Let the blogs begin!

So, here is my first for real post.  And now months later I’m editing my first for real post.  All I know is that when Tiffany saw my header for the blog she immediately noticed she wasn’t in it.  Well, that’s because she was too focused on getting sunset pictures made.  So I put this picture up only for it to scroll to the bottom with each post I posted.  But ah…the sticky post…let’s try this.  I guess it is a sort of digital sticky note that keeps a post stuck to the blogs front page…for you tippy:)

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Ode to the Ode

Where are all the odes coming from anyway?! And all in one night. Kevin was comparing and contrasting Ode to a Nightingale with Ode to the West Wind when all of a sudden Caleigh popped up with an ode she said she had written in class earlier. She is so proud of if. Who knows years from now maybe she will slip between the pages with Keats and Shelley in the literature books…

Ode Poem
My IPad Mini
By Caleigh Troutman

She waits on the kitchen table
A small dent
On her top right corner
From when she bounced out of my arms

Her text tone is so quiet & humble
But her games are so loud
Her structure is so small
She was built for me

She is a diamond
In the center of a necklace
Bright and shimmering
always to catch an eye

Shiny and new
Sounded like a lullaby
Singing my favorite song
In my room

Now she and I share memories
In which I will never forget
And when I’m lonely
She is right there

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Done. I’m Fine Dying On This Hill.

Just trying to lighten her load. Checked out the back pack contents. Tired of surprise assignments and asking the question, “so, when did you know about this___________?” (Fill in that blank with worksheet, quiz, test, homework, book report, project) Imagining and hoping beyond hoping that it is all sketched out in the pages of her planner.

Then invariable I say, let’s pull out the agenda. I cannot make eye contact at this point because I cannot decide if I like the all telling look she cannot hide or if I’d just rather find it out by turning the pages of the agenda to…nothing. I might prefer the blank agenda pages to her face only because it gives me time to get mine checked. Nothing written that agendas are for keeping up with is ever really found.

We have had an agenda in her life since about the second grade. It’s been a battle ever since. All manner of people can speak up to the agenda: counselor, teacher, parent, brother, sister. Oh, that sister keeps an agenda! Even gave one on one sessions and showed her hers pointing out the importance of planning ahead. It’s all a distant dream to this kid! Take one look at these pages and you’ve seen them all.

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But she does schedule and plan ahead for what is most important in her life: FUN and CHURCH!!! So I told her we are leaving this thing at home. Eh, it will lighten her load. Who am I kidding? She brings the entire contents of her locker home everyday anyway because it works. It’s all about the tangible. We have it. We can touch it. She makes excellent grades. She’s just not an agenda girl. And I’m done trying to make her be. Officially and completely done. (Franklin Covey Keith—when you read this you KNOW I’m right!)

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Twenty-Five Twenty-Fifths

We have been married twenty-five years! Yes, we celebrated it on March 4, 2014, and were able to get away touring some east coast cites earlier this fall, but I figured why not continue the twenty fives with our Christmas card this year.

I started a rough draft before March 4, 2014, of possible thoughts and ideas to mark this year.  I even forgot about it until I decided to try to post this year’s Christmas card to this blog.  I imagined doing a book of my favorite moments but realized once I made my list that there are some things only words can capture.

I actually made a list…1-25 of course. I’m married to a man who communicates in bullet points but am finding it increasingly difficult to simply list my list! I feel like I have to explain each one…of course.  You married a wordy girl.  One, I love your eyes.  I just love them.  Two, I love how you love our kids and want to be in everything.  You miss them when you are away and you miss missing out on every little thing from band concerts to basketball games. Three, you love me! You know it took alot to fill that hole in my heart that Steve-Carrie-Keyna-Patti-Bill-Beth-John-Jim hole!!! Oh how I cried when we drove away to Liberal, Kansas…and you loved me through that and every single moment of every single day for these twenty-five years. Four, the funny moments.  The funny moments that if we so much as think about we are laughing so hard that tears are falling!  The “I promise we are only staying one night” and the “my boy wants some rootbeer!” cannot-contain-the-laughter-moments!  We keep adding to this one.  Five, The Kroger Kill.  I love that you love to shop for me.  I love that you know how to shop for our family.  I love that you drag it in and spread it out all on the cabinet and show me what you got: the Kroger Kill.  I love that going up and down the grocery aisles is relaxing to you!

