Sunday, August 7, 2016

Another year. Another football season.

I woke up in a panic, yesterday.  Mind flooded with lists and calendars and ALL OF THE THINGS that need to be done before the 18th.  Getting six kids back to school is not for the faint of heart.  

But then I remembered the one year we had all eight troops in school together.  Senior (playing football), Junior (playing volleyball), Freshman (with a season ending ACL injury the last scrimmage before regular season football),  7th grader (playing Jr. High football), 6th grader, 5th grader, 3rd grader, and Little Man starting in Kindergarten.

What. A. Year.

So maybe moving two back to college (at two different schools) and having the other six start school - all in six days - won't be so bad.


Last night we went to the parent volleyball dinner with Daughter (#5).  She's a freshman.  I'm not sure how that's possible.  It's seems like we just started this journey with our first girl and she's now a Sophomore in college.

Football season officially starts with practice on Monday.  The boys have been working out all Summer and the Coach has temporarily moved the whiteboard to the dining room to draw plays.  At our house, we do many other things... but football is where it's at.

I love the game.  I love my Coach.  I loved watching Son (#1) play and I love watching Sons (#3 and #4) play, together.  There is nothing like it.

After 21 years (is this our 22nd football season together?), I have learned to love something that means a great deal to my husband.  Not just the sport, but the opportunity to influence and invest in the lives of young men.  To use the game of football to teach love for the Lord, character, toughness, life skills, sportsmanship, how to lose well, how to win with grace, how to be a man.  Our world needs Godly, strong, determined, men of character more than ever before.

I've written about it before so I won't do that, again.

But there's also a part of me that has to psych myself up for it.  As much as we love it, as much as we enjoy it, believe in it, appreciate the lessons and the relationships and memories...

It's tough.

It's a lot of long school days and late Friday nights and early Saturday mornings.
It's a lot of long drives to little Oklahoma towns by myself with all of the younger kids and their friends (which I LOVE, by the way).
It's a lot of frustration, soreness, and exhaustion for my boys.
It's a tremendous amount of work for the Coach and his colleagues.

I don't mind taking care of things, chauffeuring the kids, and handling volleyball season with the girls all by myself.  It's what we do.

Because for these few months, the Coach is all about the game.

As he should be.

When it's over?  We will both be ready... and sad.  Each year it goes faster and faster.  After coaching so many other young men over the years, the Coach and I are watching our own Crusaders grow up right before our eyes.  The amazing years of high school sports are such a tiny little part of life and we treasure them. We enjoy it all and are so grateful for the experience.

So I'm grateful for seasons.  This one especially.

And don't worry.  When it's time to cheer on my boys?  I'll be ready.  Maybe I'll go read that post again, just to make sure.

The school supplies might be another issue all together.  Ha!

Go Big Blue!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Random Sunday Thoughts

The saddest part about Summer winding down?  Losing our lazy Sunday nights.  Summer Sunday nights are the best. School Sunday nights?  Not so much.  Like that project you were supposed to start on Friday and do something every day all weekend, except there was a football game on Friday night and volleyball all day Saturday and church on Sunday morning so RIGHT NOW it all must be done before you go to bed!  You can tell how much I'm looking forward to it, right?


Yesterday we had one of our last free Saturdays before schools starts.  Or I should say before footballs starts.  When I say goodbye to my men for months.  (Kidding.  Sort of.)

The Coach and I took an earlyish run.  Because early to him is 5:30 and early to me is 7:00.  I've given up on being a morning person.  Pretty sure he hasn't give up on making me one (bless him).   As we neared home, a thunderstorm was rolling by to the north.  Then we sat on the porch and drank our coffee and talked.  For over an hour.  We realized we didn't have too much on the agenda for the day (hence the porch sitting), so I assigned jobs to all of the kids and we took my dad to the noon movie.  So nice.


There were days when the kids were little that I was sure they'd never be independent.  I'd take 10 times longer to get a job done so they could be by my side learning along with me - on a good day.  On a bad day I'd do it all by myself while they napped or watched a video.  Remember Bear in the Big Blue House?  "Mmmmm.  You smell like... Honey."  Loved that.  Then I started assigning them jobs only to have to go give them step by step instructions, follow up after, and send them back to do it all again more thoroughly.

But I'm telling you.  The day will come.  When they will be SUCH a help to you.  And since you don't have to do all of the work (or spend 10 times longer doing it with them hanging on your leg or messing it up as you go)?  You'll have time to play games and watch movies and do puzzles and cook and bake WITH them.

