Family 2015

Family 2015

Sunday, November 23, 2014

This IS Life

We are extraordinarily busy right now.  When all the kids were littler and I felt overwhelmed, my friends with older kids would sometimes tell me, "just wait, it's worse when they get older." (Because they were encouraging like that - lol!)

I didn't believe them, not because I thought they were liars, but because I couldn't comprehend being any busier than I was at the moment.  I figured they just didn't remember what it was like when their kids were young and all they did was change diapers, feed babies and clean up mess after mess after mess.

Turns out, they did remember, and they were right.

The busyness is different, but it is BUSY.  Keeping track of our schedules and coordinating who needs to be where and when is a task of great proportions.  I couldn't do it without my husband and car pool friends.  Even with that, we often collapse on the couch at night barely believing we're getting up in a few short hours to do it all over again.

Friday, I was picking McKinley up early from school to take her to a doctor's appointment and lamenting the fact that I wasn't going to get my usual Friday tasks accomplished because of several appointments I had crammed into that day weeks before.  I signed her out and she hopped in the car and immediately starting telling me about some middle school girl drama. My brain was exhausted and I could barely fathom listening to her list of complaints, my knee jerk reaction was to tune her out and throw in the cursory "mmhmm" and "oh, that's awful" while not really paying attention.

Then, like a lightning bolt to my brain came this thought, "This IS life!  Don't wish it away!  That 12 year old sitting next to you with her middle school sized problems - she is growing and will one day soon be an adult and not need you nearly as much.  Tune in, Mom.  These are the days she will remember."

I did, and we had a great conversation.  I looked at all my kids differently that night - 3 of them had to be different places and so our Friday evening wasn't exactly relaxing, but I enjoyed my time in the car with each of them, and cherished our interaction.

Here is my early New Year's resolution:  I will do my best to enjoy each moment, no matter how hectic.  Life is a gift and I will treat it that way. :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Desperate Love

So, Pierce has been dealing with some common childhood fears lately - specifically the thought of being left alone.  He has had some dreams where it's the end of the school day, he misses the bus and then we never come to get him, stuff like that.

I know that some kids struggle with this, but it doesn't stop me from wondering, how can a child who is so desperately loved have these thoughts??

Then, last night, as I was laying in bed, I felt God shoot that thought straight back at me:

"Indeed, I wonder the same thing about my kids."

Dang.  Whatever may be going on in your life today, remember, you are loved desperately by the God of the Universe.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Good grief, I'm afraid to look at the date of my last post.  By way of an explanation, I'll just say I've been a little busy.  :)

We have been here in Virginia for 15 months now and I feel like life has finally settled into a rhythm.  When we first moved, many friends who had moved before us told me it would take between 6 months and 2 years for our new home to feel like "home."  I think I have finally hit the magical line where that happens, Stuarts Draft is where I feel comfortable now.  *cue sappy music*

I couldn't be happier with how things are unfolding for the kids.  Kennedy is in her senior year and has had 2 great seasons with the marching band.  She plans to march in college as well and has a car and (almost) a license.  She went to her first job interview yesterday.  She has made some great friends and had a lot of good times.  I have been amazed to watch her take on the challenge of starting a new school, in a new state, as a Junior - she has, in a word, flourished.

Hooray for the Staunton Academy of Ballet!!  How amazing that there was such a great studio 10 miles from our house.  Reagan is dancing more than ever and loving it more than ever.  She is very disciplined and focused (as most dancers are) and manages her time so well.  She has made friends mostly at dance, but is also involved as much as possible at the high school.  She voluntarily gets up super early on Thursdays to go to Campaigners - a branch of Young Life.  So proud of her.

McKinley is in her second year of middle school and is doing GREAT.  She excels academically and handles the ups and downs of middle school better than the average bear.  I always tell her the sky is her limit and I have no doubt that's where she'll end up.

Carter and Pierce have settled into the elementary school here very well and both have many friends. Carter tried football this fall and Pierce played soccer.  I have comfort in the fact that by the time they both head to the middle school (next year for Carter!), they will be well established in our new little community.

