Thursday, June 23, 2016

Happy Anniversary

Twenty-six years ago I became Mrs. Schroll.   My name changed, but more than that, my life changed.  On that afternoon, Bryan and I committed to each other for the rest of our lives.  We had absolutely no idea what or who would be a part of that journey, but we chose on that day to love each other for life. 
Today, many try to redefine marriage.  They choose to walk away from promises.  They choose themselves over another.  Our children see too many examples of marriages that fail horribly.  Culture tells them that a Biblical marriage for life is unreasonable and unattainable.  How sad. 
Bryan and I have weathered hurts and disappointments.  We have dealt with anger and loss.  We have also shared in amazing joy and have seen God’s bigness and grace.  A living thing is defined by movement and growth.  A living thing changes.  My marriage is alive.  I am not the same as I was twenty-six years ago, and I am thankful.  God continues to work in Bryan and me to shape us and grow us into who he created us to be. 
As I read through some journaling in photo books, I was reminded again of Bryan’s commitment to me, to our marriage, to our family, to God.  Day to day life gets hard sometimes.  It is the choice to work through the hard and to look for ways to reconnect that makes marriage work.  I am thankful for such a loving husband.   He laughs with me and cries with me.  He holds me when everything is falling apart.  He works hard but does not let work overtake him.  He loves me for life. 
Happy Anniversary, Bryan.  I love you more than words.  I look forward to still more years of dreaming, of adventures, of living life with you. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Except God

Over six years ago, my daughter, Julia, went to heaven.  I remember the moment that I learned that she had gone before me.  I covered my mouth as I sobbed uncontrollably.  My head throbbed.  Sleep eluded me, and when I did sleep, my dreams were horrible.  I found myself in a daze, empty.  Nothing made sense.  I had never met my little girl, not even seen her.  I had no memories but my baby bump that I could no longer feel.  I had heard her heartbeat, but never saw her smile.
This past week, a friend from years past lost her only daughter.  Tragically, her daughter died at the hands of an angry young man with a gun.  His motives, though unclear, took the life of a young lady who loved Jesus.  Christina was the same age as my oldest daughter, Laura.  As little girls, they were in the same class for a few years in school.  They played together on an indoor soccer team and even won a championship.  They sang in the same church choir.  They celebrated birthdays together. 
My friend and her daughter were friends.  She was her biggest cheerleader.  I have not had the chance to talk with the family.  As circumstances are, I will most likely not.  My heart hurts for the family though. 
My friend celebrated life with her daughter.  She walked through the ups and downs of a teenage life.  Now Christina is celebrating life in heaven, and my friend has to figure out life here.  I am confident that she cannot stop crying.  I imagine that sleep is non-existent.  I would think that these past few days have been a blur, a horrible nightmare.  Nothing makes sense when the life of a young lady is taken so horrifically. 
Except God.
At the loss of a child, there seems to be no answers except to trust in a sovereign God who knows yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  But it still hurts.  Oh my goodness, it hurts. 
I am praying for my friend and her family as they mourn and walk through today. There will be a forever scar and an emptiness.  There will be questions with no answers.   Yet, I am confident that God will heal their hearts and will prove Himself faithful and true.  I know this because He has done the same for me. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Love with all your strength

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
I learned this verse many years ago.  I taught these words to my littles just this year.  Yet, this morning I struggled with them.
Before my feet hit the floor, I argued with God.  I had no strength left for the new day.  How was I supposed to love?  My heart and soul were still bruised.  Yes, we had had a few good days.  Maybe it is mid-life hormones.  Who knows?  I feel I have to fight for every word, for every choice, for each child.
God did not give me a chance to give in though I would have gladly let someone else run my house for the day.  Loving God meant loving my family.  That meant hugs, words spoken in truth and love, and clean laundry.  It meant breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It also meant that I did not buy extra treats.  It meant that one son had to miss baseball yet again because he simply cannot hold it together safely.  It meant not losing it when a child yelled at me on more than one occasion.  It meant making strawberry shortcake with my daughter to highlight the yummy berries she had harvested that morning.
It also meant not rushing to escape my family when Bryan came home.  It meant climbing into his lap (making the little boys cringe) and sitting with my sweetie.
Loving God is not always the easy way, but it is always the right way.  I was not strong today, but strong enough to love.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Gratitude From Colossians

A cushioned chair sits in the corner of my church’s lobby outside of the 4-5 class.  That's where I worshipped today.  After dealing with a very disagreeable four-year-old, my heart needed to be recalibrated.  I settled with the book of Colossians, simply because that is where my last sermon notes were.  No other reason.  I was grumpy, and I knew it.  A sweet friend who knew the events of the morning took the time to pray with me, which continued to turn my heart the right direction.

“ May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.”
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.  For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

As I read these verses, my face softened, my heart calmed, and the throbbing in my head subsided.  Yes, recalibration was working, and now I could focus on a few things that God has blessed me with today in the middle of the yuck.

What are you thankful for today?

