Sunday, October 30, 2016

Beginning Again

Today was not a fall-asleep-on-the-couch-while-watching-a-hallmark-movie-nap kind of day.


It was a put-my-jammies-back-on-and-crawl-into-the-unmade-bed-nap kind of day.

The Coach and I finished week ONE of marathon training this morning.

Yes, you can laugh.

I realize week one isn't anything to write about.  It just struck me as extremely funny.  I asked the Coach to find the longest beginning training plan and add a month.  So now we've worked our way up to actually being ON the planned runs.

So coming in from our eight miles this morning as the sun was rising, he turned to me and said... I'm SO tired.

Week one.

Already done.

Except we're not.  Tired is the normal around here.  We'll keep on keeping on and pray and hope that my shins hold out (and don't turn to stress fractures - I've had three) and his knee doesn't give up (like it did in our last half-marathon - my 5th).

Old.  We're old.  And did I mention tired?

Maybe we did pick one of the busiest seasons of life to attempt this feat.  But there's always a 6th grade DC trip or an injury or LIFE and here we are with 2 college kids and 3 high-school kids and 1 Jr high kid and 2 elementary kids...

Beginning again.

I will run and stretch and ice and ibuprofen.  And maybe we'll make it to that marathon in February.

Maybe we won't.

But I'll keep trying.

One of these days we're going to do it.  Maybe this time will be it.

Happy RESTful Sunday.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

For my tired mama friends...

I hear you.  I hear you yawn, pour another cup of coffee, give yourself a pep talk.

I see you falling asleep while listening to your little one tell you one more time that he can't sleep.  Or that he's scared.  Or that the big kids keep turning lights off or music on or slamming doors.

I know you're discouraged.  Wondering why it's so hard and what would make it less exhausting and why can't it all just be easier?  For one day?

I watch you sigh when someone needs one. more. thing. for that project or the shoes are too small or the pants are too short and you can't imagine buying, spending, shopping.  Not to mention the budget that is always and forever stretched too thin.

This is tough stuff.  It's a lot of work... and when you mix in the pressures from every other area of life it can be more than daunting... seem impossible, even.

You mommas with little ones think if they'll just grow up a bit, be more independent, be able to go potty or tie their shoes or clean up without help... maybe you can catch your breath.

But then they are teens who are driving (so much for breathing), playing sports (and getting hurt), out with friends (good friends? good places? doing good things??) and not coming home before you fall asleep.  And do you let them?  Or say no?  Do they need to learn the hard way OR be protected?  Or both?

Then college students who you don't see for weeks.  My kids haven't even given me anything to worry about and I still do.  I can't help it.  Even if they are doing exactly what I'd want them to, there are OTHER people out there who aren't.  See what I mean?

I hear you.  I see you.  I know.

Can I just tell you something?

You're doing a great job.

Not a perfect job, of course.  You aren't Jesus.  And can I be honest?  I wonder how Jesus would have handled a houseful of kids.  Then I remember he parents ME and that makes it easier to imagine.

But if you're worn out and working hard and praying hard and loving your family?  You're doing a great job.

You can be a perfect momma and lose your kids.  We've all seen it.  You can fail every day and have kids who grow up to love God and love you and love others.  I've see that, too.

Parenting doesn't have guarantees.  But today?  I'm telling you, tired exhausted overwhelmed unsure momma...

You're gonna make it.  And so am I.

Now for another pot of coffee.

Psalm 27:14  Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Life as mom...

Last night we had a home football game (and homecoming) with our two varsity football guys and their handsome dad and coach.

There was also a Ben Rector concert - 3 miles from our house.  And you know I LOVE some Ben Rector.

When the concert schedule came out months ago, I saw that the date here was a Friday night and I moved on.  Fall Friday nights are for football at the troops.  It's been that way for 22 years and I don't see it changing anytime soon.

Daughter (#2) went with a nephew and good friend.  They said it was amazing.  I'm sure it was.

But we have choices, don't we?  When we marry we choose that one person forever.  When we have kids, they come before concerts and free time and sleep.

Someone asked me this week what parenting book I'd recommend for parenting a two year old.  I said just take a deep breath, drink another cup of coffee... and they'll be four and your won't need the book anymore.

I'm only half kidding.

Not that I haven't read some helpful books over the last 21 years.  I have.  But when I think about recommending them I hesitate.

No book will know your strengths and weaknesses as a parent.  No book will know the personality of your child.  Or the strengths and weaknesses of your spouse's parenting.  Or what will motivate, encourage or challenge your child.

Because all of us as parents, spouses, children... we're all completely different.  We may have similarities that give us something to talk about with other moms in Starbucks, which is great!  But the truth?  I'm a different mom than you are.  I just will be.

And maybe after all of these years?  I'm ok with that.  Or closer to OK with that.

What I CAN count on?  God's Word.  To direct, to guide, to give us wisdom.  Prayer.  To focus my heart on the Lord and His truth.  The Coach.  To balance, listen, and give another perspective.

And the older I get?  The more I believe that I'm not a mistake.  I MAKE mistakes, but I'm the mom my kids need.  God gave them to me and He didn't do it by accident.  He made me their mom.  I won't do everything right (anything right?) but God, in his beautiful sovereignty put these troops in this family with the Coach and I as their momma and daddy.  For His glory.

Not mine.

Not so I can train perfectly behaved kids, or have other people think we've got it figured out, or take credit for what they do well.  I give my Coach the credit for that  - ha!

But so God can receive glory from this imperfect mom and imperfect dad raising a whole crew of kids and trusting Him in the process regardless of where it takes us.

And giving up a Ben Rector concert to watch my boys play some ball?  Not a bad trade off.  Especially that 61 yard touchdown pass that Son (#4) caught with one hand.  No concert will ever top that.

Think Ben Rector will still be touring when Little Man's in college?

Happy Saturday.

*My filter won't let me attach the "Forever Like That" Ben Rector video.  So go look it up.  Good stuff.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Learn from it. Or at least be grateful.

I feel like I've slowly crawled out from under a very dark, very deep, very uncomfortable hole in the ground.  A respiratory infection, bronchial misery, fever and coughing fits. . . hole.