I am working as a receptionist/dental assistant and I love it!  The hours are great, the people are great, the field is interesting.  It has been an adjustment figuring out how to manage my household as a "working" mom after all those years of staying home, but my family has been gracious.  I'm also teaching a ballet class every week and that is good for my soul.  :)  I like my new normal.

Nic started back in the summer working with a friend of ours doing some painting and he is still at it. He is staying busy and of course, still writing.  He coached Pierce's soccer team and renewed his CDL so he could drive the bus for all the band stuff and the kid's field trips.  He is a great Dad and husband, we make a great team.  I am so grateful.

So, that is our update.  I think about all of you often, you are always in my heart.  I hope this finds you doing well and enjoying your life too.  *Big, fat, cyber hugs*  :)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Open Letter to My Children

So, as you well know, your Mom is an incurable optimist.  I simply do not see the point of focusing on the part of the glass that may be empty - if there is anything in that glass, that's what we should be looking at!

If you've been my child for long, you know that if you come to me with a problem, the first thing I will do is show you the ways to look at it that make it seem not so problematic.  I will talk to you about how it could be worse, why it might be a blessing in disguise and how that "other kid" has it so much worse off than you do.

Well, dear children, I would like to offer you an apology today.

I won't apologize for who I am, I have always been wired to think and deal with life in that way.

But, I do apologize if I have ever inadvertently hurt you when you came to me for help or just for a listening ear and I gave you a lot of (probably unwanted) advice.

I am so sorry if I have ever made you feel like your problems were small and you should "just get over it."

The truth is, I do understand.  Seeing you struggle and deal with hard things is hard for me, harder than it's ever been to struggle and deal with hard things on my own.  When I gave you pep talks and seemingly trite solutions, I am just trying, really trying, to take some of the hurt away from you.

I know it rarely works.

I also know that you sometimes just want a hug and a voice that says, "it's going to be ok."

I promise you that I will try, try to be more listening and less talking.  Try to just let you have a moment to be frustrated or hurt or disappointed without "fixing you."

You don't need to be fixed.  Frustration, hurt and disappointment are all, unfortunately, part of life.  It is normal to feel those and also normal to find your own way to deal with them.

The truth is, you are strong, amazing people.  I have no doubt that each of you will find your own way in life and be very happy and fulfilled.  You will make your mark on this world.  I wish I could take away all the road blocks you will face, but I cant, and I promise to stop trying to make the road blocks look like they are really a trip to the carnival.

I love you all so much.  And trust me, whatever you face, it's going to be ok. :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Race of Life

If I had a dollar for every time I heard an analogy about life being a race, I would be very wealthy.  I'm not saying that I necessarily disagree with the analogy, but I am saying that perhaps sometimes it is taken a bit too far.

Analogies are a great way to teach lessons, but they all break down at some point.  I think the point at which the "life/race" analogy breaks down is the point at which we are all made to feel that we are racing
against each other.

To quote my kids, "that's messed up, yo."

I've heard, and said, for a long time that our kids are growing up in a vastly different world than the one we grew up in.  Nothing brings that idea more into focus than having kids in high school.  I remember having a high school counselor, I think I met him once.  I vaguely remember him saying something to me about "dance not being a stable career choice" and "had I considered other options?"  I also remember taking the SAT and ACT and applying to college.  I don't remember feeling like if I didn't have a solid 10 year plan for my life come graduation that I was basically doomed to spend the rest of my life asking, "would you like fries with that?"

This is the reality for my kids though.

Now, I am NOT, in any way, downing on their counselor.  She is a terrific lady who has been amazingly helpful to us in our transition from Michigan to Virginia.  But, I am saying, they have seen her several times already and will continue to see her.  I have met her on several occasions, and her email is one of the top 10 on my list.  I'm grateful for her, she is great at her job.  I appreciate that the school is taking an active interest in the future of my children and doing their best to help.

The part I don't like is that they are inadvertently made to feel like they are falling behind in life if they haven't been accepted to 10 colleges by the end of their junior year.  I don't like that they are made to think they have to know what they are going to do with the rest of their life by the time they turn 18.

I remember what I thought about life when I was 18.  Um, it wasn't exactly true.  

I remember thinking about how my life would unfold.  It hasn't worked out exactly like that.

