I'd do well to stay entirely off the internet. When I peek at it, I see photos of beautiful houses, lovely decor, shelves laden with books, kitchens churning out tasty meals, happy families on vacation.
And then there's us with all our mess, chaos, sweat and houses filled with scorpion ants, mold, sometimes snakes, and often rats. We have lice and heat rash and more kids than that woman who lived in the shoe.
The enemy is good at convincing us to play the comparison game. He's an expert at getting us to focus on our struggles and getting us to wish for an easier calling. I love things clean and orderly. I like pretty spaces and I like it when quiet settles over a place in such a way that it feels like a cozy blanket. But that's not the life God has called me to. Not even a little bit.
Six days ago we were called to go pick up a 3 year old whose mother was hooked on drugs and whose father was in jail. We made the 5 hour drive through some sketchy roads that required 4-wheel drive and then some. We arrived to find a village of people gathered to send this child away. Within 10 minutes or so of arriving, however, we were told her one year old brother also needed a home. It took a single glance around to know the need was real. It took maybe two or three seconds to know we were taking two kids home that day.
Now let me be real with you ... I'm not young. A little warning before taking on a one year old would have been helpful. I would maybe have taken extra vitamins or slept for a few weeks prior to him coming. Something, anything to prepare for what it would be to take a baby who cries for everything he wants and his older-by-a-little-bit sister who does the same. Day and night I'm reminded I'm not the 25 year old mother I once was. And I can't help but asking myself, why? Why do other people feel like we could and should say no to taking these children while we, the ones who are exhausted from it, don't feel saying no is even an option in most cases? We aren't looking for applause or you wouldn't see months' long gaps between our updates. We have no ulterior motive for taking them in and contrary to what some believe, neither the government nor the families are paying us. We were walking out of the market the other day and I had the baby on my hip. We said goodbye to the man at the door and he followed us out and asked how many Thai children we have now. Robbie told him 24 and the man then asked if we were making money off them. No sir, we only spend money.
It doesn't make sense to people. Not to our family and not to many of our friends. Not to the people around us or the people we meet. We shrug off the naysayers with a smile, knowing they mean well. And we carry on moving forward because, though it makes sense to almost nobody, we know that's not an excuse to turn our backs on what we hear God asking us to do.
I need you to hear me ... we don't have to want to do what God asks us to do. We don't have to like what He's asking. We don't have to be excited or equipped or prepared or interested. Just because you wouldn't want to be in Thailand with exactly two dozen Thai children doesn't mean God won't ever ask you to do exactly that. That's why it's so hard to answer people when they say things like, "I couldn't do it. I don't know how you do it. You must really love kids." Because we can't do it, either, and no way in the world do we naturally love kids so much that we want to abandon all semblance of normal life so we can drown in them.
We do it because He asks us to. We survive it because He enables us to. And we laugh through it because obedience begets joy.
So yes, we're tired. We are most certainly overwhelmed. We're in over our heads and wondering how it's sustainable. We have grumpy moments and sometimes irritation rules the day. But by and large, we have joy. We have fulfillment. We have purpose.
Pinterest can keep her beautiful houses. Instagram can have her perfect families. Facebook can offer a thousand stories that only tell half the truth.
You can blame it on the sleep deprivation brought on by the new baby, but I wouldn't trade my mess for anything.
I might, however, barter for a small nap if you want to come babysit.