Weary Winter.

The lack of posts lately is indicative of two things: first, my determination not to be on the computer during the daytime. It has really been a good decision and I’ve only broken the “rule” twice (today and one other day when Greg was home.) I find that I’m getting a lot more done around the house and am more present with my kids than I was before.

The second reason: I am tired. It has been a long winter. The first few weeks were good, with Christmas and family and high hopes for Midge’s case. Then came the surprising court decision. my resulting depression and trying to climb out of that. helping our daughter/babysitter through a time of trial and depression, too. three birthdays with two parties and one Super Bowl party. now a week of stomach flu making its rounds in our family. I’m still hoping I am spared of that one. Lack of sleep, lack of routine, lack of hope, they do not make a good combination.

I’m emotionally spent. And physically tired. And weary at the outlook of many more months of uncertainty about our family.

And then today I was confronted by someone whose feelings were hurt by something I said during all of this. Rightfully so…I let the emotions of the moment take over and out slipped something I knew better than to say/write. And once it’s out, there’s no way to take it back, apologies or not. I always tell the boys that it’s easy to be good and kind and nice when you’re feeling like all is right with the world. It’s harder when you’re sick or tired or cranky, and that’s when you have to work the hardest at doing and saying the right thing. It’s no fun for me to be caught by my own admonition, and to know that I hurt someone when I was low and I let my guard down. To be humbled when you realize you’ve screwed up is not fun.

I wish that it were easier to do the right thing. To stick to saying and doing whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, excellent and praiseworthy. Why is it that our human fallback is to say whatever is selfish, petty, mean, and thoughtless? Why is it that life is so hard?

When I wrote that last sentence in my journal today, I was caught by the fact that life doesn’t have to be as hard as I’m making it. Life was pretty smooth a year and a half ago. Two kids with whom I’d done the hardest behavioral work, and who were getting to be quite a pleasure to be around. Normal life in the suburbs. A routine with time for myself and time for my family and time for helping others. Not too shabby.

But we felt called to “come after [Jesus], take up our cross and follow Him.” We felt called to the least of these…the helpless and needy in the foster system who really threw a wrench into the lives we were comfortable with.

So I guess the answer is, life doesn’t have to be this hard. Life could be a lot easier if we just gave up. Because navigating this foster process, the people involved, the personalities, the emotions, the confusion, the time needed…it’s all something we don’t have to do. It’s hard to do. Sometimes I hate it. And when I think of another ten months (yes, now we’re thinking ten more months of this visitation/court extension/uncertainty is probably more realistic than four) I really hate it.

Then I think of the baby girl sleeping upstairs. Who only knew chaos and now knows stability. Who says “Ta da!” when she finds something she’s looking for. Who asks me to come with her at the park so she can make me (sand) food in her restaurant, and then who shoves a bite into her mouth before I can stop her. Then makes a face and says, “Yucky!” Who wants to kiss her brothers before bed and yells “Bye bye!” when Jake jumps out of the car in the morning carpool line. Who thinks every loud noise outside is the trash truck, and runs to me for security.

And when I had my two extra foster kiddos this past weekend, I thought of the verse which says that when we’re doing all of this for the least of these, we’re doing it for Jesus. And I told Greg, “You know, I have to remember, that if Jesus had to go poop and took forever just when we were trying to leave and had everyone else in their carseats, I’d wait for Jesus patiently. So I guess I’d better do the same for Middle Boy.” It’s not glamourous. And sadly, I make mistakes. I don’t do the right thing every time. Which hurts people. And can’t always be fixed. And teaches me humility. And makes me sad. And brings me to pray that it’s my own reputation that is tarnished, not God’s.

Life, you are hard. In heaven, I plan on having a beautiful house right on the beach that looks like it came right out of Coastal Living magazine. It will have those cool built in bunks for all of the children God chooses to give me, and I will only say the right thing and will never hurt people’s feelings. And all of the time and money I sacrificed here on earth will be redeemed up there and I can travel and see the world with more beauty than it ever would have had down here.

LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be… My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, LORD, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You.” Psalm 39: 4-7

Where do I put my hope? Certainly not in my imperfect self who can barely cope with the life you gave me to live. Why does God want us to be transparent with the fact that we are Christians, when he knows that we’re only going to fail and drag His name through the mud with our mistakes? Am I a hypocrite because I post bible verses on my blog and can’t do what I hope to do in the way God wants me to do it? Thank God that he shows us we’re not the only screwups in history. I’m just another plain old sinner, like everyone else. Some days I’ll bring God down in others’ eyes, but hopefully on other days, I’ll lift Him up with my actions. Can you believe this section below is from the psalms, and not just from somebody’s journal today?

I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me or I will die. Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk for I give myself to you. Psalm 143:4-8

What a bunch of idiots God has recruited for His save the world campaign. It would be a whole lot easier to sit on the sidelines and watch the parade go by. Which is why I must get back into His word each morning and back into His heart with each prayer and press on towards the goal…to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. At least the best I can.

This is how we cope with a week of the flu. We thank God for the sunshine in February and we make a backyard mudpit.

And we pull out our old Calvin and Hobbes comic books for Jake, who tells me every five minutes, “Mommy, you have to see this. It is literally (his favorite word) so, so funny.” And then he wants to explain the comic to me in his own words rather than just letting me read said comic.

And this is how I cope with a life so hard. Ironically, I note in these pictures a proverb saying, “If you roll a boulder down on others, it will crush you instead.” Prov. 26:27. Touché, God. You’re nothing if not ironic. And wise.

May you bring God up more than you tear Him down, and may this Winter be a sweet one.

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5 thoughts on “Weary Winter.

  1. How I want my mothering, my person-hood, to be characterized by being “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). But I fail. So often.
    Jesus said “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks”. Yes, I see it. This is why I must think on these things: Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…
    I see in your blog how your heart changes when you think on the blessing of serving God by caring for your children today.
    I am inspired by how you have waded into the trenches. May our Good Shepherd give you courage today. Love to you all

  2. So often your letters are extremely similar. – Often word for word what I’ve read over the years from friends who were in Africa and Guatemala. These women worked as teachers for the missionary’s children. Your goals are the same. For you, without the foreign country part. Thanks for your work.
    On the local front, some normal depression can result from lack of being out in the sun just after or before sunrise,sunset. Not a lofty bit of advice, considering your special circumstances, but one I’ve been reminding myself of this winter season. And still, most my projects have the siren call within the home and I don’t follow up by getting out.

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