Monday, December 26, 2011

The Gift of Quiet

Sometimes I stay up after everyone else has gone to bed, just to hear it.

Because even though I love the noise and busyness, the buffets and baths, brushing the heads of long, clean, wet hair, the laundry being put away before bedtime, the songs, stories, and prayers, the visits with big kids, episodes of Cake Boss, the starting of the dishwasher and changing the last load from the washer to the dryer, and straightening things up for morning. . .

The quiet calls.

Sometimes I answer it even when I should be answering the wiser sleep.

My brain can focus, my heart can ponder, my spirit feels at rest.

Of course I can hear Him in the noise, too.

In the laughter, the kisses, the smiles, hugs, even tears. . . the basketball game with cousins, the giggling around the fire pit on the back patio in the dark, the trampoline jumping late at night, the movie with Granddad and Grandmother, the Christmas dinner leftovers (someone PLEASE save me from those rice krispy treats!).

But when it's all settled down, the Coach and the eight are sleeping, and I sit.  Finally alone.

The quiet is mine.

Until my eyes won't stay open any longer and my head starts to bob.  And sliding into bed beside my snoring Coach begins to sound even more tempting than the quiet.

The day after Christmas has ended.  So tired.  So blessed.

Sweet Dreams.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

How often does a mother of eight spend Christmas morning alone?  I would be tempted to say, "Never!" but it wouldn't be the truth.
It's actually the second time in my 18 Christmases with my Coach.  The first (several years ago) was because I had strep and could. not. get out of bed.  Ugh.

But today?  It's a funny story that I won't take the time to tell, but the Lord is teaching me flexibility.  (grin) And my sick girl is asleep in her room, leaving me with the empty house and the quiet.

I'm not complaining.

I am missing the chaos and fun of the Coach's family Christmas up the street.  The masses of food and tons of kids everywhere and lots of sisters-in-law to catch up with.

But the quiet is nice, too.

My heart has been pondering Christmas these last few weeks.  Amid the chaos of school activities and family times and shopping and cooking. . . I've been purposing to focus on CHRIST in it all.

Reading through the Christmas story once again, thinking what it means to me.  And to you.  To all of us. . that He came to earth as a baby.

Tell me, WHY did Mary put baby Jesus in the manger when he was born?  Am I missing something? I realize it makes for a lovely creche scene and all, but tell me one thing. . . you who have given birth. . . isn't the baby in your arms after you deliver them?  I'm so confused.  If the manger was the only place to lay Him (our King Savior Baby Lord), why didn't she just keep Him close?

But then I begin to think about Mary, the mother of our Lord. . . giving birth to a baby, not having even known a man, certainly not knowing Joseph well (courtship back then brought about even less contact than the Coach and I had!), in a strange place, a smelly, noisy barn. . .

I remember the birth of our first son.  Child birth takes you out of every comfort zone you've ever known.  And if you are a private person, like I am, it's a little awkward.  Ok.  A LOT awkward.  And here sweet Mary is, we assume without her Mother or anyone familiar to give her comfort (although I suppose we don't really know who else might have been there), doing something completely hard and humbling. . .

Maybe I would have put the baby in the manger, too.

As I learn and grow and mature (hopefully!) and just plain get older, the trials of life, my own inability to do anything on my own. . . it's all drawing me closer and closer to my Savior.  I'm learning to hear Him, to trust Him more deeply, to lean into Him when trials come.  He has become my Comforter, my Strength, MY Faithful Lord.

Why do I still sometimes try to push Him away?  Truthfully?  Life is just messy.  I look at my heart (deceitful above all things and desperately wicked), my motives, my bad attitudes.  I look at my kids, their failings, imperfections, and weaknesses (which I have quite aptly passed along to them).  I look at the Coach and see that he isn't always the perfect husband, leader, father that he should be.  I look at my home, my messy cabinets, unfolded laundry, dirty dishes, sheets that need to be washed, a freezer that needs cleaned out. . . .

And sometimes I hesitate to bring my Faithful Father THERE.

Into the mess of it all.

But isn't that what Christmas is all about?  He "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

The "likeness of men".  We're messy.  He came right into our mess and met us there.  With our insecurities and pride and unforgiveness.  He felt the cold and the heat, the hunger and the pain, the sadness and grief, the joy and companionship, the love and the hate.

He became like us in every way, except remained perfect . . . even though He felt it all.  The good, the bad, the SIN of all mankind.  He felt the guilt of every wickedness ever existing from creation to the end of time.  He bore it all for us.  So we could be forgiven, loved, secure, SAVED.

It wasn't pretty, perfect, or all smiles and flowers.  But I'm eternally grateful He came.

Into our mess.

Into our NEED.

I think He can handle it.

So I'm praying that next time I try to put Him away from me. . .  because I'm feeling unworthy, or embarrassed at my attitude or the ugliness that still creeps out, even after being His child for most of my life. . .

I'm remember that manger.

That He is with me IN it all.  All of the mess that is ME and my life and my family and my circumstances.  It's not as if He's going to say, "Wow!  I never knew it was this bad!"

In fact, I know from experience that He'll just say to me, once again, because I'm so quick to forget. . .

"It's OK.  I came for this.  For YOU."

He can redeem the worst messes for His glory.

May He do so in my heart and yours this (imperfect) Christmas Day, 2012.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What a difference a year (or 17) makes

The Coach reminded me this morning, amid lunch making, coffee drinking, and pony tail fixing. . .
that tomorrow is our 17th anniversary.

I knew that.

I just wasn't thinking about it at 6:30 this morning.

For some odd reason.

But as soon as he said it, my mind started wandering back to THIS day, 17 years ago.  The day before our wedding day.  The bridal luncheon, the rehearsal, the packing, preparing, doing all of those last minute things that needed to be done before I became Mrs. Troop.

What fun memories!

And somehow humorous in a way.  . . to be thinking about that day. . . when I'm surrounded by piles of clean laundry that need to be folded and put away. . . a newly remodeled kitchen full of breakfast dishes and lunch fixings. . . Little Man watching Cat in the Hat beside me. . . my fancy (ha!) stress-fracture boot propped up on the ottoman. . . thinking about getting things in order here this morning so I can make it to my Weight Watchers meeting and on to the mall to see Son's (#4) class sing, have lunch with him, then attempt a Sam's run so we can eat this weekend, before I go pick up the younger kids at school, come home to supervise homework, eat dinner, then head back to Daughter's  (#2) Varsity Basketball game.

On top of a BUSY evening last night with our precious Elementary Christmas Program, hyper kids, and a late night conversation with our teens about the perils of the high school dating scene.

Yes, life is much different than it was 17 years ago for the Coach and I.

But you know what?

I love THIS.

This 17 years later chaos and craziness. . . with three teens, one recently turned 16 year old driver, a Freshman girl who loves basketball, a Jr. High student (who plays basketball. . . and piano, too), a 5th grader who cracks us up when he's not making us insane (and yes, basketball), a sweet, funny, tiny 4th grader, a "praise the Lord for His grace to this child" 3rd grader, a spunky 1st grader and. . . well. . . Little Man.

And my coach.  My amazing, wonderful, Godly, patient, wise, calm, hard-working Coach.  Who still melts my heart when he walks into the room.  I may have thought that I loved him on this day 17 years ago as I prepared to become his wife.  But I really just loved myself.  And maybe the IDEA of marriage and family and commitment.

And God, in His unending grace. . . has given us this precious LIFE together to learn to really love.  Not just each other, but more and more each day. . . HIM.

Thanks for letting me pause just a second to remember that.

Happy Friday!

(And I once again, apologize to our sweet, patient families for getting married one week before Christmas!  Whew!)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thankful Thursday

A quick list this morning, since it takes me all morning just to get the house picked up, do the breakfast dishes, start the laundry, and take a shower with this silly boot on my leg.  Grrrr.

1.  Finally getting a clear diagnosis on the pain in my lower leg.  Stress fracture.  And a boot.  For a month.

2.  The opportunity to learn patience.

3.  The gift of something to NOT complain about.

Enough about the leg. . .

4.  Lovely new 12 passenger van.  In silver.  The Coach SUPER DUPER (as Little Man would say) surprised me.  The side pockets aren't even sticky, yet.

5.  New kitchen counters and back splash which (if all goes well) should be finished up today.  Woo hoo!  I know we all want everything NOW, but let me tell you. . . waiting six years for something makes it THAT much more fun! 

6.  Three more days of school until Christmas Break.  So ready for a break.  So.  Ready.

7.  That I've done some of the Christmas shopping.  Please don't laugh.  It's not funny.  I'm doing the best I can!

8.  Christmas cards are ordered.  Should be able to get them mailed before New Years.  Ha!

9.  Our desktop computer is fixed.  And the photos are saved.  Yay!

10.  A chauffeur in the family.  Really nice to be driven places so I can leave the boot on and not have to take it off to drive, then put it on to go in a store, then off to drive, and on to go in. . . you get the idea.

