Sunday, December 13, 2015

21 years

Several weeks ago, the Coach and I went away for a weekend by ourselves.  There was a time when a weekend away meant a clean house, meals in the freezer, getting my nails done, having things organized for the kids, and packing my "nice" clothes.

This time?  I literally threw my yoga pants and a school t-shirt in a bag with my overnight stuff, grabbed my laptop, and left a sweet friend at home with the troops in a messy house.  We picked up take-out on our way (and enough for leftovers for lunch the next day) and packed oats and coffee for both mornings. Because we are pretty much 80 years old.  Ha!

And it was heavenly.

Sleeping until I woke up.  Twice.  Planning and discussing and catching up.  Without being interrupted or having the phone ring or stopping to switch the laundry or fix dinner.

Of course we had to come in for a game on Saturday night.  And we missed a game Saturday morning.  We finished it off with our long Sunday run (in the afternoon, because... sleep!).  Even squeezed a movie in before the game.

This week the Coach and I will celebrate 21 years of marriage.  

Which means I've officially been married as long as I wasn't.  Or something like that.

We'll celebrate with a basketball game.  Of course.

At some point over the holidays we'll go to dinner - we've already talked about whether it will be Charlestons (always so good) or the Cheesecake Factory (because we haven't been there in years!).  I'm happy just to BE with my Coach.  Sit across from the table from him.  Talk to him.  Discuss what's going on with the kids. Work through the next week's schedule.

Neither of us are who we were 21 years ago.  But the beautiful thing is that together we've both become something that we never would have been apart.  

I've been so challenged by the Coach's consistency and discipline.  I've even learned a bit of it. And he's learned to extend a lot more grace to his much less ambitious wife.

It's a gift, this thing called marriage. It was God's idea and it's a good one.

Last year on our 20th anniversary, the Coach had the flu.  Five of the kids had the flu.  I celebrated by caring for them.  Not a bad way to commemorate it, really.

This year?  There won't be a cruise or a trip, or much of anything else during basketball season.  And please, Lord, can we skip the flu part?

But real life is truly good.  I'd rather have quiet weekends at the farm working on the budget.  Moments watching our kids on the court.  Precious family time with our college kids home.

So. Very. Blessed.

Happy 21st, Babe.  I'd say yes all over, again.  

Thursday, December 10, 2015


I just saw my post from three weeks ago and I almost walked away.

I could say the very same things, today.

But isn't that life? Many days DO look the same.  My list certainly does.

Get up earlier than I'd like.
Drink coffee.
Put the laundry in the dryer.
Wake up Little Man.
Get breakfast stuff out.
Make sandwiches times seven.
Get six kids and the Coach off to school.
Start laundry.
Load and start the dishwasher.
Work out.
Drink more coffee.
Run errands.
Fold laundry.
Make something for dinner.
Pick up kids.
Go to basketball games.
Supervise homework and showers and more laundry for the next day.
(The Coach always supervises the dinner dishes - I love him for that.)

There may be a few variations, but this is LIFE for me right now.

Working through, processing, continuing to hand over the hard things to our loving Lord.
Focusing on, soaking in, reminding myself of the good in every day.

I'm still in the Psalms.  Still singing worship songs (and some Michael Buble' Christmas, too) in the shower.  Still playing Daily Audio Bible when I get ready in the mornings.

Maybe this is where I'm camping out for awhile.  Life is good.  And life is exhausting.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with our troops.  All home.  All eight.  So amazing.

Cooking, baking, running the Turkey Trot, time with family.  Cousins everywhere, two birthdays (Son #1 turned 20.  TWENTY!), an ice storm, family pictures.

And now, two weeks later, my college kids are headed home again.  Taking their last finals this morning.  They've survived their first semesters at new schools with new classes and new friends.  I'm so proud of them.

I finally got our Christmas cards ordered this morning - which means they may or may not be mailed before Christmas.  I'm headed to help my girl pack some things up to move into a different dorm room before break.  The Jr. High girls have games this afternoon, while the Varsity boys play at our gym.  The Coach is bringing the littles home so they can welcome our oldest when he drives in.  Dinner is ready to go in the oven and will be eaten as some point.

The house may not be as clean as I would choose.  I didn't have time to make cinnamon rolls for the kids.  A leg injury has kept me from running all week.  And let's be honest, we all have things that make the holidays a super hard time.  Family issues, broken relationships.  This earthy life is full of sorrow. Current world events and leaders make me long for the new heaven and the new earth.

