Thursday, November 19, 2015

November at the Troops

It's been a month since I last wrote.  A month.  How is that even possible?  The holidays are soon upon us and that means my KIDS will be home!  I can't wait.  I know it will be crazy and busy and loud and my well laid plans will all have to be adjusted but I will LOVE IT. And Christmas shopping!  Yikes.  I should start.

I've got Pioneer Woman's Hamburger Soup simmering away and my school crowd is due any minute.  We'll quick get through homework and eat and head back for basketball.  Because somehow while things here were rolling along, we morphed quickly from football season (with a hard loss last week) into basketball season for four of our troops.  It's great fun.  And Little Man is already whining about the time sitting in the gym.  Ha!

We started basketball and finished up football season WORN OUT at the troops.  Each and every one.  As hard as it is, I am so grateful for the opportunity for my boys to play.  To forge relationships in the trenches of helmets and hard hits and injury.  Along with the glory of victory now and then.  There's nothing like it and it went SO QUICKLY this year I felt like I just blinked and we were done.  Thank the Lord we don't have a senior this year or I'd still be crying like a baby.

Truthfully, it's been so busy and there has been so much going on that I've been a little bit discouraged.  It's a lot to manage and we got so worn out that I think my ability to keep smiling and encouraging and just moving (ha!) lagged a bit.

Sometimes it takes a few weeks of the Psalms and Daily Audio Bible and singing worship music at the top of my lungs in the shower and going from moment to moment in prayer to pull myself out of a funk.  I don't know that I'm there yet, but I'm closer than I was last week.

Seasons keep passing.  Kids keep growing.  Games keep being won or lost.  Schoolwork and homework and papers and projects move in and out of our house like a wave most days, often leaving devastation in their wake.

But each morning the sun rises, again.  The Coach makes coffee, again.  The workouts and the runs and the laundry and the meals and the bills keep needing my attention.  And before I know it, time is passing and I'm tired, but smiling.

Smiling because I have a FAITHFUL God whose love amazes me every day.

Smiling because I have a husband who loves me even when I'm tired, overwhelmed, cranky and dieting (which means extra cranky!).  Ha!

Smiling because the TROOPS - how I love them.  They make me laugh until my sides hurt.  They keep me busy and make life FULL and fun.

Smiling because we have the most wonderful group of people who love us and encourage us every single day.  No matter what.  Our parents.  Our friends.  Our school family.  So blessed.

And sometimes?  It just has to be enough - in the midst of an uncertain world and uncertain futures - that God is sovereign over it all.  It IS enough.  No matter how I FEEL today, or tomorrow, or next week, or next year.  He is enough.  His love.  His grace.  His unending mercy.  Whether or not I can keep up, or keep the laundry going, or keep food fixed for this crowd.  Whether or not I'm missing my engineering student (sigh) or haven't seen the coach in days or have a run that feels like my legs are lead.

He is always there.  Always faithful.  Always enough.

Happy Thursday!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Two Steps Forward. . . Three Steps Back

I took Son (#4) to get his learner's permit this morning.  He passed the written test and drove me to Starbucks (hear the angels singing?).  I have a feeling it's going to take extra boxes of brown hair color to get me through teaching our fourth to drive.  But when I start to lose heart, I just remember, the next three are GIRLS.

Oh glory.

Sometimes it's easy to look at raising kids like a check list of life skills.

Sleeping through the night.  Check.  Times eight.
Eating solids.  Check.  Times eight.
Walking.  Check.  Times eight.
Potty training.  Check. Times eight (and never ever again, thankyouverymuch).
Swimming.  Reading.  Riding a bike...  Check. Check.  And check.

The other day the Coach and I were outside watching Little Man ride his bike up and down the hill in front of the house.  When did this happen, I asked the Coach, how did he get so BIG?  It wasn't even one of the SMALL bikes?  ((sniff))

As they get older, it becomes...
Driving.  Check.  Times four (almost).
Overseas Travel without parents.  Check.  Times three.

Graduate from High school.  Check. Times two.
College.  Check.  Times two (in progress).