11.  School Christmas program tonight.  One of my all time favorite things.  Ever. 

12.  Two kids in the High School choir this year.  I'd join them if I could.

13.  Online Christmas Shopping (for the things I HAVE crossed off the list)

14.  Cinnamon candles

15.  Cookies baking in the oven

16.  Starbucks dates with my Chauffeur in his awesome new red truck 

17.  Chick-fil-A lunches with my parents

18.  Wedding anniversaries

19.  Family pictures through the years. . . Biggest Loser finales (I haven't finished watching it all on Hulu, so don't spoil it for me!). . . Christmas cards in the mail. . . Cousins to play with. . . Cafe' Mocha coffee creamer. . . Kids with sensitive consciences. . . Lunch with girlfriends. . . Hugs and goodnight kisses times 8. . . Getting text messages from the Coach during the day. . .

Really?  I could go on and on.

But like I said. . . it takes me awhile to, well, to do pretty much anything. . .

So I should get started.

Happy Thursday!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pondering Praise

It's a lovely, quiet, Saturday afternoon at the troops.  The Coach and Son #1 are off enjoying the 16th birthday gift. . . a doe hunt.

Thanks to the miracles of texting, we know he got his two does.  We've even seen pictures.

Here's where this mom has to swallow and pause and remind myself that he's ALL BOY and it's ALL GOOD.

Because I'm not fond of the dead deer photos.  Not fond.

Thinking so much lately about thankfulness and praise. . . I'm sure you get tired of hearing me!  Ha!  I'm learning, eversoslowly, to praise HIM in all things.  ALL things.  Even the hard ones.

But when things are good?

When it seems too easy to whisper, "Thank you, Jesus!"

I'm struggling.

We've been so abundantly blessed, lately.  Things getting done around the house. . . exciting vehicle provisions. . . health (when HAVE we had a Fall without sick kids?). . . precious times alone with the Coach. . . wonderful family time with our troops. . . basketball season for three. . . kids old enough to babysit (we have FOUR in-house sitters, now!). . .and a kid old enough to chauffeur me on my Christmas errands.

I'm feeling spoiled.

And guilty.

Sometimes too guilty at how easy life seems to be. . . not regarding our schedule (which is insane). . . but our comfort.  Even though recognize it as His blessing, His grace.

But I also realize that so many around me are hurting, sick, in pain. . . families coming apart and kids rebelling and children NOT getting well.

How DO I acknowledge all of that pain. . . and still give thanks for the gifts He's given us?

I'm not sure.

But the Holy Spirit keeps bringing to mind the words of Paul,

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Even when things abound and we are full. . . to be content.  Knowing that if we are abased, hungry, and needy. . . we can be content then, too.  Because Jesus is enough.

So, yes.  Praising Him for His goodness to us.

But really it's all His goodness. It's all His Grace.  The "good" times and the "bad" ones.  Praising Him in all things.  ALL things.

Maybe it's time for some pictures?

Happy Saturday!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Home is good.

We pulled in from our weekend away, last night, bundled up the kids in their warmest clothes, and headed out to one of our favorite Christmas traditions - the Journey to Bethlehem.  Live camels and all.

Nothing like going from one extreme to the other.

From a lovely, clean, quiet, cozy hotel room with the Coach, to. . .

Well. . .

It IS cozy here.


As we wrapped up the trip to Dallas and pulled into the driveway, I found myself taking a deep breath, psyching myself up for whatever was waiting beyond the garage door, and the Coach said,

"Either embrace the chaos, or it will make you crazy."

He's right, you know (he usually is).

Because in spite of the no-less-than-three serious meltdowns, the laundry everywhere, the morning busyness, the noise, the dishes, the MESS (not when we got home, thanks to the ever-so-amazing cousin/sitters, but once we started to DO things). . .

Home is good.




But good.

I think I'll stay.

For now.

Drinking coffee in my own kitchen, after sleeping in my own bed (ahhhhhh), remembering the fabulous time with the Coach.  We are rather fond of each other, it turns out, when we can hear each other talk.

How blessed we are.  How much we love these crazy troops.  How much fun THEY had this weekend with their cousins.

Choosing to embrace it.

(although it may be too late for the "crazy" part)

Happy Monday!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hope Deferred

I'm still reeling with joy for my first-born son and the "gift of all gifts" we were able to give him last night.  My mind took a snap shot of the light in his eyes and I won't forget it (how I wish I'd taken a picture!).

Because even though for months we'd been telling him NOT to expect a car for his birthday, NOT to think too much about the possibility, NOT to waste time looking for something we/he could afford. . .

The Lord provided something above and beyond all we could ask or think.

He has a way of doing that.

And even though we had planned on getting him a car sometime before next Summer (so he could drive to and from work), we had no intention of doing it any sooner.

And even though he knew any car we were able to find (and afford!) wouldn't be "his", but rather the "kids" car (like the one cell phone they share), we had no plan to have said car ON his birthday.

But God is a God of miracles.  And surprises.

I can still see my boy's face.

The awe.  Wonder.  Joy.  Delight.  SURPRISE.

In God's provision of something he hadn't expected.  Hadn't thought would happen for a long time (let's admit it, six months IS a long time when you are 16).

I went to bed last night, filled with the JOY it gave my heart to make HIS heart so happy.

Isn't that how God is with us?

"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

I'm not stupid enough to think this verse is talking about cars.  Or trucks, as the case may be.

But it DOES show us our Heavenly Father's JOY in giving us what we ask for.  What we need.  In this passage, specifically, the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I had been trying for months to defer Son #1's hope.  Because Proverbs says, "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick:"  I didn't want him to be disappointed when his birthday gift wasn't a set of keys.  I wanted to protect him from that heart sickness.

Life is full of too much of that, as it is. . . at least in my mother-heart's perspective.

Because sometimes that hope deferred is God's perfect will.  I don't understand it, but I trust it.  Or I try to.

I don't understand why our plans for running my 4th half-marathon were ended by a leg injury.  Don't understand it, don't like it.

I had hopes.  I had trained.  I was excited, looking forward to it, SO wanting to feel that rush that comes at the finish line (OK, I'm romanticizing - there is serious pain, too!).

And then hopes that I could recover and still compete in the race at a slower pace.

Hopes that the first doctor's appointment would reveal a solution.

Hopes that the second doctor's appointment and x-rays would show what was wrong (and maybe that I could still run?)

But all of that has past and I still have no answers.  Heart.  Sick.

Then seeing my man-child last night, when we gave him that AWESOME gift, his eyes, his hesitancy to actually BELIEVE that the truck sitting there would be HIS to drive. . .

It reminded me that my Heavenly Father only gives good gifts.

Sometimes they LOOK good to me.

Sometimes they don't.

My dad's cancer sure didn't seem like a good gift (and I still don't understand fully that it was), but I will never forget hearing him SAY the words.  "God gives good gifts.  My cancer is a good gift."  Sure, I've seen blessings from the experience.  And years down the road (6, I think?) I can look back on it without the sick feeling in my gut.  God healed him.  And has used him mightily to encourage others.

I could give you many examples of "good gifts" that sure don't seem good to me.  My dad still lives with MS each and every day.  We still lost a baby 6 years ago (that was a rough year!).  Bad things still happen.  And will continue to.

I guess it comes back to TRUSTing the giver.

 "But when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."

So far I have learned some things, I suppose.  I love to run.  Even when it hurts.  I love training with my Coach, even when he runs two feet ahead of me for 10 miles (grin).  I love setting a goal and accomplishing it. I love ANY excuse to get away with my favorite-person-in-the-world/husband-of-(almost)-17-years for the weekend.  And I may be just a TAD bit stubborn.  Maybe.

But when I CAN run, again?  I am telling you I will be GRATEFUL that I can.  Remind me of that next time I whine, OK?

For now, I'm going to smile just thinking about how happy my boy is.  And I'm going to let myself be silly-excited about the weekend away.  And I'm going to clean and launder and cook and get this house presentable so our sweet cousin-babysitters don't faint dead away when they walk in the door.  They will need all of their strength just to survive a weekend with the troops!  HA!

A good gift.

No, not the one I was hoping for.

But a good gift.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, that I can trust the gifts you give.  Most of all, the gift of salvation, eternal life, and hope in this life.  Your Holy Spirit, Your promise of the resurrection, the gifts of your Spirit, Your character. .  for giving us YOU . . . Baby Jesus, God-Man, sent to save the souls of mankind.

The best gift of all.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

1/2 days, Birthdays, Holidays. . .

The meat for Son #1's birthday lasagna is simmering on the stove.  Little Man is watching Curious George on PBS. And I'm eating my oatmeal so I can take Ibuprofen and get this day going.  The kids get out at noon on Wednesday and there is NEVER enough time!

