Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tornado Sirens....

This morning I was dreaming that tornado sirens were going off and in my dream I picked up my phone to see what was going on and I couldn't get the phone to work right and in my dream I woke up and saw my oldest daughter downstairs finishing some homework and we were talking...when suddenly I woke up and laid in bed thinking...weird I still hear sirens....wait I hear real sirens..... So I hopped up confused still from my dream and promptly woke up my husband.  I ran downstairs to watch the news to see what was happening (and it was 4am so no daughter was still awake).  The storm was not quiet here yet, so I went up and talked about whether we should wake up all 8 kids and risk them not going back to sleep....  We decided to wait, but a few minutes later they were saying everyone in our town/area should get in their shelter....I woke up the girls and Randy woke up the girls and the following is a humorous moment in time that happens when you have 8 kids....

Older 3 girls were up and heading down stairs
Younger 2 girls....I say wake up nicely twice...nothing....then I say TORNADO wake up and they were up and running.
We get downstairs and really there was no real storm yet so we are standing in the hallway.
Daughter "where are we going" Me "In the shoe closet and we will die of the smell"
Oldest daughter, "mom can we bring mints it..." Me "good idea...that's a lot of breath"
Daughter "But I have a cold..." Me "face the back of the closet so we don't get germs on us"
(We never ended up needing to go into the closet....)
Me to a son "Get away from the big windows"  a few minutes later to a daughter "get away from the big windows"....a few minutes later "get away for the windows that's the whole point we are here!!"
Daughter..."I have to go to the bathroom" Me "Go ahead but don't be like Elvis and have it end on the toilet."
Son "Can I watch tv" Husband "no".....a few seconds later.... same son "can I watch tv"  Husband "no"
Oldest daughter..."Dad are you wearing jeans?"  Me " Yes your dad and I like to dress up for tornadoes"  She says "Seriously did you sleep in jeans" Husband "No I put them on before I came down"

Finally sent them all back to bed at 4:45....and now at 6 my youngest is up watching tv......never a dull moment.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

What will it cost...

The other day I was talking with some of my children about the Old Testament versus the New Testament and one child said that he was glad he lived in this age because he didn't like the idea of a sacrifice for forgiveness of sins.  He mentioned that its so much easier now.  I reminded him (and myself) that although it is tempting to think that our sins are forgiven because God just said so (and really because we don't see our own sin as so bad) and that their is no real price to pay, there was.  As we start this season of thankfulness, I was reminded and explained to my children, our sin was paid for through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  He paid the penalty so that we did not not have to make the sin offerings talked about in the Old Testament.  However the sacrifice made through the cross was so much more then an animal sacrifice.  We talked about how we take that for granted so many times.  We know the price he paid and yet we can find ourselves talking about our own sin and acting in our own sin in a way that its not a "big deal" or this is just a little sin, God won't mind...  However when flipped around and we talked about how we would feel if it cost us a brother, sister or friend for the sake of another and that person came and told us continuing doing the thing that cost our loved one his or her life wasn't a big deal, the kids were very vocal about how unfair that was and how upset they would be.  Its true, we forget the sacrifice Jesus made for us, we tend to minimize our part.  Jesus tells us following him will cost us our life.  Laying down the things we want for others, because that is what he did for us.  But I get it, its hard, we know what we want and frankly sometimes others aren't doing or saying what we want to do or hear.....That is why I am learning ever so slowly it seems, to keep my eyes on the cross because when I think about the payment that was made on my behalf for my selfish sin and pride, it sets my attitude right about the demands I put on others.  Jesus didn't wait for me to be "better", he didn't wait for me to fix my attitude, he came to me when I was deep in the world, when I didn't even know I needed a Savior.  So then I should not wait for someones attitude to change, for their life to be "better", I should meet them where they are and show them the compassion and love that was given to me.  Thankful for the sacrifice made for me, I should go forth and show my gratitude to God by doing what I know he has taught through his word, loving my neighbor as myself.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The wound

