Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snow Day

Weather forecasters promised a big storm.  (Big being relative in the Philadelphia area.)  Activities for the weekend were canceled, and that was perfectly fine with me.  The snow began its flurry around dinner on Friday and did not  subside until late into Saturday night.  We were welcomed Sunday morning with a approximately 16 inches in our backyard.
Friends living farther north would laugh at our region’s fluster in flurries.  This first snow storm of the season though was a welcome break to our calendar.  My littles were out of their minds crazy, not that that was anything too outside the norm.  They woke both Saturday and Sunday before 6:00am. Thank the Lord for Bryan, who gets up to make sure they do not destroy anything.
Throughout the weekend we stayed up late, played games, and watched movies.  We enjoyed hot breakfasts, slow-cooked dinners, and more games.  The kids played for hours in the snow and even did some sledding in the area.  I stayed cozy warm in the house and was responsible for all the laundry that incurs from six kids playing in the snow.  We drank hot cocoa, a lot of tea, and some coffee.  Yes, it got loud in the house.  Yes, it will be hard to get back to school tomorrow.  Yes, I needed a forced laid back weekend.
I am thankful for the storm.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Reality Check - Some Days are Just Not Pretty

Some days feel unending.  I feel battle worn, tired, almost numb to the defiance, bickering, and flat out disbodience.  Matthew tag teamed for a little as I escaped after lunch to my room.  I put the pillow over my head, set my timer, and prayed that noone would knock on the door.  
Earlier I was able to clean out a school bin, not because I really wanted to, but because it kept me focused and in my seat rather than reacting improperly to a very angry almost seven year old who thought he needed to lift and drop the school bench, throw pencils, yell at me, and basically refuse to do any work.  Reagan did not help as he,  as with many other four year olds, deemed the word "no" as his right.  Um.  NO.  
I know that not every moment of my day was horrible.  There had to be some sweet moments.  Right?  Kinda can't think of any at the moment.  
Dinner was quick.  Chick fi la (thanks to my sister and her family) was my choice as there was no way I could cook.  
Yes, the kids got outside.  Thank you, Jesus.  Of course they still came in and out and in and out and in and out.  They fought about wearing a coat (it's 24 degrees today) and couldn't find any gloves.  You get the idea.  When they were out, they were fighting.  When they were in they were fighting.  Oh. My. Word.
Lord, why do I feel so defeated?  I read your word this morning.  The Israelites blew it daily too.  Not just a little, but REALLY BIG.  Yet, you were faithful.  Please show me a glimpse of your faithfulness after such a messy day.  
I sat at the school table with the three littles this morning and prayed with them, over them.  Lord, I asked for you to guard our hearts, to keep Satan at bay.  I need to be a good mommy to my kids despite all of our hurts.  At the end of the day, I know the truth that Satan cannot win, but I certainly do not feel like there was any other victory today.  Deep in the trenches can be dark, smelly, infested, slimy.  Just being today was hard let alone fighting for my family.
That's it, isn't it?  I need to put the armor on more carefully to protect me in the battle.  You need to do the fighting.  You said it before that I just need to be still and you will do the fighting.  How do I do that day after day?  I mean, really.  One child peed his pants, another pooped his.  One kid deliberately spilled the box of marbles, looking me straight in the eye, right after I told him to put the game away.  One kid decided to jump on the couch the second (literally) I stepped into the bathroom.  
Picking my battles is one things.  Feeling like life is a giant battle is another.

I need you, Jesus, so desperately.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

From the Driver's Seat

He towers over me, but sitting next to me as I drive our bus to his biology class he meets me close to eye level.  He didn't say much, but his serene face said that his head and heart were arguing a bit.  Arguments are not all that bad.  Sometimes they are needed to clarify.  
My role was not to argue, but to question.  
I do not know tomorrow.  No mom does.  We all wish we could so as to avoid unnecessary hurdles.  Wouldn't we all in some way wish to lay out the next few years at least.  
God has chosen to bless Matthew with options.  Good choices.  The challenge comes in choosing best, not just good.  I could tell that he has struggled with just that.  He has thought through a few plans. I listened.  I smiled.
I am so thankful that God knows Matthew's yesterdays as well as his tomorrows.  He knows his weaknesses and his strengths.  I am confident that God has a beautiful plan for him.
So, my response was a no brainer.  If you want to know what to do, then you need to ask God.  Ask God.  Ask God.  Lay it all down before him.  Let him know where you feel your heart leading, knowing that our hearts can deceive us.   Know that your decisions have eternal value.  What we may see as little value to us may be invaluable in God's plan.  Be confident not in yourself, but in God.   Be ready to follow.  
All those words sound extremely haughty, maybe holier than thou.  Seriously, does a fourteen year old boy even care?  Does a forty something mom have a clue?  
I can only speak from experience and observation.  God is real, there is no doubt.  He has a plan, I am confident.  Following God is not necessarily pain free or without hurdles.  It is, however, the best decision you will ever make.  

Matthew may work at camp, attend two soccer camps, volunteer at a hospital, or mow lawns.  It may be a combination of all of this.  It may be none of this.   It is January, so he has a lot of praying and seeking to do.  So do I.  