It all started two weeks ago on Friday before the football game.  My throat felt itchy, my voice started to go.  I didn't feel sick, but something was definitely off.  Allergies, I thought.  For sure. Because. . . Oklahoma.  And maybe God didn't want me to be able to yell at the football game anyway, right?

I don't know when it clicked that I was sick.  I was SO tired after the football game.  So.  Tired.  But I had been unusually tired lately.  And why not?

Maybe during the night?  I'm not sure exactly when, but I went from "I don't feel so hot" to "I'm dying" in about an hour.  Haven't been that sick and miserable in years.  Spent all day Saturday in bed sleeping.  Then I couldn't breathe anymore so I couldn't sleep Saturday night and most of Sunday.  Tossing and turning and coughing and wheezing and wondering what would happen if I did actually stop breathing.  Would I be able to wake the Coach?  He's a pretty sound sleeper.

Thanks to our wonderful doctor and some meds on Sunday night, I perked up enough by Monday (holiday, of course) to get sort of ready for the school week.  Even managed a little bit of a walk on Tuesday after the kids left for school.

But something about volleyball and road trips to Tulsa and another football game and just. so. tired.

13 days later I'm finally feeling somewhat back to normal.

I think the lesson here is that when you are completely and totally worn out?  Even the smallest little thing can knock you flat.

And maybe another lesson is that running with my Coach at 5am isn't for me.  I don't know how he does it.

And one more?  Turns out you can't go and go and go and not suffer the consequences.

I've been taking it easier this week.  Resting more.  Running around less.  Not running at all (workout wise).  I'll pay for it at some point.  The list is long and getting longer.

Maybe the greatest lesson of all?  I don't have this whole thing figured out.  This mom/eight kids/college/senior/high school/junior high/grade school/football/volleyball/wife/homemaker thing.  It's a lot.  And "balance" (whatever that is) is illusive.   Even when I have the best Coach and great kids and the most wonderful family and everyone is doing well.

But on the bright side?  While I was sick?  The Coach and the kids handled the house, the yard work, the extra lawns, the hosting family at the farm for the holiday, the laundry, meals, schoolwork. . .

And they did it all beautifully.

So maybe it's not so bad, after all.  Now that I can breathe.

Happy Wednesday.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Week Three and Counting

I've been looking forward to this day for weeks.  The first day I've had without constant appointments and things to rush to from dawn to dusk.  So nice.

I set it aside in my head way back then as the first chance I'd have to catch up around here.  In the blogging sense.  Because the laundry and the blogging can't both be priorities, you know.

We got Sister moved back to school - new dorm, new room, happy as can be.  Sophomore year of college here we come! I'm so very grateful for her sweet friends who take such good care of her when I can't.  For her love for her studies.  For her heart.

Then the next day, school for the rest of the troops.  Senior, Sophomore, Freshman, 8th, 6th, 3rd.  I'm not sure how that's even possible.  Little Man in THIRD grade?  Whew!

A sweet friend gave me this mug at our first scrimmage.  So much love for this!  Although you know what?  After 22 years, the Coach and I are learning how to navigate this time of the year SO much better.  Well, HE is really the one who gets the credit.  Not just date nights, but early morning runs, driving to events, we enjoy every moment we have together.

Son #1 got home from his wrangler job at the ranch weekend before last.  He spent one day visiting with family and one day running errands and packing.  Then off to his Junior year of college.  (Isn't he handsome?)  He hasn't really been home for any length of time since he left two years ago.  I miss him.  When we DO have time together?  I'm amazed at what a wonderful young man he is.   Please don't remind me he'll be 21 this Fall.  

The Coach and I went down with him and helped move him back in to his dorm.  We got to visit and have lunch and SWEAT - because Texas.  So hot.  Then the Coach and I were headed back home the same day - too much going on at home to stay overnight.  

Somewhat of a gift, actually.  Both the time with our boy AND time for the Coach and I.  Except about an hour and a half from home, the transmission went out in our car.  So there we were, stranded on the side of the road, out in the middle of nowhere, at night.

Let's just say, I've never laughed more.  I'm pretty sure the laughter from that night has carried us through this last week or so and all that we've had going on.  Can't believe in 22 years we've never had car trouble on a trip!

And the Coach? Well, he's quite the guy.  Fits in just about anywhere.  Ha!  You know you are married to the best guy ever when being stranded with car trouble for three hours ends up being hilarious.

So, with both big kids settled back at their schools, and the troops in their second week of school here, we set out to start football season.  First with a mom's night, getting to hear from the coaches and learning my boys positions.  We even got to run the ball and catch a few passes.  So fun!

The season opener was last Friday.  First touchdown of the season?  Son (#3).  Second touchdown of the season?  Son (#4).  That's what I'm talking about!!

This week may be a little big tougher.  But we'll be there cheering them on, anyway.  These years, these kids, these seasons, all going so quickly.  I love it all.

Wednesday we celebrated Son's (#3) 18th birthday.  I just can't seem to be able to slow it all down.  Sigh.   If I try to describe what this boy means to me (just like the other 7 - ha!), I get all choked up.  How do I even begin?  Every single one of them have my heart.

You know, life is super busy, super exhausting, and super wonderful.  In spite of the chaos, I wouldn't trade it for the world.  How I love my people.  Our family.  Our school.  

My very tired self has a heart that is overflowing with gratitude.  Thank you, Jesus, for these gifts.

Happy Friday!  GO BIG BLUE!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Another year. Another football season.

I woke up in a panic, yesterday.  Mind flooded with lists and calendars and ALL OF THE THINGS that need to be done before the 18th.  Getting six kids back to school is not for the faint of heart.  

But then I remembered the one year we had all eight troops in school together.  Senior (playing football), Junior (playing volleyball), Freshman (with a season ending ACL injury the last scrimmage before regular season football),  7th grader (playing Jr. High football), 6th grader, 5th grader, 3rd grader, and Little Man starting in Kindergarten.

What. A. Year.

So maybe moving two back to college (at two different schools) and having the other six start school - all in six days - won't be so bad.


Last night we went to the parent volleyball dinner with Daughter (#5).  She's a freshman.  I'm not sure how that's possible.  It's seems like we just started this journey with our first girl and she's now a Sophomore in college.

