We are at the beach with my husband's whole family.
We had a pretty rough couple of days leading up to this vacation. Lots of chaos. By the time we started packing on Friday night we were pretty exhausted. We were planning to pack, load our borrowed car, put the kids to bed, and then wake up at 2:30am to leave by 3am.
After a long day I was overwhelmed at the thought of packing for the 6 kids and myself for 2 weeks, so I decided to make myself a smoothie before I got going. (Stalling :)
I had the blender full to the brim and running...I was helping things a long with a spoon....and then I pushed the spoon down too far....it hit the blades and there was a smoothie explosion.
Dave was walking toward me when it happened and he got to witness my smoothie shower. It was EVERYWHERE. The ceiling, the whole floor, the cabinets, my hair, and dripping down my face.
We laughed until I cried :)
By the time the kitchen was finally clean we were way behind schedule.
Before I knew it my friend showed up to come and get our mama cat and her 6 kittens to take care of them for the 2 weeks we were gone.
We gave her all the instructions and the kids said their sad goodbyes.
We had finally started making some progress with the packing- amidst 6 hyper, excited children running around, teasing each other, fighting, giving too many opinions on what goes and what stays- when my friend texted and asked me to call her.
I walked back to my bedroom and called to see what she needed.
She was crying.
She could hardly get out what she was trying to say.....she had gotten home....her boyfriend had opened the car door before she was ready....mama cat jumped out....and ran into the street....right as a car was coming....she was killed.
I could not believe it. The 2 1/2 week old kittens were now orphans. They still needed milk. How do we tell our kids?!?! They loved that cat so dearly!
Amidst sobbing and sadness we made the decision to go get the babies. My kids were begging me to bring them back so that they could see that at least the kittens were ok.
I drove off to go meet my friend.
She was a wreck. She was sobbing as well. She couldn't stop shaking and crying. I felt so bad for her!! I held her while she cried and kept telling her that it was ok. We were ok and it was not her fault!!!
She asked how we could possibly be ok, so I shared my faith with her and my belief that all things are in God's hands. No matter what.
When I got home the kids were still crying and so glad to see the kittens. Shaeya begged me to let her bring them with us on the trip.
I looked at her...her heart broken...she was asking how she was going to be able to take care of them and give them what they need...
My mama heart was moved by her pain.
I put my arms around her and told her we would bring them.
I said, "Baby, you are not alone in this. I love you so much and I am right here with you. I am on your team. We will work together and give them what they need. We won't care what anyone else on the trip thinks about us bringing them because this is about you and me and them and no one else. It's gonna be ok. Got it? It's ok."
We wiped our tears, pulled ourselves together, and started packing up the kittens and packing the rest of the car.
There was no way the kids were going to sleep at that point so we finished packing and got straight into the car.
It was midnight by the time we pulled out. Dave and I, 6 kids, and 6 kittens with a 14 hour drive ahead of us.
I took over driving around 4am. By that time everyone in the car was asleep. It was just me in the dark silence on an empty highway.
It was finally my time to talk to my Dad.
I told Him how overwhelmed I was. I told Him how hard it was to do everything required of me. I told Him how I was struggling to love our foster child. How I was worried about Neiko's bad behavior and how our family would appear to everyone else on this trip. I was worried our chaos would turn people away from us. Concerned that I was forgetting something we would need.
And clear as day my heart heard Him say....
"Everything you said to your daughter tonight when her heart was breaking is everything I'm saying to you now. I feel the exact same way about you.
I love you.
I'm proud of you.
I'm on your team.
I'm with you.
This is not all on you- we are in this together. The two of us together and it doesn't matter what other people think. You are not alone in this- I am right here with you and I am helping you."
And my heart soared. The pain and chaos and worries of the last few days melted away.....
And THAT is what I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving. This year- more than any other year of my life- I am so aware of His presence, His nearness, the way He sees me, the love He has for me, the trustworthiness of His plans for me, His faithfulness, His goodness, His provision, His grace for my failures, and His help.
He is such a good, good Father and my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
Praying we know Him more and more in the coming year, and that we live with thankful hearts grounded in the truth of Who He is in every moment.