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.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Balance, Margins, Goals, Oh My.

Yesterday was the 16th Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.  I've run the half three times in the last 6 years.  This was finally going to be my year to do the full.  Then I injured my leg in the Fall, pushed harder than I should have to keep running and ended up taking all of January off.  Leg is better, but there just wasn't time to safely train.  Even for the half.

Life (for me) is full of committing, then pulling back.  Setting goals, then realizing that I can't keep up.  Trying to find balance between home, school, activities...then remembering that life is short and this season of precious memories to be made will be over all too soon.

I would love to say that I've found how to live life with good margins in all areas.  Reality is that I work like a crazy woman for two or three days, crossing things off my list... then I crash and spend an entire day catching up on laundry and taking a nap. 

Balance is important, but it's not possible.  Not really.  Not if you are juggling marriage, kids, home, LIFE..

Margins are super healthy.  But the truth is, I'm horrible at saying no.  If fact I rarely do.  Unless the Coach makes me (bless him).

Goals?  We need to have things to work towards, look forward to.  Crossing the finish line is an amazing feeling.  You don't just get up one day and run a marathon, you have to plan, prepare, do the work.  But no matter how hard you work, life happens.  Kids need your time, there are injuries and illnesses, and sometimes we overestimate how much time we have to give.  

Most of all?  There are seasons.  Right now at the troops it's the season of older kids.  Precious, wonderful, FUN memories.  I'm starting to realize I can't accomplish much else in the long term.  It takes all of my time to just manage it all.

When the kids were little, there was a lot of hunkering down.  Saying no, staying home, being committed to naps and bed times and consistency.  We even said no to basketball - can you believe it?

Now that we have two who have grown up and moved off to college and no babies to tote around, I'm saying YES TO IT ALL!  
Want to be in the play?  SURE!
Want to run track?  OF COURSE!
Want to play tennis?  WHY NOT?
Want to play volleyball?  YOU BET!

Because it's such a unique season of life - these school years at home are over so quickly.  I'm loving it and we are cramming it all in with reckless abandon!

Never mind that I miss most of the tennis and I've missed all of the track meets and thank HEAVENS volleyball is over and DID YOU SEE THE PLAY?  Because it was amazing.  AMAZING!  

It's also a season of time together, watching our kids do hard things - and the Coach and I learning that we are a really good team.  

I might be a push over - but the Coach backs me up when someone needs a firm hand.  I might say yes more than I should - but the Coach is so good to make me slow down.  I may feel the need to take care of everybody - all of the time - but when I feel guilty for falling short?  The Coach reminds me that our troops don't need me to do it all.  I'm sure he would say he needs me, too, but truth is?  I am continually amazed at this man I'm married to.  

So very grateful for him.

And because I don't have time for a catch up picture post about the troops right now?  I'll leave you with this.  A picture of Little Man wearing Captain Hook's wig.  How fabulous is that?

Happy Monday! 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Time Away

The older I get, the faster it goes.  I have a harder time sleeping in and still get less done.  I dare not sit down, because then I have a harder time getting up and moving, again.  The coach and I are tired all of the time.  Or maybe it's just that we have so much going on and it's hard to keep it all straight most days.

But this week?  We are traveling together - just the two of us.  He's working.  I'm free to do whatever.  I'm not sure what that is.  I watched Netflix for so long yesterday afternoon that it asked me if I wanted to continue watching.  What?  Are you kidding me? It's not like I had laundry to fold or dinner to make.

So quiet in that hotel room, with it's big white King size bed and towels I don't have to use more than once.  I drank coffee and took a nap and picked up dinner for when the coach finished up.

I may not know what to do with free time.  But the coach and I sure do love having time together.  Traveling on Wednesday we talked and laughed read our books and I slept on his shoulder and I LOVE doing life with him.  It doesn't matter where we go or what needs to be done, it's better with him.

I miss the kids.  The schedule I printed out for them had already changed before our first flight took off.  I keep checking in with them to make sure they are getting everyone where they need to be and eating.  You know.  The main things.

They are doing just fine, of course.  Friends are helping with rides and practices - one track meet, one tennis tournament, and two volleyball tournaments just while we're gone.  My mom is helping pick kids up while the older boys are busy.  A sweet friend is coming to stay tonight so it's not such a boring Saturday for those at home.  It's all getting done there, while I'm here watching the snow fall.

Today would be a great day to catch up on my Bible in a year reading (I'm forever and always behind).  I may even check out some of the shops near our hotel.  I'll for sure pick up some lunch for the coach and deliver it to the exhibit hall.

I enjoy exploring new places and visiting new cities - one of the blessings of having traveled so much growing up.  I've found Starbucks and Target and Chick-fil-A, so we could stay here forever.  But it's very different than home, too.  Note to self, no one wants to strike up a random conversation in Wisconsin.  I'm sure they are just cold - seriously, 30 degrees in April?  Yikes.  At home I can't sit in Starbucks for five minutes without seeing a friend.

Then again, maybe I'll just take another nap and watch more Netflix.  This is rest.  The cessation of the usual and the being still.  I don't do it well, but I'm trying.  Even the Coach - who is here to work, said it's different than the office and classroom.  He's enjoying the break, too.

Even if I can't sleep past 5:30.  Which is OK, because the snow sure was pretty.  Even if I saw it from inside on the treadmill since I didn't pack all of my cold running gear.  Brrrr.

Happy Friday.