But in the midst of it all... our Faithful God.  I trust Him, today, with all of it. The fun blessings and the not so fun ones. He's sovereign over it all.  Even when most days look pretty much the same.

I pray that your Christmas season is filled with the Hope of Glory.  The Savior of the world, who knows and loves YOU.  Numbers the hairs on our heads (which must be super difficult, considering what I clean out of the shower drain every day!), knows the burdens on our hearts, and loves us in spite of ourselves.

Happy Thursday.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

November at the Troops

It's been a month since I last wrote.  A month.  How is that even possible?  The holidays are soon upon us and that means my KIDS will be home!  I can't wait.  I know it will be crazy and busy and loud and my well laid plans will all have to be adjusted but I will LOVE IT. And Christmas shopping!  Yikes.  I should start.

I've got Pioneer Woman's Hamburger Soup simmering away and my school crowd is due any minute.  We'll quick get through homework and eat and head back for basketball.  Because somehow while things here were rolling along, we morphed quickly from football season (with a hard loss last week) into basketball season for four of our troops.  It's great fun.  And Little Man is already whining about the time sitting in the gym.  Ha!

We started basketball and finished up football season WORN OUT at the troops.  Each and every one.  As hard as it is, I am so grateful for the opportunity for my boys to play.  To forge relationships in the trenches of helmets and hard hits and injury.  Along with the glory of victory now and then.  There's nothing like it and it went SO QUICKLY this year I felt like I just blinked and we were done.  Thank the Lord we don't have a senior this year or I'd still be crying like a baby.

Truthfully, it's been so busy and there has been so much going on that I've been a little bit discouraged.  It's a lot to manage and we got so worn out that I think my ability to keep smiling and encouraging and just moving (ha!) lagged a bit.

Sometimes it takes a few weeks of the Psalms and Daily Audio Bible and singing worship music at the top of my lungs in the shower and going from moment to moment in prayer to pull myself out of a funk.  I don't know that I'm there yet, but I'm closer than I was last week.

Seasons keep passing.  Kids keep growing.  Games keep being won or lost.  Schoolwork and homework and papers and projects move in and out of our house like a wave most days, often leaving devastation in their wake.

But each morning the sun rises, again.  The Coach makes coffee, again.  The workouts and the runs and the laundry and the meals and the bills keep needing my attention.  And before I know it, time is passing and I'm tired, but smiling.

Smiling because I have a FAITHFUL God whose love amazes me every day.

Smiling because I have a husband who loves me even when I'm tired, overwhelmed, cranky and dieting (which means extra cranky!).  Ha!

Smiling because the TROOPS - how I love them.  They make me laugh until my sides hurt.  They keep me busy and make life FULL and fun.

Smiling because we have the most wonderful group of people who love us and encourage us every single day.  No matter what.  Our parents.  Our friends.  Our school family.  So blessed.

And sometimes?  It just has to be enough - in the midst of an uncertain world and uncertain futures - that God is sovereign over it all.  It IS enough.  No matter how I FEEL today, or tomorrow, or next week, or next year.  He is enough.  His love.  His grace.  His unending mercy.  Whether or not I can keep up, or keep the laundry going, or keep food fixed for this crowd.  Whether or not I'm missing my engineering student (sigh) or haven't seen the coach in days or have a run that feels like my legs are lead.

He is always there.  Always faithful.  Always enough.

Happy Thursday!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Two Steps Forward. . . Three Steps Back

I took Son (#4) to get his learner's permit this morning.  He passed the written test and drove me to Starbucks (hear the angels singing?).  I have a feeling it's going to take extra boxes of brown hair color to get me through teaching our fourth to drive.  But when I start to lose heart, I just remember, the next three are GIRLS.

Oh glory.

Sometimes it's easy to look at raising kids like a check list of life skills.

Sleeping through the night.  Check.  Times eight.
Eating solids.  Check.  Times eight.
Walking.  Check.  Times eight.
Potty training.  Check. Times eight (and never ever again, thankyouverymuch).
Swimming.  Reading.  Riding a bike...  Check. Check.  And check.

The other day the Coach and I were outside watching Little Man ride his bike up and down the hill in front of the house.  When did this happen, I asked the Coach, how did he get so BIG?  It wasn't even one of the SMALL bikes?  ((sniff))

As they get older, it becomes...
Driving.  Check.  Times four (almost).
Overseas Travel without parents.  Check.  Times three.

