There are so many parts of life that are hard, and everyone faces it. We all do. Health, family, relationships, jobs, the economy, aging, transitions, all of it and more. We all walk this road of human life. This was a life we were never intended for. God designed us for heaven, that is our home. This here, well, this is our journey.
Journeys are hard, they are long, and plans never seem to go as we planned - at least most journeys I have been on.
God set us a journey. He set our family a particular journey.
No, we aren't missionaries - some days I wish we were. I would expect some of this in a foreign country and it would be easier to put into a mental box. But, in some ways, we are missionaries. We ALL are. We walk through a fallen world. We try to be salt and light, and at times are despised and ridiculed for it. It is a part of our life. I wouldn't trade our journey, but I think it is acceptable to say that there are times that we all must get weary. It is not a shock be despised and misunderstood by some. But those unkind words and all really hurt. When you do your best and try your hardest and unkindness comes, it hurts. You want to scream and rail and deny, but you know it is pointless. It hurts.
This has been a season. A season we expected in some ways. You don't choose to adopt children and parent ten children without knowing that there will be tough seasons in the process. You don't choose to try to raise the children in an honorable way, with good work ethics and values as well as faith, and not know that there are going to be difficult times (to say the least). You don't choose to start over with toddlers and not know that there are going to be days of weariness as they transition to a new life as well as grow as toddlers should. You don't choose to purposefully encourage your children to follow their interests and passions and that you will do what you can to help them explore it - and not know that it might take them beyond your borders more than you would like. You don't make the decision to parent so God's bent and plan for your children can be fostered and not know that this will stretch you in ways you might never imagine. You don't choose to be public and transparent about your faith and motivations without knowing that there will be naysayers who choose to step in. You don't choose to take life one step at a time, in faith, not entirely knowing where it will lead without knowing that sooner or later someone will say that you are irresponsible.
And this is a season that has been so hard on our family in so many ways. The toddlers are doing well, and are toddlers - they are very good at being two and three! The transition is coming. They are bonding well and all. But it is exhausting. I told our Sunday school directors at church (for years) that it was very difficult if not beyond overwhelming for parents of a special needs child to get to church to be ministered to so they could better go on the path God had given them. I knew from the families I worked with over the years that the stress of doing it all was just too much, so church became one more thing that just was too much. And now I am living it. Knowing that the ordeal that it takes to get everything done so the little ones can be at church with us, it is just enough to put me over the edge. I think I have made it to church once a month in the last four months. If someone isn't throwing up on me, or tantruming or (add whatever you can imagine), then we might make it, but most days it doesn't work that way. So, I am distant from our church family. Thankfully we have a wonderful live broadcast of it, so I am still participating, while herding toddlers and cleaning up messes. But sadly I missed my youngest middle daughter's debut as part of the choir, which did cause me to shed some tears. I saw her face, but it wasn't the same. And it isn't the same. We are called to be part of the body of Christ, but for the first time in my life, I am not in a position to give. I have never not done that, in one way or the other. See, that is my love language - service. So I serve. And now I cannot. I know that it is the season that God has placed us in, but it is hard. I don't know how to do anything but serve. I just cannot right now.
There is so much activity, so many challenges, many good, some hard, some just irritating. The growing pains of all the kids, the challenges, the strengths, the beauty. It is overwhelming. All they need to learn to be fully the adults of character we pray for for them, I worry about it constantly. Raising so many to adulthood, watching so many so close and knowing that I so want to send them out strong and complete and well, and .... Yeah, you get it.
And it is a season in the economy that is difficult for everyone. No one is doing very well from what I can tell. For us it has been one thing after another. If it isn't one car it is another. Unexpected expenses, and of course, everyone wants it NOW. (Me too, by the way) Some days I just don't even want to open the mail. Medical bills, ugh. The bills we are working to pay off totally, the entire thing. Balancing the budget. I know that everyone is in the same spot. That is only sort of reassuring, because I want to reach out and help others, and I feel like I have so little to give. On top of that, the van died the other day - well, dead enough that it needs a new engine. Sigh. How do you get a family our size around with one small car? Thankfully Alex has his car, so can help, but with soccer, physical therapy appointments, stable work and other appointments, it is going to be a challenge. I do think I will end up driving Steve into work so I have the car some days, but it is what it is. A couple more weeks and soccer will be done. But life continues!
So, we, like most families need to take assessment of our resources. We need to do everything we can to get through. To pay for repairs, to be good stewards, to continue to pay off what little we have. It is what we all do in a tough economy. God gave us our gifts, our skills and creativity. How do we all face this challenge? It isn't just our family. How do we do it?
Well, here are some thoughts. Look around the house - what can be sold off? Every dime counts. Every little bit. Amazon is a great place to sell books that you have in the house (we have lots and lots by the way). Ebay. We used that to get Kiley to Illinois to her training stable - that and something else very painful, but it was the right thing. And God has blessed it. And part of what we are doing is something that doesn't quite make sense. I don't know, I just know that God was very clear about it.
We are giving stuff away.
Nothing like the house or anything, but other things. Some is very clearly paying it forward - blessing others with things we have been gifted with over the years - pack and plays and what not that we have outgrown (don't even BEGIN to ask me if we think God might ask us to expand the family again - at this point, we don't think so, we are very much full up, but IF He does, IF He calls us again, then He will also help us to provide, so holding onto things "because maybe" just doesn't work for us). Someone can use them right now. Right now. Somewhere someone is need. I cannot be holding on with tight fists. In any area of life.
I am going through and we are selling what we can, because, well, a new engine for our van is not cheap. And not in the budget. We have lived out life without credit, but there are still things that get piled up. We have much less debt than you hear about, and frankly, (LOL!) most of it was incurred with adoptions. Whether we let it build up as we balanced to bring kids home, or the one small credit card we have (less than $3000 in case you were curious - see, transparent), or whatever, but it is there. We have been working the Dave Ramsey plan for ages, and are at it even more intensely right now. And then the van. Ah, we must have been on to something!!! LOL!
So, here is our plan. We sell - ebay, Amazon, creativity (my bags are now at a local store!!!!), my writing, and any hours we can get at jobs - I am confined to only working weekends with the littles at home, but even that is hard. Our goal is to have that intensity done by Christmas, but who knows. I am putting together more of our diabetes log books and we are working on a coloring book set of kids and families - in Amharic and English! I want to give you ideas, and some of them are just dumb - like recycling your aluminum cans (literally, every dollar counts), doing odd jobs as they come up, saving money on everything you can, bartering for things you need. There is no dumb answer. I am threatening to put a jar in our room that says "van engine"!!!
God has placed us all here in this time, in this country, in this economy. I wish I could reach out and touch all of the folks who are struggling - I am so very sure that we are not the only ones! I know the frustration, struggle and despair.
But, BUT, God has placed us all here, for such a time as this.
What are YOU here for? What is YOUR role in this life? What has God put in your hands? One step at a time, one thing at a time, but do it. BE who God has called you to be. Know that His path is not always easy, not comfortable at times, but it is His path and it is blessed. Take part in the bigger picture of life. Be who God intended you to be. Reach out and fight for your family. I found this video below as I was searching YouTube for music for while I was writing this - and it so spoke to how I felt today. So, you go and fight the good fight - whatever it is God has called you to!!!
"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11