We had a blessed Thanksgiving.  Wonderful time with the Coach's extended family.  The kids ate, skated, ate some more, played basketball, and came home worn out!  We finished out the weekend with putting up outside lights, decorating the tree, filling the house with pretty Christmas things, counter top shopping, the Coach's dad's birthday dinner, and Daughter's (#5) 10th birthday on Sunday night.  Oh.  And family pictures in there somewhere, too.

Little Man and I are headed out in a bit to get a few groceries and pick up the smaller of Son #1's birthday gifts - not sure if I can pull it off or not (buying for a 16 year old cowboy when you are strictly a city girl is a challenge!) - and it's COLD outside.  Grandmother, Granddad, the Coach, and I (Little Man, too!) enjoyed lunch with my first-born, yesterday, but no birthday dinner last night since it was also Daughter's (#2) first two basketball games of the season.

I feel a bit like I'm at the top of the first hill on the roller coaster, looking down on basketball season (stretching through March), with a Jr. High and Varsity player in our troops. . . one more birthday, tonight. . . a weekend away with the Coach (woohoo!). . . class mission projects. . . Christmas programs. . . new counter tops coming to the kitchen. . . Choir Christmas dinner (sheet cake baking required). . .Christmas cards. . .  and the general baking and gift-buying for the troops and our loved ones.

(deep breath)

My kids keep saying, "I just LOVE Christmastime!" with that wonderful clear light in their eyes.

And each time I hear it. . . I wonder. . . "DO I love it?"  Do I?  Without the birth of Jesus where WOULD we be?  But the work wears on me and my to-do list is my waking thought each morning and I find myself longing to JUST love it and not feel the pressure we moms feel each year to "get it all done".

I'm so enjoying Ann Voskamp's "1,000 gifts".  So good.  Finishing up the last chapter.  But somewhere in there (the downside of reading on the Coach's nook is my inability to slow down and take the time to highlight so I can find things later), she said that stress, worry, "overwhelmed" is all one thing. . . lack of trusting God.


Because "Overwhelmed" is my middle name.  And if you've read much of anything I've written here, you know that.

I tend to look at all that needs to be done, lump it all in one big PILE, and carry it around on my back.  The massage therapist (my birthday gift from my parents last Summer was a massage - heavenly!) said it's called a "bridge of tension".  Ouch.

The Lord has been working on me in this. . . teaching me to bring it all before him. . . lay it before the throne of grace. . . give it to Him.

But I'm rather fond of picking it all back up, one thing at a time, and throwing it back up there across my shoulders.


When I read that about just BEING stressed/overwhelmed showing a lack of trust. . . it got my attention.

So when that choking, drowning, i-can't-do-it-all feeling starts climbing up my throat?  I've been asking myself, "Am I trusting God with this?" or "What am I not trusting Him about?" or "Why am I afraid to trust Him with this?"

He is so faithful and so worthy of my confidence.  He is fully ABLE to help, rescue, guide, strengthen.  (His faithfulness is the past is evidence of this to me!)

Why do I try to do it on my own?

Because we all have things (and I'm not just talking about the things on our "lists", either) that we are carrying on that "bridge of tension" across our shoulders.  Disappointment, loss, difficult relationships, financial strain, decisions that need to be made, kids that need to be trained, physical pain (I'm raising my hand right with you, here!).

And did I mention that my house is a WRECK?

But from now on. . . I'm not going to be "Mrs. Overwhelmed Troop", anymore.  That's right.  Because slowly, one stress at a time, one moment at a time, I'm changing my name.

To "Mrs. Trusts-God Troop".

"So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."   Hebrews 6:17-20

". . . fled for refuge. . . "
Here I come, Lord!  With all of my burdens, too!
". . . strong encouragement to HOLD FAST to the hope set before us. . . "
Holding TIGHT to Jesus.  Knowing He's really the one doing the holding.
". . . a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. . ."
NOTHING can move me away from you, Lord.  YOU are my anchor.

Got it?  Got it!

(Pretty sure another cup of coffee wouldn't hurt, though.)

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Trust God. Be thankful.

The words jumped off the page at me.  Finishing up "So Long Insecurity" last week, by Beth Moore, I found myself pausing long and reading over and over how to deal with the fears behind insecurity.  Just two words.  Trust. God.

Do I dare?  Is it possible to take my worst fears (failure? rebellious children?  the future of our nation?) and lay them at His feet and TRUST? 

The Coach and I have been talking a lot about this.  And about being thankful.  They go together, don't they?  If we can lay aside our fear and take up trust. . . can we also set aside our disappointment and take up thankfulness?

This weekend I started reading Ann Voskamp's book titled, "1,000 Gifts".  I like it.  And I don't.  It's wordy (I can relate).  She uses more adjectives than my little girls with all of their drama.  But she's real. 

The good things?  I find it easy to thank God for those.  I love to write Thankful Thursday posts about all of His blessings.  I never struggle to think of a list. . . it's just THERE in my head. . . always learning to notice and enjoy the "daily" things of motherhood and family and LIFE.

But the "bad" things?  Can I really thank Him for those?  Can I really trade in the fear for trust?  Is it possible?

I didn't really want a chance to practice.

Saturday morning, the garage was open between an early hunting trip departure and our early morning run.  About 30 minutes, we think.  It was still dark.  The light in the garage ON.  A great deal of our extremely useful possessions illuminated for all to see.  The house full of sleeping children (minus one) and the Coach and I tiptoeing around getting ready to head out in the wind to get our miles in.

The first thing we noticed was the missing leaf blower.  Now, I won't hammer the point to death, but WE'VE GOT LEAVES.  In the baddest of bad ways.  It's not that we can't rake them, sweep them, mow them. . . but there are so MANY of them.  That blower was the Coach's favorite tool/lawn equipment/toy.


Then gradually, over the weekend (at first thinking that only one thing was missing), we realized that a jacket is missing.  A NorthFace that was a gift and has been handed down from boy to boy.


A backpack full of school-work, notebooks, books, pens, notes, etc.


Converse that we gave one of the boys as a birthday gift.


I have that heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach.  It's all "replaceable", I suppose.  Nothing of eternal value, of course.  But a huge inconvenience.  A violation of our privacy and security.

The fear?  Will whoever took these things come back for more?  There's plenty of forgetfulness to go around with eight kids and two absentminded, easily distracted parents.  Is there something else gone that we haven't realized, yet?  Where there things in that back pack that our boy will not be able to replace?  And he'll have to do without at school today, bless his heart.

And all morning that nagging thought, rolling around in my mind like an annoying song that won't go away.

Do I have to?

Lord, do I HAVE to?

Do I have to THANK You for this?


Can't I just offer you thanks for giving us safety while we were burglarized?  Can't I just be grateful that the children slept unharmed while a stranger without a conscience took things from our garage only a few feet away?  Can't I just praise you for what was LEFT? 

Or do I have to offer you thanks for the bad, too?

The loss?

The sick feeling in the pit of my stomach?

The Son who went off to school still trying to figure out what was missing?

The other Son who left here feeling so very badly that he left the garage open?

The Coach who still doesn't have a leaf blower?

Yes, I can be grateful we had another coat to meet the need.  Grateful that we can save up and replace the leaf blower fairly soon.  Thank the Lord for His protection, His provision, His grace.

But can I pray for whoever did this?  Do I really WANT them to experience the grace of God, which they (and all of us) so desperately need?

Can I (gulp) FORGIVE them?

I can.  And I will. 

I will trust God.

I will thank Him.

And I will pray for those around me who are having to thank Him for much harder things today.  Things that hurt much deeper and won't be resolved as simply.  Things that can't be fixed or replaced.  I will pray for those who are hurting, sick, dealing with chronic illness.  Who are facing bad news and an uncertain future.  Loved ones who are struggling through difficult relationships, unforgiveness, and bitterness.

I'll pray.  And I'll seek to remember that my heart and the hearts of my children are way more important than stuff.

Either God is in charge or He isn't.  Either He's big enough to handle the things we face, or He's not.  Either He's sovereign and I can trust Him, or He's not and I can't.

The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Eph 5:20

In everything give thanks:  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thes. 5:18

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise:  be thankful until Him, and bless His name.  Psalm 100:4

And there you have it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

So Blessed.

I'm sitting on the couch with my leg elevated and iced (the things we do to ourselves in the name of fitness!), per the Coach's orders, staring at the HUGE pile of clean laundry on the love seat across from me.  Such a FUN busy week.

Something about Fall weather energizes and motivates me.  I love it.  Cool weather, leaves blowing (OK, the wind is out of control, but you can't have it all), cloudy or sunny, either way works.  I put on my warm, cozy Crusader hoodie and enjoy every bit.