Football season officially starts with practice on Monday.  The boys have been working out all Summer and the Coach has temporarily moved the whiteboard to the dining room to draw plays.  At our house, we do many other things... but football is where it's at.

I love the game.  I love my Coach.  I loved watching Son (#1) play and I love watching Sons (#3 and #4) play, together.  There is nothing like it.

After 21 years (is this our 22nd football season together?), I have learned to love something that means a great deal to my husband.  Not just the sport, but the opportunity to influence and invest in the lives of young men.  To use the game of football to teach love for the Lord, character, toughness, life skills, sportsmanship, how to lose well, how to win with grace, how to be a man.  Our world needs Godly, strong, determined, men of character more than ever before.

I've written about it before so I won't do that, again.

But there's also a part of me that has to psych myself up for it.  As much as we love it, as much as we enjoy it, believe in it, appreciate the lessons and the relationships and memories...

It's tough.

It's a lot of long school days and late Friday nights and early Saturday mornings.
It's a lot of long drives to little Oklahoma towns by myself with all of the younger kids and their friends (which I LOVE, by the way).
It's a lot of frustration, soreness, and exhaustion for my boys.
It's a tremendous amount of work for the Coach and his colleagues.

I don't mind taking care of things, chauffeuring the kids, and handling volleyball season with the girls all by myself.  It's what we do.

Because for these few months, the Coach is all about the game.

As he should be.

When it's over?  We will both be ready... and sad.  Each year it goes faster and faster.  After coaching so many other young men over the years, the Coach and I are watching our own Crusaders grow up right before our eyes.  The amazing years of high school sports are such a tiny little part of life and we treasure them. We enjoy it all and are so grateful for the experience.

So I'm grateful for seasons.  This one especially.

And don't worry.  When it's time to cheer on my boys?  I'll be ready.  Maybe I'll go read that post again, just to make sure.

The school supplies might be another issue all together.  Ha!

Go Big Blue!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Random Sunday Thoughts

The saddest part about Summer winding down?  Losing our lazy Sunday nights.  Summer Sunday nights are the best. School Sunday nights?  Not so much.  Like that project you were supposed to start on Friday and do something every day all weekend, except there was a football game on Friday night and volleyball all day Saturday and church on Sunday morning so RIGHT NOW it all must be done before you go to bed!  You can tell how much I'm looking forward to it, right?


Yesterday we had one of our last free Saturdays before schools starts.  Or I should say before footballs starts.  When I say goodbye to my men for months.  (Kidding.  Sort of.)

The Coach and I took an earlyish run.  Because early to him is 5:30 and early to me is 7:00.  I've given up on being a morning person.  Pretty sure he hasn't give up on making me one (bless him).   As we neared home, a thunderstorm was rolling by to the north.  Then we sat on the porch and drank our coffee and talked.  For over an hour.  We realized we didn't have too much on the agenda for the day (hence the porch sitting), so I assigned jobs to all of the kids and we took my dad to the noon movie.  So nice.


There were days when the kids were little that I was sure they'd never be independent.  I'd take 10 times longer to get a job done so they could be by my side learning along with me - on a good day.  On a bad day I'd do it all by myself while they napped or watched a video.  Remember Bear in the Big Blue House?  "Mmmmm.  You smell like... Honey."  Loved that.  Then I started assigning them jobs only to have to go give them step by step instructions, follow up after, and send them back to do it all again more thoroughly.

But I'm telling you.  The day will come.  When they will be SUCH a help to you.  And since you don't have to do all of the work (or spend 10 times longer doing it with them hanging on your leg or messing it up as you go)?  You'll have time to play games and watch movies and do puzzles and cook and bake WITH them.

Trust me.  Stick with it.  Take deep breaths and keep teaching and training and laughing at the frustration of it all.  So worth it.


We get obsessed with games at the troops.  They play the SAME thing for weeks.  And weeks.  Until I think I might lose my mind.  Then they switch to something else and play that for weeks.  It's odd and funny and maddening.

This Summer started with Volley/Tennis/Roof Ball.  Hitting volleyballs off the roof with tennis racquets.  Oh.  And you have to say a random word when you hit the ball.  Made up games might be their specialty.

It continued with croquet.  Hours and hours of croquet in the front yard.  They googled the rules and played all around our sloped, tree-filled front yard.  They even added a rule that everyone not hitting the ball had to stand on the sidewalk so as not to interfere.  Which created a cheering, jeering gallery that was far more entertaining than the game itself.  The neighbors must think we are nuts.

Then the extreme heat arrived and they moved inside to the A/C and Rumikub.  Always a favorite, but for several weeks an obsession.  Everyone trying to beat daughter (#7) who was blessed by God almighty with her daddy's math brain.  I actually beat her twice.  The whole Summer.  I'm so proud.

Currently?  They are playing indoor volleyball on their knees in the living room with a huge pink rubber ball and throw pillows for the middle line.  We've moved the candles, vases, and picture frames because it is obviously somewhat hazardous.  But also hilarious.

I'll miss all of this when we have games every night of the week.  But that has it joys, as well.


I've cut the boys' and the Coach's hair for years.  I was fortunate to start before they cared what it looked like (buzz cuts for everyone!) and gradually I've learned enough (with some lessons from my mother-in-law and my dad) to do a respectable job on five different heads of very different hair who all want it cut different ways.

But it's not my favorite chore.  At all.  So much pressure.  And itchiness.

So today, when the boys said they were paying to go to the walk in place and get their hair cut and giving me the day off?  I rejoiced.

These guys have my heart.

And I got a nap.


Last week the Coach and I sat down and talked about how we had gotten a bit lazy with each other.  My Coach is a such good man.  I know I say that a lot and if you know him you know it's true. But life with a houseful of teens just gets busy.  We were getting everything done.  But like ships passing in the night.  We'd quit doing a lot of the thoughtful things that make life with each other FUN.  We'd go days only texting "Are you bringing the kids home or do I need to come get them?" and "What's for dinner?" which was always a kid using the Coach's phone and not the actually the Coach.

