Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The longer I live. . . the less I know. . .

Happy End of June!

After one very busy, very quick, VERY short month, I have to say. . .

I can't wait for school to start, again, so I can get a NAP!  Ha!  (with sincere apologies to my precious homeschooling friends who have their kids home all year!)

And Little Man?  The poor dude is worn slick (as the Coach says).  Fell asleep at the dinner table last night.  At 6:00.  He's missing his naps, too!

Summer isn't defined anymore by sleeping in, lazy days, relaxing by the pool (although we have fit it in once or twice) OR getting big projects done.  I miss those days!  And I have two rooms that seriously need painting!

We're too busy surviving life with our older kids going in various directions.

One of the nicest things about getting older (and I have aged since my last post (sigh),  happy 38th to me) is realizing that MY family is MY family.

It won't look like yours.  No matter how hard I try (because I think you are all wonderful!).

My marriage?  Unique.  Our relationship may have similarities to others, but it won't be the same.

We aren't the same.

My eight kids?  NOT the same.  Incredibly (and sometimes frustratingly) unique.

Assembly line parenting would be soooooo much easier, don't you think?

I used to do things just because other people that I admired did them.  Hmmmm.  I didn't have the security to do something different because I felt it was best for US.

That's not all bad. . . I did some things right because of it.  But I also did things that didn't "fit" me or my marriage or my family.  I tried to be "like" other moms or families without thinking about whether or not it was something that the Coach and I really felt was important for US.  Without realizing that my strengths and weaknesses are different than anyone else's.

Because we aren't anyone else and what works for you may or may not work for me.

It's funny. . . when I started this blog way back when, I fully intended to try to be an encouragement by sharing with you what works for the troops.  How we stay organized, plan meals, deal with laundry, coordinate schedules, fit four kids in a room. . . you know. . . that kind of thing.

But it hasn't really worked out that way.  I don't do anything that amazing or special.  Most of what I do you wouldn't want to hear about anyway.  It wouldn't work in your house like it works in mine.

That's OK.

I'm not talking, of course, about the absolutes of life. . . the rights and wrongs. . .

It's odd to me, though, how we make things that ARE NOT absolutes into rights and wrongs.

I could tell you how we do things around here.  I will, if you ask.  Usually.  But you know what?  It probably won't help you.  You have a different spouse, a different home, different children, a different financial situation.  And besides that. . . you don't want to be like us!  Trust me!

I'm all for teaching and training my kids.  But you know what?  The battles I chose with my toddlers will be different than the battles you chose (both of us had better win, though!).  The things that I make a priority will be different than the things you do.

Maybe part of growing as a parent is accepting that I will parent differently, my kids personalities will be different, our family will be different.

It may be a big deal to you that your kids don't eat between meals (as an example).  I let my kids have an afternoon snack.  Is this wrong?  I do laundry every day.  Does that mean doing laundry one day a week is wrong?  Will my clothes organizational system for eight kids work for your three?  Probably not.  Do you buy powder or liquid laundry detergent (or make your own!)?  Aaargh!

See what I mean?  We can get to the place where we think WE know best what will work for others and forget that God made us all very different!

So it's not that I'm against blogs that share laundry tips and how to save money (I read them!) and how to homeschool more effectively.  Take what's helpful and use it!  Let what isn't helpful go.  Sometimes we have to try it out to know the difference!

Trust the Lord to lead you and your family towards loving and serving Him as He created you to do.

As He created YOU to do.

Don't worry about being like anyone else.  Except our Lord Jesus.

I've given up on sharing about how things work, here at the troops.  Instead, I'm all for letting you know that we fail on a regular basis.  Way more often than we do anything right.  And our Heavenly Father still pours our His sufficient grace.

It's not about being the perfect parent, wife, home manager, cook, housekeeper, child-trainer.  It's about being totally imperfect at all of that. . . and having a Savior who loves me still.

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Made for Eachother

This evening, while I should have been urging the little ones to an earlier bedtime (so hard in the Summer!), I perused some of my blog bookmarks that have long been neglected.

I clicked on "Amy's Humble Musings" - a blog I haven't read in ages, but always enjoy (besides that it makes me feel like a city girl that lacks any life skills what-so-ever), and a few posts down, this caught my attention.  Her post led me to this post (isn't that how reading blogs is?) and I found it sobering.

You know by now, I hope, that I seek to be real and honest in my writing (if you can call my ramblings on about life with eight children and how overwhelmed I am, actual writing).  I won't, of course, write here about conflict with my Coach.  This isn't the place for it.  Besides, he IS amazing.  You know this.  I am so very grateful for him and how patiently he puts up with me.

That doesn't, in any way, mean that we don't HAVE conflict.  We are human.  We are sinful.  We are selfish (me, in particular, with the selfish part).  We don't always respond as we should or laugh when we ought and all too often we choose to be defensive when we should be willing to admit wrong, or lash out when we should forgive.

