a lot.  I already do.

But looking back on the last 5 years, especially, I can see God's almighty hand leading and working and moving. . .

Showing me that those lesser "letting go's" were just practice for the bigger ones.

Because I realize that there are even bigger ones to come.

And grace enough for them all.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Note to my 22 Year Old Self

(Written Spring of 2014)

The Coach and I were recently discussing the fact (or I was, anyway - he was listening) that I have fallen a long way in the housekeeping/homemaking department as a wife and mom.

It's bad.

I know this.  But I live in denial a great deal of the time.

Because who wants to think about how dirty one's house is?  Or how disorganized?  Or how totally out of control every. single. drawer. and cabinet are?


But the Coach and I?  Decided that to find the humor in the situation, we only needed to look as far as my 22 year old, mother of one, homemaker self.

Because that girl?  She could keep house like a boss!

The sheets were washed weekly.  Weekly!  I can't even imagine that one.

The bathroom was always spotless.

The floors were always clean.

The windows were washed regularly - at least Spring and Fall, or when needed.

The laundry was always caught up, neatly folded, put away, and ironing never piled up.

The fridge stayed clean and shiny.  And although it wasn't full of food, as a rule, what food was in there was healthy.

I could go on.

So here's a note to my 22 year old self.  Mother of one.  Married a year or so.  OCD in all things domestic.

"You're doing a great job, Girl!  Navigating marriage, learning to love your husband and communicate with him.  Serving him whole-heartedly and the house?  It's clean.  I mean CLEAN.  Good for you!  The flower beds are lovely - and I know you enjoy spending Saturdays with your Coach working outside in the yard.  Because on Saturday the laundry is already caught up and the house is clean because you've been doing that all week long!

Enjoy it.

Love every newly-wed, brand new baby, all things are exciting and fresh and sunshiny, minute of it.
It won't last.

Someday, you'll look back and think, Wow.  A clean house.  What's that?  You'll be juggling schedules and school for eight, and sports seasons (for your own kids, not just your husband's coaching).  There will be eight people dependent on you instead of just one tiny baby.  The house will be bigger (because that tiny baby - he'll grow into a big ole MAN - bigger than his daddy) because you will fill it up with eight kids who will soon (at least half of them) be young adults and young adults clothes are a lot bigger than baby clothes.

There won't be anymore diapers or bottles.  But there will be cars and drivers licenses and JSB dresses and dates.  There will be smart phones and internet to navigate (not just dial up email).
Someday, you and your new hubby won't be able to take naps on Sunday afternoons while the baby naps.  Because big kids don't nap.  And they are noisy.

"But even without the little, clean, perfectly organized house, you know what you will have?
OH if I could only show you.

"Almost 20 years with your Coach will be more amazing than you can imagine!  You will truly experiences oneness and a closeness that at 22 you can't even dream of.  You will be able to read each other's thoughts and when big decisions come?  You'll often have the same exact idea about what needs to be done.  And you won't for one. single. second. want to go back to those quiet, happy, newly wed days.  Because forty somethings who have been married 20 years?  They know what marriage is all about.

"And in place of the time spent keeping a perfect house?  You'll have games and programs and you'll be able to hang with your big kids and you'll actually be able to walk out of the door almost any time without needing a baby sitter.  It's awesome, trust me.

"Yes, the laundry piles will be a permanent fixture on the hearth and you'll have to go to the grocery store almost daily to keep up with the appetites of four teens, but you won't miss the quiet.  Because you'll have the quiet - sometimes - during the day - when everyone is at school and it's just you and the parakeet at home (yes, you'll have a parakeet - but that's not the half of it).

"I know, I know, the grass won't grow under the swing set and the garage will be so full of bikes and scooters that you can't get around the car (you'll have a mini-van, too, and you will LOVE it!), and the eight lockers that hold back packs and shoes and gym bags WILL overflow onto the garage floor and you'll trip when you go out there early in the morning to get another loaf of bread out of the freezer to make those 9 lunches.

"But watching them all ride bikes (hard to imagine, isn't it?) and run and play and catch footballs and ride ripsticks down the street?  The messy garage won't seem to really matter.  And when it does?  You can have the kids there to clean it up.

"They'll be able to do the dishes and make dinner, too.  Fold laundry and clean their own rooms.  But it won't always get done. Things will be a mess.

"And you'll love it.  And wish for these days to last forever.  But they won't.  Because that tiny, first-born little guy that naps twice a day and takes all of your time?  He'll be graduating from high school before you know it and heading off on the next adventure.  They'll all be leaving as quickly as they came.

"So love on your Coach and kiss that baby and take a nap!  Life is only going to get better."

If I only I could have imagined the JOY and noise and fun and MESS that life would hold.  These are blessed, chaotic days and I wouldn't go back for anything.  Well.  Except maybe for the clean sheets.  I miss those.

Here we go again. . .

I've always said I'd be happy to have my kids home all day every day if I didn't have to teach them anything.  A teacher, I'm not.  I'm honest enough to admit it.  Just ask the Coach.  I can organize and plan and cook and clean and schedule babies/naps and watch the kids ride scooters, but teaching is not only not my thing, I'm really REALLY terrible at it.

And although I'm sad to see the lazy days and empty calendar squares (few as they have been) go by the wayside. . .

It's time.

Time for more of a schedule.  For less sleeping until 10 (the kids, not me - ha!), for fewer late nights and old movies and snow cones.

It's been a busy, fast, hectic Summer, but it's been SUMMER.  Full of travels and mission trips and workouts.  Of saying goodbye and saying welcome home (and LOTS of trips to the airport - ha!), and sharing memories and stories and seeing what GOD WILL DO in the hearts of men.

I wouldn't have said, two weeks ago, that I was ready for Summer to end.  I wanted it to go on forever.  But something about daily volleyball practice and school clothes shopping and endless school supplies has pushed me over the edge.  Well.  That and two-a-days for the Coach which means I not only don't see him much, but he is one very tired guy.

Since the notebooks are all over the living room until school starts?  Let's get going, then.

When we walked into those halls to meet teachers and see classrooms and renew school friendships?

My heart sang.

Yes, I'd still keep them all home with me if I could.  Maybe.  But that wouldn't be best for them OR for me.  Because these sweet people that plan and prepare and pour their hearts (and JESUS) into our kids?  Are a treasure.  They have a gift for teaching that I don't have.

My Coach is one of them.  How I love him.

I feel like I'm at the top of a BIG roller coaster hill looking down on High school football (we don't have a player this year, but you can bet we'll be there!) and Jr. High football and Varsity Volleyball and 7th grade volleyball. . . games four nights a week and MUCH less time with my Coach. . .

But it's time.

The troops are ready.  This momma is ready.  And I can't wait to see what this year will hold.

Did I mention that Son (#1) is moving to Atlanta for the school year?  Maybe that's another post for another day.

So maybe, after all, the preparations and work it takes to get ready for a new school year are just the thing to get my heart ready to jump back in, again.

May all of you sweet teachers preparing for the school year have God's grace and strength (thank you seems so inadequate).  May all of you precious mommas getting ready to send your dear ones off to school have grace and strength.  And if you homeschool?  I have no words.  Only admiration.

Excuse me while I go enjoy the last free Friday afternoon and evening that we will have for QUITE sometime.  Well.  At least until March.  Ha!

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.