Your Day Is Coming

Today, this very moment, I am the busy mom of many. I am trying to get myself together this morning before I wake the kids and prepare myself for the onslaught of activity and noise. I will likely have to raise my voice to be heard above the din. (In case you are wondering, din is a loud confusing mixture of noises that last for a long time and boy, does it describe my life.)

Today, this very day, I will likely speak with one of my teen daughters concerning her attitude and with my other daughter concerning her bossiness. I will most likely have to remind one son to keep on task and another to keep his hands to himself. I will surely pray hard as I attempt to teach my son with dyslexia his reading lesson. Oh, and let’s not forget the grown children. I’ll most certainly be cautioning and encouraging them. 

My life is full to the point of me trying to catch my breath and maintain my sanity at times and the reason why? These children. The ones I asked God to give me. My answers to prayer. They have filled my empty arms. They have stretched me and challenged me. I am stronger and wiser. I am exhausted and spent. I am their mother and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is the greatest thing I’ve ever done. 

Even as I look for my courage to face my overwhelming day  I am remembering those who are still waiting. I am praying for those who will wrap their arms around each other and at times around themselves to try to cope with the terrible time of waiting for those arms to be filled with a child, their child, their very own child.

Your day is coming. Your path will be different than mine. Your disappointments may be many. Your waiting may seem unbearable. Your plight may seem hopeless. Your plan may be altered. Your hope may be almost diminished. But, I assure you, your day is coming. 

So, take courage if you are still waiting. Your day is coming. And when it does, I’ll be rejoicing with you.  And if your day has already come, seize the day and embrace every moment of your miracle.

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Confessions of a Momma with Too Many Children

We are an #xlfamily and I am a #momofmany. If you’ve been around me for very long, I’ve likely proudly showed you their pictures and expected you to guffaw over their wonderfulness. Most of the time that’s just the reaction I get but sometimes the reaction to our family with so many children is that we are a family with too many children. 

Some folks are concerned.  You know, concerned that I’ll wear myself down, concerned that my husband will work without being able to get ahead. Or concerned that the kids will somehow be neglected by being a part of such a big brood. Sometimes, that particular concern stems from their own childhood. 

Other folks are just critical. They’re critical of any choice that is different from their own. Critical of how many you parent, how you educate, discipline, and maybe even what you believe. Bless their hearts, as we are known to say here in the south. 


It’s okay, I get it. We aren’t your average family and more than once I’ve referred to myself as the old lady in the shoe who didn’t know what to do. But, what you may see as chaos, I see as… well, okay, I see as chaos too. But, I see it as more than that. 

I see it as living large and loving large. I see it as an opportunity to grow a family that is forged together not by blood but instead by love. I see it as opportunity to grow spiritually, emotionally and even physically stronger. I see it as an opportunity to leave a legacy of faith and by doing so, influence many more people than I could ever do on my own. 


So, here’s my confession as a momma of too many children. 

  1. I’m not always available to every child every moment they might like me to be. But, someone is. There’s always a partner to play a game or help with a difficult task. 
  2. I’m not superwoman. I get tired, irritable, frustrated and aggravated. I don’t ‘do it all’. I let somethings slide. I don’t dust nearly as often as I should. 
  3. I’m not enough for my very large family. Because I’m not, I encourage them to also rely on each other and build strong relationships with extended family members. Most importantly, I teach them to invest in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not enough, but it’s ok because I don’t have to be. 
  4. Our kids don’t get the very same things that kids in smaller families may get. We don’t do exactly the same things, go the exact same places, take the same trips, drive the same cars or wear the same clothes. But, guess what, we celebrate the gifts of each other, work and play hard together and make do with what we have. I like to think I’m nurturing a rare commodity in this day and time. It’s called contentment. 
  5. I’m a little late starting my ‘dream career’ of writing because I have been so busy the last two decades raising kids. But, it’s okay, because this life I’ve lived as a mom of too many children has given me a LOT to write about. 