Trust me.  Stick with it.  Take deep breaths and keep teaching and training and laughing at the frustration of it all.  So worth it.


We get obsessed with games at the troops.  They play the SAME thing for weeks.  And weeks.  Until I think I might lose my mind.  Then they switch to something else and play that for weeks.  It's odd and funny and maddening.

This Summer started with Volley/Tennis/Roof Ball.  Hitting volleyballs off the roof with tennis racquets.  Oh.  And you have to say a random word when you hit the ball.  Made up games might be their specialty.

It continued with croquet.  Hours and hours of croquet in the front yard.  They googled the rules and played all around our sloped, tree-filled front yard.  They even added a rule that everyone not hitting the ball had to stand on the sidewalk so as not to interfere.  Which created a cheering, jeering gallery that was far more entertaining than the game itself.  The neighbors must think we are nuts.

Then the extreme heat arrived and they moved inside to the A/C and Rumikub.  Always a favorite, but for several weeks an obsession.  Everyone trying to beat daughter (#7) who was blessed by God almighty with her daddy's math brain.  I actually beat her twice.  The whole Summer.  I'm so proud.

Currently?  They are playing indoor volleyball on their knees in the living room with a huge pink rubber ball and throw pillows for the middle line.  We've moved the candles, vases, and picture frames because it is obviously somewhat hazardous.  But also hilarious.

I'll miss all of this when we have games every night of the week.  But that has it joys, as well.


I've cut the boys' and the Coach's hair for years.  I was fortunate to start before they cared what it looked like (buzz cuts for everyone!) and gradually I've learned enough (with some lessons from my mother-in-law and my dad) to do a respectable job on five different heads of very different hair who all want it cut different ways.

But it's not my favorite chore.  At all.  So much pressure.  And itchiness.

So today, when the boys said they were paying to go to the walk in place and get their hair cut and giving me the day off?  I rejoiced.

These guys have my heart.

And I got a nap.


Last week the Coach and I sat down and talked about how we had gotten a bit lazy with each other.  My Coach is a such good man.  I know I say that a lot and if you know him you know it's true. But life with a houseful of teens just gets busy.  We were getting everything done.  But like ships passing in the night.  We'd quit doing a lot of the thoughtful things that make life with each other FUN.  We'd go days only texting "Are you bringing the kids home or do I need to come get them?" and "What's for dinner?" which was always a kid using the Coach's phone and not the actually the Coach.

We've been apart more than usual this Summer. It did give us a new appreciation for each other, but it also made us both more comfortable than usual doing things on our own.  When he's gone (and often without any communication) on a mission trip, I'm in charge.  When he's on a mission trip, I'm not experiencing what he's going through.  It gets to be a habit and then all of a sudden you're both acting independently instead of communicating and making decisions together.

Thankfully, we both realized it.  Talked about it.  Have been working harder at getting back to paying more attention to each other.  Texting "I love you." and "I'm grateful for you." and "Thanks for unloading the dishwasher before you left this morning."  Can I just say?  Makes life really good.  Somehow when we treat each other as if we like each other?  We remember how very much we do.  He's still my favorite after these 21 something years.


Right now, as I'm headed to bed, Daughter (#2) is somewhere over the water, flying from Dubai to Dallas on her way home from two weeks in Kenya.  She's shared the gospel and held beautiful babies and watched the elephants at the watering hole.  I can NOT wait to hear all about it.  After she sleeps for two days.  Ha!

Which brings me back to these crazy kids. Parenting is the hardest job there is.  There are days I'm fairly certain I won't survive and the only reason I keep going is because I'm blessed to have a community of family who HAS.  Survived, that is.  It gives me hope on the days when I'm sure I've failed completely.

But how very grateful I am to be their momma.  To watch them grow and learn and serve others and become these amazing people that I love so dearly.

So grateful.

Keep trusting your people to their loving Heavenly Father and take deep breaths and go to bed earlier and leave the dishes for the kids to do at 10:00 pm.

It's the best.

Happy Summer Sunday!

Phil. 1:6 "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

Friday, July 22, 2016

Adjusting Expectations

I slept in AND ran yesterday.  Which means I ran at 8:30 when it was already a billion degrees outside.  With the humidity, I'm sure the heat index was a billion ten.  At least.

But I got out there, anyway.

I hadn't run in 12 days.  After almost 8 years of running consistently, I rarely miss more than one run.  Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday.  Every week.  Every month.  All year.  The only decision to be made is whether it's going to be Saturday or Sunday this weekend.

