At some point, each Sunday, I sit down with my planner and prepare for the week. I ensure every appointment, event, and known detail is accounted for so I can be as prepared as possible. Things haven't gone according to "my plan" since we began on the special needs/adoption/foster care journeys but yes, I still have this sense of hope each week that things might go according to what the calendar says *just maybe*.
As a foster/adoptive/special needs family of 7, we navigate many of the same things that large families do. Kids get sick, and it seems like as soon as one is healed, that the next comes down with something. Paychecks are tight, time is limited. Balancing it all somedays seems to happen seamlessly and other days I struggle just to keep the plates from shattering to the ground.
The difference between navigating hurdles that come with having a large family and the circumstances that we live in, is that despite the obstacles, we still have to attempt to go on with the week, regardless of what is being thrown at us. And there is always, always something being thrown at us. Our dynamic is interesting because we have biological, adopted, & foster kiddos in our home and 4 of the 5 have special needs. The needs range from emotional delays to medical complexity. Not a week goes by that there isn't a multitude of people in our home. From therapists to social workers to attorneys, it never seems to end. When an obstacle comes our way, if we were to cancel every appointment, we would never be able to go on with life.
Two days ago, I was told that one of our foster loves was exposed to something horrific. I immediately texted my prayer warriors asking for prayer, not even knowing how to process this new information. Our oldest daughter has also been home sick for a week, and is declining instead of getting better. So while I am processing the news I learned and googling how to handle it, I am preparing to take 2 kids to the dentist at 8am, the 3 kids to the doctor, then to the social security office, then to work for a little while, then back for a social worker visit.
Some days, I could take a moment to process the information that I was just told, but tomorrow, I have to press on. There are kiddos and families depending on that.
It is now two days later, and two days after I was supposed to publish this blog post. Our daughter has now been home from school for over a week. Our nanny is home sick today (yes - we are blessed to have the sweetest woman come to our home 3 days/week for 6 hours/day so I can work and handle this crazy beautiful life). I had to take 4 of our kids to a special needs support group that I was facilitating this morning…a whiny 6 year old, a blind 2 year old, and two foster loves under age two. And then, a much anticipated date with my hubs tomorrow had to be rescheduled because my tribe needed me more.
I want to just sit. I want to write. I want to work. I want to crawl under the warmth of my electric blanket and crochet my little heart out, while blasting worship music. But this is life, and I have to press on.
If you're reading this, I am guessing that you have been there. Having to press on, but wanting so badly to just press pause on life to catch your breath.
So what does God have to say about this?
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11
This is one of those verses that I have a love hate relationship with. I LOVE that people find comfort in it, but I HATE that people don't understand what it truly means.
It doesn't mean that your troubles will escape you but rather that you will thrive amongst them. Ya'll the Israelites were sent to exile for 70 years during this time. God did have plans for them to have a future and a hope, but for 70 years, they would suffer. For more on the context of this "used in all the wrong places" verse, head over to Mary DeMuth's blog.
Mary DeMuth said,
"Yes, of course God knows the plans He has for us. And ultimately He will give us a glorious future. But as we walk out our lives on this crazy earth, let’s remember that the best growth comes through persevering through trials, not escaping them entirely. And when we learn perseverance, we find surprising joy."
These trials, these obstacles, that we can't escape, teach us perseverance. To be brutally honest with myself, these aren't even big potatoes. Our kids are alive and healthyish, they know Jesus, and we have a better life than I could have ever dreamed of. We have been through real trials, real troubles, ones that made us question our family and our faith. But now, in this moment, these seemingly small things seem like mountains.
So what's next?
In these times when you want so badly to just press pause on life, but have to press on, find comfort that God needs you to persevere through this. He is counting on you. He never said that it would be easy, but he did promise that it would be worth it.
Lean on your tribe. If you don't have a tribe, get one. If you're local to Tucson, contact us. Find people to come alongside you in your church. Don't have a church? Start church shopping. God did not intend for us to do this alone. Find your tribe. Love them (and be loved) hard.
Get into the word. I can't stress this one enough. Crack open (or go buy one) your bible. Google bible verses for what you're going through. Check out Amy Mason's book, Bible Promises.
Breathe, pray, and press on.