Today as I was driving I was thinking about the pain that can come from trying to help others.  Its been a trying time in our family and I have found myself at times wanting to tell the Lord, I don't get it, I quit....I keep walking the path before me and I end up seeing things I can unsee, knowing thing I can't unknow, and walk with people down some pretty dark places.  I had been thinking why is following God like this, look at those courageous people from the Bible who were persecuted and suffered, read of missionaries who have witnessed or experienced atrocities, talk to anyone who is really devoted to ministry and listen to the cost to them and their families and friends.  It seems like following a loving God would be the opposite.  Until I realized this.....how can we really seek God and want God and look forward to nothing more than His return when we refuse to look at the world's reality.  Following Jesus and serving others requires you to see whats under the bandage.  We tend to look at the bandaged world because that is easier for us to look upon.  We love things like social media, tv. movies and superficial relationships.  Just see enough to know that we all have some wounds from this life, but to make sure it looks as though everyone is still OK, nothing we need to intervene in. For me the distance makes me feel as though my responsibility less.  To be honest sometimes I don't want to know because once I do know I know I can't unknow and then I must choose to act or sit back and watch.  Truly following the Lord requires and forces us to pull off the bandage, tear it back and look at the wound in all its ugliness, see the scar and truly understand the pain of others.  No longer can you just give a 5 minute prayer and move on to your agenda, your day is suddenly absorbed in the pain and the wound.  As soon as you soothe the pain of one you notice another and then another and you can't find a way to pretend it doesn't exist anymore.  Only then can you truly cry out the God above to return quickly and to pray for his mercy, because until then you have failed to see the result of sin. Sin causes horrible pain, selfishness affects so many generations, abuse endures long past the act and apathy can cause pain to linger like a horrible infection.  I have learned if you want to learn how to truly yearn for your Savior, look under the bandages of the world.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

To My Graduate

This year we graduated our oldest daughter.  I wanted to tell her so many things, but as I kept letting my emotions get the best of me I told her I would write it to her.  So here it is....

For the last 17 years you have brought more blessings than you will ever know.  From the moment I knew you were growing I loved you more than I knew I could love anything.  I cried when you were little and I had to be away from you because it would physically hurt to not have you nearby.  You were the beginning of a long line of kids and as you grew became not just my baby but my buddy.  We loved to play together, sing together and talk....lots of talks.  You taught me more then I taught you.  You taught me love, patience,and how to be strong in my faith.  You have accomplished so much and while the achievements are amazing, I am more impressed by your character.  From the time you were a toddler your empathy and love has gushed from you.  They nicknamed you Mother Theresa in kindergarten because of your empathy.  You're about to enter a new time in life, college and beyond and I want you to know you are ready.  You've got this.   You are going to make an incredible woman, wife and mother.  You will make mistakes, you will feel overwhelmed, we all do.  Let no one fool you, not one of us has figured out this adult thing.  I encourage you to take chances on things that seem hard.  Never give up on love even when it's hard.  Know you ALWAYS have your family to support you and though you won't need it, to fall back on.  We will always have your back.  I look forward to these years as we will grow closer as you grow into adulthood and share all the firsts...houses....cars....jobs...weddings.....  All those things you have dreamed about are at the doorstep, it's almost time.  Congratulations my sweet girl!!  I am so proud of you.  I think you have solid roots. and now here are your wings...fly!!  (But not too far cuz you're forever my shmoopy)

Monday, May 18, 2015

I want to go back... a little.....

