Tag Archives: Large Families

Nursing Homes – A Place to Die or a Place to Live?

So, my family of 9 (not counting the 3 that are grown) has been spending some time lately at Deer Creek of Wimberley Skilled Nursing Facility.  How we wound up there is a story 18 years in the making.

The short version is I never JUST wanted a large family.  I wanted a large family with the purpose of being the hands and feet of Christ.  I knew if God blessed us with a houseful of kids, it would come with a call to serve Him as a unit.

Can I tell you there is no greater feeling than working alongside your spouse and children towards a common goal?  We got a taste of this helping a family clean up after the devastating Memorial Day flood that hit Wimberley a few years back.  We’ve been able to serve together at our last church on work days.  What a joy to see my children spread out all over the church property doing various tasks, working together and with others!

This life I live tugs me in so many directions with a desperate feeling so often of not being able to accomplish all that I need to accomplish; yet during these times of working together with my family, I am completely at peace that I am doing exactly what the Lord would have me do in this moment.

I’ve brought the kids to Deer Creek a few times to visit members of our church and a friend they had made when they visited with their Sunday school.  Our first connections.  I never minded taking them, but it never really tugged at my heart.  To me, a place like Deer Creek was a place you go to die.  I don’t think that way any more.

A few months ago, we lost a friend who had reached out to one of my teenage daughters.  Over time, they developed a very special friendship.  I don’t think Tommie would mind me sharing her name, so for my Wimberley friends who read this, you know who I am talking about.  Tommie was losing her battle against cancer, and when it became evident that she needed skilled nursing care, she was brought to Deer Creek.  The morning after she was admitted, we went to visit Tommie, and the Deer Creek Activities Director, Courtney, visited with Tommie while we were there.  The questions Courtney asked and the enthusiasm and respect she radiated surprised me.  Her focus was not on helping our sweet friend die; it was, for the time Tommie had left, on helping her live.  And she didn’t just reach out to Tommie, she encouraged Tommie’s husband’s participation as well.   Our second connection.

As an overwhelmed, silence-seeking introvert, it is rare for me to want to participate in anything that’s not mandatory, but something in my spirit leaped forward wanting, needing to be a part of this.  After that first visit, I immediately went to the grocery store and I bumped into a lady I had seen at Deer Creek who was obviously management of some kind.  I introduced myself and told this dear lady, MJ, how touched I was by the way Deer Creek was treating my friend.  I told her I’d like to get my family involved, and she was so kind and welcoming.  Our third connection.

Our friend passed away so our visits ceased, but I knew I wanted to go back.

About this time, I read the story of Three Wishes for Ruby’s Residents https://www.gofundme.com/three-wishes-for-ruby039s-residents.  I’ll have to blog about that beauty later, but it struck a cord in me.  What grabbed me was how little insignificant acts from one person could have an enormous impact on another.

With all these thoughts swirling in my head, the time was ripe to come across a Facebook post reminding the community that Deer Creek was looking for volunteers.  What I loved about the post and what I continue to love about the Activities Director, is that while they do have some specific needs for volunteers, they are open to any activity that would bring the community into the doors of Deer Creek.  Their agenda is not just about getting their job done, it’s about bringing life through the doors of Deer Creek.

So for a couple months now, 7 of my kiddos and I go to Deer Creek to help with Bingo on Fridays.  The coolest thing ever is that every single one of those kiddos, from age 3 to 17, LOVE going.  My kids are great, but it is pretty unusual to have an activity that they all agree on.

Before we started visiting regularly, I felt sorry for people that lived in places like Deer Creek.  Away from their families, cared for by strangers, just killing time in their final years.

I see things differently now.  The younger ones, yeah, they still get to me – surely they don’t belong here, but I often wonder about all of them, if not for Deer Creek, where would they be?  It is a noble but very difficult thing to take care of an aging or compromised relative.  It takes time, patience, devotion, money.  How many of these people would at best be left on a couch watching TV all day, deprived of any socialization, nutrition, doctors care, etc.?  And not because of a lack of love, but just because we struggle so just to take care of ourselves; how much is left over to take care of another?  And then there are those few who perhaps have been abandoned – those who have no home to go to, no family to lean on?  Where would they be?  Who would comfort them, who would care for them?

Today, instead of feeling like I owe these sweet folks an apology that our society has “dumped” them, I see them and am thankful that somehow they found their way to Deer Creek.  I have learned that many of them are happy at Deer Creek, and their families are still involved in their life and care.  I am thankful for people like MJ and Courtney and the therapists and nurses that bring healing and wholeness if not to the bodies, to the hearts of these precious people.  And I am so thankful for the residents and employees of Deer Creek that have invited us into their home and have loved on us so well.

