Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years? Already?

My lack of blogging certainly hasn't been for lack of material.

Lack of time? Yes!

Lack of material? Certainly not!

We've had a lovely Christmas Break. We've spent many a Christmas with someone home sick. . . I'm so grateful that this year we were all well and able to enjoy the time (at least until I came down with this nasty cold).

But you know what?

It's a LOT of work enjoying a holiday. For a mom, anyway.

I love having my kids all home. I love how they holler and laugh while playing games. I love that get out the airsoft guns and have wars in the backyard. I love that they devour all of the baking I can crank out of the kitchen. I love watching them shoot baskets on our backyard court. I love smelling the smoke from the firepit while my little pyromaniacs build big fires. I love snuggling on the couch with kids on my lap, on my right and left, on my feet, and sometimes on my head, while we watch old movies. I love sleeping in on days when we don't have to get up to run (the Coach is one tough trainer!). I love having the Coach home more during the day.

It's delightful.

However. . . it's virtually impossible to keep things neat and orderly. And clean. Ugh!

Cooking. Dishes. Laundry. Doctors appointments. Basketball practices. Errands. I'm grateful I have so much help with it all. As the kids get bigger I'm becoming more of a "manager". I keep things going and make sure it's all getting done - but they do SO much of the work that it takes to keep this home running smoothly.

I may not remember the details of these busy, fun, exhausting years (especially when there isn't time to blog about it!). I may not remember what movies we watched over this Christmas (even if I stayed home for a nap while the Coach took the kids to see "Voyage of the Dawn Treader"). Or what games were our favorite this year (Rumikub!). What puzzles we put together. Or what special things I made for dinner at night. I may not remember what I got for Christmas from the Coach (yea for new clothes that fit!) or what gifts made my troops smile the biggest (RC helicopters, Hexbugs, American Girl bakery sets).

But I will remember being here all together. Being home and enjoying each other. Laughing. Until there are tears in my eyes (the Coach's new running tights had us all rolling on the floor!). I will remember the kids and their JOY at the fun of Christmas. The lights, the nighttime stories, the songs. Sharing the amazing GIFT of our Savior with my little ones. And big ones. Their delight at sharing their love for Him and how they've been changed by His forgiveness.

I've tried to spend some time with each one of the kids: Lego store with Son (#4), boot shopping (where DID his "cowboy" style come from?) with Son (#1). Sonic drinks and errands with Son (#3) and homecoming dress shopping with Daughter (#2). Good thing I have a few more days/kids to go!

The Coach and I finally made it out for our official anniversary celebration last night (two weeks late - not bad!). We watched table after table at a fabulous steakhouse in our town (that was SOME giftcard!) fill and empty over and over while we lingered over our delicious food and complimentary red velvet cake with "Happy Anniversary" written in chocolate. Then we went onto Starbucks and enjoyed coffee together while talking more about all that's going on with the troops.

You know what? I've never ONCE regretted marrying my Coach. Along with all of the challenges, it has been one of the greatest joys of my life to learn to love each other and enjoy the blessing of marriage. It's good to take time to remember that now and then. In the craziness of life. . . I'm always glad he's here sharing it with me.

So maybe I haven't had time to post all that's gone on here in the last few weeks. I'm sure I'll forget a lot. But one thing I know. . .

We are so blessed.

We thank the Lord for His goodness to us this year. There have been some painful things. There have been some wonderful things. And a whole lot of just daily life things. God is still on His throne. He still loves us. And that's enough.

Now it's probably about time to start fixing our New Year's Eve Buffet - my kids LOVE it when I put all of the food out and let them "graze" all evening and eat in the living room! Or maybe I'll go check on the fire in the firepit out back - it looks BIG. Or maybe I'll just sit here and finish my blueberry tea and nurse my cold for a few minutes longer while the Coach sits next to me reading his new book.

Either way. . .

May the Lord bless you and keep you in 2011.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!

Our family Christmas celebrations are winding down here at the troops. BIG times, yesterday, doing stockings and gifts and traditions with our own troops. Candlelight service at church last night. Breakfast with the Coach's BIG family, this morning. Afternoon and Christmas dinner with my family, today.

So blessed.

Wanted to take just a minute to wish all of our precious family and friends a very Merry Christmas. We are so grateful for each one of you!

. . . and to all a good night!

(special thanks to Prints Charming for the great family pictures!)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's all part of the gift.

This weekend has been somewhat of a whirlwind.

Friday night we had a LOVELY time with our Sunday School class - enjoying appetizers, desserts, and coffee with visiting all around.

Woke up Saturday in a fog (at least the house was still clean!). . . knowing that the Christmas to do list was hanging over my head and that time is running out.

But a story that the speaker in church told last week kept running through my head. About a boy (in Africa, I think?) who ran for miles to get a pretty seashell off the beach to give as a gift to his teacher. When he presented her with the gift, she exclaimed, "But you ran so far!" To which he replied, "That was part of the gift."

I don't have to tell you that Christmas shopping for eight kids, my amazing Coach, parents and misc. nieces, nephews, grandparents, and friends can be a bit overwhelming.

