I wanted to share a beautiful update as to how God is providing help right now.
In case you weren’t aware, we all need help from time to time. Saying yes to help is a beautiful thing. Our family happens to be in a season in which we need a significant amount of help in many forms.
Our help and needs continue to shift
During the past five years, we’ve added children and/or cared for children then helped them make adjustments back to live with their biological family. Mostly though, we’ve added children. Seven small, traumatized, extra needy, precious ones.
Meanwhile, during these past five years we’ve also had four kids in college, high school, and/or middle school – all of whom were very involved in extracurriculars like athletics, music, and drama. They’ve had their own needs because growing into an adult, navigating relationships, and figuring out career paths? Well we all know how hard (and good) that can be. We’ve also had two weddings, and OH YEAH, we moved to Lincoln this summer.
The needs in our home have been different during these years, depending on how many babies there were, what sport season it was, what court case was unfolding, and how Matt and I have been able to meet the many needs as they come up.
Ultimately, we can’t meet them all. We serve a God who meets our needs in full. We trust this. And part of how he does this is by sending help.
I will never stop preaching this:
Saying yes to help from others is saying yes to God. It is so cool to experience His work through others!!
We have had help:
- Texturing and painting our house as we got ready to move
- Cleaning. Worth noting: Ten ladies showed up to our York house after we moved out so they could deep clean all of the precious fingerprints and mud smears and 21 years worth of full, busy life there. I still can’t talk about that gift without crying.
- Washing our dishes
- Doing our laundry
- Making us snacks
- Chasing kids with us at soccer games
- Buying diapers
- Rocking babies so I could shower
- Babysitting so both Matt and I could go to our older boys’ events at the same time
- Cooking meals
- Picking up items at the store
- Babysitting while I went to court for our kids’ cases
- Slipping us cash for “whatever the kids need”
- The list is so long it would become an entire blog post all by itself…
These have been from an ARMY of people. Not just a couple of friends. Dozens of people. So many people I would lose track of the number if I tried to count them all.
And not one of these is “small” to me. Everything people have done means an incredible deal to us, even when they think “oh yeah, no big deal.” Yes, big deal. All of it.
So now we’re in Lincoln
We’ve been here for four months now. Different place, different people, different needs. Same kids. Same trauma. Same needy-ness.
Ten of them to be exact.
Praise God for this! And, thank God for my friends who come and clean several of them for us once each week.
Our older four kids have graduated now.
Matt and I have come up for air after our huge move. While we’ve had lots of help from our older kids and some church friends since moving here, we realized a few weeks ago that we needed to ask for more consistent help. Help with what exactly??
It’s hard to describe the needs of our kids – especially because they are all very sweet and those outside our home mostly experience all the sweetness (x7). Matt and I get to enjoy their sweetness too, for sure. But mostly, we find that we are training, and un-training, and retraining, and shucks, throw potty training in there too.
These kids have all the normal needs of a normal kid. And then they have trauma that they are dealing with in various forms. Their behaviors can appear subtle or non-existent to outsiders. But here are some examples of what Matt and I deal with all day long:
- One of our kids went from absolutely fine at bedtime last week to suddenly standing on her bed RAGING because her sister picked up a piece of paper from the floor that was apparently very important (though not important enough to have been put in a safe place prior to getting into bed). Once she got angry and ramped up, it became very difficult to help her regulate her emotions so that we could reason with her.
- One of our kids constantly needs reassurance that he is loved and safe. He looks over his shoulder constantly for the next emergency, and since there usually isn’t one, he creates one. Often he will bring us a “situation” and we will 100% take care of with a calm and peaceful solution. But he can’t let it go, so he goes to the next adult and then the next to continue to reinforce the drama he is seeking. This goes on all day long.
- One of our kids is in fight or flight a good amount of the time, so a toy that drops to the floor or a sister that walks by and looks like she might possibly touch the toy he’s using sends him into a complete melt-down that takes a very long time to settle.
- One of our kids demands so much attention that she will scream and tantrum, no matter the attention, consequences, or ignoring she receives, because her need for control is so great.
This work is WORTH all the energy and time we put into it. But this is why we say yes to help and have learned to reach out for help. We are stretched pretty thin. Any and all help is wildly appreciated.
How God is Providing Help Right Now
1. School Lunches
Recently someone offered: “Would it be helpful if we make lunches for your kids to take to school?”
Every school day. For the long run. This was/is their offer. I had to think about it for a minute (why, I don’t know). And then we said yes. The past two Sundays they’ve dropped of 10 sack lunches for the upcoming week. The kids LOVE it. I love it. And guess what? Paula and Randy, our dear lunch makers, love it. God is so good.
We had lots of help with this in York, but so far in Lincoln, we hadn’t figured out what to do for regular help with the kids here. We know that we can be better parents if we occasionally have a break from so much hard-core parenting. So we prayed and guess what God provided?
One of our housemates used to be (wait for it…) a live-in nanny. Right?? Now that she’s settled in and experienced the beautiful chaos that happens in our home on the regular, we asked if she’d be interested in trading out some babysitting for part of her rent payment. She gave a solid yes, and this has been magic. The kids are comfortable with her, she is great with them, and MATT AND I GET A BREAK.
Praise the Lord.
3. Whatever we need on Mondays
Our daughter-in-law Eva just blocked out one morning per week to come spend time doing “whatever we need.” This is huge because she knows the kids (her siblings, ha) so well and they know her. Plus she knows where everything is in our kitchen and sees what needs to be done and just gets it done. I love this.
4. Extra hands on Tuesdays
Justus and Kelsey come over on Tuesday evenings so that Justus can give Brayden a piano lesson. That one-on-one time Justus gives Brayden is huge for his confidence. Meanwhile, Kelsey uses that time to pour into the kids and I often use that time to load a dishwasher. :)
5. Grocery pick-ups
Another of our housemates goes to Costco once each week and picks whatever I ask her to get. I love Costco, but shopping is hard right now, so this is a huge help.
6. Brotherly Help
Elias and Malachi are currently living at our Castle with us, and they help in huge ways we asked, especially with the kids. Caring for so many small ones at the same time is much easier when there are two care-takers. So often when I have to take one child to an appointment (which is frequent), Elias or Malachi help Matt care for the kids left at home. Or when Matt goes to York to work on our houses, one of the boys stays back to be my sidekick all day long.
7. Help with our houses in York
We still have properties in York that are being worked on so that we can sell them. Matt tries to go once each week, but it’s hard for him to get everything done that he needs to. We prayed for God to provide people who needed extra income to help with painting and odd jobs, and he has provided some young men willing to help out. I am so thankful for this!
I hesitate to share any of this because I don’t want to leave anything out. There are so many things people have done and continue to do to help. We say yes to all of it. All of our housemates pitch in and help with whatever need is right in front of them. People have given us loads of clothes for our kids (see Keith’s picture above in which he was so excited about his hand-me-downs box that he put on everything all at the same time).
Our neighbor brought us a meal when I was sick recently. Those neighbors also invite our kids into their house and give them extra attention and love.
Everything matters. Everything helps. Often people don’t realize that they’re helping – especially when they are engaging our kids in encouraging conversation – because they don’t know how much our kids need that encouragement. People are just being their normal, awesome selves, and it means the world to us.
Thank you for letting me share ways God is at work for us. When I look for it, I continue to see more ways He is providing. It’s amazing and we marvel while we give thanks for his goodness in all these ways.