What makes for a GOOD day

I’ve had some pretty tough days lately. The kids have been at each other, emotions have run high, routines are fluctuating a bit, and we’ve had some nasty Summer colds thrown in the mix. Needless to say, we’ve had an influx of whining, arguing, exhaustion, and overall crankiness.

One day, in particular, I may or may not have texted “I quit” … multiple times. Some days, I’m just done. Being a mom is HARD. Good and amazing, but hard.

This got me thinking about a conversation I had a while back with a dear friend. She asked me what constitutes a “good day” … from my perspective.

Without hesitation, I told her a “good day” is one where I know I have been a good wife, mother and friend. The kids could be at odds, the house a wreck, the cupboards short on food … but if I respond and react to the people in my life with gentleness, kindness, patience, grace and love … I feel like it’s been a good day. I can hold my head up high.

Please hear me, I do not enjoy the fighting, having a messy home, or experiencing any lack, but I realize this is part of being a mom, a part of life. It comes with the territory. I don’t think I have ever experienced a perfect day, one without hardship. The reality of being a wife, a mother, and a friend isn’t always easy or smooth.

It is in these moments that I must choose.

Just as I often tell my kids, we cannot control what others do or say, we can only control ourselves. So, it is the same with my own choices.

At the end of the day, I can gage whether it has been a good or bad one based on how I thought, spoke and responded/reacted to the people in my life. Did I seek to honor the Lord and honor others? Or, did I look to only please myself?

Ultimately, I know it was a good day if/when …

  • I had time in God’s Word at the start of my day (it truly does impact the rest of the day!!)
  • compassion oozed from my being to minister to my hurt or sick husband, children or friends.
  • my patience didn’t wane even when others around me pushed all of my buttons.
  • grace abounded.
  • forgiveness was given freely.
  • I died to self and served wholeheartedly.
  • discipline was done for the purpose of teaching, correcting and training in righteousness; not out of spite, malice or vengeance.
  • my voice remained steadfast and didn’t spike in bursts of anger or frustration.
  • I did not whine or complain.
  • I looked into the eyes of those I love and saw them for who they are, not for what they did or did not do.
  • I smiled and laughed often.
  • I walked in integrity, especially when no one else was listening or looking.

I may not experience ALL of these EVERY day, but if I hit many of them, I can tell a difference in my overall view of the day.

As much I would love to control everything and everyone around me, I know I cannot. This leaves me coming back to myself. I have choices to make. My greatest desire is to be able to stand before the Lord and know I have done my very best. I know it won’t be perfect. I know I will fall short daily. I know it will be hard. But, if I know in my heart of hearts I have left it all on the court, then, I feel it’s been a “good day.”

It is in these moments when I feel I have made a difference, I have made an impact in the lives around me. Hopefully, prayerfully, they see Jesus in and through me, as HE is the source of all that is good in me.

Circumstances do not define my days, good or bad; no, it is my response and reaction to those circumstances that draw the distinction.  

I confess, there are many days where I check out and try to just get through it. I often “quit” (though, not really). It is during these challenging moments when I more earnestly seek His face. Then, when tomorrow comes, I start anew. His mercies are, indeed, new every morning. A fresh start with new choices to be made.

Grace. It truly is a gift.

Yes, yes, let’s make it a good day today. Let’s walk with integrity, seasoned with patience and self-control, and saturated in truth and love …

To God be the Glory!

Fun Fact Friday – May 12, 2017

Whew! It has been quite the week!

As you may or may not have noticed, it’s been a week since my last post (which was my previous week’s “Fun Fact Friday”). A couple of days ago, I was trying to figure out why I haven’t been able to blog this week. After all, I do have things to say, to share, to post, but I just haven’t done so. Why is that?

After doing Munchkin’s catheter at around 2am on Wednesday morning, I decided to do an “audit” (of sorts) of my week. I wanted to get a more complete picture to better understand why I haven’t had any extra time to write. So, I started to list out all of my/our scheduled commitments for just this (busier) week. I only audited the weekdays, Monday-Friday, I did not look at our weekend commitments. The results were quite revealing.

