Sunday, September 1, 2013

Lessons from the Dark

Happy September!

Oh, I am so happy to be able to say that. I had my personal WORST August ever.

I was allowed to endure an onerous month long sifting. 

It was long.

It was intense.

I thought I wasn't going to make it.

(If you feel like you can tolerate your suffering, then you ain't really suffering yet!)

And now...I feel like the darkness has passed.

At times now, and while I was experiencing it, I was tempted to try and understand it. Questioning constantly what was I doing wrong, why did I feel this way, how could I do better...and eventually, between my tears and abbreviated prayers that only sounded like weak cries from a baby seal, "HELP!" did I give up trying to UNDERSTAND it...

...and I just tried to survive.

I tend to be a very buoyant person. Something goes wrong pushing me under, I end up bouncing up above the water in a different place. Usually happily so.

But this was a dark heaviness. I felt like I could do no right. I failed CONSISTENTLY at everything I did.

I kept meeting with God in the mornings though--that remained in my life. Some days, I felt fine during those mornings.

And then by 7:30 am I was crying again in the closet.

Desperately wondering how I could get OUT of my life. How I could STOP being a parent to all of these children.

It was DARK.

But the truth and the calling remained: I am living what I have been created to do. WHY IS IT SO HARD THEN!?!?!?!?

And the truth is: God doesn't call us to what is easy for us. 

And I'm going to tell you something big now: (listen up)


ADOPTIVE PARENTING IS EVEN HARDER WORK...for so many, many reasons. And parenting a smattering of children who both sprung from your loins and were grafted into your family provides an even different dimension.

But HARD does not equal NOT CALLED. 

HARD does not equal NOT GOING TO DO THIS.


And that was my daily morning cry, "Help me to die to myself and YOU to live through me to parent this mess of children!"

But every single day I was reduced to tears EARLY in the morning and overcome by the weight of all their needs, all their tears, all their baggage (trauma), teenage hormones and then throw in some laundry, financial stressors, string of medical appointments and therapy, potty training and other "surprises" that regularly occur in life (like our home study agency stopping doing adoptions and we have to drop what we are doing and transfer and re-fingerprint and blah blah blah) and also my thyroid being off so I hadn't slept longer than 2-3 hour stretches in all added up and was my perfect storm.

I did a lot of desperate texting to my dear husband and BFF. They carried me, prayed for me and supported me in this "overwhelming flood."

And again, I'd re-examine the situation and try try try to see WHY it was happening. 

But I just couldn't. Mainly because I could not see out in front of my face. The trees of the forest were just so RIGHT THERE. It's hard to see the whole forest when the bark is right in your face.

At one point my husband asked me if I had any idea what God was trying to teach me in all of this. I had no clue. Not even a hunch. I think I just growled at him, wordlessly.

But never did I feel like God abandoned me...but He did not say much. At all. 

For weeks.

And that was H-A-R-D.

One time last week I was sitting in the rocking chair holding a child on my lap, pulling her close to me so she wouldn't see my tears...wondering how we would be able to feed all of them next week... and He spoke!!

"Just feed her today."

And that's all He spoke to me through this hard time. "Just today."

But it was enough.

Scripture came back to my mind about only living today, for each day has enough trouble of its own. And that the ravens they don't plant, harvest or store food yet God feeds them...I'm going to be okay.

I reached out to a woman I greatly respect and long to be like one day. She told me a few things that really helped me in all of this. (Because truly, when it was dark, I could not see or sense that God was doing ANYTHING in me at all...all I felt was "overwhelming failure" and had no sense that there was a purpose in it at all...although my husband and BFF were telling me God was busy doing good things in me!)

This precious mentor reminded me how crazy passionate God is for me. "Even if you never do another thing for Him the rest of your life, He loves you. Period."


That's amazing to me. ...And I think I have a problem. 

I cannot seem to un-think that if I do well in life, that I am more appealing to Him. That my well balanced life, organized family and all I work at doing is more attractive to Him than if I was lying around on the couch day after day eating bon-bons.

But that's not true. I cannot do ANYTHING to make God love me MORE.

And that's a statement about the INTENSITY of His love for me. 

He already loves me MORE.

God must be CRAZY SAUCE  for His people. He's GOT to be! Otherwise, how could He send His only Son down here, deny Him heaven and put the weight of all sin on Him and let Him bear all the punishment?!?!?!

That's crazy love. Crazy.

My mentor also told me something else. Something that has lead to a real epiphany for me.

She told me that if I want to later be remembered by my children as a loving, wonderful mommy...then I need to relax. A TON.

Oh dear.

That one hit hard. I don't relax well. I multitask well. I do intense well. In fact, I can't remember when I did not give something I'm excited about 110% of my energy.

Relax? "A ton?" Oh my.

And then I read some questions in a book our church is using called How People Change. The questions are actually called, "X-ray Questions" because they cut right through your fluff and get at the core.

