Monday, August 30, 2010

Dear Football Season,

I see you're back.

We've come to somewhat of an understanding, you and I, in the last 16 years. I tolerate you. You eventually leave for awhile.

That works for me.

But things have changed this year. My boy is out there. Playing highschool football for his daddy.

I know, I know, he's been in Jr. High ball the last two years. That was fun. But the kids weren't as big. And it wasn't nearly as serious. And the season was a lot shorter.

I've resigned myself to the fact that the Coach is yours from August through December. I don't mind sharing him. You obviously need him. All of those Jr. High and Highschool boys need him. And it's no mystery to me. He's an amazing man. I'm already looking forward to December so we can get re-acquainted.

There are parts about you that I really like. Watching my son play (assuming he doesn't get knocked clear to nowhere by some 300 pound man-boy). Sitting in the stands on a cool Fall night with the bright lights.

It has gotten easier as the kids have grown. No more sitting through the game 8 months pregnant only to stand up and realize I am paralyzed from the waist down from the hard wooden bleachers. No having to get a babysitter for the tiny ones because it's too cold and too late. We've moved on from a lot of that. We should all be able to go, now, and enjoy it more. Especially if I take a dollar for a bag of Skittles. Makes the troops happy.

I also enjoy the watching at home. Or maybe I enjoy watching the watching at home. It's fun to see my "men" all laughing and talking about the game. Even Daughter (#2) will watch some football if Sam Bradford is playing.

I'll also admit to how much I love watching the troops in the front yard throwing the football around and chasing after it and giving each other a hard time. The Coach passing to Son (#4) who (if I could guess) may end up being our best athlete, yet. After all he's been tackling everyone within reach since he turned one. The cooler breezes, the changing leaves. It's all part of you and I like it.

Maybe my favorite part about you is the memories. My first observations of the Coach were centered around you, when he was on the sidelines coaching his youngest brother (later our best man). Sitting with the Coach's sister and sister-in-law and hearing about all of the kids and families in what would become a very special place to me - our school. Hearing how great he was coaching the boys. How much they respected him. Watching him under the bright lights of a Friday night game (be still my heart!).

Later on that same season, I have memories of going to a game with a ring on my finger. Finally belonging to him in some sense but still yards away from him - just watching.

Then the very next year - as newlyweds - I spent the season expecting son (#1). Watching games together on Sunday afternoons and the Coach being very patient with my never ending questions about the game. I'm sure I thought, at the time, that if it was a boy (we didn't know until he came) he'd be out there playing someday beside his coach/daddy.

And now he is.

My point is this. I've given you a lot. My husband. My time. My peace (ever try taking 8 kids 11 and under to a 3 hour football game that doesn't start until after their bedtime? And staying home isn't much easier.). My Friday nights. My Monday nights. Even my weekends since the Coach is gone watching film on Saturdays and watching film and drawing up plays at home on Saturday and Sunday, too.

Because of this my expectations are high. I want to get something back. I want my son to learn to work hard, play hard, hit hard and never complain. I want him to learn to follow instructions, sense the opposing team's position, and be happy even if he doesn't get to play. And I really really want him to stay healthy and not spend the season injured.

I know you can't help me with any of this. Since you are just a football season, after all.
But I thought, with our history, it was only fair to let you know.


Mrs. Troop

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sometimes the best plan is to keep my mouth shut.

First week of school. Tired kids. Football season. Volleyball season. Tired Coach. Tired Mom. Lots to do. Not enough time.

What is this a prescription for?


And lots of it.

I have a hard time being nice, sometimes. OK. A lot of the time.

I'd rather talk.

Run at the mouth.

Defend my authority.

Remind them why they are wrong.

All of which is easier than patient firmness and quiet.


Don't you ever get on Facebook and think, "Now WHY would someone want the world to know THAT?"

Or get an e-mail and think, "That could have been said in a kind way instead of an ugly one."

Or wonder, "Did that need to be said AT ALL?"

I do.

