What a difference a week makes!
What a difference prayer makes!
What a difference a change of focus makes!
One week ago I wrote about my feelings of barely keeping my head above the water line. I felt emotionally exhausted. I don’t want to share all of my children’s secrets, but let me just say that every day involved tears and tantrums.
On Wednesday we staged an intervention!
Or more accurately, we called our friends (one of only two families in town who speak our children’s native tongue), and asked if we could hold a family meeting and use them to help interpret. We wrote down the things that needed to be said. We gathered all of our children around us on the couch. As we slowly and carefully laid out our rules and expectations, we punctuated every sentence with unconditional love.
The meeting ended in tears. Both Naomi and Leah were in a sobbing puddle on the couch. Their cries had everything to do with them needing to release their emotions, and nothing to do with our expectations. It was cathartic. We held them and smoothed the hair back from their sweaty foreheads while we reassured them that yes, it was okay to cry. In fact, it was good for them to let it all out.
We also sought advice from a friend of ours who is a counselor. And what he said struck home. He suggested that in our concern over making our newest additions feel that they are loved and wanted, we were worrying just a little too much about hurting their feelings and not quite enough about establishing our authority.
Enough of that! No more Mr. Nice Guy! We were just given permission to be mean…I was going to run with it.
And do you know what I discovered?
A lot of the emotional exhaustion I had been feeling was my own fault. I was so busy second-guessing every parenting decision I made that I had no energy left over for anything else. I was worrying myself sick over how my children would perceive the punishment, or the tone of my voice, or the fairness of my decision. Instead of over-thinking everything, I decided to trust that God would use my parenting, as inadequate as it might be, to help heal little hearts. “Lord,” I started praying, “please go before me and pave the way and follow behind me and clean up my mess!”
And He has.
I don’t know if I have seen a huge improvement in my children’s behavior this week, but I have seen a huge improvement in my heart. I have felt the joy of the Lord becoming my strength – again. This will probably be a process that has to be repeated over and over in the coming years!
Saturday was our best day so far as a family of 8. We started chores with the task of cleaning bedrooms. And for the first time, all 3 of my girls played together without me having to initiate it. They decided that if they had to clean, they must be Cinderella. And I must be the wicked step-mother. They put on their aprons and set to work – right after they ordered me to bed. Do you remember the scene in the movie where the wicked step-mother is lying in bed petting her cat? I played my part in that scene perfectly, for 30 minutes, while my little “Cinderellas” cleaned their entire bedroom. And not once did anyone argue or cry!
I snapped this picture as I walked behind my girls into the grocery store. Doesn’t it tell a beautiful story?
This week we also celebrated my darling Hannah’s 8th birthday. Please continue praying for her little heart. She has probably been having the roughest time of all of us adjusting to our new family. But for one day, she was the center of attention! And that is exactly how she likes it 🙂