Thursday, March 31, 2011

Out with the old. . .

In keeping with my own desire to chronicle our adventures here at the troops, I thought I'd show you what is going on here today.
Right now.
Breaking news, if you will.

The furniture? It's moved out. (to the garage, sunroom, and dining room)
Here's the living room this morning:

And the boys' room:
(thought it would be good time to touch up the paint, too.)

Another view of the living room:
(you can see the furniture stacked up in the sunroom.)

Here's where we put the furniture that was in the boys' and little girls' rooms:
Fun, huh?

Here's the playroom. The carpet in here is probably the worst.
Hmmmm. Wonder why?

Playroom from the entry way. See the lovely furniture in the dining room?
And don't you think the walls are awesome?
The Coach and the kids took the wall paper off over Spring Break.
It's growing on me, maybe we'll just leave it!

And the MOST fun of all, was "camping out" last night.
(We get our turn, tonight)
Here is Little Man trying to settle down for a sleep.
It took awhile.

And the girls:

Basically, we are just having WAY too much fun.

Now if the installers would just show up and get busy!
They are planning on doing half today and half tomorrow.
And the Coach seems to think by tomorrow night we will have everything back to normal.
Whatever "normal" is.

One of the best parts of having eight kids?
Everything is an adventure.

(now, where is the Advil?)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Don't Forget!

The Lord has really been impressing both the Coach and I (don't you love how He does that through different studies of different passages?) about the importance of remembering His faithfulness to us.

The Coach, through his daily Bible reading in Deuteronomy. The Lord keeps telling those stubborn Israelites (who bear a tremendous resemblance to my own stubbornness) to REMEMBER all that He had done. Abraham and Isaac, Egypt, the Red Sea.

Me, through my BSF study of Isaiah. Where God continues to use His past actions to demonstrate His power to a people who are in bondage to a powerful nation, with no visible hope of freedom.

I'm feeling it, today, because it is at the same time Little Man's FOURTH birthday and I'm also online exploring driver's ed options for Son #1 who is almost 15 1/2.

Our youngest and our oldest. (with a lot of crazy in between!)

This blog is my place for recording the faithfulness of the Lord to our troops. The Coach and I have recorded the beginning our family "story" here.

So we don't forget.

He's been faithful to our oldest. And I'm resting in the promises of His faithfulness as we approach driving, a mission trip to Mexico this Summer, and soon his Sophomore year of high school. (Thanking the Lord for His faithfulness in past trips to Africa and Brazil!)

Little Man's entrance into the world was a bit more dramatic. I'm determined to write it all down here, some day. Maybe soon. But if you know the circumstances of his birth, it makes it a bit easier to understand why we dote on him so. Even after four years!

But beyond all of that (and the fact that I have to leave for four dentist appointments in a minute), I'm realizing we need to ALWAYS be remembering. Talking to our kids about what God has done in the past.

When it's so much easier to talk about what we wish He were doing right now.

We serve a faithful God. His faithfulness in the past shows us that He will be faithful in the future.

And THAT, my friend, makes it possible to trust Him, even in the dark.

Isaiah 40:10 "Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fun times

Lovely Spring Break here at the troops last week. Complete with lots of sleeping in, big breakfasts, time at the farm. . .

Turns out the troops love some skeet shooting!

While trying to stay warm on the Ranger!

Mr. Cool (Son #4):

The Coach setting his sights on the clay pigeon:
(his "funny" stance was better, but it was for the kids' entertainment, not yours!)

Son #1:
He and I had fun with Son #4 shooting the .22, too.

Even the little peanut of a girl (Daughter #5) got in on the fun:

Daughter (#2):

Son #3:

We celebrated a Birthday, too!
Daughter #6 is EIGHT!
(with her new purple bike)

Chocolate Chip Cake and Cappuccino Chunky Chocolate Ice Cream.