And then I turn around to my own children and do the exact same thing. Use an ugly tone or sharp words instead of grace and love.

God's Word is full of help in this department. My favorite?

A soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Are your words soft. . . or harsh? Do others sense the Love of Christ in your responses or do they feel like they've been "taken down a notch"? Do you say something ugly then follow it with "I was just kidding" to lessen the guilt? My kids certainly do (and I'm sure they learned it from me).

We are so quick to judge others. . . defend ourselves. . . seek to be RIGHT. When we should be loving, serving, encouraging.

Maybe that's why God hates PRIDE so very much. Because it's making an issue all about US instead of HIM. It's caring more about what others think of us (that we are competent, smart, capable, have our act together) than it is about the needs of others. It's loving ourselves and not those around us. It's making my agenda more important than His. It's wanting people to just stop being stupid so I don't have to mess with them anymore.


But if we really seek to be like Jesus, it has to stop being about us. About how we may appear to others. About what they think we are or aren't.

And, as a mom, it has to start being about showing the love of Christ to those in my house. Soft answers. Patient firmness. Taking the time to get to the root issue instead of just telling them to get over it so we can get on with it.

And outside of this house? It looks like caring more about a person than a program. About their needs and not my convenience. About giving up MY control to HIS control so HE can use me to touch the lives of those around me. And just being nice - even when I'm annoyed. And eventually getting to the point that I'm not annoyed to begin with.

This is real life. I want to live it in such a way that I bring glory to my Lord. Like our mothers always told us (at least mine did), "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

I think the Lord asks more of us. More than just NOT being ugly. I think He asks us to show love, not just the absence of hate.

And right now? It's about loving on tired kids. Feeding them lunch. Naptime for Little Man. Helping the kids resolve conflict with each other. Serving each other. Showing love and being cheerful when the Coach calls from Daughter's (#2) all day volleyball tournament.

Maybe someday I can do more than just keep my mouth shut when I feel like being ugly. But it sure beats regretting what I've said.

May the Lord give us the discernment to know when to be quiet. And when we do speak? May we speak words of love from a heart filled with gratefulness for the love of our Savior.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thankful Thursday

1. Seven happy school kids (and one Little Man in his jammies). Freshman, eighth grade, 6th grade, 4th grade, 3rd grade, 2nd grade, and Kindergarten.

2. Extra thankful for a happy 2nd grader.

3. And a new Kindergartner.

4. And my first highschooler. Love that boy!

5. Teachers that love the Lord and love my kids.

6. And answer e-mails late at night.

7. Smooth mornings so far. Even with eight lunches to make and three heads of hair to fix (fortunately my eldest daughter can handle hers on her own -ha!).

8. Volleyball games. #2 tonight. And a daughter who loves to play.

9. Notebooks have all been assembled with labels, tabs and cover sheets. Eeeeesh.

10. School supplies have all been taken to school (do I hear an "AMEN"?). (and I forgot to take a picture of our bedroom where they were all stacked to the rafters. Bummer!)

11. Quiet afternoons.

12. Time with Little Man - cleaning, running errands, cooking - he's been so much fun!

I am so grateful we have survived the first two days. . . Friday is in our sights. . . . everyone is doing well. There aren't words for how grateful I am - how many prayers the Lord has already answered - how GOOD things are right now.

Sometimes in the dark moments, it seems like the sun will never shine again. Last year had some dark moments. I wasn't sure if we'd make it. If things would ever be "normal" again here at the troops. Whatever normal IS here, anyway. But you know what? God brought us through that for now. We are more dependent on Him AND each other - and that's all worth saying thank you for.

If you are in a moment, today, that is dark. . . that seems hopeless. . . that you don't have the answers for. . . God is faithful. The outcome may be uncertain, but God's love, faithfulness and goodness is NOT uncertain. You CAN trust Him.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Character building 101

So a new school year is upon us. Been thinking a lot about how I can make this year less stressful for us as a family. Seven kids in school is busy. I can't change that. But it has occurred to me that I'm really the one that gets stressed around here. (sigh) Well, there is the issue of wrinkles in Daughter's (#6) socks. But that's another post for another day.