This week I've been out and about more than cozy at home.  I'm not sure how it happened, but I've had lovely "friend time" and time with family this week.

Lunch with a sweet friend and her two boys on Tuesday after BSF (a GREAT lesson this week!).  Her babies are darling and remind me what I loved about having little ones.

Coffee with another friend on Wednesday - she has six kids, so we can talk forever about all that we have in common.  Love that.  Teens, middle schoolers, driving, school. . .

Late lunch (after 1/2 day dismissal and Jr. High basketball practice) with Grandmother and Granddad on Wednesday with 7 of the kids (Daughter #2 was a basketball practice) - catching up and hearing about their most recent travels.  We sure miss them when they are gone!

I don't remember Thursday.  Oh!  Except for the great sale at Coldwater Creek with Mom.  We love that place.   And the orthodontist.

Then today?  Lunch with one of my oldest (not in age, in years of friendship!) and dearest friends.  So good to catch up.  Which came after Weight Watchers (my Friday routine) and another LOSS on the scale.  Yes, it's weight that's already been lost previously and re-found.  But it feels good to lose it, again.

And even though it can't get much better, I found time to visit on the phone with Crazy Daisy AND BFF Working Mom, too, this week.

Wait a minute!  The best part of all?  Wait for it. . .

I have the Coach back!  (smile) I'm not glad football is over, of course, but the Coach has been HOME in the evening this week - early even - and tonight?  Football game and burgers with Grandmother and Granddad.  Inside.  On TV.  Where it's warm.  And not windy.

Seriously.  A good week.

Next week will be hectic with Thanksgiving and the troops out of school from Wednesday on.  Fun.  But busy.  Lots of cooking, dishes, and I'm hopeful that it will also include lights in the new pantry (can't wait to show you THAT - it's beautiful!), the house decorated for Christmas, and lots of time with both sides of our big family.

Sometimes life is very "daily", but very good, too.  The blessings of health, home, God's perfect provision. . . taking time to stop and think about all that is GOOD and how blessed we are.  It's a lot of work (and a lot of food. . . and laundry. . . and noise. . . )  but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

If I don't get up and fold this laundry before the kids get home from school. . . it may never happen.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Laugh or Go Crazy. . . on Wednesday

I feel like I'm writing more than usual, lately.  It's not been because I've had extra time - we've been swamped.  It's not because I have more material than usual, there is always lots going on at the troops.  I think maybe it's because we've been SO busy and the Coach has been gone SO much, that I have too many extra words left at the end of the day.

Tell me I'm not the only one?

Combine that with the fact that my two best friends are a) homeschooling four kids in far away Texas and way too busy to talk on the phone. . . and b) working full-time, now, at our school - which leaves no time at all for her favorite (ha!) SAHM.  (sigh)

They would both tell you that I'm partly to blame, as well.  I can't remember the last time I actually answered the phone.  Let's hear it for texting!

We're all busy, aren't we?  (If you're not, come on over and I'll put you to work!)

Daughter (#7), who is 7, is sitting here beside me typing a "story" on the other computer.  Daughter (#6) walked through and got REALLY upset that the character in the story had her name.  Daughter (#7) started to defend herself. . . "It's a GOOD story. . . she does GOOD things. . . it's not TRUE!"

How can I not laugh?

This morning, Little Man and I took "Working Mom BFF" to coffee for her birthday.  He loved it.  He tried to stay IN the conversation the whole time - often with completely random information.  "Sister has blond hair," he said at one point.  As if WMBFF doesn't know this.   Little Man calls her "Miss Shauna".  Just now he walked up and said, "Mom!  S H doesn't make 'Mishauna', so I'm just going to call her 'Banana'."  Can you tell he's learning letter sounds?

Talk about random. . . it's hard to write much of anything coherent when I have to stop every two seconds to help Daughter (#7) spell, "Beautiful" and "Sissy".  Must be quite a story.  Glad it's not "true".

We have a BIG football game this week.  Son (#1) is still out with a concussion - head aches keep hanging around - talk about a bummer.  First week of play offs AND against our biggest rival.  I am determined to dress the kids more warmly.  Apparently I was brain-dead last week and we all about froze.  At one point, Little Man said,  "I am. .  turning. . . into. . . an. . . ICE CUBE!"

"Big Green" is in the shop, today.  Nothing serious, gratefully, just maintenance.  The kids LOVE the loaner Suburban we get.  I keep telling them I like it, too, but it won't hold us all.  It's fun to have it for a day, though.  We can pretend to be a "normal" family with only five kids.  Ha!

Little Man is playing with his play dough that we made on Monday.  He's so happy.  I'm not a big fan of play dough, I have to be honest.  He is finally old enough to play with it AND clean it up, so I guess it's OK.  My theory has always been to throw away whatever is left out until there isn't any left, but he's gotten really great at cleaning it up.  Ha!

Well. . . it's 1/2 day Wednesday, the kids are home, it's almost time for piano lessons, dinner needs to be started, Daughter (#2) is at basketball practice, Son (#1) is at football practice (watching) with the Coach,  Son (#3) just walked in from a babysitting job, and my quiet moment is long gone.

Trusting the Lord for it all. . .

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Just Stuff. . .

It's cold and dark this afternoon.  Little Man is snoozing away beside me on the couch.  I planned on napping, too, but my brain won't quiet down.  Relationships sure complicate life, don't they?  (smile)

Reading "So Long Insecurity" by Beth Moore this week.  It's a really encouraging book, I highly recommend it.  Even if you don't consider yourself, "insecure", we all are in some area, with some people, in some situations, don't you think?  Oddly enough, it's revealed some fears that I didn't realize I had.  Those fears have led to some insecurities that I DID know I had.  Grateful for the Lord's healing and comfort in those areas.

I finally felt the third earthquake (in just a few days) last night.  Weird.  I have been in one before while visiting my aunt and her family in California.  Somehow they seem oddly out of place here in Oklahoma.  During a torrential thunderstorm and tornado warning, nonetheless.  Hmmmm.

BSF was so good this morning.  Lots to ponder.  The gospel, simplified, keeps running through my mind.  Salvation through Christ alone, by faith alone, plus NOTHING.  Wow.  Picked Little Man up from his classroom and he bounced out, "I'm hungry!  Can we meet Granddad at Chick-fil-A?"  I love that boy.  His Granddad and Grandmother, too.

We had a family meeting on Sunday.  Every so often, I completely lose it with the kids, the house, life in general.  It happened, once again, this weekend.  When I start saying, "There is only ONE of me and EIGHT of you!!" I know it's time.  We stayed at the table after Sunday lunch.  Discussed some of the problems. . . messy rooms, skipping chores, waiting too long to do home-work, not cleaning up one's own messes, food, games, etc.  Now that the kids are older, I try to let them tell ME what's going on and what we should do about it.  Turns out they are harder on themselves than I would ever be.  But that's a good thing.  We made some lists (you know how I love lists!), agreed on some consequences, and moved on.

So far so good.  It's when it's time to enforce the consequences that I struggle.

The house was so neat and tidy after the kids left for school, yesterday morning, that Little Man and I headed out for a few errands and went to the Library (he's always asking to go!).  We came home and made play dough (the first time I've ever done that - ha!) and even picked up a cousin to come play for a bit.  It was a good day.  Turns out when I don't have to pick up after eight kids I can be a (sort of) fun mom.

Well, the dryer just went off, and my nap timer (I have to set a timer or Little Man and I would sleep right through time to pick the kids up!) is about to go off, too. Better get a move on.

Lots to be grateful for.  So very much to be prayerful about. Trusting the One who gave His life for us to guide and protect.  He made it possible for us to spend eternity with Him, I think I can trust Him with the rest of life, too.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Typical Thursday morning at the troops, today.
One couldn't find her shoes (one was in the van, one behind the bicycles in the garage?  Hmmmm?).
One with a wet coat they left in the car last night.
Cookies to deliver to school for the Fall Festival (16 dozen to be exact.).
Water bottles for another booth prize.
Candy for Daughter (#7) to take, except she's still in bed.
Letter Jacket form and payment to turn in (HOW are we already doing this? Wasn't he just a baby, yesterday?).
Lunches (no microwaves today).  Minus one.
Cookies for the Coach's class birthdays this month (I was already making so many anyway. . . ).

It goes on and on.

Mornings like this, the minute they are all actually OUT the door. . . OK, I wait until the van actually pulls out of the neighborhood. . . I let out a BIG SIGH.

Never mind that the house looks like a tornado went through.  I'm pretty sure it did.  There's time for that, today, with little sister home (not feeling well, last night).  We won't be going anywhere. 