We've been apart more than usual this Summer. It did give us a new appreciation for each other, but it also made us both more comfortable than usual doing things on our own.  When he's gone (and often without any communication) on a mission trip, I'm in charge.  When he's on a mission trip, I'm not experiencing what he's going through.  It gets to be a habit and then all of a sudden you're both acting independently instead of communicating and making decisions together.

Thankfully, we both realized it.  Talked about it.  Have been working harder at getting back to paying more attention to each other.  Texting "I love you." and "I'm grateful for you." and "Thanks for unloading the dishwasher before you left this morning."  Can I just say?  Makes life really good.  Somehow when we treat each other as if we like each other?  We remember how very much we do.  He's still my favorite after these 21 something years.


Right now, as I'm headed to bed, Daughter (#2) is somewhere over the water, flying from Dubai to Dallas on her way home from two weeks in Kenya.  She's shared the gospel and held beautiful babies and watched the elephants at the watering hole.  I can NOT wait to hear all about it.  After she sleeps for two days.  Ha!

Which brings me back to these crazy kids. Parenting is the hardest job there is.  There are days I'm fairly certain I won't survive and the only reason I keep going is because I'm blessed to have a community of family who HAS.  Survived, that is.  It gives me hope on the days when I'm sure I've failed completely.

But how very grateful I am to be their momma.  To watch them grow and learn and serve others and become these amazing people that I love so dearly.

So grateful.

Keep trusting your people to their loving Heavenly Father and take deep breaths and go to bed earlier and leave the dishes for the kids to do at 10:00 pm.

It's the best.

Happy Summer Sunday!

Phil. 1:6 "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

Friday, July 22, 2016

Adjusting Expectations

I slept in AND ran yesterday.  Which means I ran at 8:30 when it was already a billion degrees outside.  With the humidity, I'm sure the heat index was a billion ten.  At least.

But I got out there, anyway.

I hadn't run in 12 days.  After almost 8 years of running consistently, I rarely miss more than one run.  Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday.  Every week.  Every month.  All year.  The only decision to be made is whether it's going to be Saturday or Sunday this weekend.

The time off was unplanned and - in my thinking - un-needed. I've just been a slacker.  A tired, Summer-mom slacker.

Finally sucked it up yesterday and got out there.  It wasn't horrible.

The whole thing has made me think...

Sometimes you need to rest.  I need to rest.  Even when there isn't a "good" reason.  I'm so grateful that the Lord knows this.  Often it takes a super busy schedule or a sick little one or a husband going on an unexpected trip to get me out of my routine and cause me to REST.

My expectations of what I can do, the pace I can keep, the amount I can get done each week?  Sometimes I need to adjust them.

Allow for Summer.  For naps.  For rest.  Take a day off from running (figuratively or literally or both).  Or 12.

During the school year I find myself saying, "THIS Summer we are going to get to that closet/cabinet/room/project.  THIS will be the year!  Organize the things!  Clean out the stuff!"

Then Summer comes and I hear myself saying, "THIS Fall when the kids are back in school I am going to get to that closet/cabinet/room/project!  THIS will be the year..."

Sound familiar?

Every now and then we get something extra done.  The list gets a little shorter before it gets longer again.  It works.  It's ok.  We are getting ENOUGH done and learning so much together in the process.

The house doesn't have to be clean all of the time.  In spite of my expectation for it to be so.  We can watch a movie in the evening.  Even if there is unfolded laundry.  We can have pancakes for dinner and leave the dishes for morning.

It's OK.

What I want more than anything is to hear and obey the indwelling Holy Spirit each moment - whether that means deep cleaning the house or sitting and playing "Kube of Rum" with my kids.  There is a time for both.  And these days are passing so quickly.  So very quickly.

I don't want to let my own expectations of myself or others be my master.

Yesterday I sat down on the Coach's laptop to write this post and realized that his filter didn't allow him to access blogs.  Any blogs.

Think about that for a minute.

So now I'm letting go of the expectation that the Coach reads anything I write.

(Are you laughing, yet?)

How I love him.

(And he had those pancake/dinner dishes done before I left for workouts this morning.  He's a good man.)

I think I'll just go back to Colorado where it's cool.  Sigh.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Some Kind of Irony

I'm not talking about the opposite of wrinkly.  I'm all for wrinkly - which is why my kids iron their own clothes.

Monday evening - after being up since 3:30 AM - I told the Coach, "This Summer is killing me.  I'm exhausted.  Overwhelmed.  Getting nothing done.  And SO TIRED."

As usual he just laughed.  Which I tell myself isn't out of lack of compassion (?), but because he finds me amusing.  Which keeps things interesting.  I hope.

Once again he said, "We're not going to be anything but busy.  Eight kids, remember?"

He says this to me a lot.  As if I might forget that we have eight kids.


Sometimes I am a tad bit forgetful.

Can I just say?  Adult kids are mentally exhausting for several reasons (that I've discovered thus far).

First, they aren't physically WITH you all of the time.  I know, I know, you're thinking "YAY FOR PEACE AND QUIET" which of course, is lovely.  But when they aren't with you, you're still thinking about them, praying for them, worrying about them, wondering how they are, and trying very much to speak into their lives in some sort of regular fashion. Which honestly, is somewhat tricky when you ALSO still have six kids at home - in various stages - that are around every day.  And since they aren't WITH you?  You can't just look at them and see that they are or aren't OK.  You can't look into their eyes.

(A side note?  Just when they become these amazing adult people that you LOVE to be with, admire, and enjoy tremendously?  They leave.  It stinks.)

Secondly, there is the supposed gradual change from your control to their control.  Natural, needed, appropriate.  Also hard.  Because you are constantly debating whether or not to address things in their lives.  Sometimes you should.  Sometimes you should keep your mouth shut.  It's challenging. And I'm not so good at the keeping your mouth shut part.

All to say, I know we only have six kids living at home full-time.  It's less laundry, less food, fewer people and fewer activities.  Sort of.

But mentally there are still eight.  Always eight.  Well, until there are MORE than eight.  But I'll think about that another day.

No, I don't have toys all over the floor, highchairs to clean, baths to give, or diapers to change.  Thankful for that.  I don't miss it.  But these grown people are still MY people.  Figuring out these new roles, relationships, and communication is work.  Different work, but still work.

