Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Every year I brace myself for this season.  This "basketball has started and football hasn't ended" season.  I love it.  I hate it.  I'm tired.

One of the football dads told me last week (he coaches Daughter #6's basketball team) that he expected nothing less than 24/7 from the Coach preparing for this week's game.  He was kidding.  Sort of.  I just laughed.  The Coach was already 24/7 in anticipation of this week's game.  For several weeks now.

I'm realizing that I don't just love football because I love the Friday nights in the stands.  Or because I love watching my boys play.  Or because I love watching my Coach on the sidelines.  I enjoy ALL of that and look forward to it every Fall.

But football has taught me a lot, too.  About supporting the Coach even when I'm tired and I miss him and I've had enough of the constantly streaming film of next week's opponent in the kitchen every night.  About patiently gathering up page after page of sketched out and printed out play diagrams and sheets of plays for practice off the table so we can eat.  About realizing he WILL fall asleep if it sits down in a comfy chair after 8 - which is why he will chose the wooden desk chair instead.  About not getting frustrated when his alarm goes off at 5:30 on a Saturday so he can get up and break down film before he goes to meet the team - after being up until midnight on Friday.  About often eating dinner without him at night and spending most of Saturday without him around.

Sometimes I've just had enough and I let my ugly selfishness take over.  I forget all of this.  The need for support and patience and understanding.

Last night was one of those times.

I'm just being honest, here.  It's not all band music and clapping and cheering and "I'm so happy we won!".

This is real life and it's not always pretty.

I'm not sure how the next few days will even work, truthfully.  With two practices and two games, tonight.  Two games tomorrow and the BIG game (an hour and a half away, of course).  Two games Saturday and the Coach and I trying to get out of here and to the Expo for our half marathon before it closes on Saturday.  And then the running of the 13.1 on Sunday.

We're not exactly fresh as daisies around here.

I am thankful.  I'm CHOOSING thankful.  It doesn't come naturally.  I'm tired, cranky, overwhelmed, and wishing for quieter, less busy days.

Have you heard Trace Adkins song, "You're gonna miss this"?  Our Internet filter won't let me find a YouTube video for you, so go look it up. I'll wait. . .

See?  Besides the fact that Son (#1) has ruined me completely and I actually like some country music, now?

It's all going so quickly and I want to soak it in and enjoy every second and if it takes a third cup of coffee this morning?  I'm going to chose to be thankful.

1.  My precious, loving, faithful husband.  Who took time to read another chapter of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" to the littles last night.    He's ever the optimist around here.  Always telling me it'll work out and we'll be OK.  Even when I'm all doom and despair.  Love him.

2.  A great football season, which I've enjoyed so much, even without a player out there on the high school team.  Week 2 of the playoffs!  GO BIG BLUE!

3.  The beginning of basketball season.  And the hope of having the Coach's help this year with the five players we're keeping up with.

4.  Colder weather.  A snow day on Monday.  And sunshine, today.

5.  Every need so graciously met by our loving Heavenly Father.  That Christ intercedes on our behalf and continues to pour out His grace.

6.  The tail end of this cold I've been fighting all week.  And Essential oils.

7.  Christmas lists from my kids.  Little Man's was priceless.

8.  The hope of things to come.  Making memories.  Enjoying this season.

And now?  My morning run is calling.

Happy Thursday.

"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:"  2 Peter 1:3

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Winter is not my favorite.  Well.  I guess it's not that simple.  I don't like getting out in the cold (although running in it isn't as bad as you might think), errands in the cold, loading and unloading groceries in the cold, sitting at football games in the cold, or wearing coats.  Ugh.  Coats.

Sweaters, YES, coats, NO.

But I do love being HOME in the Winter.  I love having the fireplace on and candles lit and cooking soups and muffins.

Last night was a lovely at home evening.  Fire on.  Potato soup for dinner.  Kids (mostly) home.  Homework, hot chocolate, everyone piled on the couches and talking.  The littles went to bed and the bigs settled into stories and jokes and just being amazing.  As usual.

And then it happened.

The Coach and I sitting there across from each other.  He on one end of the couch and Daughter (#2) wrapped in a blanket on the other end.  Son (#3) sitting next to me, after coming in from church.  Son (#4) sitting in the big leather chair - inside his sleeping bag.  No one will ever accuse the Coach of keeping this house too warm.

Someone was missing.

It's not that we weren't talking and laughing and enjoying each other.  It just that we weren't ALL there and it was obvious.

It won't ever be the same, again.  I know that.  Son (#1) will come home at Christmastime.  He'll slide right back into the troops and it will feel like he never left.  But then he will.  And even if he's back for a longer time in a few months, Daughter (#2) will be heading off next year.  It's going to change a lot really fast at our house.

These kids make me laugh and frustrate me and fill me with so much joy and keep me on my knees.  But the whole POINT here is to raise them up and send them off.  It's going so quickly.

For now, we'll still gather around (under blankets and sleeping bags - ha!) on evenings home and spend time together.  Someday it WILL just be the Coach and I (Lord willing) and that will be precious, too.

Until then, I'm going to count the days until we are once again "ten" and thank the Lord for each moment.  They are all so precious.

And as the Coach and I were heading to bed last night, the big kids got on the phone and called Son (#1) - even though it's later there - and told him they missed him and loved him and, generally speaking, gave him a hard time.  So all IS right in our little world.

Today I'm thankful.

For a *sort of* warm house.  Ha!
For warm layers and coats and hats and boots and gloves - that early morning crosswalk duty for Daughter (#6) and afternoon football practice for the Coach are brutal!
For soup and muffins and hot chocolate.  And stretchy yoga pants.  Yikes.
For treadmills when the windchill is in the teens.
For hot showers.
For clean, warm laundry, fresh out of the dryer.
For coffee and second cups of coffee.
For things to look forward to:  A 1/2 marathon with my Coach, Thanksgiving, time off school, a 13th birthday for Daughter (#5), for Christmas preparations, and my boy coming home!

Happy Thursday!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sometimes I forget.

I woke up, this morning, feeling discouraged.  Sometimes?  I forget who I am.  I let the voices in my head convince me that I'm failing as a mom.  Failing as a wife.  Failing as a daughter, friend, sister.

I let myself believe that my house is a mess, that things need updated, that it will never be clean for more than 10 minutes at a time.

I let myself believe that I'm worthless, fat, slow, ugly, and stupid.

I tell myself that my kids need a better mom.  That my husband deserves a prettier, fitter, sweeter, smarter wife.

I tell myself that all of my efforts are in vain.  That my kids won't ever learn to obey.  To be responsible.  To love each other.

I tell myself that all of the time I spend working on the house, cooking, cleaning, caring for my family... is a waste.

I let those voices be the boss.  Take authority.

And you know what?

They are wrong.

So very wrong.

I may never be the perfect woman.  But I am NOT worthless.  NOT a failure.  And the things I do matter.  Tremendously.

If you need to hear it from someone today?  Can I be the one?  The one to remind you that you are beautiful, creative, special, talented, gifted, unique, treasured, and above all else?  LOVED.  That what you do matters because of LOVE.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are a beautiful, precious creation of a loving God who gave His Son for you.  So you could be full of HIS love and HIS purpose and HIS salvation.

Don't let those voices be the boss.  Tell them the truth.  The truth about who you are in Christ and how very much you are loved.

I will if you will.

Happy Sunday.

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rom 8:32-39

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Looking for the Thankful

What a week.  So much sad news.  So many scary things going on in our world.  A good week to practice thankfulness.  Sometimes you have to look hard for the good.  I usually find it's right there - underneath my bad attitude and pity party.

So today?  A list of thankful.  Besides, I needed to take a break from Netflix.