1.  Coffee in the coffee pot.

2.  Happy Little Man (He loves having other kids home on school days - ha!)

3.  Perky Little Sister (She hopped out of bed feeling just fine!  Yay!).

4.  Nephew doing SOOOOOOO much better, last night.  We are grateful for all of the prayers for him.  After a second surgery on Tuesday, he seems to have turned the corner.  Thank you, Lord!  He may even get to go home soon!

5.  Baking finished last night.  The Coach even helped with all of the dishes.  He's a good man.

6.  Fall Festival at school, tonight - my kids LOVE it.  Even though it's freezing cold outside!  Praying for all of the sweet home-room moms, teachers, and parents who will be working SO hard today to get it all ready.

7.  A day OFF of school, tomorrow.  Woo hoo!

8.  A new pantry project in the works for the weekend.  How sad is it that I am unbelievably excited about having more room for canned goods and groceries?  HA!

9.  Warm, cozy (even if messy) house.

10.  The sound of Little Man and Little Sister playing with hexabits in the playroom.

11.  Day off of running  - and an appointment next week with a doctor to look at my knee.  Boo for running injuries.

12.  Not having to cook dinner, tonight!  Yay for Fall Festival, once again!

13.  Netflix.  Little Sister loves "Father Knows Best" - how fun is that?

14.  Google Calendar.  The Coach and I would spend all of our time together coordinating schedules if we couldn't just sync our calendars online.  Eliminates a lot of confusion!

15.  Call from the radiologist confirming that Son's (#3) x-ray on his arm, Tuesday, only shows a sprain.  Whew!

16.  Another check, yesterday, regarding Son's (#1) concussion from two weeks ago - the head-aches continue, but they aren't worse.  He's missing his third game, tomorrow, but he's had a great attitude.  I'm proud of him!

I'm going to purpose to enjoy this day.  The cold.  The extra little one home (so grateful she seems so much better this morning!).  The chaos.  The long list.

So many blessings.

"You are loved with an Everlasting Love. . . . and underneath are the Everlasting Arms."
(Jeremiah 31:3, Deuteronomy 33:27)

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Finishing up 14 dozen cookies for our Fall Festival at school, tomorrow.

The house smells good.  But I've seen enough cookie dough to last me at least a year!  Ugh!

If you can't make it tomorrow night, bake up some of your own.  I'm happy to share our recipe.  It wasn't mine to begin with, anyway. 

These are the cookies that the Coach gives to his students on their birthdays. Way back when he had a full schedule of math classes (he only teaches one class, now), he had over 115 students - that's a lot of cookies!  I loved baking them for the kids.  Still do.

These are the cookies that my kids ask for the most.  That my mom craves (and has been known to steal out of my freezer - ha!).  They are our favorites.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

(recipe from my grandmother)

Cream together:
4 sticks of butter
(use real butter, OK?)
1 1/2 Cups sugar
1 1/2 Cups light brown sugar

Beat in:
4 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla

Mix separately:
6 Cups all purpose unbleached white flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt

Stir dry ingredients into wet.

Cut 4 (7 oz.) large Hershey Milk Chocolate bars into small chunks.

Fold into dough, along with 1 Cup of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips.

With medium cookie scoop, place on ungreased baking sheets (I do 9 per sheet).

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
This makes about 5 1/2 doz. fairly large cookies.

Often I freeze the uncooked dough balls on wax paper and then place in a ziploc bag for later. Then you can just take a few out, let them thaw on the baking sheet, flatten and bake. Yum!

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fresh Start.

I really like Mondays.

I don't like how tired I am.  Or how cranky the kids are.
I don't like how messy the house is after a very busy weekend.
Or that it takes until noon to get it straightened up and somewhat clean and orderly, again.
I don't like cleaning out the fridge (we have a strict "one week" rule around here - ha!).
Or having 5 loads of laundry to do just to get back to square one.
I don't like that it's almost 1:00 and I haven't had a shower.
Or that Little Man is still in his jammies.

But you know what I do like?

A fresh start.

That's what Mondays are.

The last week is over.  We survived the weekend (how DO they end up being so busy?).  Everyone did what they did and has what they have and they are off to school.

Maybe it's the quiet.  Little Man is always happy to be on his own, once again.

Maybe it's the weekly calendar print out that has yet to be scribbled all over as things change and have to be moved around.

Maybe it's the groceries in the fridge and the meal plan all set (actually, I've only made it through Wednesday, but I'll get there.).

Maybe it's the fact that I get to put the trash OUT for Tuesday morning!  Yay!  Because by Monday morning, those three city bins are busting full.

Maybe it's the beautiful Fall weather, with the sun shining, and the leaves starting to fall on the still green grass.

Whatever it is. . . it feels like starting all over.  And I like it.

Have a blessed Monday, today!

And as a PS - I would appreciate your prayers for my 17 year old nephew who is still in the hospital following emergency eye surgery on Friday night.  He's doing well - we are so grateful!  Praying now for complete healing, that the infection that caused him to get sick will continue to be effectively treated by the antibiotics, and for my brother and sister-in-law as they juggle caring for him and their five other kids at home.  Thank you!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday. Comes after Thursday. Thankfully.

One of the main reasons I love to do Thankful Thursday posts (even if they have been somewhat sporadic - like the rest of my blogging, lately) is because Thursday is a tough day at the troops.

Are my kids the only ones who have complete meltdowns on Thursday?

The homework seems to be more overwhelming.
The projects are looming.
The Friday test material needs studying.
And we are all tired.

Yesterday was no exception. 

I told the Coach I was going to take a nap (this was at 6:00 AM).  He said, "I'm jealous."  I said, "Well, the one who gets a nap, also has to pick up the kids, get them home without killing each other in the back seat, help them with all of their homework and reading, clean up their "snacks", and keep them off the computer and Netflix until dinnertime."

He said, "You can have your nap, then."

And he seemed to have a spring in his step as he walked out the door.  Hmmmm.

Thursday mornings contain the "I can't find my favorite pants!" meltdowns.  The "I forgot to put my jersey in the wash!" meltdowns, the "Isn't there anything GOOD for lunch?" meltdowns, etc. etc. etc.  And almost always a call from "Big Green" that someone forgot something vital to their success as a student or athlete.

Then on the way home at 3:15?  Don't even get me started.  I've always said, if I get pulled over for speeding on the way home (not that I DO speed, just hypothetically, of course), I would just let the Highway Patrol sit in MY car for a minute.  Then beg him to take me with him and leave the kids there.

Did you KNOW that staring at someone is a crime?  Or (gasp) daring to look out THEIR window instead of your own?  Heaven forbid someone finish their lunch (that they hated at 6:30 AM but refuse to share at 3:15 PM) and not use the most perfect "in the back of the mini-van" manners.  And Little Man?  Who was content and happy all day running errands, eating his PB&J, and taking a nap with Mom?  Turns into a TERROR. 

Let's just say it's not the most pleasant 20 minutes of my day.

I'm not complaining.  I realize the huge blessing it is to have them IN school and not HOME for school.  I'm grateful for the homework, the projects, the reading. . . I really am.  It's all good.

But even "good" times 7 can be overwhelming.

Then, before we know it (OK.  I confess.  I put the younger 4 to bed at 7:15 last night.  Now you know.), it's Friday morning and suddenly it's all sunshine and smiles.

T-shirt day (and I learned my lesson, mind you, the favorite pants were CLEAN!), field trips, and the anticipation of a football game, tonight.  Which means (for the kids) staying up late and wasting their OWN money on ring pops and skittles.  For me?  It will certainly require an extra dose of caffeine.

The kids will catch up on some sleeping in the morning, though.  While the Coach and I drag ourselves out of bed while it's still dark (AGAIN) to run 10 miles.  And when I get back exhausted and ready for a shower, they'll all be up, bouncing off the walls, hungry for breakfast, and the Coach will leave to go watch film with the team.  (Remind me, again, why I shouldn't be jealous of him?)

Gotta love it.

For today?  It's Friday.  Short run (3 miles at 5 AM in 39 degree weather - yay!), Weight Watchers meeting, errands with the Little Man, and an evening in the bleachers to look forward to.  Even when Son #1 isn't playing, I can still cheer on the rest of the team (and the assistant coach, too).  Just hope I remember my stadium seat this time!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Ahhhhh.  Thankful Thursday.  It's good to be here.

1.  Rain.  Can you believe it?  RAIN!

2.  Cool weather.  Feels so very cozy.  Like movie, popcorn, and hot chocolate cozy.  If I didn't have anything else to do.

3.  Tuesday night WIN for our Jr. High football team (Son #3's) to finish the season.  This will mean less football laundry and hopefully a less over-whelmed Coach at our house.

4.  Gloriously WORKING washing machine!  Woo hoo!  I'm so grateful.  There just aren't words. 

5.  Fall Break.  I'm sad it went so quickly (it was a busy four days!), but just the break from getting up so early and lunches and school clothes and homework. . . lovely.  Now we just have to hang in there until Thanksgiving, right?