I've narrowed it down to a few key areas that I need to improve in. Wouldn't hurt to lower my blood-pressure a bit in the process.

1. By FAR the most annoying thing to me is the pick-up lanes at my children's school. (deep breath) However, I am going to remember that 5-10-15 minutes either way is not going to change much of anything. I am not going to roll down the window and shout "Don't park in the pull-through lane - that's what the parking lot is for!" Nor am I going to speed around cars that park, get out, shut the door, walk slowly across the pick-up lanes to the lines of children, retrieve their one child, and walk slowly back to their car, open their trunk, take 5 minutes to stow back pack of the one child, open the child's door, buckle the child in, and visit with a friend for 10 minutes before pulling forward - all while the line of cars is backing up into the street. Never mind that you aren't supposed to exit your vehicle in the pick-up lanes. And never mind that my 5 elementary children can load in WITH their stuff and buckle up in about 7 seconds flat.

(is it hot in here?)

2. Wal-mart check out lanes. This is something I've been working on for awhile, already. I even told someone the other day, "You may not want to get behind me in this line. I have a way of picking the slowest checker in the whole store." I've started letting people go ahead of me if they only have a couple of items. Makes them SO happy after they've seen my cart. Not sure why. And while I'm at it, when I do have to run in for just a few things? I resolve not to glare at the person in front of me with 40 items in the speedy check-out 20 item lane. Once again, what is 5-10-15 minutes here or there? Or in Wal-mart's case - what is another hour?

3. Those phone calls 30 minutes after dinner is cold to tell me that the Coach is going to be late. Last year it occurred to me that I had two choices. Be ugly, or be nice (wish I could say that I always choose nice). So now we eat at 6. If the Coach isn't here, he isn't here (and he often isn't). He's said he doesn't mind a bit if we get started without him (much later than six and bedtime won't happen at a reasonable hour) and when he calls? I be nice (as Little Man would say). He comes home happy, I'm still speaking to him, and he jumps right into the chaos. Just reminding myself of this resolve now that football season has started.

4. People driving 50 in the left lane. I drive a 12 passenger van. And it's usually full. And if you've ridden with me home from school with my eight and various other children - all talking loudly about their day, eating candy that they got for good behavior, holding extra large projects that were sent home and snack baskets for the next week's snacks. . . well, it's quite an adventure. After my pick-up lane experiences, I'm not usually wanting to prolong the process any longer. So if you are driving 50 in the left lane, I promise not to swerve around you while giving you a dirty look and telling my kids that some people are idiots. I might think it, but I promise not to say it out loud (baby steps).

I'm going to have to stop, now. Not that I couldn't go on. I mean, really, what mom of eight kids has this LITTLE amount of patience? People say all of the time, "Eight kids? You must be SOOOO patient!" I laugh. And then tell them that the Lord gave me eight because I'm NOT patient - but I sure hope to be when it's all said and done.

Yes, I'm usually in a hurry. Late. Tired. Busy. Overwhelmed. But it doesn't exempt me from showing the love of Christ to others. From forgiving. Being long-suffering.

So grateful that the fruit of the Spirit is just that - OF the Spirit. I don't have it in me. But now that I've bared my soul to you and confessed (a few of) my weaknesses, I hope I'll think before I respond and ask the Lord to give me His grace.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Is it Thursday? I'm not quite sure. Someone said it was, so here I am.

1. God's protection and provision while the Coach and the boys were at football camp this week.

2. My mother's 64th birthday. I can only hope to be so amazing someday. We went for pedicures by ourselves, ate a yummy dinner with Granddad and my kids who were home, and celebrated with cookies and ice cream. Fun!