Graduate from High school.  Check. Times two.
College.  Check.  Times two (in progress).

It feels this way sometimes.  Passing milestones like mile markers on the turnpike going 75 miles an hour.  It's flying.  I don't even have time to put the pictures in albums.

But then Little Man brought home an assignment to draw a diagram of his room (to learn North, South, East and West).  He told the teacher he wasn't sure if he should draw it messy or clean (what??).  And then proceeded to tell me he wasn't sure what shape to draw his room because he never sees the floor.

And Daughter's (#6) class discussed Jesus being left in the temple by his parents and the teacher said, "Your parents would never leave you!" Which of course prompted countless stories from my kids of who has been left where and for how long.  ((sigh))

Not to mention that the school pants are getting too tight and the boys' hair is getting too long and I'm not so sure AR points will all be gotten by Friday and someone (I can't remember who) still needs basketball shoes for practice that started last week.

So maybe on the one hand we are checking things off.

On the other hand, we are parenting individuals.  Who are each completely unique.  Who will do things differently at different times and in different ways.  Which means it is NEVER boring.  And thank you, Lord, for second graders.  And 15 year old chauffeurs.  And 11th birthdays.  And college kids who text their mom (hint).


I'm also thankful that the Coach whispered in my ear as he kissed me goodbye this morning (after all of the stories about me leaving them and Little Man's chronicle of his messy room to his teacher)... "You're a wonderful mom."

I'm not so certain.

But what would I do without him?  Or our troops? (Even if I do forget them now and then.  Ha!)

Happy Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When "not gross" is all you've got left...

The Coach asked me last night how things were going.

The short answer is great.  Things are great.  Kids are doing well (for the most part).  I'm still here (at least physically).  My pants still fit (And who am I kidding?  There are always yoga pants!).

But the long (er) answer?

I wasn't planning on having a girlie home with fever two days this week (well, fever one day and recovery the next).  The list is LONG.  So long I'm about ready to just delete is all and start over.  Can I do that?  The same for the email.  At what point is it beyond any hope?

I LOVE my life.  I LOVE my Coach.  I LOVE my kids.  I LOVE Fall, football, my precious family and friends.  And I'm not being cliche' when I say I am abundantly blessed.

I'm so easily overwhelmed.  Some days I see the boxes in the sunroom, the piles on the desk, the mess in the garage, the ironing by the dryer, the bathroom cabinets, the boxes in our bedroom, the closet...

It gets to me.

The Coach, as usual, was quick to tell me that it will eventually all get done.  Which I'm not too sure about.

My current daily expectations are pretty low:

Feed the Troops (this requires, shopping, prep, cooking, baking, and clean up. Every day. Several times on some days.).
Keep up with the Laundry (including various uniforms for various sports and occasionally an open washer and dryer for one very pretty college student) (even though I actually also HAVE a very handsome college student, but he never seems to have time to come home and see his momma. Hint.).
Maintain a Household Standard of "Not Gross" (as opposed to my former standard of "clean").

A lot of things aren't making the list right now.  Sometimes even the basics don't get done.  Can you say "leftovers"?  The most important things around here are not the things.  I'm trying to remember.

Maybe some day I'll get back to to all.  The years of photos that haven't been organized or put into albums.  The boxes in the attic.  The empty baby books.  The dirty windows.  The bulging file drawers.  The kids' closets.


For now, Little Man wants to tell me about the teepees that he's been making.  And I'd rather listen to him than wash windows.  As long as I can't see them out of the corner of my eye.

Happy Wednesday.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.  (Is. 40:8)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Whys of Football (and other *currently* less important sports)

As you can imagine with four boys - one in college, two in high school, and Little Man (who is blessedly in the 2nd grade) - and a football coaching husband, I'm asked a LOT about why our boys play football.

With all of the articles and news reports lately about the danger of the sport, I feel inclined to go back and think through it, once again.

As I have many many times, particularly when our guys have experienced severe injuries.  Son (#1) was injured more than not during his four years of Varsity football.

I remind myself that we haven't let them play before Jr. High (recent studies have shown that there is much greater long term risk if head injuries occur before the age of 12), how we've purchased concussion preventing helmets, helmet liners, have coaches that watch our boys carefully for injury and take every precaution to keep them safe, coaches who also teach them to hit safely and build strength during off season to hopefully prevent injury.

But when I boil it all down, I'm left with this:

Football is great tool for teaching about the adversity of LIFE.

