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!