Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Closest I've Come...

I'm not exactly sure how to write about this. I just know I need to. Sometimes you trust your fingers to get you going.

I was going to write "about a month ago" and then erased it to put "about 6 weeks ago" then ereased it to now say.... The days since January 17th have been some of the most challenging days of my life. January 17th was Eric's kidney transplant. That's not to say that we don't thank the Lord each day for his transplant. And that's not to say I would want it to be any other way. But the doctor's appointments mixed with a newly adopted attaching toddler, mixed with a job that is getting more complicated by the day, makes for difficult times.

I've never before in my married life felt like there wasn't enough of me to go around. But I can honestly say that there hasn't been enough of me this past few months. I've beein in triage mode since January 17th. Since then, one part of my life or another hasn't gotten the attention it needs.

In the last 4-6 weeks, the "thing" in my life that has needed my attention most (or at least yelled the loudest) has been my work. Ghana adoption is going through major growing pains. I've expected these growing pains since the program begun 3 years ago, but I didn't expect them all to come at once! Right now, Ghana is the 12 year old that grows 8 inches in once summer. =-) At the other end of these growing pains, I still believe, will be a stronger and more mature program. But boy, right now it's hard!

During this past several weeks my "job" has received the lion's share of my attention. It seems that every single night "I don't feel like cooking" so either super dad Eric cooks dinner, or we get something out to eat (usually Subway since we're trying to watch our diets). Guilt. I ask the big kids to do the majority of the laundry because I'm so buisy. Guilt. The little kids have watched way more movies than I would usually allow. Guilt. When I'm in survival mode, I push my family into survival mode. And it's not fair. But the decisions are made moment by moment, not week by week. If you said, "Anita, would you sacrifice a month of time with your family in order to get more done with your job?" I would say NO! I would never do that! Except that nobody asked me to give a month of my life away. They only asked me to take one short call during dinner. Or respond to one quick email instead of playing a game. It's moment by moment that is stolen away. And before I know it, a month is gone that I can never get back.

That's just the part where my family has sacrificed. But honestly, in the last month I haven't done what I needed to do to take care of me either. I haven't slept enough. I haven't eaten well enough or been active enough (since work is on the computer or phone).

By the time I got on the plane headed towards Ghana I was already near my breaking point. I was already physically and emotionally exhausted. Before I ever left US soil I was crying because I missed my kids and husband. Because you see, I realized that I haven't really been WITH them for the last month before I came here. I just never took a moment to stop and FEEL their absence. Their absence was filled with all of the work I had to do.

When I got to Ghana I was sick with some sort of virus, and I wasn't used to the heat, and I probably taken too many motion sickness and pain medications. It was too much physically. The day I got here was the closest I've come to passing out. There comes a point when you can't keep on a brave face any longer (and I'm not good at that to begin with). It's a little foggy to me...but I remember thinking I had to stay with it enough to give some kids their Welcome Bags and take pictures. And I just couldn't. I looked at the two families I'm with, with tears in my eyes, and asked them to do it for me. And of course they did, very happily. Still to me, that goes down as a failure.

The next day we were to leave at around 3pm on the "nice" (air conditioned) bus to Bolga. But there wasn't enough people to fill it. So we waited until 5pm. Then 7pm. We waited and waited in one hotel room, all ready to leave the moment we got the call. At 9pm we were headed to the bus stop with hopes of catching a bus to Kumasi. From Kumasi we could surely get a bus to Bolga (quicker than we could get a bus to Bolga from Accra). At midnight we were headed from Accra to Kumasi. At 4am we arrived in Kumasi. At 7am we boarded the "less nice" bus to Bolga. We arrive in Bolga at about 3pm. [Lots of stories left out of this bus trip.] By the time we got to Bolga I was once again to the physical point of being shaky like I would pass out. But isn't it just like God to put the FanYogo (ice cream) guy right there when you need him? It sounds silly but I believe that quick sugar saved me from passing out!

By the time we got settled into our hotel we realized that the restaurant across the street was closed because it was Sunday. It has been about 24 hours since any of us had had real food. We needed food, even though none of us wanted to work for it. Walking to that restaurant was HARD. By the time we got back from dinner I was physically and emotionally SPENT.

I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I was concerned for the very worn out families I am with. I was concerned about what their next week would look like. I was missing my children terribly. I missed my husband something horrible. Guilt. I felt so much guilt. I felt as if I had failed everyone in my life. I failed my family, and I had failed my AAI families.