The time off was unplanned and - in my thinking - un-needed. I've just been a slacker.  A tired, Summer-mom slacker.

Finally sucked it up yesterday and got out there.  It wasn't horrible.

The whole thing has made me think...

Sometimes you need to rest.  I need to rest.  Even when there isn't a "good" reason.  I'm so grateful that the Lord knows this.  Often it takes a super busy schedule or a sick little one or a husband going on an unexpected trip to get me out of my routine and cause me to REST.

My expectations of what I can do, the pace I can keep, the amount I can get done each week?  Sometimes I need to adjust them.

Allow for Summer.  For naps.  For rest.  Take a day off from running (figuratively or literally or both).  Or 12.

During the school year I find myself saying, "THIS Summer we are going to get to that closet/cabinet/room/project.  THIS will be the year!  Organize the things!  Clean out the stuff!"

Then Summer comes and I hear myself saying, "THIS Fall when the kids are back in school I am going to get to that closet/cabinet/room/project!  THIS will be the year..."

Sound familiar?

Every now and then we get something extra done.  The list gets a little shorter before it gets longer again.  It works.  It's ok.  We are getting ENOUGH done and learning so much together in the process.

The house doesn't have to be clean all of the time.  In spite of my expectation for it to be so.  We can watch a movie in the evening.  Even if there is unfolded laundry.  We can have pancakes for dinner and leave the dishes for morning.

It's OK.

What I want more than anything is to hear and obey the indwelling Holy Spirit each moment - whether that means deep cleaning the house or sitting and playing "Kube of Rum" with my kids.  There is a time for both.  And these days are passing so quickly.  So very quickly.

I don't want to let my own expectations of myself or others be my master.

Yesterday I sat down on the Coach's laptop to write this post and realized that his filter didn't allow him to access blogs.  Any blogs.

Think about that for a minute.

So now I'm letting go of the expectation that the Coach reads anything I write.

(Are you laughing, yet?)

How I love him.

(And he had those pancake/dinner dishes done before I left for workouts this morning.  He's a good man.)

I think I'll just go back to Colorado where it's cool.  Sigh.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Some Kind of Irony

I'm not talking about the opposite of wrinkly.  I'm all for wrinkly - which is why my kids iron their own clothes.

Monday evening - after being up since 3:30 AM - I told the Coach, "This Summer is killing me.  I'm exhausted.  Overwhelmed.  Getting nothing done.  And SO TIRED."

As usual he just laughed.  Which I tell myself isn't out of lack of compassion (?), but because he finds me amusing.  Which keeps things interesting.  I hope.

Once again he said, "We're not going to be anything but busy.  Eight kids, remember?"

He says this to me a lot.  As if I might forget that we have eight kids.


Sometimes I am a tad bit forgetful.

Can I just say?  Adult kids are mentally exhausting for several reasons (that I've discovered thus far).

First, they aren't physically WITH you all of the time.  I know, I know, you're thinking "YAY FOR PEACE AND QUIET" which of course, is lovely.  But when they aren't with you, you're still thinking about them, praying for them, worrying about them, wondering how they are, and trying very much to speak into their lives in some sort of regular fashion. Which honestly, is somewhat tricky when you ALSO still have six kids at home - in various stages - that are around every day.  And since they aren't WITH you?  You can't just look at them and see that they are or aren't OK.  You can't look into their eyes.

(A side note?  Just when they become these amazing adult people that you LOVE to be with, admire, and enjoy tremendously?  They leave.  It stinks.)

Secondly, there is the supposed gradual change from your control to their control.  Natural, needed, appropriate.  Also hard.  Because you are constantly debating whether or not to address things in their lives.  Sometimes you should.  Sometimes you should keep your mouth shut.  It's challenging. And I'm not so good at the keeping your mouth shut part.

All to say, I know we only have six kids living at home full-time.  It's less laundry, less food, fewer people and fewer activities.  Sort of.

But mentally there are still eight.  Always eight.  Well, until there are MORE than eight.  But I'll think about that another day.

No, I don't have toys all over the floor, highchairs to clean, baths to give, or diapers to change.  Thankful for that.  I don't miss it.  But these grown people are still MY people.  Figuring out these new roles, relationships, and communication is work.  Different work, but still work.

Back to the irony.