We recently graduated our oldest daughter from high school.  It is a huge milestone!  I think back about all the years that have past and so much life that has happened.  I also begin to remember as I see the anticipation of all the graduates whether it is high school or college and the hope and dreams.  I think back to how excited the little things were, although at the time they were huge.  I remember the excitement of planning out the future.  How thrilled I was with my first car (even though it was Chevy Cavalier) it didn't matter that it wasn't fancy, it was mine.  It symbolized freedom to be an adult. I remember sitting in my first apartment, which was the first floor of a really old house, 4 simple rooms but feeling unbelievably amazed that it was mine to decorate and take care of.  My floors to wash, my kitchen to cook in....  I couldn't wait.  The first year in that apartment I would clean everyday and bake and ohhh how I loved to check the mail!  I was newly married and we had a young daughter and I would wake up excited to take care of my adult life.  We had little money at the time, so we had to scrape up some crazy recipes and eat at my parents house a lot.  We had no money for a lot of holiday decorations so I would pull out the construction paper and let my daughter go to town decorating, we made paper chains and while it looked cheesy it was beautiful to us!  Then we bought our first house.....it was over 100 years old, broken, asbestos covered, on a busier road, falling apart, water smelled funky, haunted.....beautiful house..  We were so excited.  We had a yard to take care of, a porch to sit on, I felt so much pride taking care of and driving up to our house.  I loved having a house big enough to have family and friends over.  It was so exciting and it didn't matter how small or insignificant or crazy bad investment it was.....it was mine!  The other day as me and my husband drove away from our much larger, much nicer, unhaunted house I told him...we have done really well in life..... but somehow the better things got the less exciting it has become...House work became a chore, yard work became a chore, we get tired of eating the same foods, the decorations never look good enough.....I want to go back.... somehow living with less and living within the reality of our income and ability was so much more satisfying! God was right learning to be content with what you have brings joy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What if it makes me happy?

Housework Rules

So as I have mentioned before I may have  a slight comparison problem.  I tend to think everyone's grass is greener.  I have found a pattern in my life recently that is sabotaging myself.  Sometimes I find things that make me happy, quirky things, not life important things.  For example, I think sometimes I was born for the wrong era, I love the housewifey stuff of the 50s and even some of the 1800s stuff.  I wish I lived in a time that kind of lifestyle was what most people were doing.  What I realized in this line of thought was I wish this is what was expected of me and looked at as doing life "right" which to some people it is, but then I start thinking about all the other things I "should" be doing.  I "should" have started a great career by now, I mean I worked dang hard for that degree and am still paying for it, while making no income.  Acting the part makes me feel different and then I worry that I am not being a good role model to my girls as the woman who can make her way.  I worry that people think I am lazy or weird.....note the pattern worry worry worry.....eventually that worry makes me tell myself I am not living in reality.  I try to change things, I start to look for a job, consider sending the kids back to school, give the kids more frozen waffles...  I look in the mirror and decide that I don't look pretty enough and so the cycle begins, I drive myself crazy seeking "the new me" only to find that nothing else is working and nothing is me.  Then eventually I give up go on a cleaning and cooking binge, put my skirt back on and get back to me. Being that homemaker lady makes me feel at peace, it makes me feel whole.  When I try to run away from that and be what I think would be most acceptable to most people I get so stressed.  And the kicker is ..... no one cares.... honestly no one is losing sleep over how I spend my days, this is all my imagination and selfishness at that!  I need to let go of these 16 year old feelings! Anyway all of this has made me realize that 1. I have some anxiety issues (although i knew that) and 2. I feel like my life choices have to please everyone but me.  I spend way too much time worrying if who I am is different, offensive, irritating.... and the older I get the more tired I get of caring.  This is me...like it or not....I am not an extrovert, I don't like a busy life away from my family, I like to cook cookies and cakes and things that are so bad for us but bring smiles, I like hanging out with my husband even after 20 years, yep I am that needy wife, I believe God is leading me and that following Him is my number one priority.  That's me like it or not.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The power of a parents words