1.  No fever so far, today.  For my girlie or for me.

2.  Sunshine.  Fall sunshine is different.  I love it.

3.  A very neat and orderly house (thanks, Son #3!).  I woke up to a clean kitchen, laundry started, house neat.  Impressive.

4.  Kids who can get out the door for school without momma.  Glad it doesn't happen very often!  I missed kissing them all goodbye.  Of course, I wouldn't have kissed them, anyway, since I'm sick.  Boo.

5.  Coffee still left in the coffee pot.

6.  Feeling good enough to get some muffins in the oven and some chicken soup in the crockpot.

7.  Clean sheets.

8.  Thieves oil blend.  In the diffuser and on chests and feet.

9.  That even though I missed watching three games Monday night (because I was home with my feverish girlie), there weren't games to miss Tuesday, Wednesday, OR tonight.  So nice to rest.

10.  Beautiful picture from Little Man while I was sick in bed, yesterday.  He's quite the artist.

Most of all?  The reminder that sometimes the little things need to be let go.  But sometimes the little things are exactly what we need to pay attention to.

Last night, feverish and discouraged, missing time with my family and my aunt who is in town this week, wishing so much I could just WILL myself to be well, I left the bedroom, while the Coach was getting to bed, to get some IgG and Florajen.  Ended up talking with the big kids a little bit.  By the time I came back to bed, the Coach was sound asleep. But when I looked on the floor I almost cried.

Because you see, Little Man has been coming into our room every night since our July Colorado vacation.  Every.  Night.  I figured after a couple of months of this (I'm a slow learner), that the easiest way to deal with it was to make him a bed on the floor before I went to sleep.  If I don't, he wakes me up.  So if there is a nice comfy (ha!) spot on the floor for him, he'll just crawl right in and go back to sleep and we all feel better the next day.  With #8, it's easier to realize that they DO grow out of these things - and they aren't worth stressing about.

Well, most of the time, I forget until I'm already comfy in bed.  Then I get back up and put it out for him.  So when I came to bed last night and saw this, I felt so loved.

Because my Coach had made a spot for Little Man.  Before I had a chance to do it.  And on HIS side of the bed.  Sweet man.

So yes, let the little things go.  But also remember to NOTICE them and be thankful.

And while we are at it?  What is WITH this book stack?  Ha!  Love my reading man.

It's time for me to put some of these back in our already bulging book shelves, I guess.  

Thankful today for the little things.  For the little ways my family and my Coach have loved me this week.  So thankful.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, October 6, 2014

One of those days. . .

Yep.  It's Monday at the troops.

Laundry everywhere.  I do mean everywhere.  Clean and unfolded.  Dirty and unsorted.  Dishes from last night still lingering.  Shoes.  And more shoes.  Spread throughout the whole house.  Unmade beds.  Towels that didn't get hung up.  Cereal boxes still on the dining room table.

I woke up feeling overwhelmed.  Tired.  Trying to think through this day and how to get it all done.  Turns out, unless cloning has become an option over night. . . not going to happen.

Jr. High Volleyball.  Jr. High Football.  Senior night for Varsity Volleyball.  I can't be everywhere at the same time.  The Coach?  He's not sure how to make it work, either.

To top it all off, I have a girlie home not feeling well, today.

Pretty sure the kids will want dinner, tonight.

And the gray roots?  They are shining in the morning sunlight.

Yes, the list is long.  The calendar full.

But so is my heart.

Because this girlie?  She cried about MISSING school.  You guys.  I just can't even.

And this house?  The dishes are strewn about because the kids fixed their own dinner while I was out with Daughter (#1) taking senior pictures last night.  SENIOR PICTURES.

And the laundry?  It didn't get folded because the Coach, Son (#3), Grandmother and I ran the Voices in the Dark 5K yesterday afternoon to raise awareness and help combat human trafficking.  We also all placed first in our age divisions.  Ba Bam!

And the mess?  Well.  There are 9 of us (just not the same as 10, is it?).  There was also a Pumpkin Patch on Saturday and yard work and errands and a date night with my handsome Coach.  Who was also on the front of the sports page on Sunday morning.

Reminds me of our basketball theme last year.  No mess, no mission.  Where there are no oxen the crib is clean.

If the troops weren't happy and healthy and BUSY, the house probably wouldn't be such a colossal mess.  And I wouldn't be as tired.  And my girlie probably wouldn't be sick (late Friday night football games and Oklahoma allergies are NOT our friends).

But instead.  We have the mess.  And a long list of things to be grateful for.

My second cup of coffee (which I've been enjoying while I type).
An early morning Sam's run.
Chicken and Salsa in the crockpot to eat in tortillas for dinner after the games.
"Moms Night Out" to watch while my sickie rests and I fold that gargantuan pile of laundry.
A box of hair color for those gray roots.
The amazing Fall sunshine filtering through the kitchen window by my desk.
A plane ticket purchased for Son (#1) to come home for Christmas.

And already today?  A call from my Coach with an "I love you."

Better go.  I'm missing the beginning of the movie!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Weirder and Weirder

Life is moving along, here, at the troops.  School is going well.  Homework is endless.  My freezer is full of bugs for the 4th grade science project that's due Monday.  There's nothing quite like going to get chicken out for dinner and opening a freezer full of plastic containers with bugs in them.  She's up to 15, now.  Hopefully I won't confuse them with dinner ingredients before Monday.

Volleyball season is in full swing and the nights of both volleyball and football (which aren't quite as bad as the nights we have the first and last of 5 volleyball games. . .) are keeping us tired.

Son #1's chair at the table is still there.  Empty.  But his bed, dresser, and closet have quickly been taken over by the other boys.  That's life.  I told him when he comes home, we'll find some space for him.  In the meantime, only three boys in that room sure seems less crowded.

Monday, Son #3 got his drivers license.  So grateful.  Even though the online appointment attempt was a total FAIL (after a month of trying) and we had to get there at 5:20 and stand in line until 7 to be the 8th of 10 drivers tests for that day.  Quite an experience.

But he passed and headed off to school by himself in his new used car.

I know some of you have probably made your kids wait to get there licenses.  I understand.  I do.  And I guess if I didn't NEED them to drive so desperately, I might be tempted.  But YOU GUYS!  I need the help.  Big time.  And he's a great driver.  Not even kidding.  He already brought the kids home for me Monday AND Tuesday.  Before he came down with a fever on Tuesday night.  He's been on the playroom couch with the thieves-filled diffuser next to him ever since.

I think I've written about this before, but when someone gets sick, it makes me miss the days when they were little and would all get sick.  I know.  Weird.  It's just that when they were all little, having them sick made us STOP.  Slow down.  Stay home.  Take a break.  Watch movies and drink tea and not answer the phone (well, I don't answer the phone, anyway, but . . . ) and it gave us an excuse for REST.

Oh my heavens.


This momma is tired.

The only problem is, when someone is sick, now?  Nothing stops.  Most of the kids are old enough to stay home alone, so I have to keep on keeping on.  Pick up kids, go to games, run errands, go to workouts.  Having someone sick only adds to the list because they need to be taken care of ON TOP of everything else we already have going on.

So I miss those little infirmary days. . . with kids all over the floor on sleeping bags and cartoons and . . . I know.  I'm weird.  And I've forgotten the miserable part.  Sort of.

I will NEVER say I miss the stomach virus.  Oh no.  Never.  I love my essential oils.  And I hate the vomit monster.

In the meantime, the kids ARE older and rarely sick.  Even more rarely at the same time.  So grateful.

I, on the other hand, just keep getting weirder.  I say "yellow" when I mean "lemon".  I look right at one of the kids and say the wrong name.  Or the wrong teacher.  Or the wrong WORD.  Or mispronounce the right word.  Or stutter trying to say ANY word.  Or forget why I went out in the garage, or in the boys' room, or pretty much anywhere.  It's getting SO bad.  I'm telling you.