6.  Oh.  My.  Heavens.  I'll have to go take a picture . . .
Last week my dad took Son #3 and Son #4 with him to run some errands.  He very graciously let them PICK something to bring home to me.  Have you every seen anything so beautiful? 

And it still has several blooms yet to open.  I've never had an orchid, before.  Such sweet thoughtful boys and such a generous Granddad, don't you think?

7.  Basketball starting (last week) for Daughter #2 and (this week) for Son #3.  Still a few weeks of football to go for Son #1. 

8.  Son #1 seems to be recovering well from his concussion last week.  It's not fun having to sit out practice and not be able to play in the Friday night games.  Bless his heart.  But, for some odd reason, the Coach and I are more concerned about his long-term mental and physical health than we are football.  Go figure.

9.  We are half-way through week 5, training for our next half-marathon.  Feeling much better this week than I was last week.  Running 10 this Saturday.  Trying not to think about it.  I DO love the time with the Coach.  And I've almost started liking getting up early to run with him.  Feels great to have it DONE before my day would normally be starting.

10.  Watching my kids with each other.  I would tend to say (being the pessimist that I am) that my kids fight with one another more than anything.  But over Fall Break, watching them on our trip, hiking, at the restaurant. . . then at home over the weekend, switching beds (three girls in one room, four boys in another and none of them can decide which bed they really want) back and forth (so glad the washer works - ha!), watching the little girls play school in the sun room, watching the boys work with the Coach in the yard, spending time with Granddad and Grandmother. . . it's fun.  It's loud.  It's crazy.  But it's fun.

And now. . . it's time to be productive.  In some way.  Maybe I can get enough done this morning to justify a nap with Little Man this afternoon.  Ha!

Happy Thursday!

What are you thankful for, today?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall Break Day Trip

We had a few hours on Friday to do something fun together.
The Coach suggested a trip down to the Wichita mountains.
There is a great visitors center there with a lot of animals to look at (of the dead and stuffed variety).
TONS of roaming native Bison and Longhorn cattle (of the large and live variety).
We took a short hike, with lots of rocky climbing, but even Little Man kept up just fine.

We also watched the Prairie Dogs for a bit.  
Somehow when I stepped back and saw this, my heart skipped a beat.
My troops.
How I love them.
And they aren't so "little" anymore, are they?

There were so many times that I went hiking while pregnant or carrying a baby in a baby carrier, the Coach with a toddler in a hiking backpack.  Stopping and sitting by the trails to nurse a fussy baby or change a diaper.

I'm glad we did those things then, but WOW it's so much easier, now.

Kids that can all hike by themselves (the Coach and I have a hard time keeping up with them!),
only Little Man needing a hand now and then.
No diaper bag.
No bottles.
No sippy cups.
No stroller, back packs, baby seats.

Granted lunch cost a little more.  (grin)
But we had a great time.
Had really great burgers at this fun place.
Unfortunately the pictures of lunch are imprisoned on my phone.
I'll have to get one of the kids working on that.

All in all, a great afternoon with the troops.  

Happy Fall Break!

Now back to the craziness.
(not to suggest that the van trip coming home was LESS than crazy. . . )

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Careful where you step. . .

The washer repairman is here this morning.
Sometimes I feel like I should post a warning on our front door.
But I'm not sure if I should warn those who enter about the mess inside, or the mental state of the woman of the house.
7 days without being able to do laundry at my own house has made me feel somewhat loopy.

I'm tremendously grateful for a Mom and Nana who have allowed me to come over daily, hauling my overflowing baskets of stinky laundry (try combining football practice, volleyball practice, and running clothes smells) and do two or three loads in their washers.  Whew.

But the towels?  And sheets?  And bathmats?


I'm ready to get things in order.

However, after trying to start my washer for 7 days straight with NO luck, the repairman walked in, pushed the button and. . .

It started.


OH the irony.

I think it just needed a vacation.

The washer, I mean.

After working in our tiny laundry room around piles of laundry, the repairman might need one, too.

Brave, brave man.  Didn't know what he was walking into.

Although the "Laundry Crisis of 2011" has certainly been at the forefront of our lives this week, other things have been going on, too.

We celebrated our littlest girl's SEVENTH birthday last week.  I can't believe it.  No, she's not THE baby around here, but she is my baby girl.  Sniff.  She is a sweet and spunky little thing.  And almost taller than Daughter #5.  Loving 1st grade, reading like a champ, and plays school anytime she's not AT school.  Of course, wants to be a teacher.  What's not to love?

Peanut (Daughter #5) was home three days last week with a head-ache.  Nothing worse ever came of it, for which I'm grateful.  She's been so diligent getting caught up with her school work.  She has yucky allergies just like her momma and big brother (Son #3).

Speaking of head-aches, Son #1 got a minor concussion (we think) in practice, yesterday.  I was tempted to go in and wake him up several times in the night.  But they say that's not necessary, anymore.  I did tell him to come get me if he felt weird or threw up.  He looked at me funny.  I'm not sure I've ever said the words, "Come wake me up" to him.  Or anyone else.

I had received a summons for Jury Duty next week.  Ha.  I know you're laughing.  The Coach made some phone calls on my behalf and had it postponed until Summer.  Said he'd be Mr. Mom and let me serve.  Yay.  Won't that be fun?  At least I'm off the hook for next week.

The Coach and Son #3 are winding down with Jr. High football - only one more game, I think - and had a Christian College Fair last night.  We can check that off the list.

Sister (that's Daughter #2) starts basketball tomorrow.  During Fall Break.

So much for family time.

But that's OK - we wouldn't have had any family time anyway.  Football game the first day of Fall Break and film the 2nd.

Tis the life of a Coach's family.

And we love it.  Really.  One time I heard Mrs. Billy Graham answer a question about whether or not it was hard to be married to a man who was gone so much, traveling, preaching, and leading crusades.  She said she'd rather have HER husband some of the time, than any one else's husband all of the time.

Yep.  Me, too.

Well, the washer finally acted up for the repairman.  Whew.  Would have been horrible if it had quit right after he left.  Seems to be fixed and we're back in business.  In two or three days I'll be all caught up.

What is Fall Break for, right?

In the meantime, we'll enjoy the Patriotic Program at school this afternoon.  And tomorrow?  All but sister can sleep in while I take her to get the rest of her bottom brackets on her teeth.  She'll love having to get up early on a day off school for THAT, don't you think?

The cooler weather, the pumpkins and pansies, the mums in bloom in my flower beds, the spicy scented candles, crockpots full of soup and beans, it's all good.

It reminds me that seasons are not only part of each year, they are part of life, as well.

We're going to call this season at the troops, "Busy and Blessed".

Better get started on that laundry!

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Morning

I can hear "The Cat in the Hat" from the Living Room, where Little Man and Daughter (#5) are watching.  She's home today with a head-ache.  I let her stay because her eyes don't look right.  We moms can just tell.
We'll have a quieter day, for sure.  I'm not complaining.

The Coach and I got our run in without getting rained on.  I'm grateful.  It's hard enough to run when it's not raining.  I've already had some quiet coffee time to read this, from my friend Amber and this post from sweet friend, Jo.

Just thinking about how FAST the troops are growing up.  How part of me misses those little days. . . and part of me (for sure!) doesn't.  How FUN they are and how much I'm enjoying that they are young adults.  How sad I get when I clean out the clothes that are too small.  How much I'm looking forward to another driver in the house.  How quickly we will have several extra drivers.



Oh so grateful.

I know my kids aren't perfect.  But they are GREAT kids.  Smart.  Funny.  Loving.

Yes, every day I pray for them to be kinder, gentler, to love each other more.  I pray for them to love God the MOST.  And to resist the temptation to do something stupid. 

But I hope and pray. . . when it's all said and done. . . and they are grown and gone (the Coach is all about the "gone" part!). . . that they will return frequently, love being here, still watch football with us on the weekends, tease each other, and eat all of the food I can make.

I finally finished the little girls' clothes, yesterday.  We have our playroom back.  It always makes me pause a bit when I realize how much they've grown (well. . . except for Daughter #5. She's still my little peanut.).

How those things I pulled out last Fall seem suddenly SMALL.  How the pile of shoes that don't fit seems to grow.  And the jeans get shorter.  And the Strasburg dresses that I love and wish they would wear, now get a "Mom, do we HAVE to wear those?"  Because they are almost 10, 8 1/2, and (gasp!) SEVEN this week and not 5, 4 and 3. Times are a changing. 

So very much to be grateful for.  Even on a cool, rainy day, with a sickie at home. 

If your kiddos are all still little?  And the days seem long?  And you are exhausted and wondering if they will ever be able to tie their own shoes or go to the bathroom by themselves or SLEEP through the night?  I wish I could somehow tell you how fast it goes and how much you should enjoy every moment with them.  Don't worry about having everything neat and perfect all of the time.  Sit and read books with them and take a nap while they do.  Watch "Curious George" with them instead of letting the TV be a distraction so you can "get something done". 