So I know it seems kids do not listen.  I know they act like Mom's advice is lame... But a little story of a know it all teenager ... me... who acted like a teenager who didn't make life decisions based on what mom and dad said.  Pretty typical...  So I always loved to sing.  I sang privately in my room or with friends on occasion or in the car when I was driving.  I always secretly wanted to share songs I wrote or sing in front of others, but I knew I was not exceptionally gifted and saw others who were and had no confidence in my ability, so I kept it to my room and usually horrified if someone walked in while I was singing into the hairbrush.  However one day when my first daughter was about a year old I was sitting with her while she was in the tub and to keep her entertained I would sing to her songs from Barney or Sesame Street.  I was living with my parents at the time due to my whole having a daughter at 19 in my sophomore year of college thing.... and I was singing to her Sing a Song from Sesame Street and my mom said you have a pretty voice.  It was that sentence that gave me the courage to begin to sing in front of others.  It was one sentence, one opinion I valued (even though I would never have admitted it) more than all others (except my dad!)  So remember moms and dads, that encouragement may be the piece that gives your kids courage to fly.  I never got to tell her this because she died before she ever saw me sing in a church, so kids make sure you tell your parents while they are still here how much their words mean to you!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Temporary situations

You see it in the lives of Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul and mostly every chapter of the Bible.  No I don't mean the amazing stories of how God used these men (and women) to change history (although they did).  I mean the parts where they struggled, when it was monotonous, when they did as the Lord asked and no one was listening or they were being persecuted.  I can totally respect the part of Moses that again and again return to God saying, ITS NOT WORKING!! THEY AREN'T LISTENING! and I can imagine many times the followers of old waking up thinking, are you sure Lord this is right, I mean I know you have a plan, but do you really want me to keep walking through this desert or do you really want me to go and talk to that nation??  I can't see how this is going to work out.  I see it today in people lives and my life in so many areas.  Things come up in life that throw us off, We think, that is not what I was thinking when I began this walk.  I could like a thousand things we hear about from family or friends or experience ourselves, anything that starts with unexpected...is kinda where I am going...unexpected diagnosis, unexpected pregnancy, unexpected break up, unexpected job loss.....  Publicly we can put out our faith in God, he will work it out, he will have a plan, and sometimes even in our private moments we can be strong and confident, but if we were to be honest, our hearts get scared.  We cry out of our fears, we feel weak just when we want to feel strong.  We want to and might call out to God as Moses did and let him know this plan isn't working or hide like Jonah and say I don't want to....  I am writing this post more for myself than anyone else.  I confess I want a clear plan for the future, I want to know everything is always going to be OK for me and my family.  I want to save any us from any trouble or pain.  I want heaven now....  However, some days I fall apart and its OK, life is hard, The Bible proves it always has been.  There is nothing new under the sun.  But yesterday was Easter and it was a reminder that unless a kernel of wheat dies, it cannot grow.  God was clear, death entered the world, but from this death comes true life, heavenly life.  At church my heart was thinking of those in Kenya and Syria who lost their physical lives for Christ.  But I realized those who were truly dead were not the Christians who would not return to their earthly homes that day, but those who walked away without the love of Christ within them.  Yes our days can be hard and our futures here uncertain, but at the cross I traded that for a certain future, one with the Lord for eternity.  I encourage anyone facing an uncertain to hang in their, talk to someone, cry with someone, pray with someone and rediscover the hope that lies within you, given as a gift from the Lord.  This life is temporary and so are our problems and situations because HE IS RISEN.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Journey