Our house is covered in yellow (not lemon) post it notes.  My phone is full of reminders.  And alarms.  It's pitiful.  My kids write me notes when they need something put in the dryer or baked for school or picked up at Hobby Lobby.  They've given up on ONE note.  There are usually five.  Or more.  They write themselves notes, too.  To remind me.

The new quirk I seem to have adopted (please don't ask for a complete list, because who has time?) is that I can NOT go to bed without washing my feet.  I know, right?  Perfectly normal to have to wash your feet before crawling into bed.  Totally exhausted.  Sigh.  Granted I DO walk around barefoot pretty much all of the time I'm at home.  And to the mailbox.  And down the driveway.  And out on the deck.

But regardless of whether or not they ARE dirty, something tells me that I can NOT crawl into that amazingly soft comfy white sheeted bed without clean feet.  And if I try to?  I can't sleep until I get up and wash them.  So very weird.  And how in the world am I getting weirder?

My kids would surely agree.  Every kid needs to be able to laugh at their mom, right?

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The beginning of a new season

It's been a good day.  A good week.  A super busy week.

Fall has crept in and it's still my favorite time of the year.  It reminds me of love and being engaged and wedding planning and looking at rental houses with my Coach.  20 years ago.

But when "I drive your truck" came on on the way to school?  It made me cry.  And please don't ask why I was listening to the country music station.  It was sort of an accident.  Sort of.

I miss my boy.

Not that he's that kind of gone, of course.  But his truck is sitting out there.  And he's so far away.  I haven't exactly been tempted to drive it just to think of him (the muffler makes my head hurt).  But still.

It's a dark and dreary and COLD drizzly day.  Pizzas are cooking and pumpkin muffins are sitting on the cooling racks and we are headed to the football game in a bit.  After we bundle up a LOT.  Brrrr.  Even though I don't have a boy out there playing, this season, the kids still love our Friday night football games and after 20 years. . . well. . . it's just what we do.

Little Man is at a friend's house, so it's quieter than usual, even with two extra friends at our house.  I want to curl up under a blanket with the fireplace going and watch a movie.

But not The Chronicles of Narnia.  Because when "The Call" came on Spotify, it made me want to cry, again.

Dear heavens.

I need a slap in the face, apparently.

And maybe another muffin.  (Seriously, found a new recipe, today, and it's fabulous!)

I just keep thinking.  It's not that he's gone.  It's really not.  I'm so HAPPY forheavenssake.  I really truly am.

It's just that this is the beginning of SO MUCH CHANGE, here.

The end of a season.

The "all of our eight troops under our roof every night, for the most part" season.

Cooler weather and the drizzle and the smell of pumpkin (all things I love!) are reminding me that the seasons are changing.  So is life.  Always changing.  Never the same.

So I guess it's OK to be a little sad.

There is a whole lot to be happy about, too.  For sure.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Early Sunday Morn

I can't sleep, again.

Either the barista at Starbucks on our quick coffee run/date night messed up and failed to give me decaf?

Or I forgot to take a Benadryl at bedtime?

Or maybe both.

I've prayed through my list.  Twice.  Thankful for that.

And here I sit.  Mind and heart full of so many things that keep me from sleep.

With the alarm clock set for 0 dark 30 and our weekly Sunday morning "long" run.  Time is ticking and sleep is illusive and to be honest?  I want to eat cereal with milk.

Just telling it like it is.

You know what I keep thinking?  It's completely OK if you couldn't care less. . . because to be honest, I write this blog for little ole me.  I do.  Mostly because I have the world's worst memory (I blame the 9 pregnancies for that - and in some instances, I think it's just grace - because who wants to remember all of the bad?) and I do NOT want to forget this.


Life.  Like it is right now.

Yes, it's mostly the laundry and the food and the dishes and messes and practices and games and homework that we spend our time on.

But there is a lot of laughter and silliness and tears and hard things, too.  Learning to live together and forgive each other and be kind.  For goodness sake - sometimes it's SO hard to be kind.

I don't want to forget it.

I don't want to forget that the Coach?  He is amazing.  He is patient.  Loving.  Faithful.  Kind.  A seeker after Christ.  Smart.  Handsome (I won't forget that one.).  He LOVES me.  I have no idea WHY, but he does.  I don't want to forget these years doing life with him and raising these kids and sneaking off to get coffee (even if they forget to give me decaf, forheavenssake) and folding laundry during Saturday football games on TV and going for early Sunday morning runs in the dark.  I don't want to forget watching him on the sidelines at Friday night football games and seeing him bent over math homework with our kids in the evenings.

I don't want to forget that right now Son (#1) is off on the adventure of a lifetime.  That his emails and texts and Facebook posts make me cry because I am SO HAPPY that he's where he is doing what he is and following hard after Jesus.  And maybe I'm praying that he won't move to Alaska someday.  Unless that's what God has for him, in which case I'll have to suck it up, won't I?

I don't want to forget that Daughter (#2) is both amazingly beautiful and incredibly talented.  That her team just won a volleyball tournament, today, and she came home exhausted and overwhelmed with homework and excited to go see the Phantom with Grandmother, tomorrow.  That she's started on her Senior thesis and had her cap and gown pictures done.  This year with her will fly by.  For sure.

I don't want to forget that Son (#3) is a kind, thoughtful chauffeur these days.  That he's car shopping and looking forward to his drivers license and doing SO WELL after his two surgeries last year.  That he's running, again (this time last year that was only a dream!), that he's constantly making me laugh and that really, he and I shouldn't sit next to one another at the dinner table because sometimes I can't stop laughing and I snort.  Sometimes.

I don't want to forget how much Son (#4) has grown this year.  That he's way taller than his momma.  That he cringes when I mention a hair cut and he's both strong and athletic.  And smart.  He might possibly drive me crazy before he's a grown man, but I love him dearly.  As well as his grin.  And his orneriness.  He's completely in heaven because it's FOOTBALL SEASON!  Woohoo!

I don't want to forget that this is Daughter's (#5) 7th grade year.  Junior high!  How is is possible that my tiny "Boo" is in Junior high?  Lockers and changing classes and volleyball and tons of homework and she's handling it beautifully.  She's quiet and sarcastic and has a spark that makes up for how petite she is.  And she hasn't gotten run over, yet, in the halls with the big kids.  So that's a relief.

I don't want to EVER forget that Daughter (#6) is thriving in life and in school (because we have experienced the flip side).  She's a good friend.  She's blunt and sometimes loud (OK, most of the time - but we'd be bored without her!), she says what she thinks and you never have to wonder how she feels about something.  But she also works the hardest and helps the most and I'd never make it through all of the grocery shopping without her.

I don't want to forget how happy Daughter (#7) is 99.9% of the time.  That she sleeps hard and wakes up early (almost always before the rest of us) and goes full speed all day long.  She sings, she loves Mandisa, she has lots of sweet friends and she's still "little girl" enough to care less about clothes and makeup and more about playing school and office in the sunroom.  Thank heavens for that.

I don't want to forget that right now, Little Man is both a delight and a joy and OH MY HEAVENS what would our family be without him?  He still gets excited about icees and bugs and painting and kids meals and learning new words and we'd be ever so bored if he weren't constantly creating things and doing "projects" (that means messes).  His big brown eyes and his smile can light up the room.  He truly makes our troops complete.

So see?  Sometimes I need to have insomnia so I can remember how blessed I am.  How precious these days are.  How much I love my people.  My troops.  How they are RIGHT THIS MOMENT because they will grow and change tomorrow and I don't want to forget.