This is marriage.  This is real life.

Life is about relationships.  With God and with others.  Marriage is the closest one of all on this earth.  Relationships are tough.  Sometimes?  Impossible.  Always?  Humbling.  If we are honest.  Because we are dealing with other people.

When the Coach and I were first married, I marveled about our similarities.  There were many - maybe more than most newlyweds.  Our upbringing and our values were almost identical (in the realm of worldview and belief systems).  We thought alike about the world, about God, about the Bible, about children.  It seemed almost too easy to fall into life together because we rarely, if ever, disagreed about anything at any time.

However, God has a way of bringing us, sometimes all in a rush, sometimes very slowly (depending upon our willingness to bend to His correction), to the end of ourselves.
Suddenly, one day, my perfectly wonderful, perfectly amazing, perfectly perfect life. . . wasn't.  Don't get me wrong.  The Coach?  He was still a wonderful husband, a faithful provider, a dependable soul that I could easily love and help and enjoy.

But me?  Not so much.  I really wanted to be in control (big surprise, huh?).  I was horribly selfish, stubborn, and determined to be right (Because I was, of course.).  In my heart of hearts, I'd never realized how ugly I was inside.  How manipulative.  How spoiled in having my own way.  How desperately I needed the continuing work of my Savior in my heart.  And still do.

That day (many years ago), my world seemed to come crashing down around me.  I was trying so hard.  Working my best at being a sweet, submissive wife.  A calm, consistent mother.  I was failing miserably.  That perfect marriage?  It seemed hopeless, suddenly, out of reach.  I hadn't really told him how hard it was to adjust to marriage, motherhood, and motherhood, and motherhood, and . . . you get the idea.  I hadn't been humble enough to share my struggles with him.  Or sensitive enough to realize that it wasn't easy for him, either.  We hadn't learned to offer each other grace.

Because you see. . . for all we had in common (and still do), we were NOT the same.  He is the 6th born of 10 children, the middle in a pack of boys.  I am the 3rd born, baby, and only girl.  Big difference.  Although growing up with brothers did make it easier for me to adjust to living with a man (and eventually four boys, too), I had a doting father who indulged me, probably far too often.  He had a firm mother who taught him frugality and responsibility.

It isn't easy, after all, to join your life with someone else's.  Anyone else's.  Whether your backgrounds, upbringings, financial situations, beliefs, or families are similiar or not.

Only by God's grace.

I hope and pray that I have grown and changed.  I know I don't "feel" like I'm a good wife or mother very often anymore.  I also know the Coach knows ME, now.  The real, impatient, not always gracious ME.  He knows it and he loves me still.  No.  Not still.  More.

He's still a man - strong, consistent, faithful.  I'm still a woman - emotional, unpredictable, easily overwhelmed.  We won't ever be "the same".  But we are learning that those differences are God's perfect gift to us.  Without marriage to my Coach, without motherhood, without 8 children, financial pressures, health issues (the trials of life). . I wouldn't have ever realized what I was really like inside.  I see, now, what a blessing the pressure has been.  It's revealed things in me that need to change.  It has, as I've learned to depend on the Lord and seek Him in the pressure, begun to change me.  Some days the process seems painfully slow.  We are far from perfect.

But we are perfect for eachother.

And I love him.

We are learning that our differences are what make us stronger.  We are beginning to bear the fruit of learning to live in harmony and we are learning to love the contrasts in our personalities.  We know that we need each other.  For balance.  For growth.  Even for character development (which is usually painful).  I love that I don't WANT to change him, anymore.  That he's given up on changing me (it was hopeless, anyway).

Marriage is not for the faint of heart.  Joining yourself to another soul for life is not easy.  It's not simple.  And it's a lot of work.  It's not the ultimate "happy ending".  In spite of what we see in the movies, it is NOT all about feelings and romance. It requires a lot of dying to self, laying down your life, giving up of rights, and commitment.

But it's OH so worth it. 

If you are struggling in your marriage (and we all are at some level at some time), "get off the island". Find someone who is wise and who you can trust.  Be humble enough to ask for and get help. Marriages are failing all around you, don't let yours be one of them.

Most problems don't have simple, easy answers (and I hate it when someone says that they do).  Most struggles take TIME to work through.  The Coach and I have a long way to go in our marriage, too.  But I can promise you that your marriage and mine are worth fighting for.  Marriage was God's idea, after all.  He's in the business of redeeming it.  When you and your spouse can begin to persevere through trials, learn to be humble, forgive each other over and over, appreciate your differences, and above all, depend on the Lord for the grace it takes to live along side each other. . . your marriage (and the joy you have in it) will grow by leaps and bounds.

Perfect?  No.  Wonderful?  Absolutely! 