Six, night owl.  Please tell me how many times we have said: we need to start getting to bed earlier!  We are night owls! I keep thinking when we grow up maybe we will actually have a bed time! We are getting better here, right?! Seven, support.  No matter what I sign up for…and I have signed up for some things…your support is there. I love that you support me in every endeavor.  I have seen you in crunch times folding banquet programs as if you were presenting them to your CEO! All of my “you we’s” you made “we we’s!”  (Even though I’m sure I was reminded they were “my we’s!”) Eight, listener. My goodness you listen.  Now, I didn’t say you take hints but you listen.  Hints have to be in the form of a list! I can only hope I listen as well as you! Thank you for listening to me until your right ear showed damage! And, sorry about that…maybe you should let me drive more?! Nine, patient. I do not have your patience, but I am so thankful you have your patience.  I borrow your patience sometimes when I know it would make you proud. You especially have more patience over all the parenting moments we have experienced.  I love you for your patience! Our children will return home once they are grown and married because of your patience trumping my maniac-ience. (yep, just made up that word) Ten, guide.  You are my guide.  I love you for your godly guidance. I know my Lord and Savior is my constant and never changing guide but you are that physical-I-can-see-constant example to me everyday.  I love that about you!

Eleven, AWANA grand prix car designer! This is the worst thing for your actual health and yet year after year after year you hop out in that garage and carve, ah hum, Dremel up a car for the kids to race in the Grand Prix! Sometimes they come home with hardware sometimes they don’t. They have yet to ask you to help them design something you have not been able to do…I’m talking from snowman to skateboard and firetrucks and light sabers to rainbows! Twelve, teacher. The kids busted me on this one early! They ask me any question about random things and my answer is…well, it serves a purpose. They said mom, why is it we ask you something and we get “it serves a purpose” and dad EXPLAINS things? Stink. They got me. And I thought I was doing so good. I’d say probably because you loved reading those Childcraft encyclopedias that we have that were yours when you were young. The ones Cole calls the books what tell you everything you need to know! We actually are a perfect parental team: you take math and science while I take English and history. Thirteen, competitor. You are a fierce competitor! I’m not fooled by any of these other attributes! You will go down before you let anyone beat you. Period. Always have. Always will. I know it. The kids know it. I love that about you even though along the way I did try to change you by asking you to please let the kids win once in a while! You knew the day would come when they could beat you in a pick up basketball game even though you had to break an arm to get out of it…mmmuuuuaaaahhhah! (Your mom laughed too!) Fourteen, genuine. You are the real deal. I know I don’t deserve you! Honest and thoughtful to the core. Fifteen, the consummate team player. I didn’t pen that one the journal sports writer did from your college basketball days. I have copies of it and would love to have a link type thing to say click here to read it. I’ve tried to find it on the web. I’m guessing we are older than the internet so no luck there! I do know I made copies for each of the kids’ baby books for that page “About My Parents.”  He called you the consummate team player after interviewing you and your coaches at Louisiana Tech and after twenty-five years of marriage: I agree! I know sometimes I heard you say after one of the kids needed help with homework that you already finished the sixth grade! You got in there and helped them anyway! You are the best team player, and we are so blessed to have you on our team!

Sixteen, wise. Our entire family leans on your wisdom. You just have solutions to our problems and we are often plagued with problems! When I react with panic and uncertainty you respond with a calm resolve and great wisdom for the situation from one child getting “stuck” on a curb to the unexpected ambulance rides a couple of our kids made to the hospital. Seventeen, rocker. Remember the time our crazy neighbor took away the rocking chair to see if you really were a rocker!? Your words: if I promise to bring it in and then put it back can I keep it! I love that you and my sister Keyna, born on the exact same day must rock! Eighteen, a boy at heart! I love all the stories your family has ever shared about your childhood days! I knew you were forever a little boy at heart when I heard that you taught the boys in your cabin the “under the armpit straw trick!” I think you said it had to be done because you were on the defensive! Enough said! Nineteen, pursed lips. One thing I have learned to appreciate is what I call your “high blood pressure face.” I know when I or one of the kids has pushed you too far! Twenty, road trips. You either love to drive or have trust issues with my driving! Thank you for putting up with all of my crazy drift off then wake up moments thinking we were running off the road when all the while we were safe because you are behind the wheel.  You are a road warrior!

Twenty-one, kind. You are one of a kind and there is no one kinder than you.  And truly your kindness knows no bounds.   Twenty-two, godly. I love your dedication to the Lord.  You serve Him and bring His love to our family. We have the best conversations about His book, His ways, His people.  You know so much and share it in such a unique way. Twenty-three, provider. I thank Him for His provision and for the way He has enabled you to provide for us.  You have worked for the same company for twenty five years too. I feel blessed beyond words for the dedication you bring to Anadarko and the blessing it has been to our family through you. Twenty-four, giver. I say over and over that my love language is that of giving! You tell me that I would give away everything but the truth of it is that so would you.  I can give because I know you would do the same. Twenty-five, laughter.  I love your laugh.  Oh my goodness when you laugh it just makes everything better! You get tickled and there is no containing it! None whatsoever! And Christmas is about just that.  We cannot contain the love that He brought to us so many years ago.  We cannot show our love any more than when we try to by wrapping up gifts and putting them under the tree to show those they are for our love for them… this is an expression which we love doing year after year. I love Christmas-ing with you! Merry Twenty-Fifth Christmas Keith! I Love You!