My bed is calling.  Even if I can't sleep, I can pray through my list, again, and listen to my Coach breathe next to me and thank the Lord for all of these gifts.  I don't deserve any of it.  Especially His grace.  But OH how grateful I am for it all.

Happy Sunday.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Letting Go

He was 13 that first time we shipped him off.  Our first born, who had never been to summer camp or spent the night at a friend's house (only cousins, really), whose entire experience traveling without us had been to 5th grade science camp with his class from school.

At the time, we knew it was the right thing to do.  I'm sure our friends thought we were nuts (but that's nothing new).  And as you know, with a first born, they always seem so mature.  Until they aren't 13 anymore and your 5th is 13 and you think, "I sent him WHERE when he was this old?"

Perspectives certainly change as the years go by.

He had an amazing trip.  Life changing.  Souls saved.  His heart stretched.  We were grateful.

Since then, we've packed him up and shipped him off countless times.  Brazil.  Africa, again.  Mexico (twice).  Summit worldview camp.  Boston.  Alaska.

It's become less and less of a big deal to send him off and watch him walk away for a few weeks.

But this is different. This time it's not for a couple of weeks.  Or a month.

Instead it's for the entire school year.  A visit at Christmas, but otherwise it's going to be texting (except for right now, because they are on a media fast - ha!), phone calls and Skype so the littles can see their biggest brother.  They already miss him.

My heart is full.  And grateful.  I'm so very proud of the young man he's become.  I know he'll do well.  I know he'll grow and be stretched even more, and prayerfully I am hoping that he will not only know Christ more fully when this year ends, but he'll understand more deeply who he is in Christ and get a bigger glimpse of his place in God's plan for this time in history.

I have great expectations.  Of him.  Of this program.  Of the staff who is already pouring their lives into him.  Most of all, of God's ability to work in and through those who are surrendered to Him.

A full heart.  A grateful heart. An expectant heart.

I'm going to miss him a lot.  I already do.

But looking back on the last 5 years, especially, I can see God's almighty hand leading and working and moving. . .

Showing me that those lesser "letting go's" were just practice for the bigger ones.

Because I realize that there are even bigger ones to come.

And grace enough for them all.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Note to my 22 Year Old Self

(Written Spring of 2014)

The Coach and I were recently discussing the fact (or I was, anyway - he was listening) that I have fallen a long way in the housekeeping/homemaking department as a wife and mom.

It's bad.

I know this.  But I live in denial a great deal of the time.

Because who wants to think about how dirty one's house is?  Or how disorganized?  Or how totally out of control every. single. drawer. and cabinet are?


But the Coach and I?  Decided that to find the humor in the situation, we only needed to look as far as my 22 year old, mother of one, homemaker self.

Because that girl?  She could keep house like a boss!

The sheets were washed weekly.  Weekly!  I can't even imagine that one.

The bathroom was always spotless.

The floors were always clean.

The windows were washed regularly - at least Spring and Fall, or when needed.

The laundry was always caught up, neatly folded, put away, and ironing never piled up.

The fridge stayed clean and shiny.  And although it wasn't full of food, as a rule, what food was in there was healthy.

I could go on.

So here's a note to my 22 year old self.  Mother of one.  Married a year or so.  OCD in all things domestic.

"You're doing a great job, Girl!  Navigating marriage, learning to love your husband and communicate with him.  Serving him whole-heartedly and the house?  It's clean.  I mean CLEAN.  Good for you!  The flower beds are lovely - and I know you enjoy spending Saturdays with your Coach working outside in the yard.  Because on Saturday the laundry is already caught up and the house is clean because you've been doing that all week long!

Enjoy it.

Love every newly-wed, brand new baby, all things are exciting and fresh and sunshiny, minute of it.
It won't last.

Someday, you'll look back and think, Wow.  A clean house.  What's that?  You'll be juggling schedules and school for eight, and sports seasons (for your own kids, not just your husband's coaching).  There will be eight people dependent on you instead of just one tiny baby.  The house will be bigger (because that tiny baby - he'll grow into a big ole MAN - bigger than his daddy) because you will fill it up with eight kids who will soon (at least half of them) be young adults and young adults clothes are a lot bigger than baby clothes.

There won't be anymore diapers or bottles.  But there will be cars and drivers licenses and JSB dresses and dates.  There will be smart phones and internet to navigate (not just dial up email).
Someday, you and your new hubby won't be able to take naps on Sunday afternoons while the baby naps.  Because big kids don't nap.  And they are noisy.

"But even without the little, clean, perfectly organized house, you know what you will have?
OH if I could only show you.

"Almost 20 years with your Coach will be more amazing than you can imagine!  You will truly experiences oneness and a closeness that at 22 you can't even dream of.  You will be able to read each other's thoughts and when big decisions come?  You'll often have the same exact idea about what needs to be done.  And you won't for one. single. second. want to go back to those quiet, happy, newly wed days.  Because forty somethings who have been married 20 years?  They know what marriage is all about.

"And in place of the time spent keeping a perfect house?  You'll have games and programs and you'll be able to hang with your big kids and you'll actually be able to walk out of the door almost any time without needing a baby sitter.  It's awesome, trust me.

"Yes, the laundry piles will be a permanent fixture on the hearth and you'll have to go to the grocery store almost daily to keep up with the appetites of four teens, but you won't miss the quiet.  Because you'll have the quiet - sometimes - during the day - when everyone is at school and it's just you and the parakeet at home (yes, you'll have a parakeet - but that's not the half of it).

"I know, I know, the grass won't grow under the swing set and the garage will be so full of bikes and scooters that you can't get around the car (you'll have a mini-van, too, and you will LOVE it!), and the eight lockers that hold back packs and shoes and gym bags WILL overflow onto the garage floor and you'll trip when you go out there early in the morning to get another loaf of bread out of the freezer to make those 9 lunches.

"But watching them all ride bikes (hard to imagine, isn't it?) and run and play and catch footballs and ride ripsticks down the street?  The messy garage won't seem to really matter.  And when it does?  You can have the kids there to clean it up.

"They'll be able to do the dishes and make dinner, too.  Fold laundry and clean their own rooms.  But it won't always get done. Things will be a mess.

"And you'll love it.  And wish for these days to last forever.  But they won't.  Because that tiny, first-born little guy that naps twice a day and takes all of your time?  He'll be graduating from high school before you know it and heading off on the next adventure.  They'll all be leaving as quickly as they came.

"So love on your Coach and kiss that baby and take a nap!  Life is only going to get better."

If I only I could have imagined the JOY and noise and fun and MESS that life would hold.  These are blessed, chaotic days and I wouldn't go back for anything.  Well.  Except maybe for the clean sheets.  I miss those.

Here we go again. . .

I've always said I'd be happy to have my kids home all day every day if I didn't have to teach them anything.  A teacher, I'm not.  I'm honest enough to admit it.  Just ask the Coach.  I can organize and plan and cook and clean and schedule babies/naps and watch the kids ride scooters, but teaching is not only not my thing, I'm really REALLY terrible at it.

And although I'm sad to see the lazy days and empty calendar squares (few as they have been) go by the wayside. . .

It's time.

Time for more of a schedule.  For less sleeping until 10 (the kids, not me - ha!), for fewer late nights and old movies and snow cones.

It's been a busy, fast, hectic Summer, but it's been SUMMER.  Full of travels and mission trips and workouts.  Of saying goodbye and saying welcome home (and LOTS of trips to the airport - ha!), and sharing memories and stories and seeing what GOD WILL DO in the hearts of men.

I wouldn't have said, two weeks ago, that I was ready for Summer to end.  I wanted it to go on forever.  But something about daily volleyball practice and school clothes shopping and endless school supplies has pushed me over the edge.  Well.  That and two-a-days for the Coach which means I not only don't see him much, but he is one very tired guy.

