"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13
The first couple weeks with our newly expanded family seemed like a blur. We couldn't have survived without the support of our church family and friends. Mary Jean came by several times and picked up some of our dirty laundry and washed it for us. LaVada brought us food she had prepared. Jenni brought extra bikes by for the kids to ride. So many were praying for us daily, and some sent notes of encouragement. Gifts of clothing were left on our doorstep. God provided for us physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Physically, I was exhausted. Trying to feed, clothe, and care for seven children was demanding. Someone always needed me, and I was fearful to leave the children on their own for even a few minutes. When at last, bedtime rolled around even that was exhausting. Teaching Troy, Mikey, and Amber a healthy bedtime routine took time. They also had fears that had to be dealt with. Each night I was able to leave Amber's bedside a little sooner. Troy, however, was out of bed every few minutes for a drink, to tell us something, to ask a question, etc. It finally came out that he was extremely fearful of the dark. It often was after 10:00 before he would settle down enough to go to sleep. I would collapse into bed and sleep soundly until about 3:00 in the morning, but then I would wake up. I couldn't shut my mind off. I would be thinking about how to deal with problems with the children. I would be figuring out the logistics of running our large household. Then I would get frustrated because I knew I should be sleeping, and I was wide awake.
The emotional adjustment was far more then I had ever imagined. Troy, Mikey, and Amber took so much of my time. I literally was pouring my energy into them and had little left for Ryan, Kayt, Alex, and Cory. Feelings of guilt for their neglect washed over me. At times I was resentful that Troy, Mikey, and Amber were taking me away from them. Other times I was angry because Troy and Mikey often mistreated them or their belongings with little thought or remorse. At times I could reason the situation out. Troy, Mikey, and Amber didn't know better. Many of their behaviors were a result of their life situation. It was not their fault. They didn't ask to come to our home. Other times, however, it was more difficult. I remember Heather, stopping by one day and asking me how it was going. All I could do was cry and say, "It's so hard."
Spiritually, I think God had me right where I needed to be. My physical and emotional needs drove me to my knees. One day in particular, I remember. Troy had been picking and picking at Cory. It was so difficult to watch as I had seen Cory withdrawing and not being the happy fun-loving boy he was by nature. I went to my room and fell to my knees beside the bed. I told God, "You know my heart. You know I love Troy, Mikey, and Amber. You know how desperately I've always wanted to make a difference. But I don't know if I can. The Bible tells me that 'the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.' (Rom. 8:26,27) So, God, that is what I'm asking the Spirit to do for me now." And then I just wept before the Lord until I had no tears left. It was a cleansing cry, and when it was over I realized I really could not do this task before me, but God could do it through me if I let Him.