It feels this way sometimes.  Passing milestones like mile markers on the turnpike going 75 miles an hour.  It's flying.  I don't even have time to put the pictures in albums.

But then Little Man brought home an assignment to draw a diagram of his room (to learn North, South, East and West).  He told the teacher he wasn't sure if he should draw it messy or clean (what??).  And then proceeded to tell me he wasn't sure what shape to draw his room because he never sees the floor.

And Daughter's (#6) class discussed Jesus being left in the temple by his parents and the teacher said, "Your parents would never leave you!" Which of course prompted countless stories from my kids of who has been left where and for how long.  ((sigh))

Not to mention that the school pants are getting too tight and the boys' hair is getting too long and I'm not so sure AR points will all be gotten by Friday and someone (I can't remember who) still needs basketball shoes for practice that started last week.

So maybe on the one hand we are checking things off.

On the other hand, we are parenting individuals.  Who are each completely unique.  Who will do things differently at different times and in different ways.  Which means it is NEVER boring.  And thank you, Lord, for second graders.  And 15 year old chauffeurs.  And 11th birthdays.  And college kids who text their mom (hint).


I'm also thankful that the Coach whispered in my ear as he kissed me goodbye this morning (after all of the stories about me leaving them and Little Man's chronicle of his messy room to his teacher)... "You're a wonderful mom."

I'm not so certain.

But what would I do without him?  Or our troops? (Even if I do forget them now and then.  Ha!)

Happy Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When "not gross" is all you've got left...

The Coach asked me last night how things were going.

The short answer is great.  Things are great.  Kids are doing well (for the most part).  I'm still here (at least physically).  My pants still fit (And who am I kidding?  There are always yoga pants!).

But the long (er) answer?

I wasn't planning on having a girlie home with fever two days this week (well, fever one day and recovery the next).  The list is LONG.  So long I'm about ready to just delete is all and start over.  Can I do that?  The same for the email.  At what point is it beyond any hope?

I LOVE my life.  I LOVE my Coach.  I LOVE my kids.  I LOVE Fall, football, my precious family and friends.  And I'm not being cliche' when I say I am abundantly blessed.

I'm so easily overwhelmed.  Some days I see the boxes in the sunroom, the piles on the desk, the mess in the garage, the ironing by the dryer, the bathroom cabinets, the boxes in our bedroom, the closet...

It gets to me.

The Coach, as usual, was quick to tell me that it will eventually all get done.  Which I'm not too sure about.

My current daily expectations are pretty low:

Feed the Troops (this requires, shopping, prep, cooking, baking, and clean up. Every day. Several times on some days.).
Keep up with the Laundry (including various uniforms for various sports and occasionally an open washer and dryer for one very pretty college student) (even though I actually also HAVE a very handsome college student, but he never seems to have time to come home and see his momma. Hint.).
Maintain a Household Standard of "Not Gross" (as opposed to my former standard of "clean").

A lot of things aren't making the list right now.  Sometimes even the basics don't get done.  Can you say "leftovers"?  The most important things around here are not the things.  I'm trying to remember.

Maybe some day I'll get back to to all.  The years of photos that haven't been organized or put into albums.  The boxes in the attic.  The empty baby books.  The dirty windows.  The bulging file drawers.  The kids' closets.


For now, Little Man wants to tell me about the teepees that he's been making.  And I'd rather listen to him than wash windows.  As long as I can't see them out of the corner of my eye.

Happy Wednesday.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.  (Is. 40:8)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Whys of Football (and other *currently* less important sports)

As you can imagine with four boys - one in college, two in high school, and Little Man (who is blessedly in the 2nd grade) - and a football coaching husband, I'm asked a LOT about why our boys play football.

With all of the articles and news reports lately about the danger of the sport, I feel inclined to go back and think through it, once again.

As I have many many times, particularly when our guys have experienced severe injuries.  Son (#1) was injured more than not during his four years of Varsity football.

I remind myself that we haven't let them play before Jr. High (recent studies have shown that there is much greater long term risk if head injuries occur before the age of 12), how we've purchased concussion preventing helmets, helmet liners, have coaches that watch our boys carefully for injury and take every precaution to keep them safe, coaches who also teach them to hit safely and build strength during off season to hopefully prevent injury.