Beautiful (if cold) views of the pond:

Pretty sunsets:

Ranger rides with precious Sweet Sitters:

More birthday FUN!
Turning 8, 21, and 4 (respectively).
And Happy.

Home once again, there were projects to be done!
Lots of yard work - mowing, raking, weed killing, flower bed cleaning, bush trimming, window washing, etc.

In the house there were projects, too.
Two rooms of wall paper to peel.

And good long sleeps back in our own beds:

And now. . .

we're back to early bedtimes,
leaving for school in the dark mornings,
carpool, homework and. . .

lots of afternoons playing outside in the warmer weather.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Doing a better job. . . at my job

Sometimes I feel like I'm just "surviving" as a mom, instead of being proactive.

OK. MOST of the time I feel like I'm just surviving.

But my heart wants to mother my children in a way that honors the Lord AND meets their individual needs. And by "meeting individual needs" I do NOT mean "give them whatever they want". Let's be honest - giving them whatever they want is EASY. Giving them what they need is HARD. Impossible, without God's grace being showered upon me as their mother. Having eight of them makes it a challenge to parent each of them according to their own "bent" instead of parenting with the "assembly line" mentality. Assembly lines are more efficient! And less exhausting.

The Coach is preparing to teach some lessons on parenting to our fabulous Sunday School class in the weeks, ahead. When he first told me he was thinking about it . . . I protested! Loudly! Please tell me I'm not the only one who has experienced the "become a living example of all of the negative demonstrations of each lesson" phenomenon when you (or your spouse) are teaching on a topic?

And the truth? It's hard enough to parent correctly without putting oneself out there as actually knowing something. Anything.

For better or worse, the Coach is the kind of guy who is challenged by doing the hard thing, not dismayed (like his much more wimpy wife). He determined that it would be good for him to do the reading, studying, researching, praying, preparing. . . for lessons on parenting. Since we are. . . you know. . .


Or something.

Anyway, in spite of the fact that I know many humbling, difficult, opportunities lie ahead for us in the implementation of what the Lord begins to teach us about parenting. . . it's been good to go back to some of the books that have helped us. Some of the resources we use on a regular basis when we need wisdom in this journey.

One of these (for me) is the book on the five love languages. It's not new. I'm sure you've read it or heard about it. A friend reminded me about it the other day and I've been so blessed by returning to it.

Knowing how to love my kids is a huge deal. It makes a big difference in their security, their confidence, and most of all, their understanding of their Heavenly Father's love.

I haven't figured out what the love languages are for all eight of them (there is a "Five Love Languages for Kids" version that is great, too). But I have an idea for most of them. Just being aware of how to love on them is making a huge difference.

That child that continues to slam into me while I'm fixing dinner? Physical touch.

That child that stands and chats incessantly about everything that happened at school, today? Words of Affirmation.

The one that leaves their room perfect every morning when they leave for school? Acts of Service. (That's mine, by the way, so those clean rooms REALLY make me happy!)

I'm been so encouraged by getting back to this information that I've known for a long time. Encouraged most of all, by how the Lord loves us. THAT humbles me. So undeserved.

By God's grace, the Coach and I are going to put ourselves out there for this parenting study (not that I'm going to have anything to do with it . . . but we do have the same children. . . and therefore the same struggles). Not because we are some kind of wonderful example. But because we NEED to be learning how to parent OUR children. The best way to learn something is to teach it (or so they say). We are happy to share the resources we have - God's Word being the first and most valuable. We have so much to learn - and we are happy to be learning together.

Just encase you ARE ever tempted to see the Coach and I as some kind of example in parenting? We are SO far from seeing the results of our parenting - good OR bad. And you have an open invitation to come SEE our amazing eight. That should clear up any misconceptions you might have about how well parented they are. Seriously.

Like, for instance, the fact that Little Man is sitting beside me playing on and eating a store bought sugar cookie for breakfast.

See what I mean?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Who, me? Why whatever do you mean?