Is it just me, or do I use the word "overwhelming" a lot?

I thought so.

Not to mention trying to find practical, useful, non-junk, economical, fun things for everyone on my list. And if at all possible, things that will be used up and not added to the STUFF in this house - or anyone else's.

But as I've worked and re-worked my list. . . scanned websites and stores. . . gone from one place to another trying to find just the right thing. . . or just the right price. . . returned things after finding a better deal somewhere else. . . and then working and re-working the list some more. . .

The thought won't leave me. . .

"It's part of the gift."

The Christmas cards? From outfit shopping to ironing to hair curling to organizing to photographers and Sam's Club Photo to address hunting and envelope printing and standing in line at the PO for stamps?

Part of the gift.

From the name drawing between kids to the whispering from one to another to the Coach's countless trips with countless kids to the sneaking gifts in the garage door to stashing in the closet to locking the bedroom door while so and so wraps so and so's present?

Part of the gift.

From the waking up in the middle of the night with the name of THAT catalog where I saw THAT darling t-shirt to the debating about what American Girl outfit to the order confirmation e-mails and the dwindling check account?

Part of the gift.

From the baking and cooking and destroying the kitchen 12 times a day (it can't possibly be just three times, can it?) to the eating more than we should to the sitting more than we should to the watching more Christmas movies than we should to the working puzzle after puzzle and playing Wii games for hours on end?

Part of the gift.

All of this is to remind us of one thing. . .

God-Man, Jesus, coming to earth as a baby - to ultimately give His life for the salvation of all mankind.

His sacrifice is not just PART of the gift.

It's THE greatest gift of all.

Happy Sunday!

(and no. . . this would NOT be the time to tell me that you are done with your Christmas shopping and have been for weeks, thankyouverymuch!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Perfect Peace

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."

I'm up too late, tonight.
I have a stuffy nose.
And I'm eating mini Three Musketeers.
(don't worry, I'm counting the points, forheavenssake)

Just finished my BSF lesson for this week.

The fact that I started it and finished it, BOTH, tonight, is somewhat embarrassing. And accounts somewhat for the late hour. That and the fact that I had to make a 9:30 trip to Wal-mart.

I'm really struggling to get these lessons done, this year. Life is busier and more chaotic than it's ever been. And Isaiah takes some concentration. And quiet. And often more brain cells than I seem to have.

This week's lesson made me think about why I haven't had that perfect peace, lately. Why I hesitate to rely on the Lord?

Do I really trust Him?

Not just for eternity. . . or the long-term. . . or the big picture. . .

But for RIGHT NOW?


When things aren't exactly what I would like for them to be?

When the Christmas shopping isn't done and the list is long and I'm not sure how to buy practical, fun, useful, economical gifts for everyone?

When my children are choosing to do stupid (embarrassing) things that I know they will look back on and regret? Never mind that I made the very same mistakes at their age.

When dear friends are dealing with HARD health issues?

When valued relationships are strained, distanced, challenging?

When I'm tired? Have too much to do? The schedule isn't figured out (what day is it, again)? The meals aren't planned ahead of time? The grocery shopping has turned into daily Wal-mart runs?

When the kids aren't listening and obeying? When I don't WANT to take the time to talk things through? Do the hard thing? Persevere even though I'm ready to quit?

Perfect Peace.

A Steadfast Mind.

I don't know about you. . . but I desperately NEED a steadfast mind. Maybe I'd quit forgetting why I walked into the kitchen in the first place (when I should be in bed).

There's only one place to find this peace.

And to give you a clue, it's NOT in my ability to get it all together, finish everything perfectly, parent without error, or love others in my own strength.

(but for some reason I usually try all of that FIRST)

The peace is found in trusting a loving, sovereign God who deals with us on His terms in HIS time for HIS purposes.

He's given us life. He's given us everlasting life with Him (if we will receive it).

I'm pretty sure I can trust Him with everything else, too.
(not EVEN the little things, but ESPECIALLY the little things)

Praying that you will find that perfect peace and that steadfast mind as you seek to TRUST the Lord this week.

"O Lord, thou are my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise they name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth."

"For thou has been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall."

"He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces. . . lo this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Sometimes it makes me cry to love eight little people (one of whom is bigger than I am, now) so much.

I sit in church with all of them, looking back and forth down the row (at least on Sundays when we get there early enough to find a whole row and can actually sit together) and my heart overflows with the goodness of God and His incredible blessing to us in these kids.

And sometimes?

I cry because they drive me nuts.


But it's Thursday today and I'm thankful for my kids.

One reason why: Little Man. With his dirty t-shirt and blowing raspberries at the camera. He still says to me (in the morning and after naptime, usually), "Mom, I NEED you."

And you know what, Little Buddy? I need you, too. Your snuggles, your kisses, and most of all the challenges you bring, that cause me to spend more time on my knees that I ever thought I'd need.

I need you (and your seven siblings) because you show me my need for Jesus. I can't parent without Him. Without His forgiveness. His grace. His character in my life. (and especially the forgiveness part)

Without these eight reminders? I might forget that, sometimes.

Happy Thursday!