Since the notebooks are all over the living room until school starts?  Let's get going, then.

When we walked into those halls to meet teachers and see classrooms and renew school friendships?

My heart sang.

Yes, I'd still keep them all home with me if I could.  Maybe.  But that wouldn't be best for them OR for me.  Because these sweet people that plan and prepare and pour their hearts (and JESUS) into our kids?  Are a treasure.  They have a gift for teaching that I don't have.

My Coach is one of them.  How I love him.

I feel like I'm at the top of a BIG roller coaster hill looking down on High school football (we don't have a player this year, but you can bet we'll be there!) and Jr. High football and Varsity Volleyball and 7th grade volleyball. . . games four nights a week and MUCH less time with my Coach. . .

But it's time.

The troops are ready.  This momma is ready.  And I can't wait to see what this year will hold.

Did I mention that Son (#1) is moving to Atlanta for the school year?  Maybe that's another post for another day.

So maybe, after all, the preparations and work it takes to get ready for a new school year are just the thing to get my heart ready to jump back in, again.

May all of you sweet teachers preparing for the school year have God's grace and strength (thank you seems so inadequate).  May all of you precious mommas getting ready to send your dear ones off to school have grace and strength.  And if you homeschool?  I have no words.  Only admiration.

Excuse me while I go enjoy the last free Friday afternoon and evening that we will have for QUITE sometime.  Well.  At least until March.  Ha!

Friday, July 18, 2014

What doesn't kill you. . .

I'm not proud to say it, but one of my kids' current favorite is. . .
A country song.
(This is when I feel that I have completely failed as a parent. So don't expect a link.)

Country music.


I did my best.  But for some reason they don't really care for pop music of the 80's.  Go figure.

Turns out that what doesn't kill you doesn't, in fact, make you stronger.

It makes you blonder.


Not sure how that works, exactly (considering the investment I make on a regular basis to stay browner), but since I smile and/or laugh every time I hear it, I figure it's a win-win.

Laughter IS, indeed, good medicine.

And we need all of the help we can get, right?

The Coach's birthday on Wednesday night with our parents.  Good times.

I am, in turn, both completely amused by my kids (all comedians, depending on the day) and completely frustrated by them.  OK.  Maybe not by THEM.  More like their ROOMS.  OK.  Maybe not by their actual ROOMS, but rather the state of complete piggishness that they seem comfortable with.

And yet, I find myself fighting the urge to obsess (Because in the long run, who really cares if the clean clothes ever get put away?)  (Oh.  That would be me.).  While at the same time, realizing that my time is up with Son #1 - in many ways - and the fate of his ability to keep or not keep his room neat and orderly will have to be met out on a roommate come September.  Yikes.

These balances.  Needing to be firm.  Remembering to laugh.  Needing to hold them accountable.  Extending grace.  Needing order.  Accepting the reality of LIFE.  Needing some kind of sanity.  Knowing it's probably not going to be this side of heaven.

These balances are my current challenge.  Every day.  Almost every moment.  Well, except when I give up all together and watch HGTV while braiding the girls' hair (have you SEEN "Fixer Upper"?  Super cute.).

And maybe we've done too much of that this Summer.  The giving up.  I had high hopes of reorganizing the house, getting through the piles of school papers (Don't ask how long it's been.), sorting through clothes, makes new curtains (I know, I know. . .), spending time doing projects and swimming at friends' and baking bread.

Turns out, it's a full time job just to manage these people I love.  Having clean clothes and a sort of clean house and getting them all where they need to be.  Which is sometimes Haiti (for two) or Mexico or Alaska or Africa.

When I can't sleep at 4:30 AM, because my mind is racing wondering if I wrote this or that down or who was supposed to have such and such form filled out or a check for this and that and DID I make that bank deposit or return those clothes or drop the shirts off at the cleaners for my Coach?

Maybe then.  It's time to remember that my success as a mom is NOT determined by whether or not I get it all done.  It's not even determined by whether or not my kids put their clothes up without being asked (or threatened).  No, it's not even determined by whether or not my kids do right or well or what they should or shouldn't (Because HELLO they are human just like their momma!).

Nope.  My success?  Is found when I depend on the Lord.  Cry out to Him in my short-comings and failures and overwhelmedness (bet you didn't know I could make up so many words!).

And teach my people to do the same.

Happy Summer Friday, All!  There aren't many of these left. . .

(Is HGTV on this early in the AM?)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Messy Monday and Choosing to be Grateful

It's the day after Mother's Day.  There were kids to get off to school with bleary eyes, lunches to make, school clothes to find, shoes that were illusive, and sharp words between kids.  There is laundry to fold and I lost track of how many shirts to iron and dinner... they'll be wanting that, too.  There was a workout in the rain and Weight Watchers (I hate that scale) and even after a week of good choices and extra hard work... a non-loss.

Time to be honest.  I'm having a hard time finding my gratefulness these last few days.  Maybe it's the end of the school year.  Maybe it's hormones (although I don't recommend you suggesting that to me unless you duck afterwards).  Maybe it's simple exhaustion or a calendar that is almost ineligible with things to do and be done.  Maybe it's the long term effect of broken relationships and intentional pain and hurt that doesn't stop.

Maybe it's the reality of SO MUCH CHANGE that's coming to the troops.  Maybe it's a busy, preoccupied, overwhelmed Coach.  Maybe it's that my son is leaving in the Fall or that 5 mission trips loom on the horizon or that Summer seems less relaxing and more exhausting each and every year.  More teens.  More jobs.  More trips.  More camps.

I don't like busy.  I certainly don't like the glorification of busy.  As if the busiest wins a prize.

I'm not in the race.  Because in that race?  Everyone loses.  Unlike Weight Watchers.  Ha.

And I have eversomuch to be grateful for this morning.  I do.

Sweet kids.  Loving Coach.  Precious cards with sweet words and crayoned pictures... a movie/dinner date on Saturday (Captain America and Pei Wei)... a new label maker and phone case and Starbucks with my biggest girl.  An encouraging message at church, brunch with family and my precious Mom and Grandma, even a short nap.

So why do I feel so... cranky?

Mother's Day isn't my favorite.  I do so much WRONG and fail in so many ways, the last thing I want is to draw attention to my mothering.  Because we all know having the babies is the easy part.  Even if that's not easy.

I even told the Coach that Mother's Day shouldn't be on Sunday.  I mean really.  Sunday?  Come on!  As if getting kids to church and getting oneself presentable (And applying enough make up that no one says, "Are you OK?  You look tired."  Thanks.) and figuring out lunch for 10 and homework and laundry and lists for another school week aren't enough?

He said, "So what day should it be?" with his "you are amusing me" grin.  Touche'.

It makes me uncomfortable when kids say, "You're the best mom ever" - even though it's sweet.  Because I'm not.  Lord knows.  The kids know, too.  But they're kind enough to say it, anyway.  When your mom has a "moment" (Have you seen "Mom's Night Out"?  Ha!) ON Mother's Day AFTER sweet gifts and loving kids and an extremely thoughtful kind Coach?  Because the laundry is everywhere and no one closes cabinets or drawers and there are shoes all over the floor.  Floors.  And backpacks and books and cups of Sweet Tea and all everyone wants is for me to log on to my iPad or phone for them so they can play games and run the battery down so I can't read at bedtime?

See what I mean?

A moment.

So today?  I'm choosing grateful.  I'm choosing to remember that no matter WHAT the mess, be it household or heart - there is enough grace.  Because I belong to Jesus and HE is enough.  Even for Mom moments and cranky attitudes (mine) and messy kids and imperfect bodies and houses, busy calendars and tight budgets.

HE is enough.

And no matter how many other things I have to be grateful for?  That one wins.  Every time.

