Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This is WAR!

I am declaring war!!

I have put up with the HORRIBLE thing called CAR-LINE for TWO years.

No more!

And for those of you who do not live in Greenville, South Carolina..I am not sure how to even begin to explain car line.  For those who DO live here...no words are necessary.  It is AWFUL.

For the past two years, I had six children in three schools - what that means is 4 hours...YES...4 hours in the car sitting in a LINE, crawling along at a snails pace waiting to pick up my kids.  For this momma who is obsessed with time management, this is completely unacceptable.  In addition, for the past two years, I was working and so I literally was running all around all day long doing ministry work and then would rush to the school to then...SIT...in the car line.

That's it!  I have declared WAR on CAR LINE.

Car line will no longer get the best of me.  Car line will no longer be a monumental waste of precious time.  Car line will now be USED by ME to get things done!

I spent a few hours this morning getting my battle plan lined up.  Here are the results:

These are MY books.  In order to make this plan work, I need to be one of the first moms in the car line each day.  If I can pick up George, Lincoln and Anna right when they get out, we can make it across Woodruff Road (pray for me) to Isabel's school in order to get a good spot in THAT car line.  So, while I wait for the youngest three, I will take advantage of that time and read.

This is our Homework Helps.  The kids have homework pretty much every day.  I have filled the box with books (for all the Reading Logs that need to be filled out), loose leaf paper, crayons and colored pencils.  The pencil case has pencils, highlighters and erasers.  The two (very cool) plastic clip-boards open up to store some extra paper and a pencil.  These will all stay in the car and be used by George, Lincoln and Anna after we leave their school and sit in the car line (for about one hour) at Isabel's school.  We should now be able to finish all our homework during that hour.

Of course, you can't pick up kids after school without them being hungry.  So, I have put together an After School Snack Bag.  This will be filled each Sunday night.  The kids can eat their snacks in the car while we are driving or during our homework time.

Each one has a small bag with their name on it with snacks.  There are also other snacks that are free to anyone who wants them.  If they finish their bag of snacks, they will have to refill it and replace the bag on their own..or they do without a snack.

I also decided to use my afternoons while I am preparing MY lunch, to get the kids' lunches ready.  Simply put, I am just running out of time when I wait until the night before.  I found that getting their lunches ready while my leftovers are warming up to be a pretty stress-free experience.  I put aside all their food on the counter - and when they get home from school, they grab one of each....

and then grab their sandwich (they have their names on them because they all like different things) and any other cold item and then put them into their lunchboxes.  The lunchbox then goes in the fridge ready for them to grab the next morning.

Doing all of this has resulted in two things:

1.  Peaceful evenings.  We are CRAZY busy from 5:00pm - 8:30pm.  Band practice, drama rehearsal, football practice and volleyball practice are EVERY night.  For those not practicing, they are with me at a practice - so that needs to be a time where all our work is done and we can just do our things.  Once we get home, there are quick showers, pajamas are put on and we sit as a family in our living room to end our day in God's Word.  We do a daily devotional called Family Devotions by Josh McDowell which has proven to be a timeless treasure for our family.  We end in prayer and then the kids head off to bed tired...and peaceful.

2.  Organized, stress-free mornings.  One thing I can not put up with is chaos in the morning.  Maybe because I tend to be very quiet in the morning, I want all the family to be quiet.  If everything has been completed, if all the shoes are where they are supposed to be (in a basket in our front closet), and if all the socks are in the neighboring basket, mornings seem to run so much more smoother.  When the kids have their homework completed and in their backpacks, which are lined up neatly in the den, we tend to get out the door without any drama or chaos.

So, car-line will no longer be a waste of time.  We will use that time I/we are capture in a car to get things done!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Taking a Break...Wondering What is Next

I am taking a break.

I officially have gone on sabbatical from S*fe F*amilies for the remainder of the year.  So many have asked over the past two years, "How do you do it all?"

The answer is clearly...I can't.

And this is not a pity party - this is harsh reality.  I can not be a wife, mom to 6 (two with special needs), and run a full time ministry that serves the broken hearted.  I wish I could do it all.  Unfortunately, I can't and I was fearing that my CHILDREN were going to be the ones who would pay the price for ministry.  I am positive God does not want that to happen, for He has blessed me beyond measure with these six amazing souls!

My children are only with me for a short time - that has become so clear to me as my oldest is entering her junior year of high school, driving, working and slowly but surely spending more time OUT of the house than IN the house.

I refuse to wax eloquent about where is the little girl in pigtails who used to snuggle up with me on a rainy day to read Little House on the Prairie?  But honestly, the time HAS flown by.