Although I was accepted to college with a full ride scholarship, I didn't go.  

Instead I spent 3 years touring the world with a dance company, went to Bible school, got married and had 5 babies.  I stayed at home with them for 16 years.  I did some homeschooling.  I taught dance.  I volunteered at too many places to mention.  Now, all my kids are in school and I'm working in a field I never even considered before the opportunity presented itself.  

My life has not followed a predictable pattern, but it has been so rich.  

I am so glad that I didn't miss out on what I have experienced because I was trying to race with someone else.  I'm so grateful that I was surrounded by people who encouraged me to follow my own path.  To be sure, it hasn't been a super smooth path with no bumps, but it has been mine.  I don't regret walking on it.  

To my kids, and all the kids of this generation: you are in a race yes, but not against your neighbor.  The race you are running is yours and yours alone.  Don't be afraid if your path doesn't match the person next to you - be afraid if it does. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

10 Months and 2 Days...

10 months and 2 days ago, we arrived in Stuarts Draft.  It almost feels like 10 years so much has happened.

Yesterday was the last day of school and we had McKinley's (late) birthday party at a local pool.  The whole evening I kept watching her and being amazed.  10 months ago she didn't know a soul here, and yet there they were - 7 kids (most of whom I met for the first time yesterday) showed up to celebrate my girl.  They ran and jumped and splashed and gave each other scores for who made the biggest splash when they leaped off the high dive.  They ate pizza and played freeze tag and football.  They gave my kid sweet gifts, friendship bracelets and notes that said, "you're a great friend!" and "I'm glad you moved here!"  So simple, but so big in my heart.

Today Kennedy will head to the school one last time for the year to board the bus with the rest of the band to go and play for the high school graduation.  Last night, half way through the birthday party, Nic went to get the pizza and dropped her off at the theater to see a movie with a friend.  She has been to homecoming, prom, Disney!  She has passed every test she needed to and is set to begin the fall as a senior, taking a dual enrollment comp class and will graduate in one short year with an advanced diploma.

Reagan.  Brand new studio with wonderful opportunities and GREAT people.  I will admit, I was worried about her adjusting to a new "dance world" because it's not always a friendly place.  I could have saved those fears.  This studio is full of the most welcoming people and she fit right into the advanced class seamlessly.  She took on her freshman year of high school like a champ, passed everything and was even recommended to honors English.

Carter will soon sign up to play football.  He has a group of friends who act just like 10 year old boys. :)  They run and jump and laugh and call each other "dude."  They play Madden and eat junk food and fall asleep in their clothes on my basement floor.  They get one more year of elementary school together and then they will be ready to take on the middle school.

Pierce was scared 10 months ago when school started.  We battled tears every morning.  Yesterday, he hopped out of the car waving goodbye like an afterthought and calling out hellos to other kids headed into the building.  He's had friends over, gone to birthday parties and is now talking to me about who he hopes he has in his classroom next year and which 2nd grade teacher he hopes he gets.

Nic and I have met so many wonderful people, I was surprised by a job that is a perfect fit for me now that the kids are all in school.   We have a great church.  We have almost conquered the algae in our pool. ;)

Life is not perfect (is it ever??), but I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this place and this new season in our lives.

God bless you all, dear friends.  I hope this is the best summer you've ever had.  :)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

In the Moment

I have gotten much better at living "in the moment" with my kids over the years.  Somewhere along the way I realized that there would never come a time where every little thing in life was perfect and so I was free to enjoy, every little thing will never be perfect.  If I don't enjoy them now, I will miss it.  I've understood that for many years now about my kids, but just recently, maybe even just today, I realized that my relationship with God is the exact same way.

He is with me in the moment.  His "job", if you will, is not to make sure that everything in my life is amazing and wonderful and never difficult (just as that is not my job with my kids), it is to be with me every moment. YES, He will help me and guide me and direct me and take care of me, and certainly His ability to do all of those things is infinitely greater than my ability to do it with my own kids, but His greatest promise is to always be there.

I have so much comfort from that thought today.

Whatever is waiting for me tomorrow, God already knows and He's already in my tomorrow making a way where there seems to be no way.  Making crooked places straight.  Making paths in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The paths and streams and answers He is busy working out may not be the way I want or when I want or look pretty on the outside, but they are there without fail.

