Saturday, August 18, 2012


     I have been avoiding this post, for reasons that will soon become clear, I'm sure.  Here's the truth:  I have had a rough 3-4 months.  Where we are and what we are doing is wonderful and comes with its own set of amazing blessings for our family, but it also brings with it a high level of toxicity that manifests itself through a lot of stress and anxiety.  I didn't realize just how much I was carrying until I began to crumble under the weight of it all back in May.  I have had three emotional breakdowns since then, and until recently have been satisfied with simply keeping my head above water, although that was proving to be more and more difficult.
     Our first nine months here were extremely difficult.  I tried my best to look on the bright side, to find the good, to remember our purpose, etc. etc., but the truth is, when something big - some crisis-level thing - happens once a week, and when a huge change occurs once every 2-4 weeks (like a policy change, a state mandate, getting a new girl or losing one, etc.), and right when you get one big fat mess cleaned up (emotional messes and physical ones!), another one takes its place every. single. time, you start to lose a bit of your sanity.  Especially when you're a perfectionist and you still care way too much about what other people think, like me.  I was trying to do my job everywhere:  with the girls, with my boys, up at the office with our case workers and counselors and directors, and with God and my husband.  My priorities got scrambled over and over again so easily, and there were never enough hours in the day for any of it.
     In the midst of this, I have had to pare down how much outside time I spend with friends and family (something that has always been important to me), and I have struggled with feeling isolated.  I also learned the sad truth that some people are fair-weather friends, and some friends are for keeps.  Also a tough thing to deal with when you're standing in the fire and you need your friends the most.
     Raising eight kids, meeting their physical, emotional and spiritual needs, is quite a bit of crazy all on its own, but add in a lot of dysfunction, a lot of weirdness with contact among bio families, add in having kids who are too high-level to be here, and a lot of other things that I don't have the time to write in, and you've got me:  the emotional, unstable wreck, for pretty much the entirety of the summer.
     I found myself responding to things in ways that I knew were not me - in ways that were just downright ugly, strung tight, and worrisome.
     The good news is, I am much, much better now.  For several weeks I have been feeling like myself again.  The bad news is, I don't know if or when the nasty cycle will start up again.  I know this is a heavy post, and maybe it's too much information for most of you, but I am writing it to hold myself accountable, and so that my genuine friends and family can do the same.  We all go through dark stretches, dark places in life.  We all visit, and sometimes we stay awhile.  But there's a line that just shouldn't be crossed, and if that keeps happening, I think you have to take a hard look at your life and say, "Something's gotta give," and then actually give it up.
     For me, it is truly aligning my priorities in the right order.  I must spend time with the Lord everyday and be in constant prayer.  I must be thankful, and let the Spirit remind me of the meaning and purpose He gives me for His glory.  I must partner with my husband and love him and put him first above any other person in our home.  I must make sure that my boys are doing well, thriving and growing (this one hasn't been a problem for me - I'm pretty fierce when it comes to my sugar babies).  And I absolutely must have boundary lines that cannot be crossed when I am with these girls.  I have to have time for myself - to work and get things done, and also to rest.  If I can't do these things, then I can't be successful here.  I can't be healthy and whole for my family, and that matters more than anything else.
     I have been mentored by a wonderful woman of God who has given me great suggestions and tools to keep my priorities in line, and to replace anxiety and stress with peace and the knowledge of God's sovereignty, no matter what happens while we are here.  I am so thankful for her wisdom and the way she has shared with me.  I believe it is helping me move into a new phase of being here - one where I can better manage the overwhelming world where we are at.  We continue to meet together, and probably will for a very long time.  Michael and my mom have also been so supportive, as well as my closest friends, who call me, text me, and come by (even though it's far away now).  They have all sustained and reminded me to keep my eyes on the prize, and to do what is most important, not what is most convenient or the least confrontational.  God has put all of these people in my life to help me keep on keeping on, and I am so grateful.
     And that's the mama update for you.  If you think of us, please pray for peace and for joy in our hearts, and to remember that God is God, and He is in control.