Friday, February 17, 2017

Pray for our boy

Since January 27th, I've wondered how I would write this.  Is there a right or wrong way?  Will something I say or not say be misunderstood?  And since things are changing so quickly, should I just wait to write anything at all?

But here we are, February 17, and it needs to be done.

Our 18 year old son has Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma.

I can't even type that without tears and disbelief.  How did we get here?  How is this US?  How is this happening to our family?

I may never know.

Our lives will never be the same.  I don't know every way in which they will change, but I know they are already fundamentally different.  We can't go back to our lives as they were.  How I wish we could.  How I miss that life.  I even asked the doctor if we could turn around, walk out, and pretend like this never happened.  His answer wasn't encouraging.

So the Coach and I are with Son (#3) in Houston at MD Anderson receiving treatment.  Our other 5 non-college troops are at home.  This particular type of lymphoma is nasty and horrible (as is ALL cancer!) and our doctors at home wouldn't touch it.  The chemo is also nasty and horrible and apparently quite complex and continuously adjusted.  We already hate what it's doing to our boy.  And yet we are so thankful that it will give him an opportunity for a long, healthy life.

We have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love, prayers, and HELP.  Our kids have been cared for, fed yummy dinners, had groceries taken care of, rides to practises and games, and friends to stay with them.

The Coach, Son (#3) and I have been abundantly cared for as well.  I'm already realizing that I do not have the capacity to thank everyone personally.  But I pray that the Lord will bless everyone that has helped make this journey more bearable.  We are so thankful.

Every day brings another opportunity.  To choose joy.  To choose to be thankful.  There are people all around us, other patients,
nurses, doctors, caregivers, to whom we need to be thankful and kind.  There are circumstances every minute of every day that give us the chance to choose to be thankful and to trust the Lord.  So much trusting the Lord.

Some moments, the desire to see the kids and be HOME (we were hospitalized for a week there before we came here) overwhelms me.  The longing for the "before" is more than I can bear.  The pain my son is experiencing seems impossible.  The next six month stretch of 10 inpatient chemo treatments is before us like a mountain we can't climb.

But GOD.

He continues to give us strength.  All 10 of us in different and loving ways.
He continues to give grace for each adjustment in plans, treatments, and results.
He continues to show us His love, through the love of SO many others - praying, reaching out, helping.
He continues to give us HOPE, through his Word and the comfort of his presence with us.

As much as I want to go back to before this devastating diagnosis, I DO trust the Lord to continue to give us what we need and provide for us as we go.  He's gone before, he's prepared a way, He's with us today, and He holds the future.

Will you join us in praying for complete healing for our boy?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Beginning Again

Today was not a fall-asleep-on-the-couch-while-watching-a-hallmark-movie-nap kind of day.


It was a put-my-jammies-back-on-and-crawl-into-the-unmade-bed-nap kind of day.

The Coach and I finished week ONE of marathon training this morning.

Yes, you can laugh.

I realize week one isn't anything to write about.  It just struck me as extremely funny.  I asked the Coach to find the longest beginning training plan and add a month.  So now we've worked our way up to actually being ON the planned runs.

So coming in from our eight miles this morning as the sun was rising, he turned to me and said... I'm SO tired.

Week one.

Already done.

Except we're not.  Tired is the normal around here.  We'll keep on keeping on and pray and hope that my shins hold out (and don't turn to stress fractures - I've had three) and his knee doesn't give up (like it did in our last half-marathon - my 5th).

Old.  We're old.  And did I mention tired?

Maybe we did pick one of the busiest seasons of life to attempt this feat.  But there's always a 6th grade DC trip or an injury or LIFE and here we are with 2 college kids and 3 high-school kids and 1 Jr high kid and 2 elementary kids...

Beginning again.

I will run and stretch and ice and ibuprofen.  And maybe we'll make it to that marathon in February.

Maybe we won't.

But I'll keep trying.

One of these days we're going to do it.  Maybe this time will be it.

Happy RESTful Sunday.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

For my tired mama friends...

I hear you.  I hear you yawn, pour another cup of coffee, give yourself a pep talk.

I see you falling asleep while listening to your little one tell you one more time that he can't sleep.  Or that he's scared.  Or that the big kids keep turning lights off or music on or slamming doors.

I know you're discouraged.  Wondering why it's so hard and what would make it less exhausting and why can't it all just be easier?  For one day?

I watch you sigh when someone needs one. more. thing. for that project or the shoes are too small or the pants are too short and you can't imagine buying, spending, shopping.  Not to mention the budget that is always and forever stretched too thin.

This is tough stuff.  It's a lot of work... and when you mix in the pressures from every other area of life it can be more than daunting... seem impossible, even.