I suppose I have sometimes feared that I am close to the end of using up the available grace.  That perhaps I have needed help just one time too often.  But today the gentle voice whispers in my spirit, "I am more than enough. Always.  My grace is sufficient for you.  Forever."

I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.  And He is more than enough.

Friday, April 4, 2014

As You Walk by the way...

I was going to start this blog out with the question, "have you ever felt like you weren't doing a good job teaching your kids about God?"  Then, I realized that would be a waste of space.  Of course you have I.

When Kennedy and Reagan were still preschool age and McKinley was a baby, I suddenly had this panicky feeling that I was losing time.  I had heard that everything a child needs to know they learn before Kindergarten and that most adults with a vibrant faith acquired it well before their teenage years.  Obviously, it was time to get busy.  So, I decided that we would have a devotion at dinner time every night.  You know, we would all sit peacefully around the table and discuss spiritual matters, pray for each other, Dad would give a Bible lesson and everything would be wonderful.

You know how that worked out.

It didn't.  It was terrible.  It felt forced.  The kids were disinterested.  The husband just wanted to eat his dinner without having to preach.  And I was sure that we were failing miserably at the most important part of parenting.

I tried a different approach - bedtime!  That will be awesome, it will be part of our "nighttime routine."  They will get in their jammies, brush teeth and climb in bed.  We will read a Bible story, teach them to pray, sing a hymn or two.


Breakfast then?

Not a chance.

How about right before dinner?


If you don't know me well, let me tell ya, I am not an organized, scheduled, have all my ducks in a row kind of person.  When I was considering adding devotion time to the bedtime routine, I had to admit to myself that we had no bedtime routine.  Ditto with breakfast.  Ditto with ever being able to expect anything in our house to happen at the same time every day, ever.  It's just not how we are.

Then, it dawned on me.  Was my own relationship with the Lord based on my predictable, routine quiet time every morning?  You know the answer.  Not in a million years.  No, it's more like I just talk to Him as I go about my day.  I journal when I have something to journal about.  I have quiet time at all different times, on all different days.  My relationship with the Lord isn't like a slice of pie - all segmented and put in it's proper place - it is an ingredient in the whole pie.

And, you know what?  It totally works for me.

Then I relaxed and a cool thing happened (and continues to happen).  As we go about our days, the topic of God and how we go about living for and with Him just comes up naturally and we talk about it as it does. When someone is having a problem, we bring God in on it.  We wrestle with issues and we don't worry when our kids ask questions or struggle with their faith.  We trust that as they seek truth, they will find it.  They will find Him.

And who knew?  It turns out my amazing idea on how to teach kids about God was actually in the Bible:

"Impress these things on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."  Deuteronomy 6:7


Friday, March 7, 2014

"Do or Do Not. There is No Try."

The older I get, the more I realize how wise Yoda actually was...

I love to hear people's stories of how they have triumphed over something in their lives - be it illness, relationship issues, addiction, money trouble, etc - I love to hear how they stood firm and ultimately broke on through to the other side.  The Bible is full of these tales - Moses, Noah, Joseph, Peter, Paul - just to name a few.

But, there is one problem.

It doesn't take long to tell a story.  No matter if the problem persisted in the person's life for weeks, months, years or decades, it only takes a few minutes to tell.  Maybe I'm alone, but that has messed me up in the past.

I would face a problem in my own life armed with the stories of other's victories and think, "I can do this!  I just need to apply a little tenacity and pretty soon it will be all over."

That "pretty soon" gets me every time.

Did you know that from the time Joseph's brother tossed him into that cistern to the time that Pharoah placed the ring on his finger was 20 years?  20 YEARS.  How about Moses?  From the time he knew he was the deliverer until he lead the children of Israel across the Red Sea was 40 years. That means if he fled Egypt and went to Midian when I was born, he is just now leading the people through on dry ground.  Noah spent 120 years building that boat.  It just took you a few seconds to read those words, but let them make an impact on your soul.  They walked through those trials moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour.  I am sure they all had times when they felt like throwing in the towel - "that's it!  I tried it!  I tried to believe God, to hang in there, to keep my chin up!!  It doesn't work!!"