Yes, my mother told me all of that when mine were little.  But I thought I had plenty of time.

You don't.  Trust me.

Because having five little ones six and under, has now turned into three teens (15, 14, 13), an 11 year old, and a 9 year old.  Plus a few more.  They didn't stay little.  And yes, they can all tie their own shoes and go to the bathroom by themselves.  They are all sleeping in their own beds all night AND are a huge help to this very tired, not-twenty-something-anymore momma.

Well, I'm getting hot chocolate and raisin toast orders from my peanut and Little Man. Better get to it. Thanks to the reminders this morning, I'll be joining them, for sure!  I wonder what movie a 9 year old girl and a 4 year old boy will agree on?  Ha!
Happy Monday!

Friday, October 7, 2011

I can relate. . .

Little Man slept through the kids all tromping out the door to school, yesterday morning.

I don't know how he sleeps through the door slamming, coming and going, "Mom!  So-and-so is SMACKING their frosted mini-wheats, again!", smoothies going in the blender, more door opening and closing, lunch making, shoe hunting, and hair fixing.


In a few minutes, though, he came padding out in his bare feet, hair sticking up, sleepy eyes wide open, jammie pants hiked up on his little bird legs.

"Did I miss something, Mom?"

I feel the same way.

Right about the time I get my act together, the act is over.

Watching Daughter's (#2) last volleyball game on Monday, I think she can relate.  They had just started to "click" on the court - know what I mean.  She was playing GREAT.

Just in time for basketball to start.

My lack of time to write has been due to a several things this week:

#1.  Pinterest. Seriously addictive.  Although at first it gave me a complex.  I am not (it turns out), interested in a.) fashion, b.) home decor, c.) projects for my kids, or d.) cooking.

What's left, you ask?  Pictures of far away places to travel and WORDS.  I love words.  And Fall.

#2.  Half-marathon training round 4.  The Coach and I agreed we could tackle a December race if we trained in the mornings (the only time he's home).  I'm not sure if 5:00 AM is morning. . . I've always considered it "night-time".  If so, then we are running at night, but we are running.  It's completely solved any trouble I used to have going to sleep.  Good grief.  I can go to sleep ANYWHERE, anytime.  But those sleepless late nights helped me keep up with my blogging, after all.

#3.  Turns out I have a legitimate reason to be tired.  Went in for some blood work last week and found out that my iron levels are so low that they basically don't exist.  Went to my favorite place to buy supplements and fill prescriptions with my results in hand.  The pharmacist said, "Wow.  I'm surprised you are up and walking around."

Ha.  That's funny.  Because actually I AM REALLY TIRED!

Hopefully the new doses of some different vitamins will do the trick.  In 2-3 months.


School is hopping along.  Field trips, projects (I need to take some pictures).  Homework, of course.  Lots of reading, singing, laughing, studying, memorizing, and sleeping going on at the troops.  Oh.  And eating.  I still haven't figured out how to make them stop.

Along with the 1/2 marathon training (which so far is less than I was already running each week - but not for long!), I'm back in BSF with Little Man and back counting my points for WW every day (I hadn't "quit", but I sure had slacked off).

Always plenty to do.

Which reminds me. . . we started switching the three little girls' clothes out from Summer to Winter last week (which, of course, led to some really HOT days this week - never fails).  I still haven't finished.

That's right.  For an entire week those buckets of clothes have been lined up in the playroom.  Ugh.  Don't even talk to me about the boys clothes that need cleaning out.

I am encouraged, though.  These early morning runs with the Coach have given us time we didn't have together.  Not that I'm much in the mood for talking, but he is, and I like to listen.

And knowing that something IS really making me more tired than usual is, oddly, comforting.  Because I was pretty sure I was losing my mind.

Lessons from this week?

Sometimes "dates" come way before the sun rises and require running shoes and dodging skunks.

A trip to the doctor now and then is a good idea for everyone.

And as the Coach says?  "It'll all get done."

And it will.

After my nap.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A penny saved is. . . not NEARLY enough!

It's quite possible that I am still annoyed by the price hike on my favorite 32.oz chemical/artificial sweetener/caramel coloring/carbonated water treat.  Finding two quarters in my car, on the kitchen counter, in the couch cushions - totally a possibility on any given day.  Finding four quarters or a dollar bill?  Much less likely.

Reminded me of the fact that the $3 car wash (when we moved to our fair suburb 6 years ago) is now $6.  SIX DOLLARS.  Well worth it, mind you, when you have eight kids and two cars that you swap back and forth every day to cart muddy football players, snacking elementary students, volleyball players, and go on the occasional date night in.  Of course the best thing of all is when one finds QUARTERS while vacuuming out the van at the SIX DOLLAR car wash.  Ha!

Enough of the caps, already, I know.

Back in the day (before suburbs and eight kids), we washed the cars in our driveway with the hose.  I may, in fact, have a serious addiction to clean cars.  Even back then, most often pregnant, little munchkins running all over the place - I would get out and wash the cars on Saturday.  If he'd already finished mowing the lawn (that was before we had boys old enough to do the mowing - like when they turned seven), the Coach would help.  I always did the vacuuming, though.   OK.  I do have a problem.

When I turned sixteen and was given my own car (notice how I resisted the temptation for all caps), I washed it, faithfully.  Even without eight kids to get it filthy dirty every week.  It wouldn't have held eight kids, anyway.  It would have barely held the Coach and I.  But we sold it before he came on the scene.  The only "car wash" besides my own driveway was the one that you pulled into and fed quarters into a machine and washed it yourself.  Probably more quarters than it USED to take to buy 32oz of caffeinated refreshment. 


Enough about dirty cars.

Everything is getting SO expensive.  Milk.  Bread.  And have you bought ground beef, lately?  Good heavens.  One good reason to go vegan, for sure.  Except that I'm pretty sure my football players (and most likely the Coach) would cry "MUTINY!" 

Even Netflix is moving quickly out of the "affordable entertainment for a large family who is too conservative to watch regular TV" category.  There is a category like that, right?  When we first signed up, years ago, it was $9.99 per month.  Two DVD's at a time.  Then came streaming on the Wii.  For FREE.  How awesome was that?  And now?  It's $7.99 for one DVD at a time AND $7.99 for streaming.  Ugh.  Probably should cancel that DVD part, anyway.  I've had the same DVD sitting on the counter for a month, now.  Who has time for a WHOLE movie these days?

And while we are talking about internet?  The whole phone/cell phone/DSL thing is some kind of con.  The bill goes up nearly every month.  All so we can have three cell phones, one land line, three computers, a Wii and two Nooks online at all times.  Never mind that I have to turn all of them off to get some peace and quite around here.  Can I get a credit for that?

I had a phone line when I was a teen.  My own phone line.  In my room (what WERE my parents thinking?).  It had a cord, though, so I certainly couldn't go very far with it.  And the cell phone?  No such thing!  I had a CAR phone.  Mounted in the floor of my Civic.  It was awesome.  And way cheaper.

Sometimes I just sit and reminisce about the "" days.  Remember?  Free e-mail.  Your already in use phone line, a dial-up connection, sending and downloading e-mails in one fell swoop (and only when you chose to do it).  Sure, it took forever, but think how much LESS time we spent dealing with it all back then.  Free e-mail, I miss you.

Now, my e-mail checks itself without my permission, reminding me of those 117 messages I haven't responded to.  Then there is Facebook.  OK.  Well.  They've pretty much ruined Facebook, but I can't seem to give it up completely.

And Pinterest?  Good Heavens.  Fun.  Addictive.  And a lovely and delightful waste of time that I don't have.

I'm already wasting enough time.  And without my 49 cent bi-weekly afternoon caffeine fix?  I can't stay awake long enough to enjoy the time I'm already wasting.

Just a good reminder, at the end of the day, that our wise parents were right.  Nothing is free.  At least not for long. 

Well, except for the saving grace of our Lord Jesus.  No matter who you are, how much money you have (or don't have), where you live, what you drive, wear, eat or waste time on. . . God's grace is there.  Free.  His gift of salvation.  At His expense.  No fine print.  No loopholes.  No exceptions.

I'll always be able to be thankful for that, even when I can't find four quarters in my dirty car.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thankful Thursday

1.  Yesterday was the 17th anniversary of when our courtship began.  Maybe this is why I love Fall so much - it reminds me every year of falling in love with the Coach.

2.  Full pantry, fridge, cabinets, and freezer.  I LOVE that my kids can be in our amazing school.  I do NOT love unloading and putting all of the groceries away by myself.  Ha!

3.  RAIN.  Lovely thunderstorm last night and this morning.  Cool, rainy weather is my favorite!  And we needed the rain so badly.