I called Eric and I called my mom. I cried so hard I don't think they understood half of what I was saying. But it didn't matter. What I needed was to hear them say, "It will be okay. I love you. It will be okay, no matter what."

That night, laying in my hotel room in Bolga, sobbing to my closest loved ones....that was the closest I've come to rock bottom. That was the closest I've come to giving up. And it was exactly what needed to happen.

For too long I've put the outcome of my life on myself. I know in my mind this shouldn't be. I should lean on God. But for the past two months I've been leaning on ME. I've been telling myself that *I* have to do it. It's just not true.

The truth of the matter is, if an adoption falls apart, it's not my fault. It's not. I can't lie to myself any longer and tell myself that. It is a lie! I am a Christ-follower. And as a Christ-follower that means that I rely on Him for ALL things. It means that I should give ALL things over to Him. I do my best to be His hands and His feet, but He is the one that makes things happen. I can do no thing without Him. No. Thing.

Forgive me AAI parents for just speaking of myself here. But I have to say it for ME. If my entire job falls apart; if there is no more Ghana adoption; if there is no more adoption work; I will be okay. My Jesus tells me not to worry about tomorrow. If I live each day as He would have me live it, and as a result my job falls apart, so be it. I know there is a call upon my life to care for orphans. I know that the Lord will always make a way for me to do that, even if it looks different than it does now. [No I'm NOT quitting. No Ghana adoptions aren't shuttind down! I'm just thinking the "what if".]

Some things have to change when I get home. I've had more time to sit and think the past week than I have in the past month. I've realized now how very much I've missed my husband and my children. It cannot stay this way. I want to play games with my kids. I want make dinner. I even want to fold my laundry! I want my family to be my biggest priority again.

It's kind of sad that I had to come to northern Ghana to get to rock bottom and reprioritize my life, but if that's what it too, I am thankful.

[Forgive spelling and grammatical errors. Not going to spell check or proof read.]


Renee 5:22 PM  

Praying Sweet Anita!

God loves you so much. he will carry you through..

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;

the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121~

Love you bunches!

Michelle 7:22 PM  

I think Bolga is the perfect place to reprioritize and process your overextending American life....Ghana is an amazing place.
Next time might a recommend catching the 90 minute flight from Accra to Tamale and driving 2 hours to Bolga!

You have brought families to kids in Ghana even that didn't use AAI! :) you are hands and feet and if you go home tomorrow and don't move off of your couch for the rest of your life you have made a bigger difference for Christ's Kingdom than most of the people that sit in the chairs next to me on Sunday morning.

But, of course, I am starting the Anita fan club.

Dani Neumann 7:23 PM  

*BIG HUG* you are a wonderful person. Don't forget that!

Momto15 11:26 PM  

Sheesh Anita- you took some of those heavy words RIGHT out of my mouth.
There just isn't enough of ME and enough TIME in my day sometimes. But you know what- hitting rock bottom and realizing who to lean upon (HIM) and then having your Mom and hubby say "everythings gonna be alright" means so much.
Keep trying to live in the moment. To let is all soak in. There is no better place to be for you than where you are at any given moment and to truly LIVE and BREATHE in that minute.
And all the rest will work itself out, the job, the adoptions, the families, your family, your children, health etc. just as it should be no matter what you do or don't do- there's already a plan there. So enjoy your moments. This moment.
love you

Kristin Jag 10:34 AM  

I pray that you feel God's comfort and strength through the rest of your trip and that you are able to create the boundaries that you need for you and your families lives when you get home. You are not a failure-that is satan inching his way in your thoughts. God has used you and will continue to use you no matter if you are working or not!

Mama D.'s Dozen 11:56 PM  

Big Hugs to you!!!

I am not an AAI family, and you have blessed my ... with your insights, with your blog, with your love and passion for orphans and for Ghana.

God has used you. God is using you. God will continue to use you. Keep trusting him.

I KNOW how it feels when work pulls you away from your family. I KNOW the guilt. When we brought our 3 home from Ghana, I had to return to work the very next day. I was working 35 hours per week, adjusting to 3 new children, and homeschooling 8 of my 13 children. It was TOUGH!

I hope that the Lord will show you specific boundaries/priorities/schedules before you get home, that you can put into place just as soon as you are home and back with your family. First suggestion ... take at least a week off, just to love them ... and be loved by them.

Thanks for your heartfelt honesty! We love you!