After telling the Coach how tired I was?  I had a full night of teens who couldn't sleep and needed to talk, and - unfortunately - a Little Man who was hit with a violent stomach bug in the night requiring LOTS of cleaning, laundry, a shower, and sleeping by him on the floor.  And Febreeze.  So thankful for Febreeze.

Last night?  A full eight hours of sleep.  Pretty sure I heard the angels singing when I woke.  And thankfully... a clean house.  Because nothing motivates me to clean and sanitize like the threat of the vomit monster catching another kid.  Yikes.

I could easily think that we were jinxed by the fact that I told someone the other day that we hadn't had the stomach flu in AGES.  Then I told the Coach I was unusually tired.  Just don't.

But the truth is, it's just part of life.  God is still in control (in spite of the current political scene) and He loves us.  He gave the grace and strength for today.  And He'll be faithful tomorrow, as well.

That's the comfort in it all.  Not that it will be easy, He doesn't promise us that.  But that He'll be with us.  Even when I'm cleaning up vomit at 1:00 AM.  

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor 12:9

So thankful.  

Prayers appreciated for Daughter (#2) and my mom who arrived safely in Kitale, Kenya this morning.  I'm slightly panicked about how FAR AWAY they are after 45 hours of traveling (you'd think after sending kids to Africa six times it would get easier - it doesn't).  But also excited to hear about what God is doing in that part of the world.  Thanks for praying with us!

Happy Wednesday!  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer 2016 Update

Time for blogging has been overtaken by early workouts and post-workout naps and bacon and egg breakfasts at 11:00 and Psych marathons on Netflix and packing and unpacking and laundry and SO MUCH dropping kids off and picking kids up...

There is about a month of Summer left.  Between workouts and camps and VBS and vacation and mission trips, we haven't had much time to catch our breath.

OH so much to be grateful for.

Son (#1) is settled in at the ranch.  And loving it.  Maybe a little too much.

We were so thankful to have him home for a friend's wedding in June!  I have such handsome men, don't you think?

The Coach and Son (#3) had a great trip to Honduras.  They worked in a small school on the island of Roatan doing tutoring and VBS.

We had a FABULOUS vacation week together in Breckenridge.  Granddad's amazing breakfasts, mountain morning runs, family hikes, puzzles, jeep tours, and even 24 hours with our oldest boy.  Glorious.

Driving back from Colorado, we found out that Son's (#4) Leadertreks trip to Montana was lacking a male sponsor.  So instead of just getting him ready to go?  We had 24 hours to get him AND the Coach ready for 7 days of backpacking in the Big Horn National Forest.  Whew.  They headed out early the next morning and after 8 days... the Coach flew home and left his brother to handle week 2 of the trip.

Last week we sent Son (#3) off to Impact 360 Immersion in Georgia.  He's doing great!  One more week to go.

Last night we got Son (#4) back safe and sound.

This morning we sent Daughter (#2) off to Kenya for two weeks with Grandmother and Reaching Souls International missions.

And our little freshman, Daughter (#5), headed off to her first high school volleyball team camp this morning, as well.

We've made it through ALL of the goodbyes.  All that's left is welcoming everyone back home.

A couple of quieter weeks with just volleyball and football practice and then we'll be getting everyone ready to go back to college and school for the Fall.

So much grace.

And since I've been up since 3:30 AM... so much tired.

(Isn't this shirt that sent me for my birthday the best?!?)

One of these days?  The Coach and I will actually have a chance to talk about this Summer.  It's been a doozy so far.  Continuing to pray for wisdom and discernment and sometimes it just comes out, "Help, Lord."  He hears.  He knows.  He's so faithful.

Happy Monday!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Overwhelmed but Unshakable

(Written two weeks ago...)

Parenting isn't for the faint of heart. I tell myself that frequently when I am pushed to the end of my strength over and over again.

By a messy grown-up boy whose stuff trips me every time I walk into the room.

By a broken-hearted daughter who needs more time to talk.

By the middles who constantly take my phone and put it places where I can't find it.  (Just a hint, my FB is their FB.  They LOVE seeing all of my friend's posts.  Now you know.)

By Little Man's never ending one-more-question-mom-just-one-more-thing.

By the never-ending activities, games, uniforms, laundry, food to be fixed and dishes to be done, dorm room stuff to be sorted, FULL calendars, to-do lists that have to be added to constantly, and the exhaustion that seems to find new depths every single day.

I won't lie - I'm overwhelmed with it all.