I want my kids to face defeat, injury (when it happens), loss, cranky teammates, hateful opponents, coaches they may not agree with, hard HARD work, and even physical pain WHILE they are young and can learn how to respond properly - and the Coach and I are around to help them navigate it.

Life is full of these same obstacles.  Who hasn't failed?  Who hasn't faced an injury of some sort?  An authority figure they don't agree with or want to obey?  Who hasn't had to get up early even when exhausted?  Go to work when it's not fun?  Be responsible and show up when we'd rather not?

Football gives my boys an advantage when they become adults.  It teaches them (if they are lead by the right Godly men and their parents) so many life skills.  So many life lessons.  Perseverance.  Discipline.  Doing what's right even when it's hard.

21 years ago when I first started watching my Coach on the sidelines (how has it BEEN 21 years??), I will admit I didn't get it.  I knew he loved it.  I didn't understand why.

But after watching 20 classes of senior football players leave our school and head out as adults, I'm more convinced than ever.  One of MY senior football players has now been gone for two years.  I've seen that he learned many important lessons that have guided him since those high school football days.

Last week, Son (#4) got hurt in the game.  I'll be honest, when I saw that it was his knee I almost threw up.  We've been through ACL surgery with Son (#3).  I would never wish that on anyone and I certainly don't want to go through it, again.  But you know what?  I immediately thought ABOUT Son (#3).  That was a two-surgery/miserable Freshman year.  I hated it for him and it was horrible.  But how could I look at him, his character, his kindness towards others, his toughness? And wish he hadn't been through those trials?

Trials are where we learn the most.  To depend on the Lord, to persevere, to trust in a Sovereign Lord, even when things are difficult.  And to keep going, even when the losses pile up.

So this Friday, I'll be cheering on our boys - and one of them will be on the sidelines with his bum knee. Asking the Lord to continue to teach ME, as well.  To not protect my kids from the very things that grow them into independent (from us) dependent (on the Lord) adults who will glorify the Lord in their lives and lead others to seek Him (to quote my wise mother-in-law!).

And just because our lives at the troops revolve around football, doesn't mean there aren't countless other ways for our kids to learn these same lessons.  Just make sure you aren't so concerned with protecting them that you fail to allow them to do anything hard.  I want my boys to grow into strong (and I don't mean physically) men who will work hard, take care of others, and face hardship with patience.  It won't happen without some intentionality.

(I just love them so much.)

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Practicing Thankfulness

It's been a week.  And you know what?  We've almost made it.

I felt extremely grouchy and irritable after the third day of COMPLETE CHAOS.  Which I know I joke about, but honestly, the chaos is somewhat rare these days.  But between uniforms and lunches and snacks and games and games and games...

The huge to-go cup of coffee that got spilled all over the counter Wednesday morning about sent me over the edge.

I'm not proud of this.

And the floor is STILL sticky.  Ugh.

But it started me thinking. . .

That spilled cup of coffee (OK.  It was about 1/2 creamer.  Not mine.) at 6:30 in the morning?  Meant I had four teens headed to See You at the Pole.

Just like the uniforms and khakis that need to washed mean that I have a houseful of healthy kids who play sports and go to school.  And do well in school, I should remind myself.

The seven lunches that need to be made every morning?  All represent those same kids (and their dad).  That I love.

The homework?  The kids that I love are smart, too.

And the games?  OH the games.  Loads and loads of them?

So much fun.

I wouldn't trade it for anything.

The girls have won volleyball and won more volleyball.  The boys have gotten pounded on the football field and been TOUGH men.  Little Man got his braces off.  I had coffee with friends and lunch with my parents. We got to see our world traveling cousin.  I folded mounds of mounds of laundry and cooked all but *one* night this week (thank you, Little Caesars).  We've had 80's hair and dress up days and school pictures.  The kids worked for our school in the community, painting, raking, cleaning up a park.  We got to hold a new baby cousin. We even celebrated my dad's retirement after 44 years.

See what I mean?  SO.  MUCH.  To be grateful for.

I'm exhausted and my house is a wreck (although I managed to wash mattress pads this week, so SCORE!) and I love it.

These are beautiful days.  And Fall is a beautiful season.  And tonight is homecoming!  I'd better get to it or the littles who bring their friends home before the game won't have any cookies!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Less Full Nest Syndrome

*I wrote this two weeks ago, meaning to add photos before I finished it.  Two.  Weeks.  Ago.  Oh well.  As the coach would say, It IS what it IS.