Back to the irony.

After telling the Coach how tired I was?  I had a full night of teens who couldn't sleep and needed to talk, and - unfortunately - a Little Man who was hit with a violent stomach bug in the night requiring LOTS of cleaning, laundry, a shower, and sleeping by him on the floor.  And Febreeze.  So thankful for Febreeze.

Last night?  A full eight hours of sleep.  Pretty sure I heard the angels singing when I woke.  And thankfully... a clean house.  Because nothing motivates me to clean and sanitize like the threat of the vomit monster catching another kid.  Yikes.

I could easily think that we were jinxed by the fact that I told someone the other day that we hadn't had the stomach flu in AGES.  Then I told the Coach I was unusually tired.  Just don't.

But the truth is, it's just part of life.  God is still in control (in spite of the current political scene) and He loves us.  He gave the grace and strength for today.  And He'll be faithful tomorrow, as well.

That's the comfort in it all.  Not that it will be easy, He doesn't promise us that.  But that He'll be with us.  Even when I'm cleaning up vomit at 1:00 AM.  

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor 12:9

So thankful.  

Prayers appreciated for Daughter (#2) and my mom who arrived safely in Kitale, Kenya this morning.  I'm slightly panicked about how FAR AWAY they are after 45 hours of traveling (you'd think after sending kids to Africa six times it would get easier - it doesn't).  But also excited to hear about what God is doing in that part of the world.  Thanks for praying with us!

Happy Wednesday!  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer 2016 Update

Time for blogging has been overtaken by early workouts and post-workout naps and bacon and egg breakfasts at 11:00 and Psych marathons on Netflix and packing and unpacking and laundry and SO MUCH dropping kids off and picking kids up...

There is about a month of Summer left.  Between workouts and camps and VBS and vacation and mission trips, we haven't had much time to catch our breath.

OH so much to be grateful for.

Son (#1) is settled in at the ranch.  And loving it.  Maybe a little too much.

We were so thankful to have him home for a friend's wedding in June!  I have such handsome men, don't you think?

The Coach and Son (#3) had a great trip to Honduras.  They worked in a small school on the island of Roatan doing tutoring and VBS.

We had a FABULOUS vacation week together in Breckenridge.  Granddad's amazing breakfasts, mountain morning runs, family hikes, puzzles, jeep tours, and even 24 hours with our oldest boy.  Glorious.

Driving back from Colorado, we found out that Son's (#4) Leadertreks trip to Montana was lacking a male sponsor.  So instead of just getting him ready to go?  We had 24 hours to get him AND the Coach ready for 7 days of backpacking in the Big Horn National Forest.  Whew.  They headed out early the next morning and after 8 days... the Coach flew home and left his brother to handle week 2 of the trip.

Last week we sent Son (#3) off to Impact 360 Immersion in Georgia.  He's doing great!  One more week to go.

Last night we got Son (#4) back safe and sound.

This morning we sent Daughter (#2) off to Kenya for two weeks with Grandmother and Reaching Souls International missions.

And our little freshman, Daughter (#5), headed off to her first high school volleyball team camp this morning, as well.

We've made it through ALL of the goodbyes.  All that's left is welcoming everyone back home.

A couple of quieter weeks with just volleyball and football practice and then we'll be getting everyone ready to go back to college and school for the Fall.

So much grace.

And since I've been up since 3:30 AM... so much tired.

(Isn't this shirt that sent me for my birthday the best?!?)

One of these days?  The Coach and I will actually have a chance to talk about this Summer.  It's been a doozy so far.  Continuing to pray for wisdom and discernment and sometimes it just comes out, "Help, Lord."  He hears.  He knows.  He's so faithful.

Happy Monday!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Overwhelmed but Unshakable

(Written two weeks ago...)

Parenting isn't for the faint of heart. I tell myself that frequently when I am pushed to the end of my strength over and over again.

By a messy grown-up boy whose stuff trips me every time I walk into the room.

By a broken-hearted daughter who needs more time to talk.

By the middles who constantly take my phone and put it places where I can't find it.  (Just a hint, my FB is their FB.  They LOVE seeing all of my friend's posts.  Now you know.)

By Little Man's never ending one-more-question-mom-just-one-more-thing.

By the never-ending activities, games, uniforms, laundry, food to be fixed and dishes to be done, dorm room stuff to be sorted, FULL calendars, to-do lists that have to be added to constantly, and the exhaustion that seems to find new depths every single day.

I won't lie - I'm overwhelmed with it all.

Then, I walk by the playroom at 10:30 on a Sunday night, when the Coach has gone to bed and the younger kids have, too.  When I've been working on lists for the week and digging out from the email.  After I went to the store so I could make dinner, then cut three heads of hair, before another three loads of laundry.

And there my three oldest sit watching Aladdin.  Together.  Laughing because none of them have ever seen it.

Can I just tell you?  I may be overwhelmed.  But my heart is full.  These people, MY people, are my favorites.  For all of the exhaustion and busyness and things that must be done...

This is the best life.  Truly.

Because when Son (#1) leaves for his summer job in Colorado this week?  We'll all MISS him.  And stalk Instagram for pictures of him.
When the Coach and Son (#3) leave for Honduras to work at a mission there after school gets out?  I'll cry because they will take my heart with them.
When Son (#4) leaves for Montana on a leadership/missions trip?  It will leave a big giant HOLE in our troops.
When Son (#3) leaves for Impact 360 Immersion in Atlanta?  I'll be sad because when he's gone it's just not the same.
When Daughter (#2) leaves for Africa with Reaching Souls International?  I'll MISS her.  So much.

My hope is in the undeserved grace of our loving Lord, not in getting it all right.  And that's enough.

And yes, the boys do stand on their toes to try to be taller than each other.  Never a dull moment.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Can I confess something?

I'm hiding.

Turns out the only non-messy and somewhat quiet place in my house is my Daughter's (#5) room.  Which was Daughter's (#2) for the longest time, but has been occupied by the second girl in the family since college began in the Fall for our oldest girl.

I'm not hiding because I'm trying to avoid my family.  They've been sweet and kind today.  Flowers from the Coach, gifts and cards from the troops.  Church with all eight of my kids (so rare).  Brunch with my mom and mom-in-law, courtesy of my Dad's famous pancakes.

