Saturday, March 8, 2014

These Are The Days!

These are the days..

when I lose count of the number of children in my house.
I can't turn on the living room lights because then the couches do not look wolves and bears for the hunters!
everything is turned into a gun.
the boys dominate.
I am surviving on less sleep then I ever thought was possible.
legos are a favorite.
kids spend hours curled up with good books.
even more hours listening to stories.

every evening is dedicated to listening to The Sugar Creek Gang and Adventures in Odyssey
lots of coffee is consumed by momma
lots and lots of food is consumed by the kids.
when the floors are rarely clean.
projects of various kinds are scattered over the house.
baby gates are needed.
the house is never clean.
the laundry is never done
the sink never without dirty dishes
 the van looks like we live in.

I want to savor and remember these days. We are on the cusp of teenagerdom. 

This has been an incredibly long winter... but it has been a time of bonding, connecting with hearts and building relationships.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

God's love...

Today was my birthday...  I am "old" now according to my kids.

Today i had an "unbloggable event". I was stressed. I was praying. Lives hang in balance. Hearts hang in balance.

Last night I had a pity party because I had to deal with this today. I also had a faith crisis..

God, how can I claim the verses in the Bible that proclaim promises when you allowed Mr. to die? How can I trust you to protect my heart in this situation? How can I believe that my heart won't be broken again? How can I trust you to work out this situation? God, how will I know that your plan for me won't bring a deep, deep loss to not only myself but also for my kids?

I left my house bright and early this morning. Thankful for sitters close by for all my kids.

I attended the "event". It went better then I could ever have anticipated. God's hand was definitely all over this! Praising Him! It was a miracle answer to my prayer. Its not over yet.. but its definitely looking better!

Last night Mr. and Mrs. D had called to see if they could bring dinner for us tonight. I was in  a funk. ;) So I asked if they could instead watch the kids for 2 hours so I could get my hair cut! After lots of back and forth emails, we settled that he would call me today and after my "event" come to pick up the kids.

Mrs. R agreed to keep baby a couple more hours.

 Mr D was later picking up the kids then I anticipated...

I drove to salon where I occasionally get my eye brows done. That place was shut down. In absolute desperation, I decided to drive down the road and find a hair place. Its been over 5 months since I had a hair cut. I was desperate.

I had schedule and rescheduled the hair appointment twice already.

I had tried stopping at random hair salons twice in the past months.

I was driving down the highway, when suddenly I noticed this cute little shopping center off to the right. There were only 4 or 5 small businesses, def not a high traffic area.

I pulled in and up to the front door. There was this adorable little, one woman, hair salon. The lady in the back corner was fiddling a radio.

I asked if she could give me a haircut or if I needed an appointment. She said that normally people come by appointment only but today she wasn't busy. She was happy to do my hair. 

We chit chatted as she tortured my eye brows and trimmed my hair. I shared that it was my birthday and that I had a couple kid free hours today because of that. She was quiet and efficient, old enough to be my mom.

She mentioned that she was only  at the salon, because the radio wasn't working and she wanted to fix it. 

We finished up. I went to pay. She turns around and looks at me and says "God asked me to do this for free. I do not want you to pay me. I believe God meant for you to stop by here today."  I was shocked and tried to pay her. She refused.

She took my face in her hands and said "God wants you to know that you are special and beautiful".

I walked out in shock. I truly believe this was a personal gift from God, a confirmation that he cares about me even in the little things. The coincidences  were not random things, but God moments. 
I felt his love and presence in the words from that dear lady. He cares about every little detail.

This is something Mr. would have done for me were he still alive...

Yes God allows hurt and pain in lives. Yes, sometimes we need to let go.  We do not see the big picture, we do not understand why it has to hurt so bad. But we know he cares. He loves us.

Life has been heavy lately.  The weight of discouragement weighing on my shoulders. But God is faithful. He did not provide what I needed today, because I had loads of faith. He did not provide what I needed because I begged in tears. But because He loves me and because he loves me, sometimes hard things will come too.

The battle isn't won yet. The journey is far from over. But for today, I felt blessed and encouraged.

My phone has been buzzing with text messages, love from friends and family. My dear friend dropped off chicken for dinner and flowers for the kids to give to me.

My amazing day ended with ice cream cake with 3 dear friends! I was abundantly blessed today!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Peace or war....

Having 6 kids, 4 within 16 months of each other, can be both a blessing and a challenge.

They always have someone to play with. But they also always have somene to fight with. ;)

We homeschool so we are together ALL THE TIME! This is great for building relationship and learning how to resolve conflict, but it can be a challenge too.

A friend gave me this wonderful suggestion that has helped with relationship.

It has become an important part of our evening routine.

Evenings are a bit chaotic here. But we seem to be settling into a bit of a routine.

Kids radio drama is from 6 to 7. By 7:15 only the 4 big kids are awake. (ideally) They usually get nighties on, etc.. while I put the littles to bed. If they have to wait for me, they pull up an audio book on youtube.

When the littles are asleep and the house cleaned up, I gather the 4 big kids for bedtime prayers and our pow wow time.

Pow wow time has changed our lives...

We gather together, sometimes after fun days, sometimes the days have been just barely survivable... But we are family, we need to work through conflicts and celebrate proud moments.

For pow wow, we ask 3 questions.

1. Was I fun to be around today?
2. Was I respectful to myself and others?
3. Was I responsible?

Each child takes a turn, asking themselves, then their siblings this question. If there were any conflicts, we resolve them and apologies are made. This helps a child learn to confront the other one, rather then letting it simmer inside. It also allows the child to make things right if they wronged another child. This has proved to be very freeing for some of my children. It also opened my eyes to some conflicts that I wasn't aware of and some good things I had been missing.

After each child has answered each question and things have been made right, we go to step 2.

Each child takes a turn to say something good about each sibling. It has to be something specific they noticed on that particular day. It affirms those who struggle.

I can not tell you what a difference this has brought to sibling relationships in my home. It is also teaching them crucial relationship/conflict management skills that are so important in a big family.
I dare you to try it with your child!

After pow wow, we have prayer time. We choose one specific thing to pray for each evening. Everyone takes a turn to pray! My children are truly little prayer warriors.

Bedtime hugs are my favorite time of day. Sometimes after prayers we get into deep discussions, sometimes it gets a little wild but there is nothing like that end of day camaraderie.