Top Ten Ways to Embrace the Calm During the Turbulence

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These past few days have been a bit shaky. It’s easy to be over whelmed and undone. Here are a few suggestions to Keep Calm and Host.

1.Pray                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

I constantly have things on my heart that are almost too heavy to put into words. I believe God sees them. I believe He hears them. I believe He knows them long before I do. I believe in the power of prayer. I can see God’s hand in my life because of it.  Mostly changing me instead of giving me what I thought was best.

2.   Get Busy 

For me, it’s best if I just keep moving forward. Because I DO believe that things will happen and I’d rather be ready for them then not. But I’ll admit, getting ready is the best way I know how to love my kids in this situation. I’m working hard for them, whether they ever get to experience that or not. If it helps my keep my sanity, that’s just a bonus.

3. Talk or Not

Like many marriages, I lean on the “verbal processing side” and my husband the “not so verbal side.” I’ve learned a lot from him. His logic keeps me grounded and there isn’t a day that goes by that I am not thankful for him. Sometimes, there just isn’t anything to talk about. If there isn’t any new information, if there isn’t anything we can do, if there anyplace to move the situation; I don’t want to beat it to death. It’s better for everyone if we don’t relive it. Updates are welcome, good or bad. But you can’t dig yourself out the bottom of a hole.

4. Trust

In Youth Group we do this thing called a trust fall. Kids fall backwards, off a ledge into a group of people, trusting that they will catch them. We often like to think we have things figured out and in control. But let’s face it; we’ve got nothing. It’s moments like these that force us to come face to face with our frailty. As much as you hate it – you know it’s good for you. It’s an opportunity to trust and fall. It’s also an opportunity to be caught, embraced and held.

5. Be Thankful

No matter how things end in life, whether I get the big prize or not; I  have so much to be thankful for. There have been so many moments and memories that I will always treasure. They can never be taken away. I’ve changed too. I am extremely thankful for that. I see things I was blinded to before. I heart is bigger and softer. And I’ve found my mama bear growl. I am desperately thankful for each of these things a more.

6. Support the Troops

I know, you’re feeling defeating. I know you feel rundown and at a loss. Now think how others feel. People that chose this profession because it is their passion. People who have multiple families depending on them. Don’t underestimate what a message, text, or card can do. They are on the varsity. It’s our job to be the cheerleaders.

7. Create Memories

For months we weren’t sure we were going to be able to host a second time. It was devastating. Suddenly God got involved and a miracle happened that allowed us to. Since then I’ve allowed myself to create new memories. Meaning, I am so looking forward to times with them, I’ve played and replayed their reactions in my mind.  Keeping my expectations low, but knowing my girls will love our time together, gives me motivation to keep going.

8. Ask for Help

I realized it was time to pull out the big guns. I asked our friends and family, basically everyone who’s ever heard of or met our girls, to pray. I alerted them to the need, some of the overall issues, and how we were doing with all of it. I know many of them spend time thinking of us and sending us “warm thoughts” and “hugs”. Coffee, prayer and friendship is a power team. Don’t underestimate it.

9. Keep the End in Mind

Just like labor pains, once they are over, they’re over. Your pain is suddenly replaced with a joy that stretches your heart to full capacity. This process is long and difficult at times. It can be hills and valleys of emotion. But in the end, all the aches of the journey won’t compare to the joy of the destination. Non of this stuff actually matters.

10. Shake It Off                                                                                                                            

Sometimes you have to let go. After one of the most stressful weekends of my life years ago – I yelled at the top of my lungs once I got out of the parking lot. Then I blasted the radio and let the music beat the tension out of me. I encourage you to do the same. Music is powerful – embrace it. Dance it out. Taylor Swift never actually hurt anyone. I promise, you’ll feel better, and I won’t tell anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Ways to Prep for Hosting

Weeks into hosting two sisters ages 16 and 8,  I said,

“This has been so great!  We have the best kids.” My husband responded,

“We do have great kids, but don’t underestimate what an incredible job you did. You made this transition easy.”

I thought, “You know, he’s right!”

1. Make Space

I remember being in the car on the way home from the airport, smiling to myself as I recalled we had the next several days together as a family. My husband had taken off; we wiped our schedules clean. It’s funny. We are extremely busy people. When we hosted, we went MIA. We committed to nothing; because we had committed to everything.