Blue skies with promises of sunshine
Air conditioning
Faithful Sunday School workers
Bryan’s attitude and practice of teamwork in parenting
Friends who pray for me
Children who work hard
Children who are faithful in service
My God who energizes when I am spent
A backyard – especially when it is cleaned up
First picnic of the year on the patio
Friends for my kids
My bike
A healthy family
A healing Savior

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Summer Plans

The past few summers I have needed to approach the weeks off school with intention. Each week had a different theme: farm, ocean, friends, water play, etc.   My littles had small, underdeveloped imaginations.  Pinterest helped tremendously focus us.  It became easier to know a general theme when helping grow play.
This year I am changing it up.  Thankfully, my kids have learned more how to play, how to create on their own.  Granted, play often ends with someone crying, but oh well.  Kids are like that.  At least mine are. Yet, now they all know how to ride a two wheeler, and they build ramps to jump off.  They set up ball games.  They can all play board and card games.  There is a basketball net in our driveway,  and all the swings work in the backyard.  In theory, this should be a piece of cake.  Yeah, right.
So.  I have been keeping my eyes open at garage sales and the Goodwill for summer fun things.  In our school room I have a Rubbermaid tub that I keep throwing stuff into that is only for after school ends.  I managed to snag some water balloons (.25), a science in a soda bottle kit (.50), lighted Color Wonder ( $1), empty cereal boxes, and paper towel tubes.  I have my working list of things I want to do as a family, but I want to see my kids’ minds create.
I want to go hiking to see some waterfalls.  I want to ride bikes by the Philadelphia Art Museum.  I want to enjoy another movie night under the stars.  I want to do a photo shoot with Maddie and her sweet girlfriends.  There's even a bluegrass concert that I want to explore.  Of course, the shore is always on the list.
As nuts as our family is, I love my kids.  I may not always enjoy them.  I am hoping that this summer gives us more opportunity for just that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I See the Finish Line - at Least for This Year's Race

Breathlessly, I limp toward the finish line.  There have been more than a few bumps and bruises.   I often felt winded, but I did not give up.  We just might make it through this first year of schooling six kids at home. Life has traveled insanely fast.  I have reached for teachable moments often watching them sift through my fingers.  Though, as I allow myself to sit back and simply watch, I can see my big God has been working all along the way.  To be sure, I have made plans and encouraged learning.  We all worked through homework, tests, reports, and projects.  It has been tough.
A friend reminded me of this:  are we teaching simply what the state requires, or are we teaching what God requires.  Oh my.  Have I addressed either ends of that spectrum?
Today is probably not a good indicator.  When one’s child throws crayons, upturns benches, yells, and defies you outright, you most likely feel that nothing of anything has been accomplished. Yes, we finished book work.  Kind of.  But, have I addressed heart issues?  Have I dealt with my heart issues?
Our verse this week: Remember your creator in the days of your youth.  My littles have memories that hurt.  They also have good memories.  I want them to remember God is in all of them.  We spent time listing what we knew already about God.  Later I posted our ideas around the school room.  I found it interesting what they remembered about God: He is powerful, He died and rose again, He smiles on us, He helps us.
Thankfully today was sunny and warm, so they all could get outside.  As I sat in relative quiet, God reminded me that this parenting/ teaching thing is not all about me.  As ugly as it gets, God is the one who changes hearts and draws us to him.  He has asked me to teach them at home, and I am grateful.
I wish that I had more freedom to get more accomplished in our home.  I wish that I enjoyed more  moments in my day.  I wish that respect was more prevalent in our home.  But, we are home as a family.  Learning.  Struggling. Growing.
I have almost all my books ordered for next year. Summer break is right around the corner.  We can make it.  Next year will be easier, or so I dream.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Life Today

This afternoon my mind drifted back to beautiful, quiet moments with Bryan on an island cruise vacation that ended just shy of two weeks ago.  Life is anything but beautiful and quiet today.  But, you may say, that’s what you signed up for with eight kids.  True.  Baseball schedules, play practices, orthodontic appointments, youth group activities, not to mention school all keep me perpetually moving.  What I am praying for is a more enjoyable chaos.  Is that even possible?  I believe it is, but I have not achieved that today.
Sunday night we had a few moments as we headed out to batting practice.  I even had a really good hit, if I do say so myself.  Actually the boys gave me credit.  That's worth something.  But, how I wish that when I am home in the day to day stuff, we could have more joy.  More concern for others.  More diligence.  More peace.  More quiet words.
I speak for myself.
My family is far from the norm, yet there is no mistake that God has intentionally brought us all together.  Sadly,  many, many days are too full of anger, defiance, and deceit.  I wish there was some magic button, wishing wand, special pill to take that would heal our hearts, allow us to trust, show us how to love so much more.
Thank you God, that you hear my pleas for peace.  Thank you, Lord, that you have not left me hanging today.  Thank you that there is no condemnation because I am held in your hand.  Please show me how to intentionally love my children in ways that do not make sense.  Help me to put aside my desires and what I feel are rights as their mother, to allow you to work through me to reach their hearts.  Thank you, Lord, that you have such amazing plans for my children.  I don’t want to be the wall that keeps them from seeing you today.