I've finally had a chance to catch my breath this week.  In fact... can I confess something?  I went back to bed when the kids left for school yesterday.

I know.  Lame.

We've moved Daughter (#2) into her Freshman dorm at one school.  Moved Son (#1) into another dorm at another school.  Started two in high school football and two in Jr. High volleyball.  And now have almost two weeks (or four) of school for six in the books.  Not to mention the Coach is back in the classroom and on the football field, as well.

This year?  We have two in college.
Two in high school.  (Both boys.  Both football players.)
Two in Jr. High.  (Both girls.  Both volleyball players.)
Two in Elementary.

No seniors.
No sixth graders.
No high school girls.
No Jr. High boys.

This is a year OFF, my friends.  And I plan to enjoy it.

Less laundry.  Less food.  Fewer activities.  Fewer games.  Fewer kids...

A lot less money...Ha!

I have no idea why I'm so tired.  Already.

I am so grateful for these kids.  These days.  This season.  It's a truly wonderful season.

I am so thankful that my big kids are doing well in college (I sure miss them.).  And that my troops at home are tackling the new year and all it's chaos with such determination.

Now if the Coach and I can just keep up!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Farewell, Summer.

It's a quiet, cloudy day at the troops.  I'm grateful.  We are organizing school supplies, trying on clothes, making lists, and cleaning out the "school lunch" part of the pantry.

I've learned over the years to use the quiet to prepare for the chaos.  Daughter (#2) has been cleaning out her room, going through clothes, making a pile for her dorm room.  We aren't done, yet, but she's getting close.  The younger girls are loving the hand-me-downs from their big sister.

We still have lots to do to be ready for school in three weeks.  Two-a-days and volleyball practice start next week, then two kids to move into college the next week, along with the usual back to school events.  This is our last week before school actives hit full force.

I'm ready and I'm not.

I haven't felt like I've had my act together at all this Summer.  It's been from one thing to another, from one trip to another, the sending off, the coming home, the busyness.  I'm ready for more of a consistent daily routine. It will be different with only six in school.  Only high school football, only Jr. High volleyball (instead of all four last year).  No senior, no 6th grader.

But on the other hand, we've had a sweet, wonderful Summer filled with so many precious moments. We enjoyed Son's (#1) speaking at his Impact 360 commissioning.  A 6th grade graduation and a senior graduation.  Two to Haiti, two to China, one to Honduras, and a wonderful week together (minus Son #1 - but we got to visit him!) in Breckenridge.

Lots of cousin time and sleepovers, July 4th with family and fireworks at the farm, swimming at friends' houses, sitting on the porch swing during rain storms, VBS, volleyball camp, and Falls creek.  And finally, last weekend, The Coach and I went to Atlanta for a College Launch seminar at Impact 360.

It's been a beautiful HUMID - but mild - Summer!  There has been a lot of hammocking, a lot of workouts, a lot of basketball, and many movie nights.

We are living in a crazy season.  Parenting both college age young adults and a 2nd grader, with everything in between. The Coach and I continue to learn how to navigate it more effectively - learning how to get along and work through things together - with a lot of help and input from those who have gone before.  It's a special, unique time in our lives and I'm loving it.

I guess the most amazing thing is watching these kids of ours grow up.  Own their faith.  Move forward in their lives and make decisions for their futures.  It's a beautiful thing to watch.  Especially when they still want our input now and then.  Ha!

Farewell, Summer.  You've been good to us.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Day in the Life

At each meal we pray for them.  Son #1 in Colorado working as a wrangler at a ranch.  Daughter #2 and Son #3 in China on a mission trip with school.

It's quiet with only five.  We aren't quite sure what to do.  So many empty seats around the table.

In the Fall, there will only be six kids around the table on week nights.  In two more years, there will only be five here most of the time (not just for three weeks of the Summer).  In four more years, we'll be down to four.  In ....

Well, you get the idea.

I'm not complaining.  It's less food, less laundry, and it's quieter.


Today I got up and headed out for a run while the Coach and Son #4 headed to the dermatologist.  When I got back, I loaded up Daughter #7 and Little Man and we met Granddad and Grandmother for coffee.  Then to get my allergy shots.  Then to wash and clean out the big van, which hadn't been washed since before vacation - and has since been taken on an overnight backpacking trip by the Coach and four of the kids.  Then to the cleaners and to return a movie...

You get the idea.

