This fall, I started going to a woman in my church who does spiritual direction. Hubby works from home Fridays, so I was able to go without being distracted. The timing was perfect this month, as I was feeling like I was heading on a crash and burn course. I've been battle weary from the past two weeks with the behaviors of the kids, finances, psychologists, agencies, and the frustrations of multiple distractions. And I am facing more battles with the kids and the birth family. On top of that, I feel completely inadequate to do what needs to be done in some of those areas. There isn't much positive feedback in being a stay at home mom, especially when your kids act like mine do. I've listened to the subtle social attitudes here in Silicon Valley that put being a stay at home mom about the level of an undocumented house cleaner. Well, not quite. House cleaners get paid. House cleaners work. Some of the comments I've heard the past couple of weeks have been pretty disheartening. "You understand, you must work." "How do you know what to teach?" "Her scores in social skills are the worst. Don't you think she'd have more practice in the public school?" "Where do you work? Oh." Then the person starts ignoring me in the conversation. I've listened to the voices putting me down, and have overlooked those who have encouraged me. Though I've seen God do things and know He's been here, my heart feels so alone.
When I first sat down at my friend's house, I cried. I cried when the she asked me the question, "How is your soul?" It was a cry of longing, longing for a closeness, acceptance, and a peace I didn't have. She mostly asked questions that encouraged me to think of things in a different way. It was good to get away from the cares of home and focus not on what I don't have and where I lack, but on how much God cares for me. I have some things to think about the next few weeks. It was good.
Since the spiritual director lives near the beach, I was able to turn the time into a half day of reflection and a mini retreat. It was a beautiful day, and I was able to enjoy nature, slow down, and think. And cry.
I didn't spend it all alone, but talked to a couple of women and heard their stories. One was a retired police officer who had the cutest little trailer. She let me look at it inside and out. I think I'd like to get one some day, since it's getting harder to sleep in tents as I get older. I need more and more padding each year. It doesn't quite make sense since I have plenty of more padding on my body to compensate! This little trailer has a queen sized bed that can pop up to a table and benches during the day, and has a cute little kitchen. It can be pulled by her six-cylinder SUV. Here's a picture of me sitting in front of it.
I also talked with a woman who was walking a lab who wasn't liking his gentle leader, just like Brewster. I told her about our guide dog puppy and we got to talking about foster care. It was good to talk about kids, dogs, and her work as a special-ed aide at her small town school. Her husband just had a heart transplant and this was their first camping trip since his surgery. He got a heart within days of being on the transplant list. When I told her how blessed she was, she agreed and told me how a Christian changed their flat tire on the way to the beach. I don't know if she is a Christian or not, but I hope she feels loved by God through those experiences. I took a picture of her to remind myself to pray for her. I didn't ask her if I could put it here, so it will stay on my phone. I wish you could see the joy on her face.
As I was walking down the beach, I saw some men fishing for perch in the surf. Hubby and I did that years ago. I'd like to do it again. It's so weird to think that just a few feet from shore in those waves, fish nearly a foot long are swimming around.
When I got back from my mini-retreat the kids gave me hugs! They haven't spontaneously given me a hug in weeks. They've struggled to get out of my hugs. Hubby said they did their schoolwork and even did some dishes while I was gone. So not only did I get a time to rest and recharge, I was able to stay at peace when I returned. That is a real blessing!