All in all, I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to live any other way. Sure, I would like less laundry, less dirty dishes and many times less noise. But I don’t want less of us and if we are too loud, too much or too different than what you might be used too, I’d like to invite you to set aside your concerns and criticisms. Instead consider how many hugs have been given, prayers answered and how much laughter this mom of too many children experiences each and every day. 

Homeschool is Cool

You know, it is true. Homeschool is cool. Well, it is now. That hasn’t always been the case. I’m glad things have changed for the better. Folks hardly raise an eyebrow anymore when we tell them. 


Today is the first day of our 2016-2017 school year. I’ve now been homeschooling for more than 15years. Still, I’m no expert by any means. I’m continually learning and adjusting according to each child’s needs. That’s the thing about homeschooling, you really can be flexible. For this #momofmany that’s a great blessing. 

I’ve changed a lot as a momma-teacher over the years. There was a time when I’d work myself into a frazzle preparing for the first day of school, creating schedules that were beautiful but impossible. I was determined to ‘set the pace’ for the rest of the year on day one. This year, I’m determined instead to ‘set the tone’. 

So, our first day of school will begin with a brunch of pumpkin bagels with cream cheese and hot chocolate. Our biggest project of the day will be individual acrylic paintings on canvas of sunflowers. I even bought pizza rolls for a first day of school lunch (they love those things and I rarely buy them). 

At the end of the day, my goal is to hear them say they are looking forward to school again tomorrow. I want their brains to relax and learn naturally. I believe children are naturally curious and intrigued by the unknown. I firmly believe in delight-driven education. I’m not nearly as interested in the memorization of facts as I am the development of character. After all, learning should be a life-long affair. 

Mommas Have Skills Too!

You know, I think it’s a shame that moms (like myself) who haven’t worked outside the home for a decade or two are considered to have no marketable value when they are ready to enter the workforce again. Mommas have skills too!
All morning long, I’ve made phone calls, scheduled appointments, provided pertinent information, rearranged schedules, consulted calendars and done it all in an orderly fashion. I’d make somebody a good secretary or whatever they call it today. Administrative assistant? 
Moms in general don’t get the credit they deserve I think. As a homeschooler for instance I plan field trips, referee student interactions, grade, review, answer questions, deal with disgruntled parents (ok, that’s me, but still) and plan lunch and snacks too. I’d make asomeone a good teachers aide or school counselor or something. 
What about managing this house and making sure no birthdays are forgotten? What about making sure everyone has clean socks and a pair of tennies that fit their ever-growing feet? What about menu planning, food-preparing and kitchen cleaning? I’d make someone a good short-order cook, restaurant manager, personal shopper or something. 
Don’t forget, administering meds, transportation to and from countless appointments and bandages on boo-boos (or finger splints). Do you know how many children I’ve nursed back to health from wisdom teeth extractions, appendectomies, broken bones, tonsillectomies and comforted through orthodontic braces? I’d make someone a good nursing assistant or chauffeur or medical aid or something. 

Oh, and I’m greatly experienced at promoting spiritual growth, encouraging scripture memory, listening to heartaches and heart breaks, comforting the grieving, inspiring folks to consider foster-care or adoption, leading small groups, marriage counseling and helping mommas like me through a challenging day. I’d make someone a good therapist, chaplain, preacher or something. 

I salute all you mommas who may feel unappreciated at times, whose efforts are often over looked, who may appear to be wasting themselves and their talents. You are valuable. You are making a difference. Hey, mommas have skills too!

Night Rehearsals

It seemed like such a very long time since I could remember not being worried about something.

All is dark and quiet as it should be in the dead of night. Then, as if on cue, the curtains begin to roll back and the drama begins. You squeeze your eyes closed and attempt a refusal to watch as regrets and possibilities are reenacted. The scenes are vivid and full of emotion. They are hard to ignore. Although you pull your pillow tight about your ears, you can’t seem to muffle the wearisome words. It is a night rehearsal, one you don’t care to attend but seem obliged to.

 

Night rehearsals of this sort rarely lead to better performances. Instead they compromise our ability to perform at our best offering instead broken sleep and tired thoughts. The plot is often heavy and without hope. The star of the show is likely to be Wearisome Worry and her company of Peace-Thieves. All of this drama is played out in fine fashion for a reluctant audience of one, you yourself, when what you really want to do is just go back to sleep.

