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.

Friday, January 24, 2014

January Ramblings. . .

The Coach and I have been talking about January since school started.  As in, "Well, the busiest month will be January, the rest won't be so bad." Or "You think this is busy?  Just wait until January."  You know.

But worrying about it accomplishes nothing, so it was out there, on the horizon, hovering somewhere in the back of my mind.

Until it hit.

9 games one week, 13 another, 13 the next.  I didn't count this week.  Never found the time.  Not to mention the countless projects and long term assignments that all hit this month.  Times eight.  We've started buying poster boards in bulk.

It feels somewhat like having 5 kids under 6.  Just surviving one day at a time.

Except with more sleep.  And more driving to basketball games.  When they were all little we only had whatever team the Coach had that season to go watch.  Not the five different teams we have right now.

I don't want to miss the "now", waiting for the busy to pass.  Maybe that's why I haven't been writing as often.  To write, I have to step out of the "now" and take a break.  There just hasn't been time.  I spent so much of when the kids were little thinking, "If we can just make it until they sleep all night," "If we can just get this one potty trained," "If I can just make it through this last few weeks of pregnancy" (times eight).

But you know what?  They were beautiful days.  Even though I spent many of them hanging on for dear life.

I've learned to relax a little (You should see my house.  And every drawer or cabinet.  And inside my fridge.  Ugh.).  There is only so much time in the day.  I don't want to spend it ALL just doing what will be undone tomorrow.  I want to soak in sitting on the coach rubbing Little Man's back when he's sick (today is day three).  I want to sit with my teens after the younger kids are in bed and talk about college and world views and gap programs (Son #1 is off at a college visit, today).  I want to GO to the games and cheer (I've been working on not yelling so much - yikes!) and laugh and hug my kids even when they lose a close one.  Especially when they lose a close one.

The last couple of weeks?  It's been frustrating.  Having kids home sick makes it impossible to be THERE for my others.  Lots of games and I'm missed quite a few.  Last week, when I was sick and last weekend when Daughter (#7) was sick and Son (#4) knocked a tooth loose, and now with Daughter (#5) and Little Man home for three days.

Turns out I can't do it all and I can't be two places at once.  And someone has to be HOME.  That would be me.

Grateful they are both feeling better, this morning.  Grateful that my Coach is with Daughter (#2) at her tournament game this morning, even if I can't be.  Grateful that friends took Son (#1) with their son to visit a college he is interested in, since the Coach and I are somewhat occupied.


Can't do it all.

But somehow in the middle of it all, we have fairly happy, content, kids, who don't freak out when we aren't both at their games.  Sometimes neither of us are.  We have laid-back kids who think it's no big deal to go with another family on a college visit because Dad has a tournament and Mom has sick little ones who need her at home.  We have kids who understand that grandparents can't always come to everything (not possible with 20 and 56 grandkids, is it?). We have kids who are blessed with sweet, kind friends and gracious parents of their friends who help with rides to practice, coaching teams, taking kids to Sonic, bringing them home.

I don't like not doing it all or missing events in my kids lives.  But you know what?  The Lord is using it to make them into some pretty amazing kids.  Who know they are loved, but know that we need them to be more independent - since we have a few to keep up with.  They are learning it's OK to ask for help from others and depend on other people, too.

The Lord knew that I needed every one of these eight.  So I couldn't keep up.  So I couldn't hold it all together.  So I couldn't do it all, always be there, always help and do things for them.  Because I would have.  And they have so much more to learn from a mom who has to depend on the Lord and not myself.

Today?  I need a spreadsheet on Excel to keep track of where everyone is.  But mostly just so I can pray effectively for all of my troops - who are spread out a bit here and there.  Giving me a glimpse into the very near future when they won't all be around the table every evening, or sleeping under our roof every night.

That's our job as parents, after all.  To grow them up and send them off.  It's terrifying, exciting, and pretty wonderful all at once.

Is it too soon to start missing my firstborn when he leaves next Fall?  (sniff)

Happy Friday!

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year, New Focus

My troops headed back to school this morning.  My Coach, too.  I miss them all, already.  Crazy, right?  But I do.  It's quiet.  And things haven't gotten increasingly messy in the last three hours.

I'll adjust.  Although I really could have my husband home ALL OF THE TIME.  I know some wives think they'd go crazy.  But not this one.  There is more than enough work around here for TWO parents on any given day.  I love his company, his teasing, his smile, his HELP, his tender and patient parenting of our kiddos.

My sweet parents gave me a fabulous NEW IPAD for Christmas.  Wow.  I honestly had no words.  You know how that happens sometimes?  You sit.  You stare.  Your mind can't grasp that YES IT IS AN IPAD and YES IT'S FOR ME.

Although I honestly haven't really gotten to use it since then.  I let the kids play on it during the day (Have you SEEN the game, "Dumb Ways to Die"?  Ugh.) and then after bedtime I'd fix some tea and snuggle with a blanket on the couch and grab it and . . . dead.  Every time.  Finally, this past weekend, I took two seconds to put a pass code on it.  Thinking THAT would do the trick.  At least they would have to ask and NOW it wouldn't be dead when I sat down in the evening with it.

No, not dead.  Locked.  From excessive attempts to figure out the passcode.

I know.  First world probs.  I'm not complaining.  The whole thing was quite humorous.

One thing I've wanted to do, however, is download a new book for the new year.  (I'm taking suggestions.)  Then I saw my nightstand and the almost-finished four books sitting there.  Books I got the gist of but didn't persevere until the end.  And the mother in me?  Decided that I should finish those before I move on.  My theme for this year?  Letting go.  But maybe in letting go, we also have to complete some things in order to move on.  So I'm making the theme to FINISH what I've started (oh dear heavens that means the mending pile on my sewing machine), so I can LET GO and move on.

Little Man is sleeping in his own bed, now.  So there's that.  He's been on a foam mat in the girls room since Summer.  Or before.  What is WITH my kids and their crazy sleeping habits?  Or is it just that the Coach and I are so tired we are happy for them to just SLEEP wherever it is?  Might be.

Started a new session of boot camp this morning.  Determined to continue the Weight Watchers Simply Filling program - it's divine.  No tracking.  Healthy food.  Wiggle room for being human.  I'm in love.

We have nine basketball games this week.  Invention Fair coming up.  Presidential Tea.  Homecoming (not in that order).  Science Fair for a few.  And this week?  Nine basketball games.  Oh yeah.

And saying NO to everything else.  That I can.  Which won't, I suppose, include the two dentist appointments and a doctor's appointment this week.  But what I CAN say no to.  That's where I'm headed.

Not surprisingly, finishing these books has really revealed some treasures.  Turns out that there are some great ENDINGS that I had missed.  Like this one from "The Cure" by Lynch, McNicol and Thrall:

"The quality of your life is based on trusting this:  Where you are right now is the perfect place for you, or the God of all goodness and power would not allow you to be there."

Perfect place for me.  Right now.

Even if it means basketball and homework and herding the troops here and there while trying to maintain some sense of home, order, family time, and consistent dinners at the actual table.

I'll take it.

Happy Monday!