4.  A pedicure with my mom, yesterday.  The uninterrupted visit is more of a blessing than the pretty toes.  Which is a good thing, because as soon as I walked in the door, someone dropped their homework notebook ON my pretty toes.  (sigh)

5.  Volleyball season is winding down.  It's been fast, furious, and FUN.  A break before basketball season will be nice!

6.  Sale at Coldwater Creek today.  Not sure if I'll make it over there, but I'm going to try!

7.  Finding packages of lean ground beef with reduced prices at Sam's this morning.  Now I just have to make some things with it.  Will be SO nice to have in the freezer, though!

8.  The nap that Little Man and I are going to take, here in the next few minutes. It's cool, cloudy, and when I turn the phone off?  Quiet!  He and I are both SO tired!  And we need to rest up because tomorrow?  Football!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Flawed Genes

It's bound to happen.

They are, after all, my offspring.  And the sin gets passed down right along with the brown eyes and big feet (mine, not the Coach's).

My kids are going to fail.  Make poor choices, do something they shouldn't.  I pray every day that in these life lessons, God will protect them.  But they are human, imperfect, learning (just like me!).

When they do?  How do I respond?

Do I remind them who they ARE and who is WATCHING and how embarrassing it is that MY kid would do THAT?

(I'll admit this is my first reaction, if I'm not careful.)

Do I tell them that having a good name is hugely important and that they inherited a VERY good name that they haven't even earned? 

(Which is certainly the truth.)

Do I threaten them with monstrous consequences (real or imagined) and tell them I am disappointed at so many levels?

(When I am, of course.)

Or do I say:

(along with their Heavenly Father)

"Nothing you can ever do will make me love you more.
And nothing you can ever do will make me love you less."

Not for being perfect.  Not for making straight A's.  Not for excelling in sports.  Not for having great friends.  Not because they do things that please me.  Not because they DO anything.

But because they are MINE.


The sin?  It breaks my heart.  But the love?  That's a choice.  Not based on performance, but on the never-ending, never-failing love of my Savior.

Tonight?  I'm choosing to love (right along side consequences of a natural and applied nature).

This is hard stuff.  Parenting isn't for sissies (although I sometimes am one).  It isn't the first time one of my kids has blown it.  It won't be the last (there are eight of them, after all).

~Thank you, Lord, that we can't see all that the future holds and that Your grace is sufficient and Your mercies are new every morning!

Help me to LOVE, even when they fail.  To reach out, even when it's hard.  To forgive. . . in Your strength.

Because as much I could ever love these precious children.

YOU love them more.~

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and Other Stuff. . .

Seriously. Tired. WAY too tired for a Tuesday.  I'm pretty sure losing wears us all out.  Maybe character-building is over-rated.  (Don't tell anyone I said that.)


Where was I?

Oh!  The good news!  Dad's surgery went well, yesterday.  He had a cancerous place removed from his nose.  Things went smoothly.  When the kids saw it, the boys all said "Cool!" and the girls all said, "Eeeewwww!"  Success!  Thanks so much for all of the prayers.

The bad news?  OnCue raised it's prices on the 32 oz. fountain drinks from 49 cents to 79 cents. This is depressing and has pretty much ruined my week. (I jest.  My life will go on.  But I'm not happy about it.)

And the random?

Judging from the response to my painfully revealing post last Thursday, it seems that finding out someone else's faults makes us all feel better.

Glad I could help.

Thanks for the sweet comments, Facebook discussions, and for stopping me while out and about to tell me that you were encouraged.  You've blessed me!  I may have a multitude of weaknesses and faults, but I have the BEST friends.

In the meantime, while I admitted my love for magazines, reading in general is one of my greatest pleasures.  Magazines, books, articles, I even love the newspaper (even if we canceled our subscription long ago).

I'm currently reading Bonhoeffer.  Incredible.  The current issue of World magazine.  October's Traditional Home.  So pretty.  This morning I read this article on homeschooling.  Which reminded me of this book, which I highly recommend.  Reading things like that (the parenting, not the decorating) always challenges me.  What is my priority with my kids?  And why do I sometimes feel like feeding and clothing them is more than I can handle?  Much less training them up in righteousness - with grace - preparing them for the world - trusting the Lord to reach their hearts - loving them unconditionally - giving them opportunities to fail - instilling in them a Christian world view.


Sure am glad that my kids have such a wonderful dad.  Ha!

In the meantime, Little Man wants to watch Garfield on Netflix with me (wonder what world view THAT is teaching?).  I think a second cup of coffee is calling.  Along with some much-needed laundry folding.

What are YOU reading/watching/folding today?

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Coming Clean. . .

They say confession is good for the soul (I don't know who "they" are, but I listen more than I should).

And I would never, in any sort of way, want any of you to think I'm something I'm not.  So for those of you who "don't know how I do it" or call me "Supermom" (please stop, by the way!) or think juggling the Troops makes me "amazing"?

Here's the truth:

1.  I can be seriously grumpy, impatient, and intolerant of my goofy kids.

2.  Sometimes I want to leave and/or quit.  (Usually when all of the goofy kids are home.)

3.  I like to stay up late.  Even when I'm tired (drives the Coach Mr. Self-Discipline crazy, by the way).

4.  I love rainy days.  And Eeyore.

5.  I hate getting up in the morning (especially since we got that 3 inch memory foam mattress topper.  Grrrrr.).  (See #3)

6.  I'm am even more grumpy, impatient, and intolerant when I'm on a diet.

7.  I'm always on a diet.  Did I say diet?  I mean "life-style change".  Whatever.

8.  I haven't lost any weight since February. 

9.  I have a horrible memory.  Embarrassingly horrible.  If I call you the wrong name, just remember it's not because I don't love you.  I call my kids the wrong names all day long.  And I love them, even when I'm grumpy, impatient, and intolerant of their goofiness.

10.  Calling the girls "Sister" and the boys "Brother" helps with my memory issues.  And it makes me feel like I live in the deep south.  Except the deep south was cooler, apparently, this Summer than it was here.  Go figure.

11.  Heat makes me cranky.  And sweaty.  And cranky.  This Summer the average temperature was higher in our state than it's ever been in history.  That's a lot of cranky sweaty.  I may not cool off until December (because I never, ever, sneak the thermostat down a degree or two.  Never.).

12.  I'm addicted to Diet Dr. Pepper.  But I quit drinking it rather frequently for weeks at a time because my firstborn won't stop telling me how bad it is for me (maybe he's one of the "they"s who say things?).  Except that when I'm not drinking it, I'm even more difficult to live with.  If that's possible.

13.  I think television (or Netflix, Hulu, DVD's etc.) is God's gift to mothers.  Forget playing outside (remember those record setting temps?). . . go "watch something".  Unless your laundry isn't put away or you have homework, in which case if I catch you watching something you will meet "Cranky" in a whole new way.

14.  I eat when I'm stressed.  Getting out of bed is stressful.  Getting seven kids ready for school is stressful (How DO you lose ONE knee pad?  How?).  Making eight lunches is stressful (especially with help).  Calls from the big green van to tell me what was forgotten and needs to be brought to school is stressful.  Trying to get all of the laundry done, grocery shopping done, meals cooked, and house cleaned before I have to go BACK to school is stressful.  (See #7)  Don't even get me started on what it's like after school.

15.  I have failed to teach any of my eight children to change the toilet paper roll.

16.  Finding an empty toilet paper roll when I go to the bathroom is stressful.  (See #14)  (And #7)

17.  All of the socks in our house go through the wash inside out.  And get folded inside out.  And somehow are STILL inside out when they get put back in the laundry basket.  Go figure.

18.  I love magazines.  And I read them from back to front.  And I may or may not hide in the bathroom to read them.  With the door locked.  At least I'm HERE!  (See #2)

19.  I'm a list maker.  Bet you couldn't tell.  Some of my kids like lists, some of my kids hate them.  I can't ever remember which is which.  So I make them for everyone.

20.  I like quiet.  And clean houses.  And personal space.  (Yes, I CAN hear you laughing.)

There are days, or weeks, when I seriously feel for my easy-going Coach and my fun, happy (in spite of me) children (who love to make big messes).  Because I can be really hard to live with.  My expectations are too unrealistic.  I get frustrated when I should laugh.  I'm ALWAYS too tired for one more story, one more song, one more piano duet, one more math problem, one more "Look Mom!  Look!".

Maybe I should go to bed earlier.  (See #5)

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Even when I fail miserably, to be the comforter and encourager that I should be to my family, I'm so grateful that the Lord (and the kids) offers forgiveness and that I can return again and again to HIS strength and grace.  The love of Christ is wide. . . long. . . high. . . deep.

Pretty sure that's enough love even for Grumpy Cranky .

Happy Thursday!