But when I boil it all down, I'm left with this:

Football is great tool for teaching about the adversity of LIFE.

I want my kids to face defeat, injury (when it happens), loss, cranky teammates, hateful opponents, coaches they may not agree with, hard HARD work, and even physical pain WHILE they are young and can learn how to respond properly - and the Coach and I are around to help them navigate it.

Life is full of these same obstacles.  Who hasn't failed?  Who hasn't faced an injury of some sort?  An authority figure they don't agree with or want to obey?  Who hasn't had to get up early even when exhausted?  Go to work when it's not fun?  Be responsible and show up when we'd rather not?

Football gives my boys an advantage when they become adults.  It teaches them (if they are lead by the right Godly men and their parents) so many life skills.  So many life lessons.  Perseverance.  Discipline.  Doing what's right even when it's hard.

21 years ago when I first started watching my Coach on the sidelines (how has it BEEN 21 years??), I will admit I didn't get it.  I knew he loved it.  I didn't understand why.

But after watching 20 classes of senior football players leave our school and head out as adults, I'm more convinced than ever.  One of MY senior football players has now been gone for two years.  I've seen that he learned many important lessons that have guided him since those high school football days.

Last week, Son (#4) got hurt in the game.  I'll be honest, when I saw that it was his knee I almost threw up.  We've been through ACL surgery with Son (#3).  I would never wish that on anyone and I certainly don't want to go through it, again.  But you know what?  I immediately thought ABOUT Son (#3).  That was a two-surgery/miserable Freshman year.  I hated it for him and it was horrible.  But how could I look at him, his character, his kindness towards others, his toughness? And wish he hadn't been through those trials?

Trials are where we learn the most.  To depend on the Lord, to persevere, to trust in a Sovereign Lord, even when things are difficult.  And to keep going, even when the losses pile up.

So this Friday, I'll be cheering on our boys - and one of them will be on the sidelines with his bum knee. Asking the Lord to continue to teach ME, as well.  To not protect my kids from the very things that grow them into independent (from us) dependent (on the Lord) adults who will glorify the Lord in their lives and lead others to seek Him (to quote my wise mother-in-law!).

And just because our lives at the troops revolve around football, doesn't mean there aren't countless other ways for our kids to learn these same lessons.  Just make sure you aren't so concerned with protecting them that you fail to allow them to do anything hard.  I want my boys to grow into strong (and I don't mean physically) men who will work hard, take care of others, and face hardship with patience.  It won't happen without some intentionality.

(I just love them so much.)

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Practicing Thankfulness

It's been a week.  And you know what?  We've almost made it.

I felt extremely grouchy and irritable after the third day of COMPLETE CHAOS.  Which I know I joke about, but honestly, the chaos is somewhat rare these days.  But between uniforms and lunches and snacks and games and games and games...

The huge to-go cup of coffee that got spilled all over the counter Wednesday morning about sent me over the edge.

I'm not proud of this.

And the floor is STILL sticky.  Ugh.

But it started me thinking. . .

That spilled cup of coffee (OK.  It was about 1/2 creamer.  Not mine.) at 6:30 in the morning?  Meant I had four teens headed to See You at the Pole.

Just like the uniforms and khakis that need to washed mean that I have a houseful of healthy kids who play sports and go to school.  And do well in school, I should remind myself.

The seven lunches that need to be made every morning?  All represent those same kids (and their dad).  That I love.

The homework?  The kids that I love are smart, too.

And the games?  OH the games.  Loads and loads of them?

So much fun.

I wouldn't trade it for anything.

The girls have won volleyball and won more volleyball.  The boys have gotten pounded on the football field and been TOUGH men.  Little Man got his braces off.  I had coffee with friends and lunch with my parents. We got to see our world traveling cousin.  I folded mounds of mounds of laundry and cooked all but *one* night this week (thank you, Little Caesars).  We've had 80's hair and dress up days and school pictures.  The kids worked for our school in the community, painting, raking, cleaning up a park.  We got to hold a new baby cousin. We even celebrated my dad's retirement after 44 years.

