"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
People often ask me, "How do you handle it all?"
Depending on the situation, I answer in a variety of ways:
- I'm wired this way. And that's partly true. I have a God-wired ability to stay focused in the midst of chaos ... most of the time. I'm more left-brained than my husband, and he's an engineer!
- I stay organized ... most of the time. Usually, I can find what I need when I need it. Usually, I prepare in advance. There are times when life gets the best of me, and someone wears the same socks two days in a row. But systems and schedules help me stay on top of responsibilities.
- My kids are older. We still have issues that derail my best-laid plans, but they're different than when my kids were toddlers and one tried to use my car keys to unlock the back gate, dropping them in the alley by accident. That threw me into a meltdown of monumental proportions.
But when people ask "How do you handle it all?" it's usually when I've shared something that has changed my life more than anything else. An act of obedience my family made eight years ago has pushed me to the edge of myself, made me question who I am and question God about His choice of me for this assignment. But it's also made me cling to Him with more desperation than ever before. What is it?
Adopting two little girls from Africa.
I haven't written much about these challenges due to respecting my family's privacy. And I also don't want to discourage adoptive parents with how hard our journey has been. It's one of the most important things I've ever done. But also the most costly.
In 2005 we adopted two girls, ages 8 and 10, from war-torn Liberia. We knew nothing about their background, other than it contained deprivation even other poor countries don't experience. No running water, no electricity, no school, no exposure to books or even television. Just basic existence for years.
Welcoming these little girls into our family at first seemed easy. They responded well to our love. They thrived with good food and education. But very soon we realized challenges. And then very sad truths about what happened in Africa started being uncovered.
One daughter has cognitive challenges that will impact her ability to live independently the rest of her life, and ours. With the other we faced behavioral challenges-significant issues based on an early history of neglect and abuse.
Sometimes there are Hallmark-channel-endings, but that's not our story. We live every day with our daughters' wounds and challenges. And these hardships have deeply affected me and my husband. They have affected our three biological children.
Here's what I've discovered: all my God-wired ability to think through chaos, all my attempts at organization and having older kids didn't prepare me for this.
But God's strength did.
So how do I manage it all? Every day I turn to God and rely on what 2 Corinthians 12:9 teaches me ...
I don't have it in me to do this one more day, I need Your strength.
I don't have the patience in me for this … I need Your patience.
I can't think straight right now ... I need Your clarity.
I'm not even sure I have love in me right now ... I need Your love.
And I get my portion for that day. I get just enough strength, patience, and clarity to make it through. And a new definition of love that's stronger and tougher and more determined than I have ever experienced.
I wish I could write more about my family's story, and maybe someday I will. But for now, it's brought me to my knees; it's made me more humble; it's made me less judgmental, and it's made me depend on God more than ever.
God's strength is enough. But I had to get to the end of mine to learn that.
Heavenly Father, although I didn't know I'd be facing my current challenges, You did. Thank You for offering to step in the gap between my needs and my insufficient reservoir of strength with Your peace, wisdom, strength and love. Help me to lean on You when I feel like things are falling apart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.
Reflect and Respond:
The way to truly experience God's power is to get to the end of yours. What are you facing that makes you feel powerless?
Ask God for one thing you need to make it through today. Then watch for His response.
John 14: 27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)
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Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105