Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Year and a Half Later

A year and a half.  My new record for length of time between blog posts.  It gets harder to blog about your kids when they are now on the Internet themselves….and likely don’t want the details of their lives blurted out in public.  One thing I’ll say is that in this last year and a half, the Lord has definitely given me more than I can handle!  You know those cute Facebook posts that say, “Don’t worry…God never gives us more than we can handle!”?  Not true!  He doesn’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can resist….but making things easy enough for us to ‘handle’ on our own…….not a promise.
In the last year and a half we’ve had a new boy join our family, and five kids turn between 12 and 16 years old (I don’t count Benji because he’s so emotionally young!), and it seems to my introverted self that they are taking over the place!  Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost total control of this home and I ask God, “Remember that promise you made that ‘great will be the peace of our children?’ Is this your idea of peaceful, God, because it’s not really mine."  It’s not that anyone is making any REALLY bad choices, thank God.  It’s just strong wills and character and pride, and the fact that all come from different background experiences…..and they have trouble understanding where the others are coming from, and noticing their own shortcomings.  So there has been considerable bickering and strife amongst the five oldest, and it trickles down to the younger ones  And I find myself trying to keep kids separated as much as possible.  

We’ve had counseling sessions, and doctor appointments, and I’ve spent lots of time asking God to help me be the kind of Mom who will be a blessing to our family.  This type of mom job isn’t well suited for very sensitive people, and I am extra sensitive.  So, often I think I need to toughen up…...but then sometimes my ‘tough’ just sounds nasty to me.  And then I’m like, “God, help me to be nicer!”  But then, I’m sweet, and that must be the high-flying-flag that screams, “There she is….the little mouse….we can take her!!!”  I see both types of moms being great parents…..the tough, no-nonsense moms who couldn’t care less what their kids think or say to them.  And the sweet, nurturing moms who exude encouragement and positivity.  But, me, I’m not good at either of those, and so I feel like I’m walking on a balance beam, and different kids, at different times, are either holding my hand, helping me make it to the end, or trying to push me off to my death!

Lots of people over the last 5 years have said to me, “You obviously have a gift from God to be able to adopt so many kids,” and “I could NEVER do what you do."   To be honest, those words, given as complements, leave me feeling kind of alone.  The truth is, neither I nor Norman is naturally very good at this.  I mean, adopting a baby (DJ) or a 4 year old (JoJo) was easy.  But adopting 6 kids between ages 7-13 doesn’t actually ‘mesh’ well with either of our personalities.  And we sure don’t feel gifted!    If you’d say to me, “You have such a pretty voice….you are SO gifted!"  I’d thank you and think, “You’re right! Singing comes naturally…it’s my gift!”  But bringing older kids into your family….raising children who grew up with a completely different perspective than what you’re raising them with…..I don’t know if there is a gift from God that makes any of that easier, but if there is, then God skipped Norman and I when he was handing out that one.  Instead, he chose to allow us to get ourselves into something way over our heads.  To force us to rely on him day after day.  Something that humbles us and shows us our shortcomings.

Something to teach me that it matters 0% what I score on the Introvert/Extrovert test.  Ok, so congratulations….you’re an introvert!  Now, what are you going to do about it?  Well, I guess I’m going to PRAY, “God help me to bear listening to this full recap of the 500 page book he just read,” or “God, please help me keep my joy and my smile when it sounds like Ringling Bros Circus at the kitchen table.”  And especially, “God, help me to be peppy and cheery and fun instead of so reserved and serious.  Stretch me and form my personality so that it makes others happy and shows others….especially these kids, LOVE.  Let me not resent that I can’t have 30 minutes ALL alone.  Instead, let me always, always, always be thankful and receive the blessings that you have allowed into this home!”

So, a difficult year and a half has passed, but I’m getting over the hump and finding that the Lord is making me stronger and increasing my faith.  When I start feeling sorry for myself and asking questions, God reminds me of his awesome, breath-taking redemption that I get to be a part of.  When I start to envy the small, peaceful family of four, God, again, reminds me of this awesome priviledge to partner with him.   When I get irritated because someone excitedly equates their large (all birthed-kids) family with our large (crazy) family…as if we have so much in common, God again, reminds me of the privilege I have of being a part of his redemption story, and that I don’t need the affirmation or understanding of any man.  I am the Lord’s.  He’s taking care of me.  He's taking care of my children. He’s taking care of everything.  And this is not too much for HIM to handle!

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