Below are the “fun facts” of our commitments and daily happenings this past week:

  1. 2 hockey nights – 1 for practices, 1 for games.
  2. 4 nights of swim club practices.
  3. 1 swim club meeting.
  4. 2 dentist appointments – both on the same day, but one was in the morning, one was in the afternoon.
  5. 3 orthodontic appointments – this may count as 1, though, as they were all back-t0-back on the same day.
  6. 5 days of dropping off and picking up at school.
  7. 1 hour of homework every night for our newest little (6 yr old) placement.
  8. 5 annual SATs to administer to our 5 oldest children – we spread the tests out over all 5 weekdays.
  9. 2 different “visits” with birth families of our littlest girls.
  10. 4 different youth groups – different times, days and locations.
  11. 1 therapy appointment.
  12. 1 in-home visit with our newest placements CASA (essentially, her personal advocate in court).
  13. 1 dad and son (Papa and Bro) movie night out with other dads and sons.
  14. 15 times for medications to be administered to Munchkin (3x each day).
  15. 1 bed/room to prepare for our guest arriving on Friday night (we’re so excited for his arrival!)

Uh. Yeah. As I said before, quite revealing. No wonder I was OUT once my head hit the pillow at night. I’m tired, haha! I’m not stressed, just had a busier week which simply takes time, energy and attention. I think I subconsciously concluded it was far more important for me to sleep this week than to blog. I typically write most of my posts late at night or early in the morning, but since I was sleeping at those times, the blog was neglected for a bit. Frankly, I’m OK with that. Sometimes, I just need to prioritize for my personal health and well-being in order to better take care of and manage the daily hustle and bustle surrounding our family.

I am so grateful for God’s covering over us in this season. He has lavishly given us grace and strength to press on, persevere, and manage all that comes with our lives: our marriage, our 7 children, our work, our finances, our home, and of course, our crazy schedule. It’s not easy, no, but it is what absolutely love to do!!

I wonder what next week will hold?! OK, I just looked … I already spy on the calendar 29 various appointments, commitments, and/or daily routines between Monday and Friday. Dude. If you don’t hear from me before next Fun Fact Friday, you’ll know why, hahahaha!

Regardless of what we face, highs and lows, ups and downs, joys and sorrows, triumphs and challenges, visits, appointments, therapies, exhaustion, and anything else that comes our way … as always …

To God be the Glory!!

A sweet addition

As I write this, it is 5am, the house is completely dark. Everyone is sleeping. It is quiet.

I treasure these moments of quiet and solitude. With a house full of children, it is not typically quiet, nor am I often alone. Yet, I adore having a bustling home. Sure, I have a points of hitting my threshold of noise levels, but truly, I am so blessed with a home full of people I love and cherish.

So, why not add more?

Yesterday, I received a call at 8am from a local DHS worker. As the caller’s name displayed on my cell, I knew who it was. She is the caseworker for Munchkin’s case. Naturally, I anticipated an update about her situation.

Surprisingly, this was a call of a different kind.

She saw we were licensed for two foster children and knew we only had one in our home: Munchkin. She let me know there was another precious little girl needing a loving and nurturing home.

I took down the information, as fast as I could write, asked a few questions, and immediately called Papa at work. I conveyed all of the information to him and waited for his initial reaction.

I didn’t have to wait long.

He confidently replied, “This may sound crazy, but I immediately want to say yes.”

Though Papa couldn’t see it, a smile spread across my face as he spoke those words. I had that same feeling and response.

One of the bars we use to gage our answers for possible placements is, “If it’s not a heck yes, it’s a no.” We didn’t have any “no” in us with this call. We did have some questions, but no deal breakers. All of the lights appeared to be green.

But, there is another bar we need to reach to continue to move forward: our children.

With Papa on the speaker phone, I called all 6 of the kids into our bedroom and they piled high on our bed. Whenever there is a spontaneous family “meeting” (of sorts), they often get a bit excited. They know something important is about to be discussed or shared.

Without going into the details of her case, we simply sought their input on welcoming a new little one into our home. Their thoughts, feelings, perspectives and insights are so valuable. After all, we are a foster family, not just foster parents. Everyone is impacted when there is an addition.