One question stood out to me...mainly because my answer showed me that I was actually frustrated and striving for something preposterous.

Somehow I have gotten off. WAY OFF.

Somehow I went from using chore charts and organizing bins to the idea of being out for TOTAL PERFECTION.

I seriously was looking to produce: a spotless home...every corner tidied, every meal well balanced and prepared on time, cupboard stocked and organized, obedient children willing to serve others and ample finances to support the whole production. I was looking forward to the moment when EVERY SPACE in our home was organized, picked up and clean (oh the pet hair and dust bunnies!) and THEN I would simply maintain it.

So, you see that as I was working toward that idea above...and turned around to discover another mess (usually in an area that was just cleaned) or the same child repeat-offending an offense,  or running out of milk and toilets overflowing...I felt further set back from my goal: to when I'd have this all cleaned up and put together.

Oh, that elusive moment.

For some reason when my mentor told me that I was just going to have to relax...(she also told me to figure out what was MOST important and let everything else GO!) I was able to see what I was doing: striving for unattainable perfection and STRESSING about it when it did not go smoothly and forgetting that THIS IS A JOURNEY

And that it is NOT a journey toward the moment WHEN all things become perfect, but that they never will. However, this is not to frustrate or discourage, but to reshift my thinking.  I need to still do these things (parent, potty train, cook, clean, re-clean, teach math,  can tomatoes, drive to therapy, coach in drama practice, train hearts, etc.) but allow them to happen as they the imperfectness of this world.

So, that means that when something goes wrong now (and they will keep going wrong) in my spirit I do not need to unleash the "oh well GREAT (roll eyes)" monster, but rather go with it as "okay, let's see what needs to happen now," patient mother who even actually smiles at her offending children.

This is in Esty's soon-to-be bedroom. Been cleaning it out and had left neat piles of books. Turned around 5 min later to see this. Oh yeah. Life is messy!

When I walk into a room and discover an enormous mess created by the three amigos, (THAT I JUST CLEANED) I do not need to allow sabotage to reach my heart. When I turn the corner to next room and discover the table has not yet been cleared by table-responsible son who is outside playing blissfully even though I reminded him after dinner---doesn't need to upset me. 

A journey. NOT to perfection, but to growing up. (Both kids and me.) A journey to train the children's hearts to love Jesus and follow Him amidst the messes we encounter in life. 

No perfection needed.

My kids are watching me. They see how I act when things don't go right. 

How do they learn to react? They watch me. They imitate me.

{Like it or not: they DO.}

I want to follow Jesus and encounter life's messes patiently and in faith. I want to model trusting in a God who IS ENOUGH...not panicking in the face of a problem.

I really can't say what brought the end of the time of sifting. Finances are still uber tight. Kids are still kids. Entropy still rules. Maybe my thyroid is finally regulating. (I'm beginning to sleep better, praise Him!) School has started and there are less people here all day. I'll probably never know why the darkness has lifted but I can begin to see again...but I do hope that what I've learned and processed is gonna STICK.

I shared some of this aloud with my dear friend wondering if I should blog it. She declared emphatically that YES! I should, that other people are probably trying to achieve perfection too.

So, for the sake of YOU, stressed out mama, I share this publicly. I hope that you will be encouraged and find hope for your own journey.

post signature

{During this season of intense sifting, I was encouraged time and time again through my readers that this blog has blessed and encouraged them. Even a family is in process to adopt some children I've advocated for here!!! These words have brought me great joy and a renewed sense of purpose amidst the dark time. Thank you, dear ones.}


  1. Love you, sweet friend. What wonderful work the Father does in the midst of our struggles. He is chipping away at that big block of marble - and in the end, the face of Jesus will be evident.

    1. Chrisann, coming from you, that means so much. I distinctly remember seeing Jesus in YOUR face. :)

  2. Amy, That is one of the *most* vulnerable and valuable blog posts I have ever read. Your gift for writing is apparent. God has done amazing things in August...He is faithful. I am so thankful you were listening to His whispers...and that your heart is tender. Your children rise up and call you blessed. PS I looked at the picture and thought, Wow, her house is so clean. Haha. Truly I did. I know that makes me sound like we live like slobs, but really, that's an organized mess right there and you get to have it cause you have the privilege of loving some of the sweetest treasures on earth. Love to you from somewhere over Oregon {flying back from Seattle}. What a wonderful trip, beyond wonderful actually...xo

    1. Thank you for ALL that you mean to me!!! XOXOXOXO

  3. This is my struggle, with the pursuit of perfection and with calmness in the midst of stress. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. May the Lord guide our responses that our children would learn His love from us, rather than the negative emotions that come so easily when things go wrong.

    (I found you through Uganda Adoption Blogs; we're parents of two at home, and three more who we're hoping to bring home this winter.)

    1. Nicole I rejoice you are able to give THREE MORE orphans a loving family!! Praise God!!

  4. Oh my GOSH I can relate! Thanks for being real!


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