I was reading an article lately that made me start to think.  I tend to struggle with comparing myself.  Its not biblical, its not mature...but its real and I do it.  I look at another woman or read a blog or other social media thing and I start to wonder if I am making the right choices, or start to pick apart what is going on in my personal life.  However the other day I was reading something that was so freeing, it said that when we are walking with the Lord and making lifestyle decisions based on biblical principles, we do not have to defend it.  It was then I realized my comparing came from a heart of feeling as though I needed to defend my choices if they didn't look mainstream.  Choosing to have a large family and putting an idea of a career on perhaps permanent hold, how I dress, what I listen to or watch, what I allow or do not allow my children to do, how much disposable income we have and what that limits when you have such a large family...these are all things that I am constantly in my mind trying to find the perfect words to defend...mostly to myself.  However all those things are really the journey God has put me on.  Our family doesn't always look like the others, we can't do some things as easily.  Most of my children have come from very hard places and that can affect what our daily life looks like.  Its reassuring to me that Jesus says, we will not look like the world.  Because in the chaos of life I need the reminder because my flesh some days would love to be the one who blends in, some days I am weary.  I have to remind myself in these times that the weariness comes because I am on a journey.  Journey's make us weary, but they also allow us to experience new things, they help us find a purpose and make a life worth living. Whenever we are on a journey some parts are exhilarating, some parts are good and other parts are drudgery.  I think of traveling to Bulgaria a few years ago.  It was exhilarating meeting my daughter, it had fun experiences and I got real experience in traveling to a foreign country, but the travel was exhausting and sometimes during the flights I just wanted it to be over.   I am also learning that I do not need to find a defense for God's ideals.  I can rest in knowing, he says it, I do it and he can take care of the rest.  I find it funny sometimes how I try to merge the things of the world with the things of God and then get all frustrated when it doesn't work.  Like when I believe just a little more money will make things easier so I can focus more on my spiritual path.....fail......or when I want to serve the Lord wholeheartedly in my home, but I also want to look good so I try to wear nice clothes or fix my hair and makeup only to spill some cooking oil on myself, accidentally rub my eyes because I was outside with the kids and end up with hair resembling Weird Al....fail....  Or my favorite I want to have 8 children from various backgrounds, put them in one family and then have the perfect TV family life....in reality we have some pretty weird and annoying stuff going on here.  I can't have it all, I laid down my life years ago to trust God and begin a beautiful journey that has made me someone that the high school me would not recognize.  I know the heart of God and I need to drop the baggage and run freely to him.  I need to embrace the journey and accept that it is not going to look mainstream or frankly even slightly normal sometimes, I will get weary but I will not fall, I will have troubles but will not be overcome, because these are the promises of my God.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The love of money

Today I was talking with Rosie about the adoption process and we were looking at the other children waiting for families and I began thinking of the verse that tells us money is the root of all evil....As I began to think if money was no object her 2 friends from her orphanage who are about to age out of the system and never experience a family choosing them I would gladly set up 2 more beds and set up 2 more plates for dinner.  Sadly though...its money.. the cost of adoption...the cost of travel...the cost of food and clothes and all children entail...

Money keeps children orphaned
Money enslaves the poor
Money keeps the homeless on the street
Money traffics the innocent
Money separates the have and have nots
Money starves the hungry
Money tears apart families
Money tells us we can't
Money keeps us from following our passion
Money makes us doubt our Savior

I should not blame the physical currency, as Jesus directs, its the love of money.  We love what money can give us and so we want more and want bigger and faster and easier and we fail (myself included) to count the cost.  How often do we not realize that our lifestyle is supporting slavery, child labor, trafficking?  How often are we dissatisfied with the amazing life we are given because we see and we can not have or we can not afford to do?  How often do we struggle or stress doing things to just pay the bills?  We have enslaved ourselves to money.  Do we really need more?  Does it have to be nicer, faster, more fun?  Children will never know the love of a parent, an ill man or woman will not have a place to sleep tonight, a person will labor in a field or factory and be paid so little they can not eat  and for what....so that we can enjoy the pleasures of the world.  We are not storing up things in heaven when we can sleep peacefully knowing these things are occurring and yet still feel as though I do not have enough.  I write this mostly out of my own realization that I had let my heart close for a season, I didn't think about those faces or those things.  I have been stressing over money, possessions, activities and I am thankful today that God has reawakened my heart to the truth.  The more we add to our lives the more we separate ourselves from the one thing that brings true peace and joy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Who's in control anyway?