Across the board the kids were open and willing. “Let’s do this.” “I want to.” “I’m ok with it.” One gave an “a-ok” sign with his hands. There is always a bit of wonder, nervousness and excitement as the news settles. Change does this. But, overall, they all expressed they are ready to open their hearts up once again and love another child. We have amazing children.

As we continued to discuss what would happen, they did ask 3 specific questions:

  1. “Where will she sleep?”
  2. “How will we fit in the car?”
  3. “Does she have medical needs like Munchkin?”

We addressed each concern quite easily as Papa and I had previously discussed the first two questions and we knew the answer to the third (no known medical needs). It’s interesting to see them respond with practical needs in mind (beds, cars, medical) instead of more abstract needs (emotional, psychological, etc.). We hope and pray this is because they know love is multiplied, not subtracted, when precious little ones come into our home.

Once we all had ample time to share and listen to one another, Papa prayed. I wish I could’ve taken a picture of our beautiful children heaped on the bed, surrounding my phone, listening intently to Papa, as we all prayed together.

We truly are a foster family.

The rest of the day was full of anticipation as we did not know exactly when the new little one would move in with us. I kid you not, the children asked me a couple dozen times throughout the day when she would arrive. “Have you heard anything yet?” “When is she coming?” I do believe they are a wee bit excited. In fact, we all are!

We finally heard later in the day that she would be coming the following afternoon (which is today). We had some extra time to prepare.

Besides those who were at swim practice for the evening, the rest of us did various things to prepare for her arrival. We moved some beds around, purchased some new clothes, and also picked up some adorable new pink and purple bedding for her.

One thing we have experienced, foster children do not always come with a large variety of supplies. They often come with very little of their own personal possessions. Due to their circumstances, it’s also common for them not to experience receiving new items very often, so buying new bedding and new clothes is a simple yet special little way to show our love and care for them. We want them to know right-off-the-bat they are valuable, special, and loved. Hopefully, over time, they will not only know, but will also feel they are valuable, special and loved.

As I finish this post up, the new day is dawning. The sun is rising and spreading its light across the land. Our home will be bustling and active in just a short time from now, and our children will bring their own light and life to the day. We anticipate sweet little one’s arrival on this beautiful day.

Yes, today is going to be a great day.

To God be the Glory!

Peace out, coffee

If any of you have read the About: Momma page for this blog, you will know I like to drink my sweet, candy flavored coffee.

2 teaspoons of sugar
3 little containers of vanilla creamer
1 squirt of Hershey syrup
vanilla flavored coffee

Y’all. That is a lot of … uh … sweet. And, I love it.

Unfortunately, my body hasn’t loved or responded so well to it. In the past 6 months, I have gained about 15 pounds (!) and the only thing I have really changed in my diet was drinking more coffee. I’d have a cup or 2 in the morning (yes, with all of that sugar!), then I often have another in the afternoon.

I only started drinking coffee within the past couple of years (in 2015, I believe), but really started downing it in the last 6 (or so) months.

I’m paying for it now.

My body can’t take the influx of sugar as well at my age. Though I realize 38 isn’t old, I’ve heard enough women say that once they hit their 40’s their metabolism levels changed dramatically. Maybe I’ve hit that stage early, who knows? Regardless, I realize something has to change.

This year really is about simplifying my life, isn’t it? I’ve removed Facebook and Instagram for the year, I have decided I won’t purchase any new books (and read what I already own, what a concept!), and now I’m cutting out my daily consumption of coffee. It probably sounds painful and like I’m missing out in changing my daily habits, but I’m truly finding freedom in … less.

I am hopeful this will be the same way with coffee. I’m not going to ban myself from it completely, at this point, but I will stop drinking it daily. I anticipate that I’ll enjoy a cup of coffee on Saturday mornings with Papa as well as when I go out for a coffee date with friends.

Small beginnings.

This will be my first morning without any coffee. I expect the headaches to begin right around 10:00 or 11:00am.

Bring on the Ibuprofen!

A good kind of arguing

As with any family, we have disagreements and arguments from time to time. The vast majority of these are between our 6 kids.