But the house?  I have no words.  Son's (#1) stuff from college that's being sorted for storage until next Fall and another Summer at the ranch.  Daughter's (#2) stuff she's started bringing home - she'll be back for good in another week. Laundry.  So much laundry.  I've just decided not to fold it, today.

And my email?  Fast approaching 100 unread messages.  Yikes.  Not the time of year to avoid that, for sure.  Both email and calendar desperately needed attention.  So here I sit.

The Coach ordered me a new silverware rack for our dishwasher for mother's day.  He's ever practical - and honestly, having to place the silverware strategically to avoid all of the broken places IS super annoying.  He knows it's been driving me crazy.  He has so many amazing qualities that I adore - I couldn't ask for someone more perfect for me.

We had a lovely date night last night (it had been SO long) with coffee after.  Which followed Captain America Civil War with all of the kids in the afternoon.  Which followed flower shopping for the yard.  Which followed a 6 mile run and breakfast together.

It's just unglamorous life here.  Every day life with girls arguing over which dress they were going to wear first or little man making his own pine cone bird feeders all over the dining room table, or someone deciding to make a blue funfetti cake (because we had the mix?) at 4:30 in the afternoon.  Smells like it burned.

It's messy.  I admit at times I wish for something more... well... less messy.

You hope, as a mom, that you have taught (are teaching?) you kids to serve others, to think of others, to be kind and lay aside their own comfort or convenience to help someone else.  I'm not so sure that today's picture of my success at that is a pretty one. I love my troops, but we'd have to dig them out of this house if no one made them help put things away and wash dishes and fold laundry.

For now?  I'm going to leave it all until tomorrow.

I'm going to remember that just as the Lord isn't done with me yet (Whew!), I'm not done with my troops, either.  Neither is their Heavenly Father, who loves them way more than I ever could and has given them the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to transform their hearts - something no amount of mothering could ever do.  That's my greatest hope - that's it's not all dependent on me.  Thank you, Jesus.

If only Starbucks would deliver in here.

For my sweet mom and my mom friends who have kids who are breaking their hearts today (and not just messing up their house?)?  I'm praying for you.  God loves those prodigals in unimaginable ways.  Even when I just want to strangle them for the pain they cause you.  He forgives.  He continues to draw them to Himself.  We haven't seen the last chapter of your story, yet.

Keep praying.  Keep hoping.  Keep loving.  Keep forgiving even when your heart continues to be broken by their destruction.

If you need me in the meantime, I'll be available by email (which is now all read, thankfully) until the laptop battery dies.  Because I am NOT going out there to get the cord.  Someone probably moved it and didn't put it back, anyway, so what's the use?

Happy Mother's Day, Friends.  Grateful for each one of you and the way you bless me in this journey.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Balance, Margins, Goals, Oh My.

Yesterday was the 16th Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.  I've run the half three times in the last 6 years.  This was finally going to be my year to do the full.  Then I injured my leg in the Fall, pushed harder than I should have to keep running and ended up taking all of January off.  Leg is better, but there just wasn't time to safely train.  Even for the half.

Life (for me) is full of committing, then pulling back.  Setting goals, then realizing that I can't keep up.  Trying to find balance between home, school, activities...then remembering that life is short and this season of precious memories to be made will be over all too soon.

I would love to say that I've found how to live life with good margins in all areas.  Reality is that I work like a crazy woman for two or three days, crossing things off my list... then I crash and spend an entire day catching up on laundry and taking a nap. 

Balance is important, but it's not possible.  Not really.  Not if you are juggling marriage, kids, home, LIFE..

Margins are super healthy.  But the truth is, I'm horrible at saying no.  If fact I rarely do.  Unless the Coach makes me (bless him).

Goals?  We need to have things to work towards, look forward to.  Crossing the finish line is an amazing feeling.  You don't just get up one day and run a marathon, you have to plan, prepare, do the work.  But no matter how hard you work, life happens.  Kids need your time, there are injuries and illnesses, and sometimes we overestimate how much time we have to give.  

Most of all?  There are seasons.  Right now at the troops it's the season of older kids.  Precious, wonderful, FUN memories.  I'm starting to realize I can't accomplish much else in the long term.  It takes all of my time to just manage it all.

When the kids were little, there was a lot of hunkering down.  Saying no, staying home, being committed to naps and bed times and consistency.  We even said no to basketball - can you believe it?

Now that we have two who have grown up and moved off to college and no babies to tote around, I'm saying YES TO IT ALL!  
Want to be in the play?  SURE!
Want to run track?  OF COURSE!
Want to play tennis?  WHY NOT?
Want to play volleyball?  YOU BET!

Because it's such a unique season of life - these school years at home are over so quickly.  I'm loving it and we are cramming it all in with reckless abandon!

Never mind that I miss most of the tennis and I've missed all of the track meets and thank HEAVENS volleyball is over and DID YOU SEE THE PLAY?  Because it was amazing.  AMAZING!  

It's also a season of time together, watching our kids do hard things - and the Coach and I learning that we are a really good team.  

I might be a push over - but the Coach backs me up when someone needs a firm hand.  I might say yes more than I should - but the Coach is so good to make me slow down.  I may feel the need to take care of everybody - all of the time - but when I feel guilty for falling short?  The Coach reminds me that our troops don't need me to do it all.  I'm sure he would say he needs me, too, but truth is?  I am continually amazed at this man I'm married to.  

So very grateful for him.

And because I don't have time for a catch up picture post about the troops right now?  I'll leave you with this.  A picture of Little Man wearing Captain Hook's wig.  How fabulous is that?

Happy Monday! 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Time Away

The older I get, the faster it goes.  I have a harder time sleeping in and still get less done.  I dare not sit down, because then I have a harder time getting up and moving, again.  The coach and I are tired all of the time.  Or maybe it's just that we have so much going on and it's hard to keep it all straight most days.

But this week?  We are traveling together - just the two of us.  He's working.  I'm free to do whatever.  I'm not sure what that is.  I watched Netflix for so long yesterday afternoon that it asked me if I wanted to continue watching.  What?  Are you kidding me? It's not like I had laundry to fold or dinner to make.