3. Safe trip to and from Dallas for the memorial for my cousin's baby.

4. Precious family and time with them in Dallas (although short).

5. An aunt to keep Little Man and a best friend to keep the girls so I could be gone for the day.

6. All of the (very tired) troops back under one roof last night. Ahhhhhh.

7. School supply shopping? DONE!

8. Cooler weather this week. The fact that high 90's feel cool is a bit depressing, but we'll take it!

9. The Coach's "Master Teacher" completion this Summer and the recognition this morning at school. I'm so proud of him! His plate is FULL with work, football and our crew at home. He works so hard.

10. Mini Reese's peanut butter cups. Just being real. And fat.

11. Clean house and clean sheets. Good thing I can do these things in my sleep because I'm pretty sure I walked around only partly awake, yesterday.

12. Flowers and kids who water them every day so I can sit in the air conditioning and look outside and enjoy how pretty they are.

13. Wal-mart. I hear people say all of the time how much they hate it. Here's what you do. Look at it as a multi-cultural adventure with a little people-watching thrown in. And don't be in a hurry. I'm there more days than not. And I really like it. It's convenient (one mile from my house), cheap, and you can get anything you need (almost - it helps to have low expectations). People who don't like Wal-mart haven't spent time in other countries. We are SPOILED! Take my word for it.

14. Starbucks dates with my dad. And the fact that I can leave my house for awhile now and then.

15. Coffee-mate Belgian chocolate toffee creamer for home. I drank so much coffee, yesterday, that my heart was racing. And I was still sleepy.

Well? Today is the last Thursday of the Summer for us. Lots of schools have already started around here. I've been watching the back to school posts and pictures take over Facebook. We aren't quite ready. We have everything ready. But WE aren't ready. We're all tired this week. Lots going on and so many things out of our control.

Grateful for God's faithfulness. That's He's shown Himself faithful in the past and I can trust Him for the future.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Last Week of Summer

I'm listening to the three little girls play "store", or "ordering" or "business" - I'm not really sure, actually. But they are happy. And I'm pretty sure that this time it's not "school".

Little Man is finishing up his lunch and about ready for a nap. He has that "glazed" look in his eyes.

One at volleyball practice, one at football camp and the Coach and two other boys at football camp, as well.

Sometimes I feel like I need a flow-chart to keep track of kids here at the troops.
There is always so much going on. Days like today I wonder if my head might just explode.

But it never does. And things always work out.

My chiropractor says the best thing for stress is vigorous exercise. I try that. Every morning. But then I just want to crawl back into bed. Must be doing something wrong.

Having the most amazing family and the kindest friends makes all of the difference. Thank you, Lord!

Today is my wonderful mother's birthday! Happy Birthday, Mom!

Tomorrow is the memorial service for my cousin's sweet baby girl. Pray for them. For their family. The weight of grief is beyond unbearable.

I'm somewhat in shock that Son #1 is at football camp as a PLAYER this year, not just hanging with his dad. Where does the time go?

Next week school will start and Little Man and I will be at home alone for part of the day. I'm so looking forward to the quiet (just being real)! But also to the great year I know the kids will have - all they will learn - the fun of watching them grow - play sports. And maybe a nap now and then?

To say that we (and I mean I) are overwhelmed here at the troops would be an understatement.

Not only overwhelmed by the craziness of life.

But overwhelmed by our loving family and friends who are so willing to jump in a help out when we need it.

And especially overwhelmed by our loving Lord who sees all. Knows all. Weeps with us. Comforts us. Gives us HIS peace.

Blessings on your Monday!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thankful Thursday

It's Thursday.
And I'm thankful.

Will that do?


1. School supplies are almost finished. Few more things to pick up, today.

2. Football and Volleyball off to a good start.

3. Carpool help. And lots of it. Thank you, Lord.

4. Lovely time with my sweet sitters on Tuesday night celebrating a new baby! (more on that, later)
(There just aren't words for how much I love these girls!)
5. Health.

6. School clothes and shoes that were needed are all bought. Drawers and closets are organized. Backpacks out and ready to go.

7. Air Conditioning.

8. Especially Air Conditioning.

9. Walking/jogging with my mom before it gets hot in the mornings. So much more fun that going alone!

10. My Lord and Savior - who sees. hears. loves. heals. provides.

I know there is more. . . but the list is long and the time is short.