You mommas with little ones think if they'll just grow up a bit, be more independent, be able to go potty or tie their shoes or clean up without help... maybe you can catch your breath.

But then they are teens who are driving (so much for breathing), playing sports (and getting hurt), out with friends (good friends? good places? doing good things??) and not coming home before you fall asleep.  And do you let them?  Or say no?  Do they need to learn the hard way OR be protected?  Or both?

Then college students who you don't see for weeks.  My kids haven't even given me anything to worry about and I still do.  I can't help it.  Even if they are doing exactly what I'd want them to, there are OTHER people out there who aren't.  See what I mean?

I hear you.  I see you.  I know.

Can I just tell you something?

You're doing a great job.

Not a perfect job, of course.  You aren't Jesus.  And can I be honest?  I wonder how Jesus would have handled a houseful of kids.  Then I remember he parents ME and that makes it easier to imagine.

But if you're worn out and working hard and praying hard and loving your family?  You're doing a great job.

You can be a perfect momma and lose your kids.  We've all seen it.  You can fail every day and have kids who grow up to love God and love you and love others.  I've see that, too.

Parenting doesn't have guarantees.  But today?  I'm telling you, tired exhausted overwhelmed unsure momma...

You're gonna make it.  And so am I.

Now for another pot of coffee.

Psalm 27:14  Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Life as mom...

Last night we had a home football game (and homecoming) with our two varsity football guys and their handsome dad and coach.

There was also a Ben Rector concert - 3 miles from our house.  And you know I LOVE some Ben Rector.

When the concert schedule came out months ago, I saw that the date here was a Friday night and I moved on.  Fall Friday nights are for football at the troops.  It's been that way for 22 years and I don't see it changing anytime soon.

Daughter (#2) went with a nephew and good friend.  They said it was amazing.  I'm sure it was.

But we have choices, don't we?  When we marry we choose that one person forever.  When we have kids, they come before concerts and free time and sleep.

Someone asked me this week what parenting book I'd recommend for parenting a two year old.  I said just take a deep breath, drink another cup of coffee... and they'll be four and your won't need the book anymore.

I'm only half kidding.

Not that I haven't read some helpful books over the last 21 years.  I have.  But when I think about recommending them I hesitate.

No book will know your strengths and weaknesses as a parent.  No book will know the personality of your child.  Or the strengths and weaknesses of your spouse's parenting.  Or what will motivate, encourage or challenge your child.

Because all of us as parents, spouses, children... we're all completely different.  We may have similarities that give us something to talk about with other moms in Starbucks, which is great!  But the truth?  I'm a different mom than you are.  I just will be.

And maybe after all of these years?  I'm ok with that.  Or closer to OK with that.

What I CAN count on?  God's Word.  To direct, to guide, to give us wisdom.  Prayer.  To focus my heart on the Lord and His truth.  The Coach.  To balance, listen, and give another perspective.

And the older I get?  The more I believe that I'm not a mistake.  I MAKE mistakes, but I'm the mom my kids need.  God gave them to me and He didn't do it by accident.  He made me their mom.  I won't do everything right (anything right?) but God, in his beautiful sovereignty put these troops in this family with the Coach and I as their momma and daddy.  For His glory.

Not mine.

Not so I can train perfectly behaved kids, or have other people think we've got it figured out, or take credit for what they do well.  I give my Coach the credit for that  - ha!

But so God can receive glory from this imperfect mom and imperfect dad raising a whole crew of kids and trusting Him in the process regardless of where it takes us.

And giving up a Ben Rector concert to watch my boys play some ball?  Not a bad trade off.  Especially that 61 yard touchdown pass that Son (#4) caught with one hand.  No concert will ever top that.

Think Ben Rector will still be touring when Little Man's in college?

Happy Saturday.

*My filter won't let me attach the "Forever Like That" Ben Rector video.  So go look it up.  Good stuff.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Learn from it. Or at least be grateful.

I feel like I've slowly crawled out from under a very dark, very deep, very uncomfortable hole in the ground.  A respiratory infection, bronchial misery, fever and coughing fits. . . hole.

It all started two weeks ago on Friday before the football game.  My throat felt itchy, my voice started to go.  I didn't feel sick, but something was definitely off.  Allergies, I thought.  For sure. Because. . . Oklahoma.  And maybe God didn't want me to be able to yell at the football game anyway, right?

I don't know when it clicked that I was sick.  I was SO tired after the football game.  So.  Tired.  But I had been unusually tired lately.  And why not?

Maybe during the night?  I'm not sure exactly when, but I went from "I don't feel so hot" to "I'm dying" in about an hour.  Haven't been that sick and miserable in years.  Spent all day Saturday in bed sleeping.  Then I couldn't breathe anymore so I couldn't sleep Saturday night and most of Sunday.  Tossing and turning and coughing and wheezing and wondering what would happen if I did actually stop breathing.  Would I be able to wake the Coach?  He's a pretty sound sleeper.