When we got home I switched kids (for Daughter #5 and Daughter #6) and headed out to another doctor's appointment while Son #4 mowed the yard.  After the appointment we ran more errands (Birthday coupon from Loft?  Why yes, yes I will.) before coming home and switching kids (again).

Daughter #7 had found something to make on Pinterest and she had a Hobby Lobby gift card, so we headed out with list in hand (and a birthday gift to buy).  Little Man found a project (he is the project MAN) to do, as well.

When we got home, it was time to fix dinner and tackle the laundry that had been going all day from our three days at the farmhouse.  Where we headed after dropping our two off to head to China on Saturday.

After an early dinner, the Coach and Son #4 headed to 7 on 7 football.  Finally I'm sitting down, after a visit with Papa (who came by on a walk), to catch my breath.

A typical Summer day around here isn't restful - even with only five kids.  We never lack for plenty to do.  Or someone to talk to.  Or run errands/watch a movie/play a game with.  But it also means there is lots of help when it's time to make dinner or clean the house or fold laundry.

Someday, as I frequently tell the kids, the Coach and I will spend Summers taking an RV around the country to visit all of them and their families.  

For now, I'm happy to be home base, keep up with the comings and goings, make airport runs, cook meals (and try to adjust recipes for varying numbers of kids), and now and then?  Sit down to write so I don't forget what it's like RIGHT NOW, this moment, today.

Happy Tuesday!

Prayers appreciated for our team in China for the next two weeks.  We miss them, already.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

It's a lose, lose situation...

Parenting is a rough job.  I can honestly say I am continually challenged, defeated, rejoicing, discouraged, laughing and crying.

Often all at the same time.

When your kids fail?  You take responsibility.  (I'm not saying you SHOULD, I'm saying I DO.)  I should have... I wish I'd... if only we'd...

The Coach and I take our God-given responsibility very seriously.  I know it's my job to teach and train, to love and discipline, to make wise decisions.

It's my job.

It's also impossible.  They are each completely different and we are imperfect.  Some days it feels like we fail more often then we get it right.

And when they succeed?  Make wise decisions, work hard, love others, serve without complaining?  We can't take credit for that.  Because it's truly God's work in their hearts.  Not our doing.

So in some ways, it's a lose lose.  You take the responsibility for their mistakes.  You can't take credit for their successes.

The other night, the Coach and I were talking about how having adult kids is a humbling experience.  There is a WHOLE lot of "keeping your mouth shut". You are sometimes holding your breath waiting to see if they'll do what's right.  Or even just what you'd like them to do.

After discussing this, each kid and their various challenges and decisions ahead, we both started laughing.  "Why does anyone even HAVE kids to begin with??"

We were kidding, of course.

Sort of.

Because in spite of the lose lose guarantee, we would do it all over again.

Parenting has taught US so much.  We are different people than we would be without each of them in our family.  I know we've missed the mark as parents at times.  But I'm rather fond of the eight people they are becoming.

I know there are still rough days, ahead.  I can count on it.  Thankfully God's grace will be there, just like it has been in the past.

But today?  

This lose lose situation feels very much like a WIN.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Missing Mr. Postive

The Coach gets home tomorrow night from a week in Haiti with a group of teens from our school.  Our #4 went along, too.  Without my better half I am not even a responsible adult.  We've eaten out most nights, stayed up too late, and spent more money than we should have (although, in my defense, the to do list is looking amazing!).  It's a good thing he'll be home soon.

Last night we started "Confessions of a Shopaholic" at 10 PM.  Yikes.

I figure A) I don't sleep well when he's gone, anyway.  And B) Between camps and parties and jobs and swim lessons I've only had two or three kids here for dinner every night.  Does anyone even bother to cook for two kids? Apparently, I don't.

There are a zillion things I miss about the Coach when he's gone.  But one thing does stand out.

In this house?  He's the one with the positive attitude.

I'm the doom despair and agony on me, overwhelmed, I'll never make it, it won't work (OK, maybe a bit of a drama queen?)...

He just gives me a smile and says, "It'll get done."  "It'll be OK."  "We'll make it."  "We'll do better next time."

Of course he can't guarantee these things.  (See how I'm so positive?)  But somehow hearing it allows me to take a deep breath, quit stressing out (as much) and keep on going.

His football guys gave him this at the end of the season.  On each coach's photo they put what the guys agreed the coach was known for saying.  My Coach didn't so much want his picture for his own desk (ha!), so I stole it for mine.  I looked at it many times before it hit me what exactly it says about him.