Thank you, Jesus.

If you don't hear from me for awhile?  I'll be in my closet hiding from the kids with my freshly charged iPad.  So there.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Late night ramblings. . .

Sometimes, your kids have a knock down drag out screaming fight in the hall at 11:00 PM over who is in the bathroom and who needs to be. Because the "boys" bathroom is under construction and they think that sharing a bathroom is the pits even though I keep reminding them they can come use our bathroom and that we only HAD one bathroom in our previous home and they are dumbfounded.  Of course they were all 10 and under which is not quite the same.  They took up much less space.

Sometimes, the gas company turns the gas off and tells you it *might* be back on by the end of the week so you all 10 of you can take hot shower and dry the laundry and run the dishwasher.  Thank heavens the weather is beautiful so no heat is needed or we would have moved out for the week.  But when you have running water and flushing toilets and electricity and FOOD and grandparents who let you use their showers, it's all quite bearable (except on the occasions mentioned in paragraph one).

Sometimes, a friend sees your name and address on the gas company repair schedule and takes the time to do everything they can to move it up from Monday to Friday.  Bless him.  I think I will make him some cookies.

Sometimes, when this 40 year old mom gets woken up at 11 PM by screaming kids and slamming doors thinking that quite possibly someone has broken in the house and is trying to kidnap her children, I can't go back to sleep.  Go figure.

Sometimes, navigating my kids through life's frustrations and difficult relationships. . . Not protecting them from everything but helping them work through things, BUT protecting them from more than I probably should and doubting what I do and what I don't do and wondering if they will need extensive amounts of counseling (like the rest of us) and oodles and oodles of grace not to hate us later on.

Sometimes, when you have a son who is graduating from high school (and others following right behind), you find yourself asking the Lord where is the best place for your son to be and where will he be pushed to work hard and stand strong and grow and learn.  And be safe.  And close enough to drive home on holidays.  And when I miss him.  And you remind yourself that he WILL BE FINE wherever he goes because he belongs to Jesus and no where he can go will be out of His hands.  Even if it's too far away to drive home to see his mama (see the above paragraph).

Sometimes, someone who has known you since before you were born and loved you so well and been there when you needed them to pray, to encourage, to make you smile and laugh and feel LOVED, leaves this earth and meets Jesus face to face and you are SO HAPPY for them and the end of their journey on this fallen earth and the beginning of their FOREVER with Christ, but you are still so sad.

Sometimes, the Coach snores and I love him, anyway.

Sometimes, my legs ache at night after a longish run, but I'll go out and run again, anyway, even though I feel old and fat and tired.  Maybe not tomorrow, though.

Sometimes, the sound of my hammering away on the keyboard wakes my Little Man and he comes stumbling in, all bleary eyed, asking me to rub his back.  He's getting so tall.

Sometimes, life is WAY more than I can handle and God's grace is WAY more abundant than I can imagine and my husband is WAY more patient than I deserve and my kids are WAY more amazing than they would be if their development solely rested on my shoulders and not on the goodness of the Lord.

And look.  It's Wednesday, already.

Sometimes when I can't sleep and its the middle of the night and I'm concerned about my kids and their relationships and the schedule tomorrow and how long the gas really WILL be off and when the bathroom will be DONE already (this is week three). . .

I still have so much to be grateful for.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Remember that time??

Dear heavens.  What a week.  And it's only Thursday.

Tuesday morning I took the four oldest to the dentist.  Ran to Target while waiting for them because Son (#1) needed something for school.  When I got back, they told me they'd had to pull one of Son's (#4) teeth.  Hmmm.

You know it's going to be an interesting day when your dentist is the one to tell you that your son had a baby tooth stuck to the side of a permanent tooth.  And you had no idea.

What can I say?  I plead eight kids.

So from there we headed back to school.  Dropped Son (#1) off and as I was parking, he came out the door, waving me in.  I rolled down the window,  "WHAT??"  I was headed to meet Little Man at the park with Grandmother, who had field trip duty while I was at the dentist with the big kids.

"Um. Mom," Son (#1) begins. . ."my passport is expired."

Now it was my turn.  "WHAAAAT?"

Because this was Tuesday.  And Wednesday evening?  He was leaving to drive down to Dallas.  And Thursday morning EARLY?  He was flying out of Dallas for a mission trip to Mexico over Spring Break.

So it began.

Even just 48 hours later, I look back with amazement.  Our sweet friend at school got online, found out where he needed to go, got him an appointment, and helped him gather the necessary paper work.    Son and I headed out to get him last minute trip stuff, passport photos, and he got his truck ready for the drive to Dallas. Tuesday night we gathered as a family to pray for his safety and God's provision.

This letting go stuff is hard.

He's 18.  But by the time he left at 6 AM yesterday morning ALONE to drive to Dallas and find the downtown rush passport office?  I was a bit nervous about the whole thing.

And you know what?  He did great.  Made the trip without difficulty.  Got to where he needed to be an hour before his appointment.  Had all of the right documentation.  Met my cousin for lunch (thanks, Daniel!), went back to pick up the new passport, shopped at Cabelas, ate dinner, went to a movie, and met up with the mission team last night.

This morning?  They are on their flight to Mexico.

Here at the troops, the other kids are off to school, the Coach is in Virginia at a conference, and tomorrow is Daughter's (#6) ELEVENTH birthday.  Oh my word.  And Spring Break will commence shortly.

These days are exhausting.  But OH the memories we are making.  And someday. . .when Son (#1) has kids of his own. . . we'll all be sitting around talking about his mission trips and the adventures he's had and one of us will say, "Remember that time you realized your passport was expired the day before you were leaving for Mexico??"

My heart is full.

And grateful.

And I need a nap.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Daylight Savings Time and Other Stuff. On a Monday.

I hate Daylight Savings.  And yes, now those of you who love it can commence the hate speech in my direction.

But here's the deal.  Yes, the evenings are lovely.  Once school is out.  But have you TRIED getting four little kids to bed when the sun is still shining brightly?  Not fun.  I'm not a fan.  Maybe once Little Man is in his teens it won't be such a big deal.

But it is what it is (as the Coach would tell me).  And we survived the first morning back in school after losing a very much-needed hour.  In spite of the hour lost, I would have loved spending some time on a walk or in the yard, yesterday.  But four of my men needed hair cuts and we were out of bread and the Coach had a meeting and there was Corduroy's journal to fill out and beginning readers to finish. . .

A fairly typical Sunday.  With lots of back-door-slamming and trampoline jumping and chicken chasing (Not really.) and showers and homework and clothes for school.  It's the life.

And I'm perfectly serious - It's a beautiful life.

No.  There isn't much time for writing.  I can't fix that.  Son (#3) had surgery on his foot on the 25th and WOW what an adventure.  Two days afterwards we were back at the ER for pain.  Then another ER visit on day 5 in an ice storm.  Fun times.  (I'd post pictures, but it wouldn't be right.)

He's MUCH better, now.  Still has a pin from the end of his toe into the middle of his foot.  It's like having our very own circus side show.  Lots of visits from friends that first week just to see the bizarreness of the whole thing.  But he's back at school, "heel walking" as they say, all caught up on school work (Who does that?  Misses a week and catches up in a couple of days?), and making us all laugh, once again.

Son (#1) leaves on a Spring Break mission trip to Mexico on Wednesday.  Even though technically,  Spring Break isn't until NEXT week.  The Coach has a little trip to Virginia this week, as well.  And Daughter's (#6) 11th birthday on Friday.  And the boys' shower is being torn out on Monday (Probably time to make a decision on tile choices.).  With volleyball tournaments this weekend and next.  Sprinkle in eight dentist appointments, another trip back to the surgeon for Son (#3), an ear appointment for Daughter (#2), two field trips, a talent show at school on Friday (the three little girls are participating), and a postponed 5 mile race from February and hopefully an early morning at the DMV to get Son's (#3) permit.  Throw in a LOT of laundry, a few ongoing organizing projects, grocery shopping way too often, and cooking dinner every night and. . .