Then, I walk by the playroom at 10:30 on a Sunday night, when the Coach has gone to bed and the younger kids have, too.  When I've been working on lists for the week and digging out from the email.  After I went to the store so I could make dinner, then cut three heads of hair, before another three loads of laundry.

And there my three oldest sit watching Aladdin.  Together.  Laughing because none of them have ever seen it.

Can I just tell you?  I may be overwhelmed.  But my heart is full.  These people, MY people, are my favorites.  For all of the exhaustion and busyness and things that must be done...

This is the best life.  Truly.

Because when Son (#1) leaves for his summer job in Colorado this week?  We'll all MISS him.  And stalk Instagram for pictures of him.
When the Coach and Son (#3) leave for Honduras to work at a mission there after school gets out?  I'll cry because they will take my heart with them.
When Son (#4) leaves for Montana on a leadership/missions trip?  It will leave a big giant HOLE in our troops.
When Son (#3) leaves for Impact 360 Immersion in Atlanta?  I'll be sad because when he's gone it's just not the same.
When Daughter (#2) leaves for Africa with Reaching Souls International?  I'll MISS her.  So much.

My hope is in the undeserved grace of our loving Lord, not in getting it all right.  And that's enough.

And yes, the boys do stand on their toes to try to be taller than each other.  Never a dull moment.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Can I confess something?

I'm hiding.

Turns out the only non-messy and somewhat quiet place in my house is my Daughter's (#5) room.  Which was Daughter's (#2) for the longest time, but has been occupied by the second girl in the family since college began in the Fall for our oldest girl.

I'm not hiding because I'm trying to avoid my family.  They've been sweet and kind today.  Flowers from the Coach, gifts and cards from the troops.  Church with all eight of my kids (so rare).  Brunch with my mom and mom-in-law, courtesy of my Dad's famous pancakes.

But the house?  I have no words.  Son's (#1) stuff from college that's being sorted for storage until next Fall and another Summer at the ranch.  Daughter's (#2) stuff she's started bringing home - she'll be back for good in another week. Laundry.  So much laundry.  I've just decided not to fold it, today.

And my email?  Fast approaching 100 unread messages.  Yikes.  Not the time of year to avoid that, for sure.  Both email and calendar desperately needed attention.  So here I sit.

The Coach ordered me a new silverware rack for our dishwasher for mother's day.  He's ever practical - and honestly, having to place the silverware strategically to avoid all of the broken places IS super annoying.  He knows it's been driving me crazy.  He has so many amazing qualities that I adore - I couldn't ask for someone more perfect for me.

We had a lovely date night last night (it had been SO long) with coffee after.  Which followed Captain America Civil War with all of the kids in the afternoon.  Which followed flower shopping for the yard.  Which followed a 6 mile run and breakfast together.

It's just unglamorous life here.  Every day life with girls arguing over which dress they were going to wear first or little man making his own pine cone bird feeders all over the dining room table, or someone deciding to make a blue funfetti cake (because we had the mix?) at 4:30 in the afternoon.  Smells like it burned.

It's messy.  I admit at times I wish for something more... well... less messy.

You hope, as a mom, that you have taught (are teaching?) you kids to serve others, to think of others, to be kind and lay aside their own comfort or convenience to help someone else.  I'm not so sure that today's picture of my success at that is a pretty one. I love my troops, but we'd have to dig them out of this house if no one made them help put things away and wash dishes and fold laundry.

For now?  I'm going to leave it all until tomorrow.

I'm going to remember that just as the Lord isn't done with me yet (Whew!), I'm not done with my troops, either.  Neither is their Heavenly Father, who loves them way more than I ever could and has given them the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to transform their hearts - something no amount of mothering could ever do.  That's my greatest hope - that's it's not all dependent on me.  Thank you, Jesus.

If only Starbucks would deliver in here.

For my sweet mom and my mom friends who have kids who are breaking their hearts today (and not just messing up their house?)?  I'm praying for you.  God loves those prodigals in unimaginable ways.  Even when I just want to strangle them for the pain they cause you.  He forgives.  He continues to draw them to Himself.  We haven't seen the last chapter of your story, yet.

Keep praying.  Keep hoping.  Keep loving.  Keep forgiving even when your heart continues to be broken by their destruction.

If you need me in the meantime, I'll be available by email (which is now all read, thankfully) until the laptop battery dies.  Because I am NOT going out there to get the cord.  Someone probably moved it and didn't put it back, anyway, so what's the use?

Happy Mother's Day, Friends.  Grateful for each one of you and the way you bless me in this journey.