They can be passionate about many things: toys, books, food, friends, sports, opinions, and being “right.” People want to be heard, validated and respected. It is often in these waves of passions that arguments arise.

We try to navigate these treacherous waters with extreme care. Our goal is to try to get at the root of the behavior. What are they truly saying? What needs are not being met? How can we help them? Once we know what they are truly communicating, we can address it more effectively. All behaviors, good or bad, communicate something. More often than not, some kind of fear is at the root of their behavior. We do our best to listen more intently and read between the lines to see how to proceed.

Please don’t hear me wrong, our kids do not get everything they want in this process. haha! Oh how they would wish. But, we do try to hear what they are communicating behind the veil of their behavior. From that point, we hopefully will know how to lead them through these more heated and highly emotional times using Truth, using God’s Word, and meeting them right where they are in the moment.

Jesus did the same. He met people in the midst of their need. This is our desire, as well. We definitely aren’t perfect like Jesus, but we do seek to follow Him and His ways.

In our home, there is one kind of arguing that I actually appreciate. Not that I love the arguing, but I love what it expresses, in general.

You see, every day, our 5 older kids argue about who gets to go help Munchkin at various points throughout the day.

They all LOVE to go in and greet her in the morning, hold her, and bring her out to the kitchen for all to see her. She is extra cuddly, has the most amazing bed-head, and typically wakes up with a huge smile, which makes it even that much sweeter for them to want to be with just her for those few minutes (more like seconds, really) in the morning. They beg to hold her at every chance they can get.

There is so much love expressed for Munchkin.

In their passion and love for her, it’s easy for them to argue over who gets to sit by her at the table, who gets to hold her when we’re out and about, who gets to buckle her into her car seat, or who gets to have her on their lap during family movie night.

They argue over Munchkin every single day of the week. Every. Single. Day. Though it can be wearisome at times, as the mom, to constantly be thinking about who helped her last to know whose turn it is now to be with her, I am grateful for this struggle. I would much rather have my children argue over who gets to actively love and help someone, than for them to disconnect and want nothing to do with anyone.

And yes, I do completely realize that many of their tiffs about her are based in selfishness, “He got to get her out of her room yesterday, it’s my turn!” But, as I mentioned previously, those are easier to navigate when they come from a place of helping and serving, than from a place of isolation.

We actually ended up creating a system to ease these daily arguments: Bro’s day to help Munchkin is on Monday, Demo is on Tuesday, Sparkle is on Wednesday, King is on Thursday, and Taz is on Friday. Though this system has helped tremendously, we still get arguments here and there (especially if someone else gets her out of bed in the morning because the assigned person for the day is still sleeping). And, that’s OK. We  learn to practice letting go of our personal desires in order to bless others.




Even amidst the arguments, Papa and I will continue to lead and guide our children to love and serve each other well; we will continue to dig deeper to find the roots of their behaviors to better meet their needs; we will continue to learn more about ourselves and others as we navigate familial relationships; and we will continue to cast the vision of foster care, of sacrifice, of being brothers and sisters, and of being a strong and solid family.

To God be the Glory!

When the wind is knocked right out of you

At our homeschool co-op this week, King (in 6th grade) was playing on the playground between classes with many of the other students. He loves climbing all around the structure. I didn’t see it happen, but at one point, his foot slipped and he fell down right on a metal bar, hitting him just below his ribcage.

He couldn’t breathe.

The wind was completely knocked right out of him.

He panicked.

Two of the dads came and got me and stayed with us as I checked to see how he was doing. He was very shaken up and quite teary-eyed as he sat on the grass. We transferred him over to a shady location to cool down a bit and for him to just rest and catch his breath. I could see he was struggling.

After assessing how he was doing, I went to let his home economics teachers know he would need to miss his class this week.

Just a few minutes later, King changed his mind and decided he wanted to give class a try. After all, they were learning how to cook eggs in various ways this week (eggs benedict, poached eggs, sunny-side-up eggs, etc.). King loves this class. It’s his favorite (which I find is funny, because I teach one of his other classes, hahaha!).