Blogging is pretty far down on the list.

However.  In spite of my lack of writing, this blog IS a chronicle of life at the troops.  And there's been a LOT of life going on.  I don't want to miss one second.

I love football and basketball seasons - from August through March.  But I am VERY much enjoying having my Coach around more now that it's his "off" season!  He's my favorite.

Son (#1) will head off in the Fall.  Leaving fewer troops around the table every night.  Which makes me sad.  And excited.  For him and for the grocery budget.  He's not only headed to Mexico this week, he's also headed to California in April (for my sweet cousin's wedding!), Boston in May (Senior Trip), Colorado in June (with all of us for vacation) and Alaska in July (more missions).  Which means he'll be gone almost as much as he's here between now and August.  (sniff)

So no more blinking.  No whining allowed.  And as much time as possible spent enjoying these amazing eight that have my heart.

Happy Monday!
(And if I don't get myself to the grocery store, we won't be having dinner tonight.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

God Knew We Needed Her...

My first pregnancy was rough, I'll admit it.  I've written about it, before.  Sick.  Sick.  Sick.  Newlyweds, just getting to know each other, - months and months of our first year of marriage I spent puking.  My poor Coach.

But that baby?  That first, sweet, tiny, little guy?  All 5.5 pounds of him?  Amazing.  Ate well, slept well, SMILED all of the time.  In spite of our inexperience and still figuring things out?  He was just perfect.

When Son (#1) was just about six months old, I began to suspect that I was pregnant, again.  Now, I wanted babies.  LOTS of them (my dream was an even dozen!).  But he was still REALLY baby.  And never, in a million years, did I imagine having another one so quickly.

I cried for two weeks.

Not because I wasn't excited to have another baby!  But because the thought of being SICK, again, and on meds and bed rest. . .with a 6 month old and a hubby who (bless his heart) wasn't quite sure what to do with a wife who left the room constantly to vomit.  Lovely, right?

The pregnancy wasn't nearly as bad.  I was grateful.  And our little guy still napped twice a day and slept 12 hours at night, so I was able to rest a lot and it was OK.  Then 14 1/2 months after we welcomed our first-born son, we welcomed our first-born daughter.

Oh.  My.  Word.

(Son #1 has adored and taken care of her ever since.)

When I think of this girl?  Happy.  Sweet.  Cheerful.  Beautiful.  Smiling.  Always smiling.  Smart.  Kind.  Friend to EVERYONE. Diligent.  Hard working.  Athletic (like her daddy!).

Our lives, our home, our family NEEDED this girl.

And you know what?  I'd do it all over, again.  Because the Lord?  He knew.  He knew we needed her.

Thank you, Lord, for loving us more than we could ever know.  For giving us what we need, even when we don't know we need it.

(We WERE an average sized family for a little while!  And yes, I know the Coach hasn't aged.  It's genetic.  And I don't have those genes.  Love him.)

(Her name means HAPPY.  She is.)

(Wasn't long before she had six younger siblings to keep in line.  And she does it, well! I miss those squishy little people.  Where has time gone??)

And Happy Birthday to my Beautiful 17 year old Daughter.

So blessed to be her Momma.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Words to Live By

Honestly, being a mom sometimes feels like the most impossible job.

I can't do it.  For a moment or two, maybe?  Every now and then, a day?  But overall?  I just keep failing.  Keep falling short.

I'm not patient, as I should be.  I lose my temper.  I don't get enough done.  I don't keep the house clean, have healthy meals ready every night, stay organized and calm.  And yes, even though I use natural remedies and do my best to keep my kids healthy?  They still get sick.

It's so easy and natural to judge ourselves and others based on how we perform.  Ugh.  We can't see into the hearts of others (the way God can), so we take what we see (at least our perception of what we see) and come to conclusions about others.  And ourselves.

But it's so important for us to know (and for us to communicate to others) that we are LOVED because of WHO we are, not what we do.  I'm learning.  Slowly.  To communicate unconditional love WHILE teaching and training.  I can enjoy my family, laugh with them, LOVE them well.  Even when I don't always like what they might DO.  Please tell me I'm not the only one with extended family who is CRAZY?  Ha!

My point?  Unconditional love is a difficult concept for all of us.  We love what we like.  We are pleased when we get what we want (and feel justified when it's the "right" thing). And it's difficult to love what we don't like or love when we are not pleased with someone and their choices.

A few months ago, the Coach and I were able to hear Andrew Farley speak at a local fundraiser.  He's the author of "The Naked Gospel" and "God Without Religion".

His talk was long and good and real.  But one thing he said just stuck.

He was speaking about God's sovereignty and how who we ARE is who CHRIST is in us.  Understanding our nature IS that of Christ.  Even when we don't behave as we should, it doesn't change who we ARE.

Do you see where I'm headed?  Christ's love for me has nothing to do with what I DO.  It's not based on my performance.  My success in being a "good" wife or mom.  My ability to always obey.

When God sees me?  He's sees His Son's nature.  Perfect.  Complete.  Pleasing.  Loved.

Andrew Farley said, for those who are in Christ, "You can't mess this up."

What?  (as my eyes filled with tears)  I can't?  Even if my kids rebel (One of greatest fears!)?  Even if my husband isn't always happy and content with me (I am SO not good enough for him!)?  Even if my house isn't always warm and welcoming (We are NOT magazine material around here!)?


When we experience heartache in our lives or see tragedy in the lives of those we love?  He is still God.  Still in control.  Still loving us.  Whether the pain in our lives is because of our own actions, the actions of others, OR just allowed by God (And we can't see any reason for it at all!  Enter Job.). And OH to see it all fit together when we reach eternity and the big picture is clear.

What makes us think that our behavior (good or bad) will ever trump God's power in our lives?  Kind of silly when you think about it.

I am pleasing to HIM because I have Christ in me.  The Hope of Glory.  And He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Thank you, Jesus!

The truth is, even though we should never sin just to experience God's grace (see Romans 6), sin IS the field in which grace grows.  For me.  For my kids.  For those I love.  And there is no shortage of sin or opportunity for grace.  At least around here.

Happy Wednesday.

Friday, January 24, 2014

January Ramblings. . .

The Coach and I have been talking about January since school started.  As in, "Well, the busiest month will be January, the rest won't be so bad." Or "You think this is busy?  Just wait until January."  You know.

But worrying about it accomplishes nothing, so it was out there, on the horizon, hovering somewhere in the back of my mind.

Until it hit.

9 games one week, 13 another, 13 the next.  I didn't count this week.  Never found the time.  Not to mention the countless projects and long term assignments that all hit this month.  Times eight.  We've started buying poster boards in bulk.

It feels somewhat like having 5 kids under 6.  Just surviving one day at a time.

Except with more sleep.  And more driving to basketball games.  When they were all little we only had whatever team the Coach had that season to go watch.  Not the five different teams we have right now.

I don't want to miss the "now", waiting for the busy to pass.  Maybe that's why I haven't been writing as often.  To write, I have to step out of the "now" and take a break.  There just hasn't been time.  I spent so much of when the kids were little thinking, "If we can just make it until they sleep all night," "If we can just get this one potty trained," "If I can just make it through this last few weeks of pregnancy" (times eight).

But you know what?  They were beautiful days.  Even though I spent many of them hanging on for dear life.