So quiet in that hotel room, with it's big white King size bed and towels I don't have to use more than once.  I drank coffee and took a nap and picked up dinner for when the coach finished up.

I may not know what to do with free time.  But the coach and I sure do love having time together.  Traveling on Wednesday we talked and laughed read our books and I slept on his shoulder and I LOVE doing life with him.  It doesn't matter where we go or what needs to be done, it's better with him.

I miss the kids.  The schedule I printed out for them had already changed before our first flight took off.  I keep checking in with them to make sure they are getting everyone where they need to be and eating.  You know.  The main things.

They are doing just fine, of course.  Friends are helping with rides and practices - one track meet, one tennis tournament, and two volleyball tournaments just while we're gone.  My mom is helping pick kids up while the older boys are busy.  A sweet friend is coming to stay tonight so it's not such a boring Saturday for those at home.  It's all getting done there, while I'm here watching the snow fall.

Today would be a great day to catch up on my Bible in a year reading (I'm forever and always behind).  I may even check out some of the shops near our hotel.  I'll for sure pick up some lunch for the coach and deliver it to the exhibit hall.

I enjoy exploring new places and visiting new cities - one of the blessings of having traveled so much growing up.  I've found Starbucks and Target and Chick-fil-A, so we could stay here forever.  But it's very different than home, too.  Note to self, no one wants to strike up a random conversation in Wisconsin.  I'm sure they are just cold - seriously, 30 degrees in April?  Yikes.  At home I can't sit in Starbucks for five minutes without seeing a friend.

Then again, maybe I'll just take another nap and watch more Netflix.  This is rest.  The cessation of the usual and the being still.  I don't do it well, but I'm trying.  Even the Coach - who is here to work, said it's different than the office and classroom.  He's enjoying the break, too.

Even if I can't sleep past 5:30.  Which is OK, because the snow sure was pretty.  Even if I saw it from inside on the treadmill since I didn't pack all of my cold running gear.  Brrrr.

Happy Friday.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Basketball season has ended for us.  After lots of road trips to small towns in Oklahoma, our guys lost in the first round of Area last Thursday.  We would love to be playing in State this week, but I can't say I miss the hours in the car, the meals on the road, the time sitting in the gym.  Sure do love watching my boy play, though.

We jumped right into Spring sports.  One running track, one playing tennis, and two playing volleyball (first two tournaments were Saturday).  I'm so grateful for the sweet friends who help with rides, practices, meals, tournaments, and in countless other ways since we can't do it all.  

Play practice for Peter Pan started for three, as well.  So fun.

Science Fair is over - we only had one this year and not last year's three.  Whew.

2nd grade timeline is done and presented to the class.  I can't believe it's our last.  It's been so fun to take time with each of our kids when they were in 2nd grade to help them see God's hand in their lives.  There were even some tears as I put together this one.  Precious memories and such a reminder of the sweet gifts these kids are.  

We took all of the big kids (minus our two college students) so Little Man's friends would finally believe him when he says he has seven older brothers and sisters.   This picture makes me cry - how is everyone so grown up?

The yard is greening up, the trees are budding, the daffodils have somehow survived the wind, and we had our first tornado warning last night.

Yep.  It's Spring.

Our workout group has gotten in some outside running and one workout at the park (so far).  It's warming up and the new baby chicks are growing FAST.  This is a couple of weeks ago - now they are getting their feathers!

On Sunday nights, our tradition is eating "fancy" grilled cheese (like regular grilled cheese with bacon) and guacamole.  Little Man was helping me cut up the avocados last week and asked if he could keep the seeds so he could "line them up and tell them his feelings".  Next morning I found this...

What would I do without each one of my troops?  The distinct individuals that they are.  All so very loved and needed in our family.

And now my extra coffee is gone and it's time to get going on today's list.  I hear rain, too, so maybe today's run will be after the housework.  Son (#1) is home for Spring Break - YAY - and Daughter (#2) will be home at the end of the week.  So grateful to have time with them both.  

Blessings on your Tuesday.  May the God of all comfort both surround you with His love, and send others to show His love to you, as well.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

An Unexpected Gift

We didn't have any basketball games last night.  Can you believe it?  First Monday in ages that we've all been home.  Egg roll dinner with my parents (Happy Birthday, Dad!), gluten-free mocha brownie cake (so yummy!), homework, kids making fun of me (as usual), lots of laughter.

The basketball season is winding down.  Daughter (#7) finished over a week ago (4th place in the 5th and 6th grades).  The Jr. High girls have their last game on Thursday.  Son (#4) has his last home games today and his last regular season games on Friday.  Next week we'll be at the playoffs.

Then it will be volleyball, tennis, play rehearsals, track...  you get the idea.

But last night's evening home?  Lovely.

Last week I had two of the girls home with ear infections.  Daughter (#7) for two days and Daughter (#6) for three.  It was a long week.  They are doing a great job catching up on schoolwork and I'm working on catching up on errands and piles around the house.

So much to be grateful for.

Speaking of, I think it's above freezing so my run is calling.

Last night was a good reminder.  It's so busy, we are constantly coming and going,  never stopping, always work to do and laundry to fold and games to get to and meals to fit in between here and there...

Daughter (#2) and I made a trip down to see Son (#1) this weekend, have lunch, switch cars.  It was wonderful to have some time to visit with them.  And even the time with the girls last week while they were sick - I enjoyed having that time with just them.  All reminders that it's a good idea to pause now and then and just take time to enjoy these days.  They are passing so quickly.

Maybe eventually the Coach and I will get a date night, again!  Yay for basketball.  Ha!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Thankful Thursday, Take 2

So after yesterday's need to re-focus on gratefulness...

Daughter (#7) came home from school with a fever.

So today's plans were scrapped and we've been watching "Flash" and "Phineas and Ferb" non-stop all day while I coax her to stay hydrated and eat something.

A friend's sweet text reminded me that these days of the troops needing their momma when they are sick are numbered.  I only have two or three who really want me to take care of them when they are sick, now.  Of course, I take care of them anyway, but only a couple of the troops can't stay home alone - so if they are sick it rarely derails our plans.

Not to mention, the big kids just aren't sick very often.