 

Rehearsal could be defined as a private practice for a public performance. While there is plenty of merit in being prepared and considering consequences, when we cross over the proverbial line of worry we may find ourselves attending a night rehearsal.

 

Recently I wrote these words.

 

“It seemed like such a very long time since I could remember not being worried about something. After all, I am a mom of many. I have been told that I have a great capacity to love and unfortunately I think that is often accompanied by a great capacity to fret.”

 

We worry because we are concerned; we are concerned because we care. Here’s the good news, God cares too. Because God does love us and cares about what concerns us, He has provided a beautiful way to close the curtains on the night rehearsals. He dismisses the peace-thieves and sends them on their way when we turn to Him in prayer. We have the choice to become a warrior instead of a worrier.

 

I’m going to make a concerted effort to make sure that I am not worrying my prayers. I am going to try to instead become a prayer-warrior. I’m going to give myself permission to not understand it all, fix it all or even get it all right. I’m going to take the offensive rather than the defensive stance. I think that is the bottom line. As a warrior, we feel empowered while a worrier is instead cowered. I do not want to live my life in a state of distress and feeling overwhelmed constantly. I want to face life with courage and hope.

 

How about you? What will you choose? Prayer-warrior or prayer worrier? Will you waste energy and time rehearsing, retelling and reliving the things that have happened or may happen? Or will you choose to trust the Lord with the details, with the results, and with the future?

Beautiful Brokenness 

People are strange creatures sometimes. Don’t you think? Well, I know I certainly can be. I tend to be much more open about past struggles. You know, the ones I’ve faced and already came out on the other side of. 
But, when I’m struggling in the moment, as in this very moment, I tend to be very quiet about it. When it would seem I should be yelling for help or in alarm, I take a step back and wait and watch. Perhaps I need to see how it all turns out first? Maybe I’m just not sure what to say?
So it has been the last few weeks. It all started with five of my children being diagnosed with mycoplasma (walking pneumonia) and then shortly thereafter one of my teen daughters having an appendectomy. Now, none of this was fun but, it was doable. You go to the doctor, you get the meds, you tend to your children, they get better. It’s a momma routine known and practiced by many moms just like myself. 
But, then the catch. My teen daughter did not get better. There were complications. Or perhaps I should say new issues. Or better yet, hidden issues. Mystery issues. Issues with no easy answers and no easy fixes. 
For weeks we’ve been seeing our outstanding pediatrician and an excellent nephrologist (kidney specialist) and there has been no stone unturned. We were greatly relieved when cancer was ruled out and other serious possibilities but, confused and frustrated that the issue remained and might possibly be a chronic illness that will impact my child’s life. 
Now, I want to say two things about that before I say a few other things. First and foremost, please pray for my little girl. Pray that this will be resolved just as mysteriously as it began and remains. Secondly, if you are dealing with chronic illness, I will gladly pray for you. Just ask. 
In the midst of this abnormal time in our lives, normal life continues. That’s so perturbing to me. I always have wished that when things were spinning a bit too fast, we should be able to pause things like haircuts and algebra and bill paying. I feel like we should get a waiver of some sort that says ‘Give this family a break please, they’re facing a crisis.’ That’s not the case of course and regardless, we must press on. 
Just tonight a friend shared an image with me that touched my heart. It inspired me and gave me hope. I knew I needed to blog but, I was feeling a bit depleted emotionally and writing is such an emotional investment for me. The image she shared was the one I’ll include below and when I saw it, tears came to my eyes. I’ll try to explain why. 
As many of you know, many of my children came to us later in their lives. I didn’t hold them as infants, encourage their first steps or hear their first laugh. By the time I became their mother, they had been broken in many ways. Trust was almost always damaged. It’s almost a guarantee that trust is going to be a struggle after experiencing foster care. And, just for the record it doesn’t fix as easily as it does in the movies. Nope. 

There has to be a putting back together. A mending. A repairing. You might say a ‘kintsukuroi’. 