You know that feeling when the Lord brings you face to face with your sin?
Shows you the wickedness in your heart?
Reveals the rebellion in your spirit towards Him or others?

Sometimes it comes straight from His Word. That's one reason it's so important to be IN it every day.
Sometimes it comes from seeing the reflection of my sin in the behavior (or words!) of my children.

And sometimes it comes through the rebuke of someone who loves me more than they love just "going with the flow" and "keeping the peace".

I'm a "keep the peace" kind of girl. My family and friends know this. Not so good at the confrontation thing or bringing up those hard topics. REALLY don't want to offend anyone.

Don't much like offering rebukes to others.

Especially don't like receiving them, myself.

But it happens, whether I like it or not. Here's how I've been working through this, lately. . .

1. I don't ever WANT to be comfortable with my sin. Whatever it takes, I want my heart to follow hard after God. I want to be sanctified in this life and rewarded eternally. Even when it hurts. And it's going to hurt.

2. Focusing on the sin of my "rebuker" does NOT make them wrong about MY sin. We ALL have sin - weaknesses - "blind spots" (as Mr. G used to say). I have no grounds to "write off" the rebuke just because it comes from another sinful human being. (Although I do need to carefully examine my heart before confronting someone else.)

3. I MUST take it to the Lord. If I know I'm wrong, I can ask forgiveness immediately. I may not know what I'm going to DO about it, but I can admit that I'm wrong and began right there to make it right. If I'm not sure about it - if I don't immediately feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit - then I can listen and wait until I've asked the Lord what to do. Either way, I don't need to defend myself or react in anger. (Defending myself and reacting in anger are my specialties, by the way.)

4. When I know that I have been wrong - then I need the Lord to show me what my response should be. Have I asked forgiveness? Have I asked enough questions to know specifically what I have done? Have I communicated my desire to change? Is there any thing I need to do to begin that change?

5. Then there is only one thing left. Getting on my face before my Almighty God and asking Him to do a work in my heart.

Because you see? I can recognize my sin when confronted. I can confess it. I can ask forgiveness. I can be in the Word, allowing it to change me and teach me the character of Christ.

But only God can change my heart.

Or my kids' hearts.

Or my Coach's heart.

Or my friend's heart.

Or my family member's heart.

That's HIS job.

And that's exactly what I'm asking Him to do in me, today.

May the Lord give you His grace this week to respond to His correction in a way that honor's Him.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Because it's Thursday AND it's about time I write something that ISN'T whiny on this blog. Ha!

1. Beautiful weather. Sunshine. It feels like I've been cold for forever. Brrrrrr. And my kids are SO tired of my green fleece pull-over.

2. Trip to the library with Little Man this morning. Sweet times.

3. Quick visit to my parents. And one of my dad's fabulous cafe' lattes. Yum!

4. A clean house.

5. Healthy kids.

6. Much quieter week than last week. I am finally catching my breath for the first time in a LONG time.

7. First "real" run, yesterday, since Austin. Felt like I was 100 years old. But I did it.

8. Tomorrow is Friday. Can I get an AMEN?

9. The possibility of a nap, today. (trying to keep my expectations low, though)

10. Time with Son (#3) yesterday spending his B&N gift cards. Love that boy!

11. BSF lessons in Isaiah. "The more we know about God's character, the easier it is to trust Him." Wow.

12. The "mellowness" that comes with having been a parent for awhile, now.

13. A family that I love and enjoy being with.

14. Rumikub

15. A big backyard (and basketball court) that has been filled with kids every afternoon this week. And the reminder of what a blessing this house is.

16. Two vehicles that meet our needs, run well, and are even "nice" (even if my kids were complaining, yesterday, about how dirty the van is, inside)

17. Books. More specifically, "What Did You Expect?" and "So Long Insecurity". Now I need to find something "lighter" to read!