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How The Lord Brought Me to be a Mom in Prayer

But first let me invite you to this year’s Mom’s In Prayer International back to school prayer rally on Monday, August 25, 9:30-11:00, our first day back to school hosted by my church this year!!!

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I first became acquainted with moms in prayer through a playgroup activity I was invited to at another friend’s church called MOPS when my two oldest were toddlers. It was such a fun and doable activity. Then as my oldest stepped closer to kindergarten age, I was like, what do people do who don’t have preschoolers?! I couldn’t imagine my life without toddlers! I heard a mom mention that there was another organization unrelated to MOPS for those moms who have kids going to school called Moms In Prayer. Oh, I liked the sound of that! I already had imagined trying to find someone to be a prayer partner with because I knew with a first born going to kindergarten I needed prayer! And a cup of tea and maybe a Kleenex. Ok. A box of Kleenex!

I loved the idea of meeting with other moms and praying, but the groups were just moms and no kids. I seemed to always have little ones so I called this my golden ticket of conflict. But yet I did promise the Lord to pray more specifically for my children. He spoke to me through testimonies and godly influences like Mrs. Gibbs…I heard her say she writes her prayers out daily for her children then weekly tears them up. Convicting.

I made the commitment in my heart between me and the Lord to learn to pray and to pray more specifically using scripture for my children. I didn’t get to jump right into a MIP group when my oldest of four went to kindergarten, but I had a friend who partnered with me in prayer. Well, for sure had her door unlocked and a cup of tea and a box of Kleenex for that first-day-of-school-hysterical-woman she called friend in me who ran to her house with my toddlers after dropping my school aged kids off for their first day of school. We prayed and wiped tears and had tea.

Making the commitment to pray more or join a prayer group is one thing. Following through is completely another one. It’s like saying you will do the blob at church camp but then you have to climb the ladder, doable, and stand in line, totally doable, then step to the edge. Yep. Got that too. And then that first step to actually make the jump. And here is where I, what they call “struggled.” I believe the trendy term would be #struggle! (Hashtag struggle for the extremely unconnected!)

I always had something that kept me from stepping out and actually truly praying with other moms until we moved to Alaska in 2001. In the church bulletin. Tiny print. There was a moms in prayer group that met at that church! My heart pounded when I saw it. I thought I had the goldenest of tickets! We lived in Alaska. Isolated. Far far away from that lower 48 state of Texas where I told the Lord that I wanted to learn to pray and specifically pray more for my kids…and I knew no one. Anyone I would have wanted to pray with was in Spring! ( I did always like knowing who was praying, and I would watch them. It was a blessing even if they didn’t know me. Knowing there were women who were able to lift up the school my children attended in prayer weekly—those women were my heroes. They did the blob!)

And then I’d remember that desire I had to learn to pray better and to lift up my children in prayer more often and more specifically using His word to pray over them. I promised the Lord. I promised myself. I really did want to pray for my kids. So I signed up. Stepped off the blob tower. I even attended a training there and have lead or co-lead or prayed in a moms in prayer group ever since.

Several of my friends may want a do over of my hosting! They suffered through what I call my covert years of hosting a group under cover because I wasn’t officially listed because I had my youngest! And she would walk around my house if she didn’t need a diaper change while we were praying, she would be trying to feed us goldfish! But I promised the Lord I would lift up my kids. Pray for their teachers. Schools. District. Classmates. So anyone who didn’t mind a toddler toddling around we prayed. And ate goldfish.

This year I have two graduates and a transition. My oldest graduates from college in nursing, and my third child graduates from high school while my youngest transitions to junior high. And I think: What do people do who do not have kids in elementary school!? Never seemed even imaginable. And yet I’m there.

I promised the Lord. I committed to pray. Not sure she remembers this or not, but a good friend whose first born was ahead of mine by a year or two, I remember I just caught her by the arm at church in the hall and asked what are y’all’s plans!?! That year her son was graduating. I grabbed anyone, they may say yanked, but if anyone ahead of me transitioned before me I wanted to know what they were going through. (I tell people straight up what it’s like so if you grab my arm it will be ugly and sad!) What she said will forever ring in my heart and mind: she said it’s times like this time before sending them to college we ask ourselves did we get enough Bible in them; do they know His word? But mine hadn’t graduated from high school then. I had time. Didn’t I? I mean. What do people do who have kids graduate from high school!? It doesn’t really happen!?!

