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.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Springtime

Basketball season has ended for us.  After lots of road trips to small towns in Oklahoma, our guys lost in the first round of Area last Thursday.  We would love to be playing in State this week, but I can't say I miss the hours in the car, the meals on the road, the time sitting in the gym.  Sure do love watching my boy play, though.

We jumped right into Spring sports.  One running track, one playing tennis, and two playing volleyball (first two tournaments were Saturday).  I'm so grateful for the sweet friends who help with rides, practices, meals, tournaments, and in countless other ways since we can't do it all.  

Play practice for Peter Pan started for three, as well.  So fun.

Science Fair is over - we only had one this year and not last year's three.  Whew.




2nd grade timeline is done and presented to the class.  I can't believe it's our last.  It's been so fun to take time with each of our kids when they were in 2nd grade to help them see God's hand in their lives.  There were even some tears as I put together this one.  Precious memories and such a reminder of the sweet gifts these kids are.  

We took all of the big kids (minus our two college students) so Little Man's friends would finally believe him when he says he has seven older brothers and sisters.   This picture makes me cry - how is everyone so grown up?



The yard is greening up, the trees are budding, the daffodils have somehow survived the wind, and we had our first tornado warning last night.





Yep.  It's Spring.

Our workout group has gotten in some outside running and one workout at the park (so far).  It's warming up and the new baby chicks are growing FAST.  This is a couple of weeks ago - now they are getting their feathers!



On Sunday nights, our tradition is eating "fancy" grilled cheese (like regular grilled cheese with bacon) and guacamole.  Little Man was helping me cut up the avocados last week and asked if he could keep the seeds so he could "line them up and tell them his feelings".  Next morning I found this...




What would I do without each one of my troops?  The distinct individuals that they are.  All so very loved and needed in our family.

And now my extra coffee is gone and it's time to get going on today's list.  I hear rain, too, so maybe today's run will be after the housework.  Son (#1) is home for Spring Break - YAY - and Daughter (#2) will be home at the end of the week.  So grateful to have time with them both.  

Blessings on your Tuesday.  May the God of all comfort both surround you with His love, and send others to show His love to you, as well.






Tuesday, February 9, 2016

An Unexpected Gift

We didn't have any basketball games last night.  Can you believe it?  First Monday in ages that we've all been home.  Egg roll dinner with my parents (Happy Birthday, Dad!), gluten-free mocha brownie cake (so yummy!), homework, kids making fun of me (as usual), lots of laughter.

The basketball season is winding down.  Daughter (#7) finished over a week ago (4th place in the 5th and 6th grades).  The Jr. High girls have their last game on Thursday.  Son (#4) has his last home games today and his last regular season games on Friday.  Next week we'll be at the playoffs.

Then it will be volleyball, tennis, play rehearsals, track...  you get the idea.

But last night's evening home?  Lovely.

Last week I had two of the girls home with ear infections.  Daughter (#7) for two days and Daughter (#6) for three.  It was a long week.  They are doing a great job catching up on schoolwork and I'm working on catching up on errands and piles around the house.

So much to be grateful for.

Speaking of, I think it's above freezing so my run is calling.

Last night was a good reminder.  It's so busy, we are constantly coming and going,  never stopping, always work to do and laundry to fold and games to get to and meals to fit in between here and there...

Daughter (#2) and I made a trip down to see Son (#1) this weekend, have lunch, switch cars.  It was wonderful to have some time to visit with them.  And even the time with the girls last week while they were sick - I enjoyed having that time with just them.  All reminders that it's a good idea to pause now and then and just take time to enjoy these days.  They are passing so quickly.

Maybe eventually the Coach and I will get a date night, again!  Yay for basketball.  Ha!






Friday, January 22, 2016

Thankful Thursday, Take 2

So after yesterday's need to re-focus on gratefulness...

Daughter (#7) came home from school with a fever.

So today's plans were scrapped and we've been watching "Flash" and "Phineas and Ferb" non-stop all day while I coax her to stay hydrated and eat something.

A friend's sweet text reminded me that these days of the troops needing their momma when they are sick are numbered.  I only have two or three who really want me to take care of them when they are sick, now.  Of course, I take care of them anyway, but only a couple of the troops can't stay home alone - so if they are sick it rarely derails our plans.

Not to mention, the big kids just aren't sick very often.

So here is today's list:

1.  Got to talk to Son (#1).  He finally got the insurance settlement on his wrecked Jeep from Christmas Break (not his fault).  Which means a trip down to see him in a week or two.  Yay!

2.  Texts from Daughter (#2).  Concerned about her little sis, discussing Gilmore Girls, and getting updates on the basketball games she and I have both missed this week.

3.  Another call from Son (#3) asking what he could bring home for us.  His thoughtful heart and willingness to make a root beer run.

4. Even though I've missed the last two games that Son (#4) has played - one currently in progress as I type - I love knowing that the Coach is there cheering him on and so is the wonderful "family" that is our school.  And cousins.  And aunts and uncles.  Plenty of cheering all around.  I love seeing him play, but I'm grateful that when I'm not there, our fans still will be.

5.  That Daughter (#5) is literally the most easy going, dry-humored, funny and low-maintenance teenager ever.  In history.  Enough said.  Because we don't lack for drama around here.

6.  That every time I see Daughter (#6) play basketball (like the game I watched last night right BEFORE we realized that her little sister was sick), I am reminded of the amazing work God has done in her life.  Oh the stories.  Oh the joy to see her, now.

7.  If someone has to be sick, Daughter (#7) is seriously the never-complaining, happiest, non-particular, sweet, laughing-even-when-she-has-a-fever (thanks, Ferb!), girl to ever grace our troops.  Need anything, I ask?  Nope.  Are you ok, I ask?  Yep.  Even when she's burning up.  Every family should have a 7th born, 4th born girl.  Sweetest.

8.  And Little Man?  He's grown so much this school year.  Especially with his reading.  From not getting all of his AR points the first 9 weeks to reaching beyond his goal the next 9 weeks to reading all. of. the. time. now.  I'm so proud.

9.  Without the Coach?  This whole ship would sink.  He's been support staff the two weeks I've been down with this cold (thankfully, still SO MUCH better, today).  He's brought kids home and gone to games without me and walked in the door ready to help out however he can.  I'm so grateful to be married to a man who lays down his life DAILY for all of us.  Too bad I'm missing all of the under-his-breath-coaching-from-the-bleachers tonight.  Once a basketball coach?  Always a basketball coach.

So there you have it.  Nothing is ideal here, today.  But all is well.  How could I complain about being snuggled up with my littlest girl watching Phineas and Ferb and eating chicken quesadillas on a cold, dreary night?  With lots of texts from the Crusader fans.

Happy Friday.

What are you grateful for, today??  I want to hear it!