This past year I have come to learn about another layer of loss of control.  I always think I have yielded my life to Christ, I mean its been years and I gave him my life years ago.  I became his follower, his disciple....so yeah at first I realized I had to change the way I used my time, then came the days of learning to put Christ before my husband and my children. Every time God taught me what it meant to let go of control and live in the way of His will and not mine.  This past year I have struggled with my health and rheumatoid arthritis.  I suddenly couldn't do things I used to do.  Walking was painful, using my hands to open jars or use a knife was impossibly hard.  I was suddenly seeing doctors who were telling me I would be on medication for the rest of my life and that it won't just get better or go away.  But here I am, finally able to use my hands and feet more as we have figured out a good medication combo.  However, the medication I am on is one of those ones you hear about on TV with a whole slew of "possible side effects" which sound crazy to chance.  I found myself wondering what can I do in the future, I can't imagine doing some of the things I once thought I would be doing and even had some days of depression over that fact...however the past few weeks Jesus has been faithful to reveal to me something I have missed all these years...  Who's life is this anyway??  I gave my life to the One who gave his life for me.  I began thinking if I ever truly understood that...  He has and will allow what he will allow in my life for his purpose.   He loves me and cares for me and I don't have to fear what I can or can't do.  He already knows and I have (or at least am learning) to yield to his desires.  I am learning looking back on my walk with God, that his desires have become my desires naturally over time and always when he was ready to move in my life.  He is the vine and I am the branch, therefore I do not need to figure it out anymore than a branch gets down and pulls on the vine to make itself grow.  The branch instead holds tight to the vine and its growth is a product of clinging to the vine for all its needs and it grows by default through the vigor and health of the vine.  So I am back to asking who's life is this anyway??  I laid mine down years ago to be taken up by the one who is all sufficient.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New year new lessons

It is the new year and usually I get excited thinking about what the new year will bring. I am excited for 2015, as I will watch my oldest graduate high school in a few months! This year is different though for other reasons. Last year at this time I had no idea that in a few months in one weekend my health would be tipped upside down. A swollen hand one weekend in April turned into a 6 month journey to find out what was wrong and how to treat it. It totally caught me off guard. Now I am in the phase of learning how to live with being on constant medications and learning new ways of doing things since my body doesn't always want to cooperate. Confession, I am a bit of a control freak....my kids may say more than a bit. I like a plan, I like to make big plans...hence the 8 kids. I am a weird creature as I love things that terrify me, such as storms and disasters. If i didn't follow the path of having a large family I would have finished my degree in emergency management and worked with FEMA. I only had one semester to go! Now though I am starting a new season of life on different levels and really its terrifying and excited...but mostly terrifying.. I have spent that last 17 years building my family and the last 10 years deeply involved in the adoption world. Now this will be the first time I start to enjoy the family and even start to watch them become their own people. As a planner I have often thought about what I would do when the family building/adoption time ended. Some of plans involved things like getting back into storm spotting and volunteering with an organization, getting ready to start my career as a teacher (which is what I ended up finishing college with), going out and doing mission/ministry work with Randy and the kids. I imagined that with some more time I would get into fitness (though this was ALWAYS a long shot..) or even taking up something new! So here I am looking at the future but realizing I have no idea what my future will look like. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis do great and the medications allow them to do all sorts of things, others end up living a pretty depressing life of pain, exhaustion and multiple surgeries...oh did I mention I research everything constantly so I have read every website and blog that talks about RA? One thing I know is that God knows what he has planned for me. I also know that I am weak in walking in the faith of this knowledge. My fear is that I will become someone who doesn't leave the couch and is wasting the life God has blessed me with because I can't figure out how to live with this disease, but my hope is that I can find new ways to discover new things and enjoy old things. Luckily I have some time to think about the future as I am currently still homeschooling 8 children!  One humbling thing I am learning is that I have never really let go and given it all to God, every time I think I am letting God lead, He shows me an area that I am clinging to and I have to learn to let go. So here is to the future, whatever it may hold. This year will be a year of learning to trusting in God's plan for me and stop trying to control and guess the next steps...