18. My three boys who protect me and treat me with tenderness. They are growing into wonderful young men!

19. More conversation time with my Coach this week. Makes all of the difference in MY attitude!

20. Oatmeal with Craisins.

21. That we have finished: "I Am Special" poster (Kindergarten), Homecoming (8th grade and Kindergarten), Presidential Tea (3rd grade), Science Fair (8th grade), Timeline (2nd grade), State report (4th grade), Speech Meet (6th and 2nd grades), Basketball (9th and 8th grades), enrollment for next year, AND the Austin 1/2 marathon.

Which reminds me, tomorrow is Math Olympics and Dr. Seuss' birthday celebration. Never a dull moment, right?

If I don't get off the computer and feed Little Man some lunch, he's going to fall asleep! My eyes are heavy, too. (yawn)

What are YOU thankful for, today?

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Because I'm all about making you feel better. . .

First of all. . . CAN YOU BELIEVE how sweet my friend, Lori, is? Seriously!

Let me just say, in the course of a lifetime (I'm only 38 years into it, but I do have some experience), the Lord will bless you with only a few friends like THIS.

Love her.

(and while you're at it, her birthday was yesterday, so go wish her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Right now!! Go on! I'll wait for you!)


It's Tuesday, again. Which means I'm tired. SO tired.

And let me just say. . . looking forward to a nap with Little Man? Is only setting oneself up for disappointment. Because TODAY he decided he will have NONE OF THAT thank-you-very-much. In spite of the fact that I KNOW he's tired. Because he keeps saying, "I'm NOT TIRED!"


We mothers are smart like that.

Here's the thing. I can admit it, now, because it's been a week or so. . .

that 1/2 marathon wore me out.

Well. That and the 9 weeks of training, 12 hours of driving, 8 children I'm mothering, home I'm keeping, insane schedule I'm juggling, etc. You get the idea.

Wore. Me. Out.

And my response to my over-tiredness last week? Not pretty.

I can admit it.

There is nothing like the blessing of a husband who will not only NOT leave you, but won't let you wallow in self-pity and destructive behavior (think 4 chocolate Zinger snack cakes in a sitting). But who instead, faithfully loves you, prays for you, listens to you, and lets you get out of the house even when it means he has to handle bath night at the troops.

(Thanks for meeting me for dinner, Zookeeper's Helper!)

I'm blessed.

It seems like I would have LEARNED this lesson, already, with all of the opportunities I've had. . . but. . .

"It's hard to be spiritual when you are tired."

I'm past those days of a house full of little ones and being continually exhausted each and every day to the point of forgetting what "rested" feels like. Normally around here, we get decent sleep and the break-neck speed of life is somewhat, sort of, manageable.

Until one takes on something like a 1/2 marathon training schedule.

However, I'm grateful for all I learned in the process. The discipline. The toughness. The mental battles I fought AND won out there on the Arrowhead Hills. I did more than I thought I ever could. It was good for me in so many ways. In fact, I'm kind of missing it.

But I left some casualties in my wake.

My poor kids.

My POOR Coach.

So to give you some encouragement this week? No. I can't do it all. I can't even do most of it. At least not without some kicking screaming fits (of my own, not the toddler's - although he's doing a great job of it, today).

I'm not proud of that. But I'm big enough to admit it. And get on with it. (and be tremendously grateful for the Lord's forgiveness, the Coach's forgiveness, the kids' forgiveness. . . )

Because what REALLY matters, is that I serve the Lord God, Creator of the Universe. HE never slumbers OR sleeps.

Someday, I'll learn to live in the knowledge of HIS unending, never-failing, faithful, constant, sovereign STRENGTH.

"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength."
(Isaiah 40:28-29)

I may not have it all together. Or have the strength for all that's going on here at the troops, with my kids, in my marriage, in life.

But I know Who does.

Now. . . doesn't that make you feel better?
(or do I have to share my chocolate Zingers with you, too?)

Happy Tuesday!