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.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Bit of Growing Up

One entered this world a week early, the other a week late.  One came home in denim, the other in an eyelet dress.  One works with numbers, the other with letters.  One runs to relax, while the other paints.  Both my oldest daughters are as different as I could have imagined.  I have had the privilege to teach them both, knowing that each learns in her own way.  If you were to look at them, they look like sisters, each with a different style.  Their heart is what truly ties the two together.  They both love God intently, and they love others intentionally.
I watch them from a distance now.  My full-time job as a mom becomes more of a part-time assistant and guidance counselor.
I am okay with that.  From the first months of the girls’  life, Bryan and I have been intentional in parenting them to bring them to a point of being independent, Godly adults.  Yes, they are still dependent on us for much, mainly financial support.  However, day to day decisions, academic choices, and relational problem solving fall in their laps.  We love them from a distance.
We dropped Laura off four years ago knowing that she most likely would not return to live with us.  Not that she did not love us, but we knew that God had some bigger things planned for her.  As Alyson began this past year, our thoughts were similar.  We had been challenging each one to fall in love with God more and more to let him direct their life.  We watched.  We smiled.  We loved watching them grow up.
This past week, Alyson, spent her spring break in Kentucky at the Creation Museum.  She spent the week house sitting for a friend and driving over an hour each way to work.  She trained, worked hard, and enjoyed this next step in a career she sees God taking her. We said she “adulted” well.  I missed her horribly, but it made sense to watch this week play out.
We have many years before all our kids reach adulthood.  Admittedly we have much work to do.  Twenty-two years have been action packed and quick.  The next fourteen will fly even faster.  I am thankful for a faithful, prayer answering God who has a plan for each one of us.  As I brought my little ones home as newborns, I had absolutely no idea what lay ahead.  It has been a blessing to walk this journey.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Full-Time Job

Homeschooling means working full-time even though you do not get a paycheck.  Okay, I have known that for,  what, over twelve years? Yet, there is a little part of me that envies other moms who schedule lunch dates, keep a clean house, and get to Bible studies regularly.  By no means do I regret my life.  I truly love to teach, and there is a sick side of me that enjoys writing lesson plans.  Some days, however, the piles of ungraded papers stare me down.  Other days, dinner plans go flying straight out the window,  and we drive to Chick-fi-la.  Every day, I am just tired.
I know.  I know.  Life as a mom in any other home has struggles too.  Shuttling kids back and forth to school, assisting in homework, keeping school schedules on top of keeping a home  makes any mom weary.
I sat on the couch today grading some papers and enjoyed listening to kids play outside.  Can I say a hearty Amen for sunshine today?  Mind you, the littles tried over and over to come in, but I stood my ground.  Sunshine, dirt, and big muscle play was needed to be sure.
Life never stopped today.  All kids were engaged all day, whether in school or play.  The washer, drier, and dishwasher ran too.  That is a given.
I really don’t want a job out of the house.  I am blessed to be able to teach and disciple my kids at home.  I would encourage any mom to consider it.  Yet, some days, it would be nice to call in a personal day, even a professional day.  Don’t even talk about sick days.  Oy.  Then again, I see what my kids are learning, how they are growing spiritually, how they are learning albeit slowly to love each other, and I have to think that it is worth it.
Yes, I have kids who bomb a test, and  I have children who refuse to do their work.  I have had to call the “principal” in to assist with discipline.  I have a full-time job.
At the end of the day, I am thankful for my teaching degree.  I am blessed to use my gifts at home with the kids whom I love.  My job my not give me a check at the end of the week, but the benefits reach much farther.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Van with the Yellow Sticker

He caught his breath at the sight of the van across the street from the coffee house we frequent.  The van, though ordinary, declared,  by the prominent yellow sticker in the window, that it was a state van.  The car seat gave further thought that its purpose was to transport foster children.
My kids spent over four years shuttled in that system.  Memories will not die easily.  It was one of those vans that removed my children  tragically from their birth mom.  It was one of those vans who met them after school week after week interrupting their day, pointing out again to their  friends that, yes, they were foster children.  It is those vans that reminded my son of a sad time.
Was it a fear that made him stop?  Was it a relief that his life is different now that made him even notice that yellow sticker.
Truth be told, those vans, symbolic of a separation, make me grimace.  Wounds heal, and I praise God for that.  Scars can be tender though.
The social services system is an inanimate product run by people of all backgrounds and even agendas.  The van was not the problem.  In fact, on some level, I was grateful that I did not have to drive all the kids to every appointment and visit. The mind of  child will focus on certain memories and emotions both of which weave together. I am so thankful that God is in the process of healing our hearts and minds.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World - review

From the time we are little, we are prompted to say, “Thank you.”  Gratefulness never comes easy. We want, we get, and we want more, never mumbling a word of thanks.  It's as if we assume that what we get is ours simply because we are.
I recently read the book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World – How one Family Learned that Saying No Can Lead to Life’s Biggest Yes.  I was surprised how many others felt a similar nudge of conviction or at least curiosity before even opening the book.
We all act entitled.  We deserve the best, latest, most beautiful things.  Our phones only last so long before we are yearning for the newest update.   Clothes go out of style as quickly as the tides.  We center our goals on how to accumulate it all.  My kids watch how I choose.  Raising grateful kids is going to have to begin with me.
Kristen Welch, blogger of We are THAT family attacks this infectious attitude in her book.
The book itself was an easy read, despite a convicting topic.  I finished the book in two days (which is saying something having six kids at home).  I did feel, however, that she rambled a bit.  It one wants a bullet point list of the main ideas, sorry, I cannot produce it.
She presented her points along with family examples which lead to her readability.  I could relate.
Welch starts with the heart which I agree with completely.  We will never be able to deal with our selfish attitudes or our kids’ attitudes unless we address the sin settled in our hearts.  Take one look at the news, read the Yahoo headlines, or walk down the halls of your closest school, and you will see what I am talking about.
Raising Grateful Kids breaks neatly into four major points:  Launch, Undertow, Resisting the Current, and White Water.  As you work through each, Welch uses Biblical truth and personal examples to expound.  Knowing  that gratefulness is countercultural she gives simple ideas to practice at the end of each chapter.  The “Going Against the Flow” sections address all ages:  parents, toddler/preschoolers, elementary, and tweens/teens.
None of her ideas, though not earth shattering, is without truth and conviction.  Simply taking a look at our present culture, one would wish that every person would take a good long look our faulty entitlement.
We will be electing a new President this year.  Promises will be made to provide the world to most everyone.  No one wants to be told they will have to work hard.  No one wants to take responsibility for anything.  No one wants to admit that maybe, just maybe it is not the government’s responsibility to provide all my wants.
As Welch reminds us, being willing to wait for something, readjusting our world view to begin with God and not end with us,  and practicing faithfulness with what we already have is where we need to start.
Raising Grateful Kids is a good read for parents with kids of all ages.  Be prepared as a parent to begin the process of change.

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.