He's always sure that the best is yet to come.

I know that sounds silly, but I certainly don't live that way most of the time.  I'm sad the kids are growing up and leaving.  I'm discouraged that my body is aging.  I miss the kids that are gone all of the time.  I struggle to find hope that my family will be restored.  I feel like so much suffering is in vain.

He knows it's not.

Because whatever else the future holds, we can trust our Heavenly Father who holds it all.  No, our kids will not always do what we would like for them to do.  No, our siblings may not follow the Lord.  No, our parents health won't always be restored.  No, we probably won't ever NOT be tired.

But the coach looks forward to what IS to come.  Today?  We have each other.  He tells me over and over again - YES we will miss these goofy kids - but Lord willing we'll have some time to ourselves one day (Woohoo!).  And yes, life will continue to hold sorrow and illness and broken relationships.  But no matter what?  We have secure salvation in the righteous of Christ.

Puts in all in perspective, doesn't it?

So even though I miss his handsome face and his voice saying I love you (he can only text from Haiti) and his telling me to go to bed already and his reminding me I've already used the dining out budget for the next three calendar years and how he jumps in to help with dinner chores and laundry folding and bedtime reading...

Most of all, I miss him telling me that I'm gonna make it.

I spend a lot of time when the Coach travels praying for my sweet friends who are walking through this season of life without their husbands or wives (lots of prayer time when I can't sleep).  I know I can't imagine for a second what that's like.  But I appreciate the reminder to lift them up to the Lord and ask Him to meet their every need in Christ.

Watching them walk through so much heartache, they've taught me something.

Those of us who are in Christ?  We're gonna make it.

And maybe I'm starting to make that my own, even without the Coach here to tell me.

"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."

Happy Tuesday/almost Wednesday Dear Ones.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Because Mother's Day...

Not my favorite.

Don't get me wrong.  I love my mother.  I'm extremely grateful for her.  For her unconditional love.  For her love for the Lord.  For her commitment to truth.  For her meticulous record keeping.  (Ha!)  She's truly a fabulous grandmother - who not only loves her grand kids but pours her prayers and life out for them.

But when I read all of the sweet mother's day sentiments, something in me cringes.  Maybe I'm just uncomfortable with the attention it brings to me as a mom?  Maybe I just see myself more realistically?

Either way, I thought a list was in order.

I've been a list maker all of my life.  I have my calendar, to-do list, and grocery list on my phone.  But when I get really overwhelmed? I grab paper and pen and write it all out.  I make lists for the day, the week, my kids (some of them aren't too fond of lists - go figure!), the house.

On the other hand, I really HATE those lists you see on Facebook all of the time.  10 things not to say to someone who. . . 12 things never to do. . . 8 things never to eat. . .


As if life isn't stressful enough, I'm supposed to remember all of that?  How about giving me some grace?  I may say or do the wrong thing.  OK.  I probably will.  But it's not malicious.  I'm just tired.  And if you say the "wrong" thing to me?  I'll give you grace, as well.  Deal?

But this list is different.  No guilt here.  Just (hopefully) a laugh and a deep exhale if you're anything like me and feeling the pressure of being that perfect mom.

11 Things My Kids Will Never Say About Their Mother

1.  She is so patient.
(They probably won't remember that I have grown in my ability to be patient.  I guess they can discuss that with Son #1, poor guy.)

2.  She doesn't lose her temper with me.
(See #1.)

3.  She responds so graciously when I make stupid mistakes.
(I'm learning.  Beginning to understand that they need to be able to tell me anything and know that I won't lose it.  But I'm still losing it inside, just FYI.)

4.  I see her read her Bible every day.
(Oh wow.  Just wow.  I read these stories about moms who do this.  I'm not sure how?  I love my Daily Audio Bible, but the consistency in quiet times award goes to my Coach.  I'm OK with that.)

5.  She makes Sunday lunch for us every week.
(They WANT me to.  But I probably get this done once a month.  The other Sundays get leftovers or the Coach makes pancakes.  It is what it is.)

6.  She and my dad don't ever disagree in front of us.
(I hope I'm always respectful, but we LIVE life here.  Our kids see it.  I LOVE my Coach, but we have the freedom to disagree, which I appreciate so much.)

7.  She never says bad words.
(You know this is a problem when your 8 year old hurts himself and says, "Oh Crap!"  I'm not proud of this, just being honest.)