Just about 5 minutes into class, the teacher’s assistant came to let me know King was “not doing well at all.” He was clammy, crying, and crumpled up on the cement floor outside. Even though I was a ways away, I could see she was right, he was not OK. I didn’t know what all was wrong, but he looked quite pale and miserable with his red eyes and tear-stained cheeks. I later learned that he stood up in class only to collapse onto the ground and begin sobbing. He couldn’t catch a deep enough breath without it hurting his rib area, which brought more trauma.

The teacher and the teacher’s assistant both stopped and prayed for him in that moment.

One of our homeschooling co-op mom’s is a local family doctor, so I had her check him to see if we need further assistance. What a blessing to have a doctor on campus!! She didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, he likely just bruised his stomach/ribs. I asked about his not feeling well and being clammy and pale, and she said that’s very normal after a trauma incident. The adrenaline kicks in and can cause the body to go into a bit of a shock mode.

Slowly, but surely, King was able to settle down once he was laying flat with a cool breeze blowing on him. Standing or sitting up still made him feel pretty junky.

Throughout the remaining hour at co-op, we had quite a few kids and mommas ask how he was doing. Everyone was so supportive, sensitive and comforting in our time of need. King rested while laying on a couch for the remainder of co-op.

Even upon our return home, we had 5 different moms call or text me throughout the day to see how he was doing. Y’all, it truly is a beautiful thing to have friends to come alongside when we needed the extra love and support. To have such dear friends check in to make sure he was OK … it brings tears to my eyes as I type this. I am so grateful.

I know I already touched on this yesterday, but having wonderful, supportive, caring, and compassionate friends in our lives truly is one of the most wonderful treasures.

As I finish typing up this post, King is in his bed, sleeping and resting for the night. He is a bit bruised and slow going as he moves about, but he seems to be doing just fine at this point. <sigh of relief>

To God be the Glory, protection from serious harm and great friends He has given us!

Friends are treasures

Recently, I had the complete joy of spending time with my friend over a couple of cups of iced coffee. It was going to be just a simple little coffee date. Get away from the house duties, have a bit of space from the kiddos, enjoy a tasty beverage, and connect in a simple way. Nothing flashy or fancy or full of crazy expectations. Just a brief afternoon to connect, face-to-face, in real time.

We headed on down to a local coffee shop that has an antique cash register, comfy couches throughout the various seating areas, a cute chalkboard menu, and fun décor surrounding. It was quiet. It was humble. It was perfect.

I thought we would be gone for maaaaybe 2 hours total, while she let her kids know she’d be gone for about an hour.

We were both wrong.

After what I thought was about an hour, I happened to look at my watch to gage our timing and realized … we had already been gone for 3 hours. Three!! That might not seem long to many of you, but when you do not anticipate that length of time when looking at your watch, it’s quite surprising to see it.

We were sweating in the heat, chatting away, listening, sharing, asking questions, sipping our coffees, telling stories, laughing, grieving, celebrating, learning more about each other … and before we knew it, our entire afternoon had flown right on by. I loved every minute of it. Our time together was so sweet and so easy that we didn’t even realize how quickly it had gone.

I tell you all of this because, well, friends are treasures.

After dropping my friend off at her house, I drove home with a lightness in me. Joy. Connection. Laughter. Sharing. Trust. Friendship. Sharpening. Encouraging. Learning. Growing. What a true gift to have friends to “do life with” and to enjoy a beautiful 3-hour long coffee date. It was a lovely afternoon that carried me right into a lovely evening (though I spent it at the hockey rink surrounded by smelly hockey gear, haha!). Friendships help us be immune to the junk around us. We can face our days and nights with a new and refreshing outlook when we’ve connected with a friend in a meaningful way.

If you haven’t done so recently, I encourage you to step out and connect with a friend. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, just a time to get together. I am so grateful my friend had asked me. I was more than thrilled and ready to say, “Yes, let’s go!” Sometimes, we just have to be bold and willing to take that step (either in asking or in accepting the invite).

Yes indeed, friends are treasures. They are not treasures to hide away, but to go out with and enjoy life! They are meant to be discovered as friends are incredibly valuable in our lives.

This begs the question, “What treasured friendships are awaiting for you to discover?”