I don’t speak.
Speaking is just not my gift. Blogging isn’t really either, but at least I can do that in the privacy of my own home, propped up on my comfy couch, wearing paint-stained sweats and socks with a hole in the toe. I can write, delete, and backspace all day. And the end result is, generally, my best effort at what I was trying to convey.
But when I speak? It’s ugly.
My stomach turns. My pits become Niagra Falls. I can feel my face turn every shade of red. And once I open my mouth, it’s all downhill. The best part? Afterward, I can’t really recall anything I’ve said.
In March, I was asked to speak at the Created 4 Care conference. I mean, I didn’t have to speak, I was just asked to be part of a panel of other adoptive mamas. Sounds right up my alley, right? I thought so too. And so, I agreed.
As soon as the six of us got up on stage and all hopped up onto our individual stools, I sort of blanked out.
And after they handed me the microphone (microphone? really?) well, I have no idea what I said.
What I do remember is what I wanted to say. Because in the days preceding, I had spent a good bit of time trying to figure that out. And what I kept coming back to was this: I wanted to answer one question, as honestly as I could.
It’s a question I’m often asked: “How do you do it?”
And the answer is, I don’t.
And I’m convinced that I’m not unique. I don’t get preferential treatment. He loves me deeply and unconditionally, just like He loves you.
I do try to be obedient. Try being the operative word. The truth is that I’m painfully imperfect. Fatally flawed. And I’m not just sayin’ that.
I was the youngest child of six growing up. And the babiest of babies. My brothers and sisters were pretty mean to me, too. Teased me incessantly. Played cruel pranks on me. Pranks that involved dog poo and mailboxes a small child could be stuffed into. And, as much as I’d like to blame it on them, I can look back and recognize my own irritating and immature behavior. And how it just might have been slightly responsible for some of it. Possibly.
Which leads me to believe that I just sort of came out this way.
And the truth is, 43 years later, I haven’t changed much. But God isn’t done with me yet.
I’m broken. You’re broken.
God knows it. And He can use it.
So when people ask me, “How do you do it?”, honestly, I don’t know what to say. I get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other. I try my best some days and fail miserably other days. But I keep getting up, keep tackling laundry, keep refilling juice cups, keep starting the dishwasher, keep wiping noses and hineys.
And God shows up in all of it.
While I am the baby in my family, my husband is the oldest in his. Which makes us pretty much opposites. He’s hard-working and I’m easy-going. He’s responsible and I’m a bit more lax. He’s meticulous and I’m not. So trying to manage a house full o’ kids and keep a type-A husband happy has proved to be a bit of a challenge for me. But I’ve found a few tricks along the way that have helped. A lot.
If you have older kiddos, make them responsible for areas of the house. And enlist younger siblings to be on their ‘team’. I’ll split my kiddos into two teams and turn them loose. This teaches my older kids how to be leaders and how to manage a task. And it teaches my younger kids how to be part of a team and how to follow instructions from someone other than mom or dad. Of course, this
occasionally regularly descends into arguments and finger-pointing, but it’s almost always worth it. They can actually accomplish a lot now, without a whole lot of supervision. Bonus.
I am so not a planner. And it just doesn’t come naturally to me. But some things must be planned. And the more I actually take the time to plan, the more I realize that one of my biggest stressors is not planning. Duh. So if I have something to do, or somewhere to go, I try to plan ahead so I don’t end up late and freakin’ out. It ain’t pretty.
I also try to plan meals. This keeps my husband happy… and we all know that’s key. I plan out at least 4 or 5 days worth of meals on every trip to the grocery store. And I always have the ingredients for a few super fast dinners on hand (tacos, breakfast dinner) for those nights I just can’t get dinner started in time.
On the heels of planning comes organizing. Or vise versa. And I’m not good at either. But organization has become an absolute necessity in our home. And over the years I have developed a true appreciation for it. Because we move every year or two, we are forced to re-organize regularly, which helps. But in between moves we go through our kids closets and dressers twice a year. We go through toys, books and games. If we use it, great, we keep it. But if we don’t we give it away. And the fewer ‘things’ we have to concern ourselves with, the more we can focus on our marriage, our children and other stuff.
Years ago my husband and I prayerfully set some goals. Goals for how we would spend our time, our energy and our money. And we’ve stuck with that over the years – it has served us well. We realized that saying “yes” to the things that God wants us to do means saying “no” to other things… good things, even. And that’s not always easy. But saying “no” has enabled us to focus our time, talents and resources in such a way that we feel we are honoring God above our own desires. And God has most definitely blessed our efforts.
We budget. And so saying no has become routine in our home. We don’t vacation regularly, we don’t make spur of the moment purchases. Our furniture has seen better days. But it works for us. And the big picture – following God’s plan for our family – is being realized. And that is worth every monetary sacrifice.
This also means saying no to our children. Which has been the hardest of all. But by committing our efforts to God and prioritizing based on His plan instead of our own, we feel that we giving our children a gift… by setting a God-following example. We want our children to grow up to follow hard after the Lord and not the world, so what better way to teach them than by living that way ourselves?
To your husband, ladies. You know what I mean. This will keep him happy. And a happy husband, well… let’s just say, it’s worth the effort.
Many, many times over the years I have thought that I was at the end of myself. I believed I had pushed myself to my limit and that to add anything on would simply be the straw that broke the camel’s back. But God gently reminded me otherwise. He encouraged me to challenge myself to trust Him and to give more of myself, unafraid of emptying myself, but determined to go where He wanted me to go. And each time, God has shown me exactly how much can be done, through His power, if I am willing to commit and persevere.
Watch out for idols.
We are all prone to finding things other than God that take our hearts and minds away from Him. In fact, most of us are guilty of not loving God the way He calls us to. But what we’re missing is how easily we can allow good things to become our idols. They look good. They sound good. But a good thing – taking the place of the Lord in our hearts – is a bad thing. And it’s something we have to be constantly on guard against.
As women, I think we find ourselves searching for validity and importance. Social networking, friendships and even our children can bring us a sense of importance, but this is not how God intended it to be. He calls us to love Him first and foremost. And when we’re doing that, focusing on Him and His plan for us, our lives will reflect the peace and serenity that only He can bring.
And, when necessary, fake it.
Some days, I just don’t get it done. Forget cleaning, cooking and my mile-long to-do list, some days I barely manage to feed and care for everyone during the day. Thankfully those days aren’t a regular occurrence, but when they do happen, I have a plan. I fake it. Since it’s only the kids and me that know the real deal of what went down during the day, and they’re not talking, I’m set. I rally the kids about 15 minutes before daddy gets home and we all bust a move to at least hide the evidence of a day gone bad. And even though there isn’t anything to show for our day, somehow my husband doesn’t seem to mind. And everyone deserves to have an off day every now and then. Right?
Bottom line: If God is asking you to do something, even something that seems way too big or way too crazy, you can do it. Whatever might be His plan for your life – whether it’s mothering a large family, starting a business, adopting a child with special needs – He’ll give you all you need. Because if this spoiled, undisciplined, disorganized, type B baby can do it? You can do it.
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
~ Philippians 4:19