To God be the Glory.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Where's the off switch when you need it?

Wishing, tonight, that I could turn my brain "off" and go to sleep.

How DOES the Coach do that?  (must have something to do with boxes vs. spaghetti. . . hmmmm)

Instead, the to-do lists, the calendar, the people I want to check on, the people I'm praying for, the things the Coach and I need to discuss (yes, we keep a list), the knee pain following Saturday's longer run, the pile of wedding invitations, the not-so-picked-up house, the bills, the various current issues with each kid, the flower beds that need to be weeded, the run I didn't take this morning, tomorrow's busy schedule. . .all rolling around up there refusing to quiet down.

And the son who is hiking around some canyon in Mexico with his cousin (and a big group from our school)?

That's up there, too.

In the form of prayers, mostly.  And excitement for him and this adventure in sharing the love of Jesus.

And then there is the unspeakable joy of having my Coach and my girl home.  Ahhhhhh. 

And somewhere up there the pan of homemade cinnamon rolls is calling my name. 
But I'm not listening.

Not yet, anyway.

Maybe there is a little bit of grieving over the fact that the "lazy days" of Summer seem to be a thing of the past, here at the troops.  Looking at the calendar (this week took two pages to print it all), it's going to be anything but lazy.  Now it's all about sports camps and workouts and VBS and inner-city day camps, piano lessons, weddings, Summer league ball. . .

We're going to have to put some "lazy" on the calendar just to make it happen.

But I'm not sad that the troops are growing up.  Well.  A little, maybe.  But they are turning into great young adults.  Interesting to talk to.  Fun to be with.  Making me grateful (most days) to be their mama.  And they aren't ALL grown up.  Yet.

Now back to bed I go. 

Happy Tuesday!
Oh wait.

Happy Wednesday!

(now where IS that switch?)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I haven't slept in awhile.
In spite of all of the tips and tricks and sleeps aids. . .
Big fat historical novels and late night reruns. . .
I've only slept one night in the last 5.

It's not pretty.

My kids could use your prayers, as my tolerance and patience levels are at an all time low.  And the Coach isn't here to run interference.  I'm all they've got.

I'm so glad the Coach and Daughter #2 have this opportunity.  The reports from Honduras are good.  They are building (or have built) a house.  Done VBS with the children.  Practiced English with the adults. Given manicures and pedicures to teens in the girls' home.  Even dipped their feet in the clear, blue water on the white sugar sand.

I think the Coach was at a loss when their flights were all on time and went as scheduled.  Unlike last year's trip to Brazil, it DIDN'T take them 5 days to get there.

He's sent a few text messages.  All in caps.  From some one else's phone.  Each one has assured me that my girl is doing well and I'd be proud.

I knew she would, of course.  And I am, of course.

This morning, bright and early (although not as early as the Honduras crew on Saturday), I said good-bye to Son #1 who is headed to Mexico.  The trips overlap by 5 days.  5 days without the Coach OR my oldest two kids.

There's been a whole lot of letting go around here.

NOT trying to take control of preparations, shopping, packing with my young adult children.  Letting them make decisions and keep track of things.  Realizing they are going to forget something.  They are going to make mistakes.  They are going to struggle and have a bad attitude at some point.  I can't prepare them for everything and I can't do it for them.

Letting go.

But even though I am tired of being a single mom.

Even though I can't sleep.

Even though we haven't really been able to enjoy the first week of Summer, yet, with all that's had to be done.

Even though I've made more trips than I thought possible to Academy and Wal-mart between the three of them.

I wouldn't trade it.

Because these trips (the mission ones, not the Wal-mart ones) are an answer to our prayers.

Our kids (at least the two oldest) have a heart for the gospel.  They are learning that the only things that will last for eternity are God's Word and the souls of men.  They are realizing that the world is bigger than they are - that it's not all about them.  That most people in the world don't live the way we do (even if they are forced to live without cell phones and Facebook - ha!).  That they are blessed.

So I'm done whining for tonight (at least on here).

If sleep doesn't come, once again, I'll be grateful for the time to lift the Coach and my kiddos and their teams up in prayer.  I'll thank the Lord again and again for His blessing in these opportunities.  I'll be grateful that I'm not on my own with 6 babies, but instead, I have an almost 13 year old down to a 4+ year old.  All of which can dress themselves, feed themselves, go to sleep on their own, and be a tremendous help to me.

And I would be so very grateful for your prayers, as well.  For the Coach and the team (including my sweet girl) in Honduras.  For Son #1 and the team on their way to Mexico for 12 days.

And would you ask the Lord to send me some sleep?

My kids would be grateful for a more rested momma.  And I would be grateful to have the "fog" in my brain clear out.  Without the assistance of large quantities of Diet Dr. Pepper and Advil.

Happy Wednesday!