Thanks to our wonderful doctor and some meds on Sunday night, I perked up enough by Monday (holiday, of course) to get sort of ready for the school week.  Even managed a little bit of a walk on Tuesday after the kids left for school.

But something about volleyball and road trips to Tulsa and another football game and just. so. tired.

13 days later I'm finally feeling somewhat back to normal.

I think the lesson here is that when you are completely and totally worn out?  Even the smallest little thing can knock you flat.

And maybe another lesson is that running with my Coach at 5am isn't for me.  I don't know how he does it.

And one more?  Turns out you can't go and go and go and not suffer the consequences.

I've been taking it easier this week.  Resting more.  Running around less.  Not running at all (workout wise).  I'll pay for it at some point.  The list is long and getting longer.

Maybe the greatest lesson of all?  I don't have this whole thing figured out.  This mom/eight kids/college/senior/high school/junior high/grade school/football/volleyball/wife/homemaker thing.  It's a lot.  And "balance" (whatever that is) is illusive.   Even when I have the best Coach and great kids and the most wonderful family and everyone is doing well.

But on the bright side?  While I was sick?  The Coach and the kids handled the house, the yard work, the extra lawns, the hosting family at the farm for the holiday, the laundry, meals, schoolwork. . .

And they did it all beautifully.

So maybe it's not so bad, after all.  Now that I can breathe.

Happy Wednesday.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Week Three and Counting

I've been looking forward to this day for weeks.  The first day I've had without constant appointments and things to rush to from dawn to dusk.  So nice.

I set it aside in my head way back then as the first chance I'd have to catch up around here.  In the blogging sense.  Because the laundry and the blogging can't both be priorities, you know.

We got Sister moved back to school - new dorm, new room, happy as can be.  Sophomore year of college here we come! I'm so very grateful for her sweet friends who take such good care of her when I can't.  For her love for her studies.  For her heart.

Then the next day, school for the rest of the troops.  Senior, Sophomore, Freshman, 8th, 6th, 3rd.  I'm not sure how that's even possible.  Little Man in THIRD grade?  Whew!

A sweet friend gave me this mug at our first scrimmage.  So much love for this!  Although you know what?  After 22 years, the Coach and I are learning how to navigate this time of the year SO much better.  Well, HE is really the one who gets the credit.  Not just date nights, but early morning runs, driving to events, we enjoy every moment we have together.

Son #1 got home from his wrangler job at the ranch weekend before last.  He spent one day visiting with family and one day running errands and packing.  Then off to his Junior year of college.  (Isn't he handsome?)  He hasn't really been home for any length of time since he left two years ago.  I miss him.  When we DO have time together?  I'm amazed at what a wonderful young man he is.   Please don't remind me he'll be 21 this Fall.  

The Coach and I went down with him and helped move him back in to his dorm.  We got to visit and have lunch and SWEAT - because Texas.  So hot.  Then the Coach and I were headed back home the same day - too much going on at home to stay overnight.  

Somewhat of a gift, actually.  Both the time with our boy AND time for the Coach and I.  Except about an hour and a half from home, the transmission went out in our car.  So there we were, stranded on the side of the road, out in the middle of nowhere, at night.

Let's just say, I've never laughed more.  I'm pretty sure the laughter from that night has carried us through this last week or so and all that we've had going on.  Can't believe in 22 years we've never had car trouble on a trip!

And the Coach? Well, he's quite the guy.  Fits in just about anywhere.  Ha!  You know you are married to the best guy ever when being stranded with car trouble for three hours ends up being hilarious.

So, with both big kids settled back at their schools, and the troops in their second week of school here, we set out to start football season.  First with a mom's night, getting to hear from the coaches and learning my boys positions.  We even got to run the ball and catch a few passes.  So fun!

The season opener was last Friday.  First touchdown of the season?  Son (#3).  Second touchdown of the season?  Son (#4).  That's what I'm talking about!!

This week may be a little big tougher.  But we'll be there cheering them on, anyway.  These years, these kids, these seasons, all going so quickly.  I love it all.

Wednesday we celebrated Son's (#3) 18th birthday.  I just can't seem to be able to slow it all down.  Sigh.   If I try to describe what this boy means to me (just like the other 7 - ha!), I get all choked up.  How do I even begin?  Every single one of them have my heart.

You know, life is super busy, super exhausting, and super wonderful.  In spite of the chaos, I wouldn't trade it for the world.  How I love my people.  Our family.  Our school.  

My very tired self has a heart that is overflowing with gratitude.  Thank you, Jesus, for these gifts.

Happy Friday!  GO BIG BLUE!

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!