So here is today's list:

1.  Got to talk to Son (#1).  He finally got the insurance settlement on his wrecked Jeep from Christmas Break (not his fault).  Which means a trip down to see him in a week or two.  Yay!

2.  Texts from Daughter (#2).  Concerned about her little sis, discussing Gilmore Girls, and getting updates on the basketball games she and I have both missed this week.

3.  Another call from Son (#3) asking what he could bring home for us.  His thoughtful heart and willingness to make a root beer run.

4. Even though I've missed the last two games that Son (#4) has played - one currently in progress as I type - I love knowing that the Coach is there cheering him on and so is the wonderful "family" that is our school.  And cousins.  And aunts and uncles.  Plenty of cheering all around.  I love seeing him play, but I'm grateful that when I'm not there, our fans still will be.

5.  That Daughter (#5) is literally the most easy going, dry-humored, funny and low-maintenance teenager ever.  In history.  Enough said.  Because we don't lack for drama around here.

6.  That every time I see Daughter (#6) play basketball (like the game I watched last night right BEFORE we realized that her little sister was sick), I am reminded of the amazing work God has done in her life.  Oh the stories.  Oh the joy to see her, now.

7.  If someone has to be sick, Daughter (#7) is seriously the never-complaining, happiest, non-particular, sweet, laughing-even-when-she-has-a-fever (thanks, Ferb!), girl to ever grace our troops.  Need anything, I ask?  Nope.  Are you ok, I ask?  Yep.  Even when she's burning up.  Every family should have a 7th born, 4th born girl.  Sweetest.

8.  And Little Man?  He's grown so much this school year.  Especially with his reading.  From not getting all of his AR points the first 9 weeks to reaching beyond his goal the next 9 weeks to reading all. of. the. time. now.  I'm so proud.

9.  Without the Coach?  This whole ship would sink.  He's been support staff the two weeks I've been down with this cold (thankfully, still SO MUCH better, today).  He's brought kids home and gone to games without me and walked in the door ready to help out however he can.  I'm so grateful to be married to a man who lays down his life DAILY for all of us.  Too bad I'm missing all of the under-his-breath-coaching-from-the-bleachers tonight.  Once a basketball coach?  Always a basketball coach.

So there you have it.  Nothing is ideal here, today.  But all is well.  How could I complain about being snuggled up with my littlest girl watching Phineas and Ferb and eating chicken quesadillas on a cold, dreary night?  With lots of texts from the Crusader fans.

Happy Friday.

What are you grateful for, today??  I want to hear it!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thankful Thursday

1.  I'm thankful that there are only 7 basketball games this week instead of last week's 14.
2.  I'm so SO thankful that my on-again-off again-for-two-weeks cold is finally better.
3.  I'm thankful for a relatively clean house.  A few Clorox wipes, some Windex and a vacuum will do wonders.  Every time.
4.  I'm thankful for potato soup in the crock pot.
5.  For Jr. High games this afternoon.
6.  I'm thankful that Elementary basketball is winding down.  As fun as it's been.  It's tries my patience in countless ways.  Bless my sweet girl's heart.
7.  For a husband that loves me enough to make me stay home and rest when I don't feel well.
8.  That I'm half-way through my four weeks resting my leg that seems uninclined to heal.  Because I really miss running.  And the clear head that always follows a good run.
9.  For talks and texts with my college kids.  And the occasional visit.
10.  I'm thankful for a warm house in this gloomy cold winter weather.  Brrrr.
11.  For my new coat that the Coach got me for Christmas.
12.  For leftover coffee that I'm going to re-heat here in a bit.

Happy happy Thursday, All!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Back at it...

Our 2nd left to go back to college, yesterday. The Coach and the school kids left bright (or dark) and early this morning to head back to school.  Son (#1) has another week to work before he has to leave. I faced a quiet, empty house with nary a Christmas decoration in sight at 7:00 this morning.  And I was sad.

Not because I'm not ready for some kind of schedule and routine.  I've missed that.  Not because it wasn't time for earlier bedtimes and fewer movies and ENOUGH of the constant eating already.  I'm over it.  Not because I want Christmas back... we celebrated thoroughly and soundly.  And let's be honest, Christmas is a HUGE amount of work for us mommas.  Just ask my back  - it went out early Saturday.

But there's just something about having all 10 of us HERE.  Together.  Everyone sleeping in their beds at night (even if they come in after I'm already sound asleep in mine).  Along with extras which delightfully show up most nights.  Dinner around the table with all eight troops, laughing until we cry.

Even the amount of food and laundry doesn't make me wish it over.  Well.  Maybe the laundry.


I loved it.

It was messy and loud and meals overlapped all day long and the dishwasher ran constantly and I loved it.

Such a reminder to me, once again, how grateful I am to be able to do what I love.  The Coach works so hard to give me the opportunity to be HOME.  To have time to take care of my people.  To cook for them and sit and talk with them and say goodbye to them in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon and cheer them on at all of their (countless) games.

I know I take it for granted.  It's all I've known.  But it's the best.

When the kids were all little it was exhausting to be with them 24/7.  To have kids everywhere all of the time.  To have few breaks and less rest.  Looking back, I'm not sure how we even survived.  This 42 year old momma would never be able to do what that much younger momma did.

But it was so worth it.  I got to see them grow and learn and play and fight.  I got to teach them how to help and love one another and be kind.  Well, we're still working on some of that.  Ha!

Now that they are older (well, most of them), I'm enjoying so much fruit from those years.  No, I'm not done.  Are we ever?  But it's much less teaching and training and more talking and just BEING with them.  And talking.  Especially late at night.  Yawn.

There's always more to learn.  Always more to teach.  Always more growth that is needed.

But after two weeks with all of my kids?  From age 8 to age 20?   I'm realizing anew how very blessed I am to be their momma.  They are amazing people.  Every one of them.  They must take after their daddy.

I miss it, already.

Happy 2016 from our troops to yours.  May you have the supernatural strength and grace to do what God has given you to do this coming year.  If it's in the trenches with little ones?  Bless you.  If it's juggling college kids and grade school, I'm with you.  Now lets settle in for the Winter months and make the most of it.

Happy Monday.