And then it did! I had the similar thought as the first high school graduate of ours stepped in our parental horizon: have I prayed enough. Did I keep my commitment! I don’t want to let my kids down even though I know I have, but I really don’t want to let the Lord down! And I promised I would pray.

There is nothing like praying with other moms for your children. There is nothing like hearing another mom call your child’s name out to Him using scripture. I don’t know what is easier. Praying with strangers or people you know. I do know it helped me make that mental step off the blob tower just knowing I had never met these people. These people don’t know me! Bowing in prayer that is guided by Him as well as simple steps from praise and thanks to confession and intercession to closing and praising and thanking….with other moms is absolutely precious. Recently in my Sunday school class we were talking about back to school and another good friend said this when asked about homeschooling and balancing the mom face and the teacher face: you just gotta be yourself. It’s too exhausting otherwise trying to keep up!

That is exactly how we have prayed in our groups. It’s how I survived moms in prayer praying. I am just myself. We are all just ourselves. It’s exactly like having a conversation but to Him and in agreement with another mom—take the step. I promise you will be strengthened.

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The Car

Every year for as long as our kids have been in AWANA they have entered a car in the race. We have had everything from sporty cars, snowmen, skateboard, fire trucks and rainbows to Caleigh’s car this year—Texas Children’s Hospital. She originally wanted the Statue of Liberty. Then one day out of nowhere she said out loud, “I know what I want my car to be! Not the Statue of Liberty—yeah for Keith I was thinking—but something for Christopher!” She was so excited! So I said oh, something like a train or pirate ship? She said no: I want to make Texas Children’s Hospital. And I knew this would be her best race car. It isn’t about the race. The speed. The design. It’s about how much she cares for her little buddy Christopher. She even wanted each member of their family’s picture on the car as if they were in the window of the hospital. She was the cutest thing looking at the family’s pictures. She could hardly decide which one to pick. My favorite comment I heard her say was, “I could just look at these all day!” We love this family like our own. We are thrilled with the healing He is bringing to Christopher, and we know He will be faithful to completely heal Christopher of his EOE. And everyone at the race will walk away with a prayer in their heart for this little guy.

Christopher’s sayings she wanted on the bottom is a perfect way to pray for him. He will say, “no doctor” “no heart” “no shot” “I all better”! Pray for continued healing him:) We love you Christopher!

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Not You Too Cole! Happy Twenty!

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I know what you’re thinking Cole. Really, I do. Probably exactly what I am thinking now that I have your life in birthdays in a thirty-one page book. Who wants this!? Who invited that kid!? It isn’t so much for you as it is therapy for me! Okay!?! This year was much easier than last year, but I have been walking around all day with my heart exposed. It is just the strangest thing to know it’s your birthday, but the house here has no presents in front of the couch! We sent them all to you…and you better want them…and love them…and maybe just maybe let me hear the scream from Lubbock? Never mind, Tiffany will handle that part for you.

We missed you all day! It was a thrill to get a face time request from you even if it was only because you wanted to watch Liverpool and you don’t get that channel! Me and dad just sat in our little sitting room behind the music rack that dad placed the iPad on facing the Liverpool game and absolutely loved it!!! (I scrapbooked that too by the way! I think you even heard the camera click!) A couple of sentences that have echoed around in my empty heart all day that you said all the time when you were little: “I pay ballgame” for I play ballgame and “I read ‘dis” for I read this pointing to your Bible. We’d ask so where do you want your birthday? Only for you to reply: I Pay Ballgame! We are praising the Lord for you Cole!

And, hey….the night is young…pay ballgame!

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Frozen Chocolate Pie

It’s the little things that count. And this one particular little thing I love and am known for loving is Frozen Chocolate Pie. My Grandma Rouse made pies for us ahead of time so when we arrived at her Bolivar, Tennessee, home she was prepared…as prepared as a grandma could be with eight grandchildren storming in from her one and only daughter! I can close my eyes and see the yellow, black, and silver vintage now kitchen table–wait maybe I’m standing in Carrie’s kitchen because she has that treasure! But the great memories flashing in my mind of controlled chaos and eating the chocolate pie before it had the chance to thaw. I am keeping her memory alive. We got into town and there was this text from my parents: “Dad made a chocolate pie for y’all.” Who are we kidding. It’s for me! Of course we were headed that way. Were going anyway. No pie needed. But they sent us home with the leftovers and you know what? I placed it in the freezer and had frozen chocolate pie for breakfast! Thank you dad! I Love You and the memory of this!

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