As glorious as the first part of our beach week felt, the latter part was hard. Ryland returned to work on Monday which left me single parenting five kids away from home and out of our routine for the last three days. Because it was late July, stifling hot we spent 3-4 hours each afternoon indoors and on each others nerves.
By Tuesday evening I was a bit snippy. My three big kids were bossy. One of my foster daughters was sassy and one was regressing to a great deal of whininess. I have heard it said that a bad day at the beach is better than a good day elsewhere--but I missed the comforts of home.
A couple of times my sweet Kate hugged me out of the blue and said, "Mom, I don't know how you are doing this. It is HARD having five kids. "
As I put the kids to bed the guilt over my sour attitude kicked in and I found myself in that spiral many Moms know. Hard on myself, feeling frustrated and becoming less patient I went to bed praying. Nothing articulate, mind you, just a refrain of "Ugh, God, I am sorry. Help me. I need you."
I woke again at 3am, unable to sleep because the sassiness and my poor response were still gnawing at me. Again, I prayed. "I know this isn't Your way. Fill me with patience. Forgive me. Help me."
And at 6am I once again was staring at the ceiling...begging God for the equipping for a better day.
I wish I could say it was all sunshine and roses...but this is real life. It was still hot. The kids were still annoying each other...and one of my little girls had my number with her backtalk.
On a sunset walk back to our beach house her disrespectfulness reached a crescendo. My grace had worn quite thin. After 9 1/2 weeks together, I hoped I had the right to level with her. Kneeling down until we were eyeball to eyeball I spoke to her directly, "I don't understand. I care about you. I am doing my best to serve you and love you. Why are you speaking to me in such a sassy way? I want to be respectful to you but my feelings are hurt."
She said nothing and I felt terrible. When we got back to the house the other four kids went in the backdoor and she lagged behind. By this point it was quite dark. My 8 1/2 year old foster daughter grabbed my hand and said, "Mom?"
"I know you love me and are trying to be so kind to me, but I really miss my family. I am being sassy but it is because I am sad."
I was blown away. This type of deep, mature emotional insight is not her norm. I wrapped her up in my arms in the dark and rocked her as we both cried.
I thanked her for being brave and honest. I apologized.
As we walked back inside bonded through this honest conversation, I knew this was the answer to my prayers. God knew my compassion needed rebooting--and hearing what I knew in my head to be true, articulated through the big, fat tears of a precious round faced third grader was just the ticket.
As I tucked her in that night she grinned ear to ear and said, "Mom, I feel so much happier since our talk." She has told me this several times since.
God knew what we needed--and it wasn't just an attitude adjustment for her, it was a heart/compassion adjustment for me too.
The message He keeps giving me over and over again through the sweet parts and the hard parts and the brutiful parts of this journey is this: HE is writing the story.
This journey has changed me, stretched my children, challenged these little girls and wreaked havoc on the lives of their biological families--but none of it is wasted.
I was reminded again this past week as we enjoyed 8 days of respite as a biological family of five. Our vacation to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone was planned months before we knew these sweet girls would be part of our family. Because they were starting school, we elected to accept the gift of time together--a break to regroup, reconnect and reflect.
The timing was absolutely perfect. We were allowed a 9 week progress report of sorts. A break from drinking from the firehose to be contemplative about what we are learning. Unrushed time to really let our kids be honest about the parts of this they are challenged by. An opportunity to make some intentional adjustments.
God knew what we needed and was faithful to provide.
He always does.
I think we get too prideful to ask.
Too unbelieving to think He really cares and will show up.
Too busy trying to solve our own quandaries.
Too tired to really seek Him.
Too distracted to notice how He provides.
In doing so we miss so much of His love and provision for us.
Lord, keep me humble and paying attention.