8.  She is disciplined in every area of her life.
(I do some things very consistently.  Workout.  Run.  But those cookies get me every time.  Sigh.)

9.  She keeps our house perfectly clean.
(You know. . . on second thought. . . they might actually say this.  But their definition of "perfectly clean"?  Lacking.)

10.  She doesn't mind when our rooms are messy.
(See #9.  Yikes.  Even though I've let a LOT go over the last 20 years, this one still stumps me.  HOW HARD IS IT?? See #2.)

11.  She is always cheerful and encouraging.
(Some days there just isn't enough coffee.  And I'm sorry, but if you are upset that you got a 98 instead of a 100 on your English test, you don't need to be encouraged, you're just goofy.)

So there you go.  A guilt-free Mother's Day courtesy of Mrs. Troop.  Pretty sure no matter what your short-comings, you are doing better than I am.  And I'm OK with that.

I'm learning that being authentic and living out my faith WITH my Coach and my kids. . . being honest about my failures, being quick to ask forgiveness, loving the amazing people that my troops are, and trusting that God is faithful in spite of it all. . .

Well.  That's what I really hope they'll say about me.


Today?  I just want them to clean their rooms.

Happy Mother's Day to all of the dear Mommas in my life.  Each of you bless me.  I learn from you, laugh with you, and share life with so many of you and my life is richer because of it.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Little Indulgence

Last night I really wanted to write about our weekend, but one kid needed a hair cut, one needed their pioneer costume ironed so it could go back to school, two needed checks written for the senior Boston trip and the Sophomore retreat next week, Little Man had to read, and honestly I was just so tired.

Son #1 came home for a visit this weekend.  It was kind of a last minute decision on our part.  He will miss Daughter #2's graduation later this month so we wanted him to be here for some part of this celebration.  Baccalaureate was yesterday.  I'm so glad he could be here.  We've missed him horribly.  He will finish up at Impact 360, have his commissioning service next week, and head to Colorado to be a wrangler this Summer.

So indulge me for just a few minutes this morning.  The laundry needs folded, the house needs to be gotten order, and after this morning's bootcamp, I need a shower!  Ha!  But I'll get to that in a bit.  Sometimes I worry that these days are passing - so full and so busy - that we are missing out in really enjoying them.

But the truth is. . . we ARE enjoying these days.  Loving every bit of them.  Having all eight kids here this weekend was DIVINE.  My heart feels all settled and peaceful with them here.  Even if I'm exhausted.

On Thursday, Daughter (#6) and I got back from 9 days in Williamsburg, Washington DC, and Philadelphia.  Such an amazing, learning, fun, non-stop trip.  It was my third time to go with our girls and Grandmother got to go with us.  We had a wonderful time.  The troops missed me, but they did just great.  It's always good to know that my kids CAN take care of themselves, even though I still really enjoy spoiling them.

I've thought a lot, lately, about some of the most impactful, helpful lessons I've been taught over the years.  Things like:

You have either just come through a trial, you are in a trial, or a trial is coming.  It's part of the Christian life. (BSF leader, Jodi)

That in spite of my failures, God did NOT make a mistake in giving me these kids OR in giving them ME for their mom.  (sister-in-law)

And lately the most helpful has been:

That the fact that we are busy, tired, and constantly stretched beyond what we think we can bear does NOT mean we are doing something wrong.

We are struggling against our own weaknesses, our extremely varying personalities, the constant change and growth that occurs not only in kids, but in us as well, and honestly just the exhaustion of life.

I suppose we could just all stay home and not be involved in activities, sports, friends' lives, church, jobs, and school.  But the truth is, my job is to raise these kids up so I can send them out.  I want them to be fully equipped - as much as possible - for whatever the Lord calls them to do in their lives.  To value learning to work HARD, serve others, and love God.  Which means not just keeping them home with us all of the time.  Especially as they get older.

Maybe, by God's grace, we are having some success.  But we are also failing.  Every day.  And it's God's grace that sustains us.  Our kids are learning to depend on the Lord for themselves.  To trust Him.  To seek Him.

Lessons I'm still learning, myself.

So if you woke up today, facing trials that seem insurmountable...  be reminded today that God's grace in your life not only covers your own weakness, but His glory is actually magnified in your weakness.  How amazing is that??

Join me in resting in that truth.  Trusting.  Breathing it in.  And pouring it out to my people.  How I love them.

Happy Monday.