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Time to be Thankful

Another year has begun.  We have spent countless hours playing games, enjoyed multiple family dinners, and welcomed the new year with healthy resolutions.  School began this week, and I am already looking forward to a break in February when we visit Laura and Alyson at Cedarville.  
Tomorrow three of my kids will begin their Salao soccer season which means nothing will be accomplished in my house until March.  Oy. 
At the moment, six of my family are playing Skipbo, one is doing dishes, and two are hiding in the office.  My hubby is playing some crazy playlist via the soundbar:  Johny Be Good, The Monkees, Veggie Tales, Elvira.  I told you it was crazy.  
As I have not written in forever, and it is obvious that I have nothing profound to say, I reasoned that a grateful list was in order.  So, here goes.

My kids know how to cook dinner.  And it tastes good.
Christmas included many smiles and hugs.
Aly's fish has not died.  Seriously, I am concerned.
After a great length of rain, there has been some warmer and drier weather for my kids to get outside to get their itchies out.
My littles all went to sleep at their normal time (8:00) on New Year's Eve.  
The new dishwashing schedule seems to working well.
My two huge tables serve us well when there are more than twenty people for dinner over the holidays.
Alyson and Laura have helped with the transportation while they have been home.
God's Word shows me his faithfulness over and over.
Our church family is that - family.
I have a sweet contact with my four newest kids' twin sisters who live with another family.  
Laura gives the boys' haircuts which saves a ton of money.
A penny jar has been effective in catching kids being good.

There is so much to be thankful for.  Not every day is great.  Some days are just yucky.  God is gracious to carry me when I just want to sit down and pout.  

Thank you, God for loving me in so many ways.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Simple Story is Not Just the Sweet Parts

Anna struggles daily with attachment.  She gravitates to anyone who will give her attention, though she knows she is loved unconditionally.  She  knows enough, remembers too much, but still is confident that God loves her all the time.  Today her struggles reached a level of annoyance to pretty much everyone.  
Holidays raise anxiety levels for most, and for a child whose life has been turned every which way, the anxiety rises that much more.  Her giggles were more like squeels.  Her hugs became smothering.  The typical ego-centric six year-old amped it up.
After a significant time out (for both her and me), she brought me her Bible story book.  We stole off away from the crowd to a cozy office chair to read.
Her choice - the Christmas story.  Makes sense, right?  We read how the angels shared the message of the coming promised Savior to both Mary and Joseph.  We read about the ride to Bethlehem and the birth of Christ in a humble estate.  We read about the wise men's search and Herod's deadly mission.  We read about the perfect escape.  
Then we turned to the end of another story - the crucifixion.  I have to be honest, this is not the pretty story to read two days before Christmas.  Though it was a Children's Bible, the truth was there.  Christ was beaten, mocked, hurt, stripped, and ultimately killed.  Authorities tried to free him, but his own people demanded death.  I felt my stomach turn a bit.  My heart skipped a little.  
The sweet story of Christmas has a sad ending.  If you believe that really was the ending.  Yes, God chose to make his arrival in human form alongside of a small group of people.  He didn't demand oppulence.  He lived with the intent to finish his story 33 years later on the cross, the most painful form of death known to man.  He died knowing that he would conquer death and rise again within three days.
The simplicity of salvation began in manger and ended on a cross. His story provided the best gift one could ever receive.  

Anna knows that gift, and I praise God for that.  I am thankful that no matter how she feels, He will not let her go.  Today was a blessing in the middle of craziness to sit and read the best story of all.  

Saturday, December 19, 2015

For the Love of Games

Who would have thought that a cleaned out hall closet would inspire the game lovers to hone their skills again.  Trouble, Racko, Skipbo, Uno, Risk, Rook, and the good 'ol Candy Land games have brought more conversation around the table and left the TV remote in the basket.  Not that we have said farewell to screen time, but it makes me smile to see my kids pull out a game and enjoy each other.  We have been learning both how to win and how to lose gracefully.  We all know that can be a challenge.  
Laura and Alyson even surprised me as they joined Kyle and Maddie along the Bryan and me in a game of Taboo (the Junior edition).  Though we were all a bit done with the day, we enjoyed a few giggles and puzzled looks in this game of guessing.  Mom and Dad came in second by a hair.  
Many of our games I have found at garage sales and the Goodwill Outlet (yes, there is an outlet for Goodwill).  Often I find the game still in the original wrappers.  Sadly, that means that others chose not to enjoy the game themselves.  On one occasion, we had Risk on our wish list.  The game in the store is way too expensive.  As we made our way through a neighborhood yard sale, we were estatic at finding the game still wrapped up waiting for us.  Though this is not a game for our littles, the bigger kids have enjoyed the strategy and challenge of the conquest.
I am sure that the intensity of our game playing will subside after the holidays, but I hope that it will not be forgotten.  

Monday, December 14, 2015

This Christmas will be different

We have been all Schroll's for six months.  The reality still brings both confusion and relief.  As we approach this Christmas, the blessing of simply being us allows us to smile more, to breath easier.  Joy had eluded our children and was mistaken for stuff.  A skewed parental relationship muddled their idea of the meaning of Christmas.  
Christmas for the rest of us had become a time to juggle visit schedules, cradle broken hearts, and gear up for unsettled behavior.  Joy was hard to find.
God has reminded me so clearly this season that His story of Christmas has difficult elements as well:  insecurity, loss, fear, isolation.  Yet in it all the joy was overflowing.  Others looked at the story and could only praise God.  
I want others to look at our story and have to say, "Praise God."

Joy for us this season will be found in the little things.  Our gifts of love may be small, but they will not be lost as in the noise of previous Christmases.   Joy will be found in the enduring love and grace of a Savior born in a lowly state to a mother who was chosen to carry her son only to let him go.