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!