Maybe I will finish our story at some point, but every time I think I will, God lays something else on my heart.
This weekend was the 2014 Hope Conference at Geyer Springs. When I was first asked if I would be interested in helping with the committee that was organizing this event, I said sure. Truth was, I was more excited about the concept behind the coalition and knew nothing about Michael and Amy Monroe (yes, I know…I'm sure I am one of the few dark ages people who didn't). However, I did look them up and thought it all sounded great and learned more about their training and background.
Fast forward to months of work and the conference was here. However, so was one of the most hectic weeks we have had in several months. Seriously…it was crazy. J. O.'s birthday was Tuesday, Anna's was yesterday and Addison's is Wednesday. I also had things to finish for the conference and a day of activities Friday that involved tons of errands for Anna's party at our house that day, subbing at school in the am, and a meeting at 1:00 for the conference. It. Was. Crazy.
The week had also been tough with some behavior issues with Anna. I felt completely overwhelmed and just felt alone. For me, that was a completely new feeling. I am generally pretty laid back and even though things get stressful, I don't put too much thought into them. Overwhelming days get me down just like the next, but typically I can shake them off (or at least complain for awhile) and then move on. However, I just wasn't able to get that brick off my shoulders on Thursday and Friday. I felt like I had no clue how to handle a 2 year old. Now, don't get me wrong….I am raising one of the most strong willed girls with Addison. There have been days (more so in the past than now) that I have cried and wondered how I would make it to adulthood with this child. But it was just different this week with Anna. We had new behaviors exhibiting, night terrors return, and a slew of reactions that I just hadn't expected.
Needless to say after having Anna's family and a few friends over on Friday afternoon for pizza, I was not itching to run out the door for the conference. I knew I had missed the dinner at 6:00 and wouldn't get there until around 6:45 and wondered if anyone would notice if I missed. I was just so tired and didn't really want to listen to someone talk (honesty here people).
Well, I ended up going and wasn't able to sit in on the session because I needed to help at the registration table. After the conference was over a lady came up to me and asked me a question and then just stood there. It was awkward at first but then she just started spilling the beans about how she had paid a baby-sitter for a certain time and since it was over a little early she just didn't want to go home yet. Her foster child had been difficult this week and she just needed some time away to talk to other adults who understood. As we sat and talked forever and people were leaving I realized this was just what I needed. I needed to get out of my own pity party and realize this is a part of the bigger picture God has called us to do. We are not only called to take care of these children but we are called to support each other. Sometimes, that looks different than what we think it will look like. This lady was single and had an older child so her situation looked very different than mine. I had no advice or anything to tell her, but she was just glad someone else was there that felt as overwhelmed as she did.
After the conference was over yesterday (which was amazing by the way), I left with a whole new burden. The mission of the conference was hope for foster and adoptive families, and it was centered around learning techniques on how to parent these kids from hard places. It was also about supporting the families as well. The attendance to this conference far exceeded our expectations or what we could've imagined. It was great. However, there is now such a burden for supporting these families in our community. Trust me, I'm not exactly sure what that looks like, but I am praying over time God will reveal that to all of us. We have to recruit families and make them aware of the need, but we also have to find a way to support the ones who are "In the Trenches" as Christie so eloquently spoke to yesterday. This has to be a community thing, and not just a family thing, if that makes sense at all and it needs to start with the local churches.