I've learned to relax a little (You should see my house.  And every drawer or cabinet.  And inside my fridge.  Ugh.).  There is only so much time in the day.  I don't want to spend it ALL just doing what will be undone tomorrow.  I want to soak in sitting on the coach rubbing Little Man's back when he's sick (today is day three).  I want to sit with my teens after the younger kids are in bed and talk about college and world views and gap programs (Son #1 is off at a college visit, today).  I want to GO to the games and cheer (I've been working on not yelling so much - yikes!) and laugh and hug my kids even when they lose a close one.  Especially when they lose a close one.

The last couple of weeks?  It's been frustrating.  Having kids home sick makes it impossible to be THERE for my others.  Lots of games and I'm missed quite a few.  Last week, when I was sick and last weekend when Daughter (#7) was sick and Son (#4) knocked a tooth loose, and now with Daughter (#5) and Little Man home for three days.

Turns out I can't do it all and I can't be two places at once.  And someone has to be HOME.  That would be me.

Grateful they are both feeling better, this morning.  Grateful that my Coach is with Daughter (#2) at her tournament game this morning, even if I can't be.  Grateful that friends took Son (#1) with their son to visit a college he is interested in, since the Coach and I are somewhat occupied.


Can't do it all.

But somehow in the middle of it all, we have fairly happy, content, kids, who don't freak out when we aren't both at their games.  Sometimes neither of us are.  We have laid-back kids who think it's no big deal to go with another family on a college visit because Dad has a tournament and Mom has sick little ones who need her at home.  We have kids who understand that grandparents can't always come to everything (not possible with 20 and 56 grandkids, is it?). We have kids who are blessed with sweet, kind friends and gracious parents of their friends who help with rides to practice, coaching teams, taking kids to Sonic, bringing them home.

I don't like not doing it all or missing events in my kids lives.  But you know what?  The Lord is using it to make them into some pretty amazing kids.  Who know they are loved, but know that we need them to be more independent - since we have a few to keep up with.  They are learning it's OK to ask for help from others and depend on other people, too.

The Lord knew that I needed every one of these eight.  So I couldn't keep up.  So I couldn't hold it all together.  So I couldn't do it all, always be there, always help and do things for them.  Because I would have.  And they have so much more to learn from a mom who has to depend on the Lord and not myself.

Today?  I need a spreadsheet on Excel to keep track of where everyone is.  But mostly just so I can pray effectively for all of my troops - who are spread out a bit here and there.  Giving me a glimpse into the very near future when they won't all be around the table every evening, or sleeping under our roof every night.

That's our job as parents, after all.  To grow them up and send them off.  It's terrifying, exciting, and pretty wonderful all at once.

Is it too soon to start missing my firstborn when he leaves next Fall?  (sniff)

Happy Friday!

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year, New Focus

My troops headed back to school this morning.  My Coach, too.  I miss them all, already.  Crazy, right?  But I do.  It's quiet.  And things haven't gotten increasingly messy in the last three hours.

I'll adjust.  Although I really could have my husband home ALL OF THE TIME.  I know some wives think they'd go crazy.  But not this one.  There is more than enough work around here for TWO parents on any given day.  I love his company, his teasing, his smile, his HELP, his tender and patient parenting of our kiddos.

My sweet parents gave me a fabulous NEW IPAD for Christmas.  Wow.  I honestly had no words.  You know how that happens sometimes?  You sit.  You stare.  Your mind can't grasp that YES IT IS AN IPAD and YES IT'S FOR ME.

Although I honestly haven't really gotten to use it since then.  I let the kids play on it during the day (Have you SEEN the game, "Dumb Ways to Die"?  Ugh.) and then after bedtime I'd fix some tea and snuggle with a blanket on the couch and grab it and . . . dead.  Every time.  Finally, this past weekend, I took two seconds to put a pass code on it.  Thinking THAT would do the trick.  At least they would have to ask and NOW it wouldn't be dead when I sat down in the evening with it.

No, not dead.  Locked.  From excessive attempts to figure out the passcode.

I know.  First world probs.  I'm not complaining.  The whole thing was quite humorous.

One thing I've wanted to do, however, is download a new book for the new year.  (I'm taking suggestions.)  Then I saw my nightstand and the almost-finished four books sitting there.  Books I got the gist of but didn't persevere until the end.  And the mother in me?  Decided that I should finish those before I move on.  My theme for this year?  Letting go.  But maybe in letting go, we also have to complete some things in order to move on.  So I'm making the theme to FINISH what I've started (oh dear heavens that means the mending pile on my sewing machine), so I can LET GO and move on.

Little Man is sleeping in his own bed, now.  So there's that.  He's been on a foam mat in the girls room since Summer.  Or before.  What is WITH my kids and their crazy sleeping habits?  Or is it just that the Coach and I are so tired we are happy for them to just SLEEP wherever it is?  Might be.

Started a new session of boot camp this morning.  Determined to continue the Weight Watchers Simply Filling program - it's divine.  No tracking.  Healthy food.  Wiggle room for being human.  I'm in love.

We have nine basketball games this week.  Invention Fair coming up.  Presidential Tea.  Homecoming (not in that order).  Science Fair for a few.  And this week?  Nine basketball games.  Oh yeah.

And saying NO to everything else.  That I can.  Which won't, I suppose, include the two dentist appointments and a doctor's appointment this week.  But what I CAN say no to.  That's where I'm headed.

Not surprisingly, finishing these books has really revealed some treasures.  Turns out that there are some great ENDINGS that I had missed.  Like this one from "The Cure" by Lynch, McNicol and Thrall:

"The quality of your life is based on trusting this:  Where you are right now is the perfect place for you, or the God of all goodness and power would not allow you to be there."

Perfect place for me.  Right now.

Even if it means basketball and homework and herding the troops here and there while trying to maintain some sense of home, order, family time, and consistent dinners at the actual table.

I'll take it.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas Break and a New Year

I have such grand ideas of what Christmas Break will be like.

(I know, I know.  When will I ever learn?)

Movies and hot chocolate and baking and Christmas lights and board games. . . you get the idea.

We've done some of that.  We have.

Being a teacher/coach's wife, all of the extra evenings and weekends and planning/grading time at home, are but a distant memory when my Coach is home for TWO WEEKS at Christmas.

But we spend it catching up on what he wasn't here for during football season and the first half of basketball season.  Never mind that he's had practice most days.

Carpet cleaning, repairs around the house (and trips to Lowe's), cleaning grout, sealing granite and working on the mess in the garage.  The yard, the cars, organizing paper work and cleaning out closets.  Great fun.

EVEN if we didn't have anything extra that has to be done, dealing with the kids is a FULL TIME JOB in and of itself… for the bigs, can I go, do, get, watch, have over??  For the littles, learning to work things out and get along and play together and enjoy one another.  OK.  All of us need more of that.

It's been a good break.  It has.  Family.  Laughter.  Sweet times together. And we've gotten SO MUCH done. I'm grateful.

Even if looking at the calendar for next week makes me sweat.

This is a season.  For the Coach and I?  A busy one.  I know we won't EVER, again, have all eight at our beloved school, together, each day.  In four short years?  We will have three in college.  Lord willing.

I know this.  But it doesn't make it any easier to keep up right NOW.

In this New Year?  Lord, help me to continue to learn to allow You to lead me.  Every moment.  Everyday.  To let some things go (and I don't mean the living room - which right now is a frightful sight).  To hold tightly to others (like sweet moments with my family).

To hold tightly to YOU.

Now if I can just remember to order decaf next time I take Daughter (#2) to Starbucks at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Happy 2014 to each of you.  With my gratefulness for you and the blessing you are to me and to my troops.  With my prayers that in this coming year, you will know Christ more fully.  And most of all?  That you and I will understand that HIS righteousness is completely sufficient and if you are IN Christ, it is YOURS.  Thank you, Jesus!