2. Go Slow

We had a leisurely first day. In fact we had a leisurely first several days. Our first morning together we were all a little groggy and sheepish. But it didn’t last long. After a breakfast of pancakes, we strolled outside. We ended up in a shallow creek at the back of our yard skipping stones. Skipping stones. I don’t think a family has done that together since the 1920s. My husband eventually let a 2 pound rock plop into the water right next to our oldest girl; splashing her legs. She responded in kind; and we were off!

3. Limit the TV

As liberal as my husband and I are in hair color and piercings, we’re rather conservative with technology. We never had the TV on in the background or as mindless noise. We always used it as something we would do together as a family. Saturday mornings were for cereal and cartoons. Twice we watched Mary Poppins in Russian, as a family. Our first outing was to a local dinner theater to see it in English. It was extremely successful. We are still feeling the affects of this rule. Our personal TV habits changed permanently.

4. Add Variety

I acquired  bored games, card games, balls and bats; anything we could do together without speaking the same language. I also collected an assortment of craft supplies: colored pencils, crayons, coloring books, beads for jewelry, fuse beads, thread for friendship bracelets. I felt confident knowing I had these activities in my back pocket; for good reason. My entire kitchen is literally covered in pages we all colored together. (Most of these items were from second hand places. No one even noticed)

5. Get Dressed

Realizing that the girls would come with nothing, I asked for donations. By the time the girls came, our cellar was FULL of clothes for both of them. It looked like a garbage dump, but it was actually bags full of love in the shape of shoes, shirts, pants and dresses. I purchased new undies, socks and swimwear once the girls got here and I had a better idea of sizes. Eventually the girls went shopping with me and that was fun too.

* I did NOT set the girls loose these bags. I brought out what I knew they needed slowly; a few items at a time. They went through them, tried them on, and decided what they wanted.  It was only when we had a few bags left, 3 or 4 weeks in, that I let them at ’em.

6. Brush Your Teeth

My husband groaned when he realized how many shampoo bottles would be in the shower while living with 3 women (5 if you count the animals)! Nevertheless, I bought them each a new toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and loofa. Maybe they would hate showering, but I would at least tempt them bubbles and sweet smells.

7. Make the Bed

I put a lot of pressure on myself to decorate their bedroom for them. I thought it would be challenging because of their ages. It was a non-issue. I did have to start from square one, purchasing furniture, décor and bedding. I added my books from my childhood, some cute knick knacks, personalized frames, and stuffed animals. Our eldest one told us later,

“We knew you loved as soon as we saw our room. Only loving parents would have decorated the room so beautifully.”

It makes my heart swell even now typing it.

8. Make Dinner

The summer was exhausting. I’m not sure I noticed because I was having so much fun. However, there were a few days when I remembered dinner was in the freezer or crock pot waiting for us. I would have called my Mom to thank her for her work if had had the strength to pick up the phone. It was a great gift she gave us. Dinner; ready to go.

9. Walk the Dog

We have an adorable Siberian Husky puppy. She was very happy as an only child. She had no idea why we failed to walk her as much once the girls arrived. The longer we went, the more her behaviors let us know she needed to run. I made her a bit more of a priority, and asked a trusted friend to step in. Jady got her treks and would come back wet, muddy and exhausted. I was thrilled! No, I mean it. An exhausted puppy is no small feat. I was thrilled for it.

10. Pencil it in

As thrilled as I was to have several home activities planned, I was equally happy to have several community offerings at my fingertips. Our summer hosting was anchored with swimming. There were a few friends who opened their pools to us anytime. I knew strawberry picking and shortcake baking would be fun. We visited a few gardens and saw a free movie with family. This time around I scored day passes to a local rock-climbing facility, pickle ball is huge here, and we will definetly head out to Hershey Park’s Christmas Candylane, plus Holiday Cookies.

I encourage you to ask for help from friends, family, even local businesses. It’s not only life-giving to you and your family, but it brings others into your story. It’s a way to share the journey of hosting, the story of the orphan, and the hope of a family. I hate asking for help; but in our journey, I’ve come to depend on people who absolutely WANT to help and just need to be told HOW.

Having someone mow your lawn, fold laundry, or bring a meal are easy, simple, free and effective. We are all in this together – so be in it together. You might be surprised what you get.