How I thrive (survive/stay alive) with 5!

“I don’t know how you do it.”

I hear that sentence about once a week. From friends. Family. Even strangers.

And I know what they mean. What they’re really saying.

“I don’t know how you put up with so many kids for so many hours a day.”

Why would a sane person have 5 of them? Why would they choose to stay home with them? And how in the world do they do it?

Okay. Here’s the answer. For any of you considering 5 kids. Considering homeschooling. Considering jumping out of a plane with a mended parachute.

One-God. Honestly. I couldn’t do it without my morning time in the closet (literally) with Him. Tucked away from the world. Cramming verses into my head. Scribbling prayers that often end with “help me.”

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Two-Quiet time. “Do not come out of your rooms till 3:00.” This house shuts down from 2:00-3:00 every day. Not kidding. The introvert in me craves this hour of silence. It’s golden. Do not speak to me. Do not cry. Do not come near my bedroom door.

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Three-Video games. Judge me. It’s fine. But our kids get an hour of “screen time” every day after quiet time. They come up, get a snack, then waste their brains for an hour. So in total, I get (count it) 2 hours of “me time” every afternoon. And it’s glorious!

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Four-Schedule. Things run like clockwork around here. I’m a legalist when it comes to routine. A little OCD maybe. The big boys know what to do when. They know when  it’s their “school with Mom time,” “watch Esther/Kenan time,” and “alone time.”

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Five-Trampoline. “Everybody outside right now.” I say it almost every day. “Go. Just go. Everybody on the trampoline.” Because we all (me included) need fresh air. We need to jump. Throw balls at each other. Curl up in blankets and read books.

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That’s just 5. I could name tons more. Helpful friends. Jeremy’s support. Family close by. Simple curriculum. Crockpots. Audio books. Minimal expectations. Ritz crackers.

Is this the life my 18 year old self envisioned?

Not a chance. Not a single piece of my current reality matches up with my original plans.

And that could scare me to death. Make me doubt.

Or it could make me humble. Reliant. Leaning hard into the only One who really knows.

God doesn’t make mistakes. With our jobs, families, locations, or callings. With our kid-count. Money-count. Achievement-count.

He just keeps loving us. And strengthening us. And being extra gracious to us.

And in the irony of it all, I find myself echoing these same words back to Him.

“I don’t know how You do it.”

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:1-3)

 

 

 

 

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We can all be thankful for THIS…

There’s one thing you can be thankful for tomorrow. One thing you can jot down in your journal. Or mention at family dinner.

And it’s not what you expect.

Sometimes I go to bed at night thinking about how many times I failed during the day. Counting the number of moments I raised my voice. Regretting the minutes I spent on routine instead of relationship.

Shocked faces and broken tears because of Mom’s sin can leave scars too deep to forget.

You know what I’m thankful for as 2018 starts its conclusion?

…We all mess up…

Every stinkin’ one of us.

You get frustrated with your kids. You rush them to bed. You say things you regret. I know you do because I do too.

And we’ll both do it on Thanksgiving. The family time will feel long. And our patience will prove short.

Today, on Thanksgiving Eve, let’s embrace this truth…We will mess up because we’re all really big messes. We’re image bearers of God trapped in a body of sin. And the battle will overtake us.

But for grace.

The shock of my sin fuels the shock of His grace and fills my heart with overwhelming Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow let’s be thankful. God sees our messes as a chance for overwhelming grace.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ” (Romans 5:6-8) 

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Hmm…it couldn’t possibly be me behind that locked door??

 

 

What we just learned about marriage…

Here’s a little marriage secret we’ve recently come across…

Marriage is easier when you like the one you love.

I committed my life to Jeremy on that hot day in July 2002. I committed to love him forever and ever til death do us part. And I do that. Stay in relationship with him. Through the good and bad. Hard and easy.

But it’s not easy. We’re not fools. We know the value of marriage counseling. We know the tears. We know the silent treatment.

Our walk in the park the last 16 years has been more like a climb.

But we’re at our best when the love is closely tied with the like. When we’re laughing.  When we’re doing something fun. When we’re acting like 18 year old “children” again.

When…tell me please… is there possibly time for “us” with kids and work and life???

It’s been tricky. We’ve had to prioritize date nights. We’ve had to budget for them.

We’ve had to value the “like” as much as the “love” to actually carve out time for us.

And it’s made things so, so much better.

Friends, marriage is tough. Let’s not be fooled. Only by God’s grace can we make it another day. Only by God’s grace can we expect one sinner to love another sinner year upon year.

But along the way. As His perfect love fuels ours. Let’s have a little fun together. Let’s remember what brought us together in the first place.

And let’s like each other while we love each other as we climb these mountains together.

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Psalm 118:23-“This is the Lord‘s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”

II Corinthians 5:14-“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace for the Impossible

He’s searching for her keys. We all are. In the middle of a house that is packed and unpacked depending on the day. Depending on what her 85 year old mind tells her. Some days she’s home. Other days she’s not.

He’s only 8. And so distracted. I can’t blame him. It’s a lot to take in.

I tell him to focus. Knowing he can’t. Knowing there are too many treasures to look at. Brush the dust off. Slip into his pocket.

The wind recently blew the roof off the barn. I can see it from her kitchen window. Then uprooted the tree by the pond.

Seems like everything in my original safe place is collapsing. Aging. Getting distracted. Forgetting original purpose and intention.

I’m like that too. Not much different than an 8 year old in a old house.  Looking this way and that. Forgetting the mission. Collapsing like a barn roof.

Today will feel like an unending search for house keys if I miss the purpose. Misplace the mission.

It’s because of Him. Every breath I take. Every beat of my heart. Every stroke of my hand on her sweet cheeks. Or hand on his uncertain shoulder.

The treasures I choose to slip into my pocket are grace. They too are part of the mission. Pieces of life that remind me the journey is worth it. The laughs. The meals. The memories.

Today…here in our house of fresh minds and young thoughts…I choose to hold on to grace like it’s a wind away from disappearing. To open my hands and heart big and full and let grace wash over all of us.

To believe that God is only good and I am only loved. And the Gospel really is good news. In wandering minds. In questions unanswered.

“In him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28a)

God is enough. He loves you deep and wide. Distracted and focused. At home or work. With questions or answers.

We move forward because He moved toward us. And we rest in the grace of His mission when ours seems impossible.

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(Oh outside…and mountain tube slides…you are grace to me!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a change is (unexpectedly) just what you need…

Last spring our 2 older boys made decisions. After multiple conversations. After months of talking. Stephen decided to stop playing soccer. Caleb decided to stop playing football.

I was devastated. Not being dramatic. Totally honest.

We are a sports’ family. Jeremy coaches. I wear the team shirt. One of us is at every practice. Watching. Enjoying.

Both of our childhoods would cease without organized sports. We both love it. Compete hard. Practice tons.

But both older boys said no. Not now. They wanted a break. And honestly, we had seen it coming. Apathy. Frustration.

Here’s what we didn’t see coming. The joy of being here. The freedom of looking at the calendar and having nothing on it. Oh.My.Word.

We’ve had neighbors over for dinner. We’ve had extended family dinners. We’ve had trips to the museum. We’ve had overnights at Grandparents.

Our life finally has margin and we have loved it.

Y’all…we’ve got basketball starting up in a few weeks. So don’t dismiss me as anti-sports. Far from it!

But I will say that our little break was just what we needed. And we didn’t even know we needed it.

So thankful that God gives us seasons anchored in His unchanging grace.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

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