Growing Pains

Lately I have been facing down one of the weak injured areas in my life. My inability to enter into conflict, even when not saying anything means that I or someone else is being harmed. I believe in living peacefully with everyone, but in order for relationships to be healthy or situations to be healthy, you have to be willing to communicate that something is not Ok and be willing to have awkward, hard conversations so that the relationship or the situation can be healthier. This is not easy for me. And that is an understatement. I found myself in a situation this past week where I had to address several people about a situation and we had a group message going on. Every time my phone notified me of a new message I had a physical response. My adrenaline was going full blast, I felt like I needed to go for a run to shake off how shaky I felt. I was agitated, I couldn’t think straight and I just wanted to run and hide. And I was kind of asking God why on earth I was having to go through this. I could have just kept my mouth shut, let the whole messy thing slide by. But I really felt like this was something God wanted me to do. For my own sake. 

This week, for my Bible reading, I have been reading through the book of Numbers. Not my favorite book. I’ve kind of just been plowing through. Lots of questions. Lots of things I don’t understand. Not really feeling like this was a book that was going to personally touch my life. So, I was sitting at my table, early in the morning, still feeling bowed down from the ongoing conflict. And I started reading about how God had spies from the Israelite camp go into Canaan and come back and give a report. And they came back saying the new land was amazing, wonderful…but full of giants and we can never take the land and we are all going to die.. And I suddenly felt overwhelmed with remorse. I am being just like them. God is trying to lead me into a new land, a place of health and wholeness, and all I can do is complain. I don’t like this. This is too hard. I don’t want to do this. 

The Israelites were facing a big enemy and they had a big battle ahead of them. But they also had a big God who had already proved he could slay any enemy, part the red sea, provide water from the rock, bread from heaven. God had alread proved himself capable and faithful to help them with any challenge. And on the other side of the battle was their new home. The promised land. And the thing that was keeping them from moving forward was lack of faith. 

And I found myself praying for forgiveness for my lack of faith. Increase my faith Lord! I believe you have goodness waiting for me on the other side and that you will help me as I grow in this area. I am not alone in my battles. 

Now, several days later, the angsty part of the conflict is over. Everyone’s voices were heard. Grievances were aired. I don’t feel like we came to any amazing conclusion, but we are once again moving peacefully forward and some stronger boundaries have been set. And we now have a precedent to look back at when new troubles arrive and more hard conversations need to happen. Shaky steps of growth happening. And my faith feels a little bit stronger. 

What is Your Calling?

Today is cleaning day, and shopping day, and laundry day, and remodel the upstairs bathroom day. It’s busy. I am pacing myself. Or at least that’s what I told my husband when he walked into our room and caught me reading a book. Pacing! Honest! 

I have found in this marathon called life, I have to go slow and steady. So, I had already cooked breakfast for the family, cleared the table, taken two daughters with me and done a week’s worth of grocery shopping, came home, unloaded the car, supervised groceries being put away, checked to make sure that the kids’ bedrooms got cleaned…it was time for a break. And eventually, I put the book down, supervised lunch, got that cleaned up, set everyone to work on cleaning their “zones” (everyone gets a room or area that they have to clean), checked progress on that, and now, it’s time for a break again. 

This kind of leads into what I’ve been thinking about. How should we let the chaos in our country affect our everyday lives? 

I’ve been observing on social media the different ways that people have been responding to the recent chaos. Some people have completely withdrawn. Deleted their accounts, either to set up in a new place or be done with it once and for all. Some people are ignoring the situation completely, posting fun memes and things designed to uplift the soul. (I appreciate these posts!) Some people are sharing intelligent articles or essays that explain their positions in well thought-out prose. And some people are just very angry and it leaks out in everything that they say and post. 

In the last couple years, I have made it a point to tell my kids that it’s ok to be angry. Being angry is normal. Sometimes things happen that deserve our anger. But, you have to be careful what you do with your anger. You need to find a safe way to vent your anger that doesn’t hurt other people. Mockery, derision, name-calling, screaming, hurting…these are not appropriate ways to deal with your anger. Or at least, that’s what I tell my kids. I sometimes kind of want to tell other people that too. 

All of us are different. We all have different callings on our lives. I think this is a really good time to have an understanding of what God has called you to do. Are you a protector, an educator, a prophet, a nurturer, a peacemaker? A politician? We all have our callings. Me? My day job is a homemaker. I am a peacemaker by nature. I seem to have an inclination towards interceding through prayer. I try to encourage people through my blog. I keep an eye on what’s happening on the political scene. I write letters to my representatives about issues that are important to me. 

I have come to the conclusion that the things that are happening in Washington DC are not in my sphere of influence. While I continue to pray for our country, LORD! Your kingdom come! Your will be done! I have not felt led to join a political party or try to convince other people to join my way of thinking. I have not been put in a position to affect the federal government in any way except through prayer and my vote, and an occasional letter to my Senator or Representative. That’s me. Everyone is different. 

My sphere of influence includes my family of eleven children. My husband. My home. The social workers and various therapists and lawyers I have met on our fostering journey. The teachers and staff at my kids’ schools. My church family. My blogging audience. My social media friends. This is the circle God has put me in. This particular circle does not need to hear my views on Trump and Biden. They need to hear that I love them, respect them, care for them. They need to hear that Jesus is always the answer. They need to hear that I am present in their lives and that I hope that I can help them in some way. 

This is my calling. 

So, how do I let the chaos in government affect my life? More time in prayer, and then focus on doing my calling to the best of my ability. It’s all I can do. 

My Heart is Full

My heart is full right now.

Our youngest foster child has returned to our home. 

When she got here the kids had a welcome sign hanging up and there was much squealing and hugging and running around. In the midst of all the chaos, she turned to me and said, “Esther, I was waiting for you!” 

You know, I never pursued foster parenting. But it has pursued me. Over the years I have heard stories of the need and my heart would break, but I always felt helpless. What can I do? In order to be a foster parent through the state, you can only have six kids in your home. We have ten of our own. It’s going to be a long time before I can even qualify to become a foster parent. 

And then I would hear another story about the desperate need for foster homes. And my heart would break again. And finally, I told God, if you want me to be a foster parent, you’ll have to do something special to make it happen. 

And he did. 

And we walked a rocky road with these kids, full of extreme ups and downs. 

And then they left and I had no more power over the situation. And I felt bruised and battered, heartbroken. And I told God, I guess you don’t want us to do this anymore? Well, if you do, you will have to work some kind of miracle, because I can’t make it happen in my own power. 

So he did. 

Again.

And my heart is full.