Happy Thursday!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Linky Love

Happy Friday!

It's a zoo here. I mean that. And we don't even have any animals.

The kids are using all of the couch cushions and pillows to cross the raging seas of the living room carpet.

The is after poc-suls (Little Man's version of a Popsicle) AND too much TV for 11:00 in the morning.


I'm dragging a bit, this morning! Not even trying for "mother of the year", today.

And once again, I've missed Thankful Thursday. Which is a shame because there is SO MUCH to be thankful for here at the troops!

But instead of beating myself up about it? How about some linky love?

Go read about our Mah-ve-lous MB concert night in Dallas.

Then read about a sweet reminder to fight for our marriages.

Then go read about teens (especially if you have a houseful of them - we are well on our way!)

And if you've posted something lovely this week. . . leave a comment and let me know! I don't have a lot of blog reading time around here, but maybe I can turn the TV on again, later, for the kids.

Just kidding!

Sort of.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Morning

The dishwasher is humming, reminding me of the biscuits and gravy breakfast that everyone devoured, this morning.
The filleted "5-pounder", from this morning's fishing expedition, is in the fridge waiting to be tossed on the grill later today.
The sounds of the 7 year old and the toddler playing with wooden animals in the basement is drifting up the stairs. Here they come to check their bucket of frogs on the front porch.
Meeting the sound of the 11 year old (he's almost twelve!) and the 8 year old playing Monopoly upstairs.
The whirr of the four-wheeler engine comes and goes as the 13 year old and 8 year old ride on the trails all over the land.
And now and then I can hear the shotgun from across the valley as the Coach and our oldest (he's 14) practice skeet shooting.
Someone's missing. . . hmmmm. That would be the 5 year old. Wonder what she's up to?

Not every moment in our lives is perfect. Not even this one, as I haven't showered, yet, and 9 people will be clamouring for lunch any minute, now.

But now and then my brain seems to snap a Polaroid picture of a moment in time when my heart overflows with joy and gratitude.

So much to be grateful for. So much to enjoy.

Life is always changing, isn't it? The "big kids" get bigger every day. Playing games with each other (with fewer referees needed), picking up after themselves (sometimes) and pitching in to help. The "little kids" aren't so little anymore. We don't need diapers, pack-n-plays, and strollers just to go somewhere.

Having older kids, while stretching me beyond myself and throwing me at the mercy of the Lord every day, is turning out to be a lot of fun. The joking, the story telling, the conversations and laughter. These kids are turning into amazing people. I love being with them.

I am continually amazed by the Coach. . .who gets up early to take the kids fishing. Who stays out in the heat of the day to shoot Son #1's new shotgun. Who takes Little Man on endless rides on the Ranger. Over and over again. Who fixes the chain on the little four-wheelers. Who guts the biggest of the morning's catch and cooks it so the boys can eat their spoil. Who ooohs and aaaahs over every breakfast, lunch and dinner that I cook for our masses. Who is grateful that his clothes are washed and there when he needs them. Who tells me I'm beautiful and kisses me when he comes in and goes out. I am blessed. (No wonder he falls asleep every time he sits down!) He was a wonderful father to our babies. But the older kids seem to bring out the best in him.

We are relishing these last few days of Summer at the troops. Enjoying our family's farm for the weekend. Enjoying each other.

Fall is almost here. The football practices (my first born is in highschool, for heaven's sake) and the volleyball practices. School supplies to buy, backpacks to fill, shoes to try on. My first year with seven in school (Oh my heavens!). Football season, with the Coach gone more than he's home. Homework, projects, new teachers to adjust to. Not to mention the MUCH earlier mornings!

But that season is fun in it's own way. We'll just enjoy it as it comes.

Today? The quiet of the farm. In a few weeks? The chaos of the school year begins.

It's all good.

And I feel a Ranger ride calling my name.

Happy Sunday!