So, I have decided that I have done exactly what God gave me the ability and the strength to do...start the ministry here in SC.  He clearly called me to do that in WI as well.  I remember after we found out the bill would pass and would eventually be signed into law by Governor Sc*tt W*alker, I felt this sense of completion..that I had done the work God prepared in advance for me to do.  At that same time, we had lost our business and were crying out to God about where He would lead us next.  He lead us here...and then I had the opportunity to do something here.

I can't fight the feeling again of completion - and that it is time to pass this on.  THAT is not as easy this time...so I am still praying through that.  I am planning on keeping a finger in the ministry even on my sabbatical - and I am planning on stepping back in the first of the year- UNLESS God provides someone and tells me that I am done.

And..in a weird way...God is leading our whole family into a "What's next?" type of attitude.

Joe can NOT continue working like this...always away from the family.  So, not sure what is around the corner, but both Joe and I have felt God press upon our hearts that a season is about to change and we MUST lean into the vine more intently now than ever.  So, we are studying I Peter together - spending Saturday or Sunday nights diving into God's word and praying with another couple who finds themselves in a similar place.

I don't think I could hear from God if I kept at the pace I was running.  Now, I am quieting my soul and waiting upon the Lord wondering what is next.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What Football is Teaching George

I NEVER...and I mean NEVER thought George would get into football.  I am guilty of buying into all the stereotypes that have said my son is from Ethiopia so that means he should run or play soccer.  For the record, George CAN run.  And...he CAN play soccer.  But...neither of those sports have taught him what it means to be part of a team.

Before all the soccer lovers out there bash me for saying soccer is not a team sport - please just save your time and energy.  I have never enjoyed soccer and had my kids play soccer because that is what good moms do for their kids.  I watched Eleanor, Harry, George and Lincoln as they ran up and down a field - touching the ball with their feet maybe a dozen times - and have never become a fan of the sport.  I can appreciate it - but am not a fan.  Don't hate me.

What I LOVE is football!  I grew up with football all around me - dad coaching, brothers playing..and yes...I was even a pee-wee cheerleader!  I know - almost impossible to imagine!  That was before I picked up ball and realized how great it is to play and not just cheer.  OK  - don't hate me for that comment either.

(Disclaimer - I DO receive "hate" comments - and it usually has to do with "adopting dogs", but I am afraid my dislike of soccer and cheer leading might bring a whole new set of haters.)

Back to the point of this blog post!

George is experiencing a TEAM for the first time...and it is so, so good for him.  Like I said, I grew up around the game and often pride myself for being a pretty awesome color commentator for the NFL.  It is uncanny how I will say something to Joe after a play and within seconds, the color commentator is saying the exact same thing.  Hmmm - maybe a 3rd career change for me is in the future?

Anyway - man, I am distracted this morning!  George has definitely fallen into the whole USC/Clemson rivalry thing going on in Greenville.  If someone is a USC fan, he will shout, "Go Gamecocks!"  But...10 minutes later, if he sees a Clemson fan he will say, "I love Clemson!"  I think he just loves seeing everyone in their purple and orange (barf!) or their dark red (not sure what their official colors are).  All I know is I bleed scarlet and gray - so he comes by it naturally.  Because of the love of college football here, he has started watching a lot more football with us and has asked for a football for Christmas.  You can now often find him in the backyard punting his football - or running slot patterns as Joe throws him a pass.

We took a big leap and signed him up for rec football.  Full pads and helmets, 100% tackle football.  And man...it is INTENSE!  I have been an athlete all my life - and I had no idea how INTENSE football was.  I guess when I was around it as a child, I didn't realize what was really going on on the field.  I knew my brothers were both pretty talented at the sport and that my dad knew everything about every position and play, but I didn't realize how hard they worked.

I was not sure how George would react to this intensity - or to coaches yelling in his face to hustle - or to being hit and laid flat on his back.  So, I hit my knees.  I know God doesn't really care about football or outcomes to particular games - but I know he cares about George.  And so God blessed George!

George has the most amazing coach - and this coach encourages his players, he teaches them, he slaps them on the back - and yes - he expects a lot out of them.  Finally, someone has been brought into George's life who is going to expect him to behave - expect him to give 100% - expect him to think of others - and reinforce the things we are teaching him at home.  And at the end of every practice, they gather in a circle, on one knee and pray to God.

I love the south.

George may not be the biggest or the strongest and he certainly is years behind his team mates who have been playing for up to 4 years of this full padded tackle football - but he is pretty quick and he has good hands and we have some hope.  Three times a week, George is out there with a group of boys who do everything as a team...and three times a week he is being lifted up by a team mate or patted on the back by the guy who just cleaned his clock or high-fived by a coach after making a good catch.  And each practice finds him tired...and sore...and really, really happy.

Should be a fun fall.  I have been praying for health and physical safety as he runs around with much bigger boys all around him.  But I am also praying for the life lessons that George will learn from playing football.