See what I mean?  SO.  MUCH.  To be grateful for.

I'm exhausted and my house is a wreck (although I managed to wash mattress pads this week, so SCORE!) and I love it.

These are beautiful days.  And Fall is a beautiful season.  And tonight is homecoming!  I'd better get to it or the littles who bring their friends home before the game won't have any cookies!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Less Full Nest Syndrome

*I wrote this two weeks ago, meaning to add photos before I finished it.  Two.  Weeks.  Ago.  Oh well.  As the coach would say, It IS what it IS.

I've finally had a chance to catch my breath this week.  In fact... can I confess something?  I went back to bed when the kids left for school yesterday.

I know.  Lame.

We've moved Daughter (#2) into her Freshman dorm at one school.  Moved Son (#1) into another dorm at another school.  Started two in high school football and two in Jr. High volleyball.  And now have almost two weeks (or four) of school for six in the books.  Not to mention the Coach is back in the classroom and on the football field, as well.

This year?  We have two in college.
Two in high school.  (Both boys.  Both football players.)
Two in Jr. High.  (Both girls.  Both volleyball players.)
Two in Elementary.

No seniors.
No sixth graders.
No high school girls.
No Jr. High boys.

This is a year OFF, my friends.  And I plan to enjoy it.

Less laundry.  Less food.  Fewer activities.  Fewer games.  Fewer kids...

A lot less money...Ha!

I have no idea why I'm so tired.  Already.

I am so grateful for these kids.  These days.  This season.  It's a truly wonderful season.

I am so thankful that my big kids are doing well in college (I sure miss them.).  And that my troops at home are tackling the new year and all it's chaos with such determination.

Now if the Coach and I can just keep up!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Farewell, Summer.

It's a quiet, cloudy day at the troops.  I'm grateful.  We are organizing school supplies, trying on clothes, making lists, and cleaning out the "school lunch" part of the pantry.

I've learned over the years to use the quiet to prepare for the chaos.  Daughter (#2) has been cleaning out her room, going through clothes, making a pile for her dorm room.  We aren't done, yet, but she's getting close.  The younger girls are loving the hand-me-downs from their big sister.

We still have lots to do to be ready for school in three weeks.  Two-a-days and volleyball practice start next week, then two kids to move into college the next week, along with the usual back to school events.  This is our last week before school actives hit full force.

I'm ready and I'm not.

I haven't felt like I've had my act together at all this Summer.  It's been from one thing to another, from one trip to another, the sending off, the coming home, the busyness.  I'm ready for more of a consistent daily routine. It will be different with only six in school.  Only high school football, only Jr. High volleyball (instead of all four last year).  No senior, no 6th grader.

But on the other hand, we've had a sweet, wonderful Summer filled with so many precious moments. We enjoyed Son's (#1) speaking at his Impact 360 commissioning.  A 6th grade graduation and a senior graduation.  Two to Haiti, two to China, one to Honduras, and a wonderful week together (minus Son #1 - but we got to visit him!) in Breckenridge.

Lots of cousin time and sleepovers, July 4th with family and fireworks at the farm, swimming at friends' houses, sitting on the porch swing during rain storms, VBS, volleyball camp, and Falls creek.  And finally, last weekend, The Coach and I went to Atlanta for a College Launch seminar at Impact 360.

It's been a beautiful HUMID - but mild - Summer!  There has been a lot of hammocking, a lot of workouts, a lot of basketball, and many movie nights.

We are living in a crazy season.  Parenting both college age young adults and a 2nd grader, with everything in between. The Coach and I continue to learn how to navigate it more effectively - learning how to get along and work through things together - with a lot of help and input from those who have gone before.  It's a special, unique time in our lives and I'm loving it.

I guess the most amazing thing is watching these kids of ours grow up.  Own their faith.  Move forward in their lives and make decisions for their futures.  It's a beautiful thing to watch.  Especially when they still want our input now and then.  Ha!

Farewell, Summer.  You've been good to us.