  
If I could have intervened and protected my children from the brokenness that they faced, I would have. If I could even now shield them from facing betrayal and hurtful people and dangerous places, I would. If I could find the answers and offer solutions and make it all better, I would. But, then, just look at how beautiful they are and becoming more so every day as they are pieced back together and made whole again. 

This morning I experienced a beautiful moment. I was sitting at the table busily assembling the breakfast sandwiches when I felt a touch on my leg. There was my beautiful girl. Laying her head on my lap, sitting on the floor by my chair. I knew it was the pain she is experiencing that caused her to reach out for comfort. I immediately responded and gladly so. Oh, I wasn’t glad she was hurting but I was glad she was trusting. Making herself vulnerable, pressing in, asking for what she needed. This has not always been the case. The struggles of late have mended that part of her heart more than the seven years before. 

If you are an adoptive parent, like myself that may have missed out on countless opportunities to be there for your child in their early life, take courage. You are there now and in the most unexpected moments you too will see the beauty of the healing that occurs. 

If you are in a broken place yourself right now then learn a valuable lesson from this broken but healing beautifully girl. Press in. Dare to trust. Reach out. Lay your head on the Father’s lap and ask Him for what you need. He will respond gladly and another expression of beauty will mark your soul. 

  
 

Love, Mom

I’m working diligently today preparing for school. The computer program that we use for our main subjects allows messages to be sent between me (the teacher) and my children (the students). So, it is my habit to send them a message to read on their first day of classes each new school year. 
I’d like to share them with you and although Jesse and Josiah are out of high school, I want to include them and their loves.  
If you have children, no matter their ages, don’t assume they know how you feel. Tell them. 

Dear Jared, 

You can do it!

Love, Mom

(I kept his short because he has severe dyslexia and I wanted him to be able to read my message stress free. I’ll be encouraging him more verbally.)

Dear Jonathan,

You are growing up right before my eyes! I believe in you!

Love, Mom

(He turns 12 this week and in that awkward in between age of figuring out this next stage.)

Dear Ruth Denise, 

I see so much potential in you. You can be a world changer. As a Christian, if we truly want to change the world, the change must begin in us. Let this be the year that big changes occur. Do it all as unto the Lord. 

Love, Mom

(She’s my go-getter, over-achiever.)

Dear Stephanie Nicole,

My little namesake, my little girl. You are going to have so many choices this year about who you will be, what kind of person you will become and how you will spend your life. Choose wisely. Always stop and think of what could come from a decision or and action. Dream BIG and don’t be afraid to pursue them. 

Love, Mom

(She tends to be both impulsive and timid.)

Dear Jeremiah,

I love you so much. You are one of my greatest delights in life. Stay close to God, follow Him with the same determination that you have now and you will do mighty things in His name. You can be the difference I the lives of hurting people by pointing them to Jesus. When things are hard, keep trying because you can never fail if you never quit. 

Love, Mom

Dear Jesse, 

From the first moment I saw you, you turned my life upside down and you’re still at it. The first to make me a forever mom and now the first to make me a mother-in-law. Now, you intend to be the first to make me a military mom. Go Jesse Boy Go! Run hard after your dreams and never be satisfied with mediocrity. 

Love, Mom

Dear Josiah, 

You’ve been one of the most determined people I’ve ever known even since you were a little boy who decided he wanted us as a family when we thought we were done adopting. You have a wonderful ability to set your sites on a goal and achieve it. I’m proud of you. I love you. Keep your eyes on Jesus and your path will be straight. 
Love, Mom

Dear Lauren, 

As my first daughter-in-law, you and I are having to learn about how this all works together. You are a beautiful person and you make my son happy. I’m so glad you are a part of our family. I’m so proud of your heart for the things of God and your support for Jesse as he pursues his dreams. 

Love, Momma Rodda

Dear Mikayla, 

As Josiah’s fiancé, you will soon be a part of this family and already a part of our lives for many years. You have been Josiah’s greatest little cheerleader and that means a lot to his momma’s heart. Thank you for loving my son. 

Love, Momma Rodda