No.  That's the wrong way to look at it.

Do or Do Not.  There is No Try.

All of those people whose stories we love to hear, they just kept on marching.  They didn't know where they were in the process or when they would ultimately overcome.  They just kept on going.  And going.  And going.

I didn't say they always felt like it.  I'm sure they didn't.  But, they kept going.

I don't know when, my friends, but one day someone is going to be reading or listening to my story and being all inspired.  They will.  Because I am not going to quit.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Gradual Epiphany

I was going to come on here and say that I had an epiphany today, but that's not exactly right.  What occurred to me has occurred to me's just that I feel like I understand it a little better every time it makes a, I dub it the "gradual epiphany."

Here it is.

I cannot control how my children experience life.  (I know, it's mind-boggling).

Before we moved, I felt very responsible to make the transition as easy on the kids as possible.  I did not (bless the Lord) make the grave mistake of telling them that everything would be wonderful all the time - that life would magically become amazing as soon as we got to Virginia.  No.  I was pretty honest about there being difficult times and taking time to adjust, etc.  I did, however, take the burden of their emotional response onto my own shoulders.  In fact, I recently realized that I have been doing this for most of their lives.

Somewhere along the way, I got the idea that if something difficult was going on in one of their lives, my job was, not necessarily to make it better (because, let's be honest, I had to admit early on that that can't always be done), but at least to make it FEEL better.

That seems reasonable, I mean what parent likes to see their child sad or upset or overwhelmed or stressed out?

But, trying to magically fix their emotions: 1. doesn't work, 2. makes them feel bad for having emotions in the first place, and 3. doesn't make the problem go away.

The high school the girls go to does block scheduling, so that basically means that they get 4 brand new classes at the semester.  Originally, I thought it was pretty cool and it is... on paper.  But, what I didn't realize was that meant they would essentially have another first day of school in January.  New schedule, new teachers, different lunch...starting over.

It wasn't as hard as the first day of school in August, but yesterday was a pretty rough day.  I learned, though, between then and now.  Back in August, I was all in cheerleader mode, "it wasn't so bad!  you don't feel nervous or scared!  pretty soon life will be grand!  Rah, rah, rah!"  Not effective.  Also, not true.

So, yesterday, I tried a different approach.  "I'm sorry your day was so stressful.  It sucks that you have 2nd lunch and the people you used to sit with have 3rd lunch.  Yah, I would be pretty upset too.  Hey, even God gets angry - the Bible says so. It won't get better over night, just keep putting one foot in front of the other."

I don't know if it helped them anymore, but it sure felt better to me.  I don't need to worry that because they have a bad day, or week, or season, that they will be irreparably damaged.  It is unrealistic to try to keep them from ever feeling negative emotions. My honesty and sincere empathy go a lot further than my "it's all fine" facade.

Lesson learned.

I pray day 2 was a bit easier on them.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Time to Celebrate!!!

I'm guessing that my title lead you to believe that I was going to be making some grand announcement about something amazing that has happened.

Well, no.

Today is pretty normal in the sense that I got up, got the kids up, ready and on the bus, had some coffee, threw in some laundry, put dinner in the crock pot... you get the picture.  But, all morning I have had this sense of...hmmm, how to say it...tenacity.  That's it, tenacity.

I get so bogged down sometimes with the worries of life and thinking about how this or that is going to work out.  Wondering why something did or didn't happen.  Wishing this or that had happened differently or, maybe even, not at all.

But today, I'm done with all that.  Because, gosh darn it, I am still putting one foot in front of the other.  Everyday.

I have a great marriage to a wonderful, hard working man who is a great father to my kids.

I have 5 pretty amazing kids (if I do say so myself).

My kids may not have all the latest and greatest gadgets, but they woke up in a warm house, had breakfast and marched off to a good school with clean clothes on their backs and shoes on their feet.

They will come home to a warm house. a good dinner and plenty of love and encouragment.

We are healthy.

We have been welcomed into a great new community and have lots of opportunity before us.

So, I will relinquish all those thoughts of  "woulda, shoulda, coulda."

Forward, march!  :)