We are learning so much every day with adding these amazing children into our family. Our caseworker asked me the other day how it was ‘really’ going and if there was anything she could have done differently to better prepare us.
Honestly, there was not.
All in all, things are going well- but that can and does change from moment to moment. There have been fleeting moments where I have thought to myself “what in the world did we do?” And then not 5 minutes later I know that I wouldn’t have it any other way. So while it has been hard- and I won’t deny that… I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The funny thing is- the things that I worried about and thought would be hard have not. And then the things I didn’t think twice about have been.
I’m not sure if there is ever any way you could prepare yourself for adding 4 children to your family at once... Actually, come to think of it- there is really no way you could ever prepare yourself for anything that comes your way in your life.
We humans try though don’t we?
We think that we can actually have things all perfectly lined up, planned out- and then real life hits. God knows this though- He knows we try to ‘control’ things, knows we want things to go our way, knows we want things to be easy and comfortable. But if life always went that way then we would think we could live without Him, we wouldn’t realize how much we need God. We all know that when things get really hard that is when we turn to God because it finally hits us that we cannot do it on our own. While I don’t think God wants us to struggle- He allows struggles, and from the struggles we learn to trust Him more. We learn to try to do things on our own less… at least that is until the next time. ;0)
I have found that the best thing I can do to prepare myself for the day is to start off on my knees. Now I’ve always known this- but actually doing it has been another thing. I’m embarrassed to admit that often times that extra 10 minutes of sleep wins over spending time with the Lord. I am learning though…
A couple things I had originally worried about was how to feed 11 children (and 2 adults) and also if the kids would get along with each other. I am happy to report that those 2 areas are going amazingly well. Food is a BIG deal with these kids. HUGE. We have to have the food prepared and ready to serve on by at least 5:00 sharp. But they eat anything and every single time tell me it the best thing they have ever had. (and trust me when I say I am not a great cook!) They also eat a lot. I have learned to just keep things simple for now- and at least double or sometimes triple the recipe. We have a couple huge pots and pans and we are ready to go. We also now have 2 dinner prayers we say together- the girls and then ours. :0)
It has also been a huge blessing is how well the kids are getting along. (I pray that stays the same with 4 girls in their teenage years!) Honestly though, I think that is something that we have to teach our children- to always talk nicely, always respect each other and other peoples belongings and while it’s ok to be angry at someone it is never, ever okay to speak unkindly. We have a zero tolerance rule for not treating each other in a kind way. Now I will admit that there has been some jealousy between the girls- like who gets to sit next to mommy when we read a bedtime story and I don’t dare praise one without praising the others. But all in all they seem to really genuinely like each other and that has been so nice. They play well together, have many of the same likes and dislikes, and do an amazing job of sharing. I am really proud of them all.
The boys are a lot more laid back than the girls, but we have seen some significant delays with them so we have had to spend a lot of extra time in trying to help them ‘catch up’.
Some hard things we were not prepared for was of course the pain of the loss of not getting the baby. This we were totally blindsided by, but trying to trust God, while still enduring the constant painful reminders. Yet we know we must continue to pray as Job prayed: "Teach me what I cannot see" (Job 34:32). God says there is a purpose in everything we go through and we are trying to remember that God is going to reveal things to us through this that we never would have learned had we not gone through this trial. This too was a part of our calling and even though we know Satan was an instrument in this- God is always bigger than Satan's afflictions.
Another trial has been the exhaustion. There have been days where I have gone without a shower (pretty thought I know) there was literally just no time left between hugging away a hurt and nursing them through the constant sickness we have been hit with in our house- flu, pink eye, pneumonia, cough, colds, then repeats.:0)
Those are the things I didn’t prepare myself for… the utter exhaustion and then the guilt of still wondering if it would ever be enough. There were/are days where I feel like the life is being drained from me. Yet then there are the moments where I can see the change in them, feel them starting to reach out to me, to take one tiny baby step towards authentic bonding. Times where they wrap their little arms around me and lay their warm cheeks on my shoulder and trust me enough to let them wipe away their many, many tears. Moments where they have opened up to me about the painful experiences in their past… times where I see such a longing, such a hope in their eyes that it pierces me to the depths of my soul.
Through this all though it’s funny, and at the same time sad, that I literally have to make an effort to stop and count my blessings- but I do. Sometimes I admit I get so caught up in the moment, so wrapped up in my exhaustion, in the work ahead, in the hard parts- the fears of failure- that I loose focus on how blessed we really are. I so wish that being grateful came naturally to me- but it doesn’t always. It has been a lesson for all of us here. Change is hard, whether it’s good or bad change, and it’s easy to focus on the hard parts instead of the plan that God is unraveling before our very eyes.
All in all, through this emotional rollercoaster, God is faithful and we honestly are doing really well. We still have a long road ahead of us of healing- and real bonding takes time… but I also know that God is taking care of us. He is there, often times through many of you- holding us up when we feel like crumbling through your encouraging words, your prayers and your support. Our lives have changed drastically- theirs and ours- but it’s a good change and I wouldn’t want it any other way. :0)