Living Life to the Fullest

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ll fairly quickly discover a few things about me: 1)I always error on the side of experiences instead of giving my kids things. 2)The Woodford’s love a good party 3)I always want my kids and their friends to know our house is a safe place to land. So, in the grand scheme of things, no one should really be surprised that I agreed to throw my kids a killer end of school party. I called a buddy with a limo service and worked out a decent deal, had them pick the kids up at 3 different schools, and came back here for a day of food (9 large pizzas, 100 bags of chips and sweet snacks, 2 dozen apples and a dozen oranges to be exact), swimming, 600 water balloons, and jumping on the trampoline. I’m fairly confident all 18 kids were sound asleep by 7:00pm.

But, this post isn’t so much about the party itself. It’s about how God orchestrates things in our life. First of all, I’m an introvert and I don’t particularly love to be surrounded by lots of people. I debated letting each of my kids having separate smaller parties. But, then I decided that was twice as much work, and I might as well rip the band- aid off and have one big party. This left me with the dilemma of how to get 18 kids to my house after a 2 hour school day without inconveniencing parents. Earlier LK had asked to have a limo, and I said “no way”. But, then as I’m thinking about getting these kids to my house, I thought “why not?”. Is it normal for elementary and middle school kids to ride in a limo? No, of course not. Do I want my kids to get used to such luxury, nope. But, today it was something I could do to invest in them and their friends, so I did it.

You can imagine, rolling up into an elementary school and middle school in a limo got lots of attention and talk. But, one lady’s comment really struck me. I recognize this lady, but I do not know her. I simply know that she was a parent at the middle school LK attended in the fall. I’ve never even spoken to her. But, with a scowl and huff, she looks at another mom and says, “That woman can spend money faster than they print it.” Hmmm, interesting that someone I don’t even know their name knows my spending habits. Normally, I give zero concern to what others think of me. But, this has been an interesting week in terms of mom judgement, so I really wanted to retaliate. This woman doesn’t know that 3 of my 4 grandparents died before 65, 2 of them before 55. She doesn’t know my mom died at 55. She doesn’t know I have a family history of every flavor of cancer they make, and heart disease on both sides of my family. So, my gene pool history leans to the fact that I’m not going to be on this earth 100 years. If I’ve only got 15-20 years left to live, I am damn sure not going to waste a minute of time celebrating my kids. Should I spend that money on saving for college? Maybe, but we do have college funds set up, and my kids are wicked smart. So, college funds aren’t a high priority in my life. Should I save for retirement? Maybe, but, again, history doesn’t indicate I’ll need much. Should we put money in savings? Yes, and we do. Should we donate to the less fortunate? Absolutely, and we give not only our money, but our time. However, at a time we have expendable income, I simply choose to enjoy these precious times I have with my kids. So, until you’ve examined my bank account, and understand my life, you really don’t get to judge how I spend my money.

We are raising these kids in a super hard world. Social media, television ads, and peer pressure feeds so much negativity into their lives. I honestly feel my greatest struggle as a parent is to make sure my kids understand that they are known, heard and loved, not only by me, but by their Heavenly Father. He loves us in big ways, so I’m going to love them in big ways. I’m going to be present in the school pick up line. My house is always going to be full of plenty junk food, messy floors, and kids running in and out from the pool. Why? Because when a bunch of 16 year olds ask my kids and their friends if they want to go out drinking and driving around town, I want the 18 kids at my house today to say, No thanks, we’re going to go hang out at the Woodford’s. I remember growing up I had 3-4 mommas, and I was happy to hang out at home with my friends. Never once did I feel the need to make bad choices to feel accepted and loved. I want my kids to have the same. So, if that means throwing ridiculous birthday parties, or picking up kids from school in a limo, I make zero apologies for that. My kid may be the only 6th grader without an iPhone, but she knows her momma loves her big and wants to be part of her life.

But, I can honestly say that I don’t really think me getting a limo today had anything at all to do with my kids. Within minutes of getting in the car, conversation turned to the fact that our limo driver was currently caring for her mom with dementia. Coincidence? I think not. I spent the next 2 hours ministering to this woman from a road I’ve already walked. I was able to pray for her, recommend resources for her. Encourage her that there is a light at the tunnel. Encourage her that it is okay to feel like you are in a living hell and you would do anything to get out of this situation. Encourage her to get help, and some ways that she could get services cheaper than what she is currently paying. And, not to toot my own horn, but it gave me a chance to financially bless this single woman who is seriously struggling to financially take care of herself and her mom. Did my kids need a limo today, not at all. Did Samantha need us today? Beyond a shadow of a doubt. If I hadn’t said “why not” to spoiling my kids today, I would have never met Samantha. I don’t know how Samantha’s story would have panned out if we never met. But, because we’ve met, I’m confident her story gets a little better. She’s already texted me several times today expressing gratitude for our chance meeting. I know she’s told the limo owner about it, because he’s texted me about it. And, I know I’m committed to praying for this woman. And, continuing to help her walk the road of being a care giver for a dementia patient. Would you do me a favor and say a prayer for Samantha tonight?

So, yes, we go a little over board when it comes to celebrating our kids. But, we’re going to live this life to the absolute fullest. I hope instead of judging how we chose to parent our kids, you’d join me in finding ways to celebrate yours- regardless of what scale that is on. Trust me, there were years we had to celebrate our kids and live life to the fullest on a negative budget. It has very little to do with a limo and a swimming pool, and everything to do with being present and loving well.

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