Fireflies, Verbena and White Flower Blessings

It’s official.  After 10 days of missed deadlines by our mortgage company, we finally closed on our house.

Andrew and his friend have been slaving away getting it ready for flooring and painting not to mention ripping out the oven, range and kitchen island.

We bought an outdated house with dear hubby promising to make it mostly beautiful by the time we move in.

It’s looking a little scary right now.

Gaping hole where the oven used to be.

Carpet gone – plywood in its place.

Holes in the sheetrock.

I’m starting to think outdated would have been okay.


I’ve been trying to stay away so the men can get the work done without my six little helpers in the way.  But I wind up there around dinner time every night – I mean, they have to eat, right?

Yesterday I was there and was delighted to see verbena growing.  Our current house that we have been renting for the last seven years grows blankets of verbena every year, and I just love it.  Our current house will forever be our verbena home, but it will be a nice reminder to have it at our new house too.


And today a wonderful surprise.  Between yesterday and today about 40 beautiful white flowers have bloomed.  It is amazing what God can accomplish in 24 hours!

I love those white flowers.  Some years ago I lived in the town we’re moving back to, and I fell in love with the white flowers I saw growing in the fields.  I never knew what they were, and they never bloomed in the neighborhood I lived in.  But our new house has them in droves.


And then as I was serving dinner, Andres ran up with a bug exclaiming “fireflies, fireflies!”  I hadn’t seen fireflies in years.  For some reason even though we live out in the country, the area of our current home doesn’t have fireflies.  But our new house does.  They danced and entertained us through dinner tonight.


To have a home to call our own after seven long years of renting.


To have so many little ones to fill the rooms with.


To have pastures and gardens and a creek to explore.


Job 1:21 – “He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.'”

I feel like I have lived through the latter part of this verse.  Pretty big disappointments in the last few years.  But this house is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.  The Lord has given.  And yet, even this house and what it represents to me would mean very little without my marriage and my children.  And those things He gave a long time ago and sustained even through the disappointments.  Today I rejoice.

Stay tuned for more adventures and more rejoicing from the heart of the Texas Hill Country.



How Bad is it?

Perspective is a funny thing.  Very rarely am I universally wrong; it’s just I’m obsessing on details or not paying attention to the big picture.  So I start feeling helpless and start feeling hopeless.  On the down side of things, it could be that my children are behaving badly – why is it sometimes that just absolutely rocks my world?  My kids, my beautiful, energetic, sensitive, selfish, demanding kids can absolutely throw me into a tizzy just by having one argument or one complaint too many.  And then I start asking the big questions:  What am I doing?  How could things possibly have gotten so bad without me noticing?  Does the fact that I give my everything to my family even matter in the big picture?  Will they still be fighting when they’re 20?  40?

Am I really giving my everything?  Could I be giving more?

I blog – that’s not for my family.  (Well, in a round-about way it is – writing is cheaper than therapy – and I don’t have to hire a babysitter).

And what about all that time I spend on Pinterest?  That’s all about me, not them.

So, like, is that okay that I don’t really give my everything to my family?

I just give them my most everything.

Am I doing enough?  Am I enough?

Almost every stinkin morning when I wake up I think to myself, “I’m going to spend some quality time with the Middles today – I’ll read to them or craft with them, or heck, maybe we’ll even bake some cookies.”

And then lunch comes, and with all the quantity time I spend with them, there’s just not enough time – or enough me – for quality time.

Then all I want to do is be alone for a while.

How bad is that?  Understandable but terrible?  I say I want to homeschool, I say I want to be home with my kids, but once the Littles are down for their naps, I want to be alone?

I wonder if they know.

How bad would that be?

In my Mary Poppins fantasy, I am a delightful mother all morning long with the kiddos.  After lunch I tuck everyone in for their quiet time and I sneak off for mine.  Exactly one hour later I emerge from my bedroom all smiles and delightful once again, and we enjoy every moment of the next four hours together.

In reality, I spend a lot of that first hour telling Noah to get back in bed and reminding my Middles it’s quiet time.  At the end of the quiet time hour, I’m still engrossed in whatever internet project I’m working on, trying to unstress from the stressful quiet time hour.

Do you ever think to yourself, “It shouldn’t be this hard”?

I do.

And I used to scoff at the idea that the average child asks something like 400 questions a day.  Keep in mind, I still have six kiddos at home.  And the 3-year-old just started this morning with the unending questions, you know, the ones where one question leads to another question which leads to another question.  The ones where you think your child is purposefully trying to drive you out of your mind (seriously, he is!)

I don’t scoff any more.

Tomorrow is Thursday.

I hope it’s a good day.