My entire life I’ve struggled with my self-worth. I never felt pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, or talented enough. I would overcompensate my insecurities with being loud and obnoxious, looking for a laugh or a high five. In the midst of that, I came across as intimidating, confident, and unapproachable. Because of this I have been misunderstood the majority of the time.
It was 9 months since our brown eyed girl went back to live with her mom. In this 9 months I had wished and prayed for a little boy and more specifically that would be half black like his big brother. As silly as it sounds I even hoped and wished that we would be able to pick this baby boy up from the hospital and that I would get to ride in the wheel chair to get some of the birth mom experience. After I would hope/wish/pray for these specific requests, I would push them out of my mind and call myself ridiculous.
It was June 29th, 2015 at 9:00 in the morning and Jason and I sat down with our social worker. We spelled out to her our conditions to going back on the list to be matched with a child. I told her I would like a baby straight from the hospital that was safely surrendered. I didn’t have it in me to do visits again, let alone the fear of losing another child. She didn’t have high hopes for us, but said she would only call with extremely “low risk” cases. We signed the papers and she was on her way. All day I was sick with anxiety. An emotional wreck almost paralyzed with fear. Questions running through my head like, “Are we doing the right thing? What if we lose this child? Are we putting Weiland another painful experience?” It was a Monday night, coincidentally, women’s Bible study night at church. Jason and I had decided not to tell anyone about going back on the list except for our family and mentors so when I went to church that night I wasn’t free to share or ask for prayer for this huge decision that we signed up for.
A beautiful friend of mine that has an AMAZING voice, like heaven is going to sound like her voice, I’m serious, she is SOOO good! Anyways, she was leading music that night at Bible study. She started singing a song called, “Come Out of Hiding“. I immediately fell to my knees sobbing. It hit me like a ton of bricks. “He is my peace!! Stop with the fear and run to Him, Elizabeth!” It was as though at that minute that His peace rushed over me. Fear was gone, I knew that He had my family in the palm of His hand and He could be trusted. Little did I know that I was in “labor”.
June 30th, about 24 hours after signing on the dotted line with our social worker, there was a little half black baby boy delivered and left at the hospital. A social worker from the hospital called at about 3:00 in the afternoon to let us know that there was a little baby boy left at the hospital that needed a forever home. I told her that I needed to call and discuss it with my husband, also known as call my husband and scream and cry and not make any sense to my husband. Jason came home from work and we put the social worker on speaker phone to tell her, “YES!”. We immediately called a sitter for Weiland and hit up Target. I can still feel the excitement in the depth of my gut as I type this.
July 1, we headed to the hospital to meet our son. He had to stay an extra day for an infection, but we were not going to wait another day to meet him! On our 30 minute drive to the hospital, I looked at Jason and said, “Huh, we don’t have any boy names!” Jason has a thing about naming his kids after lead singers of rock bands, so we started wracking our brains. My same friend that sang the song that kicked me into “labor” was texting me name ideas and sent us a winner! We were going to meet our Martin Maverick.
July 2, we loaded up Weiland and headed to pick up the newest Shafer. My sweet, sweet boy with the deep dimples was waiting for his final feeding that Jason and Weiland got to give him. The nurse then brings in a wheel chair and says, “I know it may seem silly, but Elizabeth needs to ride in the wheel chair and hold the baby.” I would have started sobbing right there, except I couldn’t stop laughing at Jason’s response of disbelief that I got to ride in the wheel chair and I didn’t just have a baby. (He didn’t know about my secret conversations with God about this)
I was up during one of the midnight feedings just baffled by the little miracle I was holding. I was curious what was going on in my life when he was conceived so I calculated back…He was conceived the month we lost Bellamy. I immediately went into shock..My Marty was my beauty from ashes. Jesus saw me in my despair and tears and held me. He knew that He had created such a beautiful gift that would soon be given to us. What a good, good God that gives such amazing gifts.
I have had an enlightening week. I wish that I could say that it has been an encouraging and happy enlightening. But it has been a really difficult week of internal struggle and ultimately a HUGE reality check for me.
Jason has been sick in bed most of this week, like down for the count sick. It isn’t very often that he goes to the doctor or stays in bed so I knew that he really wasn’t feeling well. I wish that I could say that I was understanding and an awesome nurse for him. Instead, I had this ugly black heart of bitterness and frustration emerge.
I didn’t truly realize how much he does around the house and for the kids until he wasn’t available. Instead of feeling grateful for the amazing husband and dad that Jason is, I was just angry, tired, and frustrated.
Throughout the week I complained about how much I was doing. I would sulk and have pity parties that no one was taking care of me and my needs.
My poor husband and kids did not have a pleasant care taker, and the sad thing is that they haven’t for awhile. This week just brought about what has already been inside all along.
Contentment. Finding joy in all circumstances. Being thankful for all that God has give me. Unfortunately, I’ve been discontent. I’ve been looking around and lost in comparison of what I don’t have, losing sight of all that I do have. Anything from the numbers on the scale to the flooring that I want in my house. I had gotten so deep in the pit of entitlement and ungratefulness that one day Jason and I were driving about a week ago and I was grumbling about who knows what and he stopped me and said, “You have so much to be thankful for.” I quickly responded with, “Like what?! Name one thing!” I am not proud to admit to this, but this is just a simple example of how derailed I had gotten.
Friday evening I was able to go see “All Sons and Daughters” at a nearby church with some friends. God so gently and lovingly gave me the word “derailed”. That is exactly what had happened, in the last 5 months I have been so derailed. Whether it was the foster care system making decisions that I didn’t agree with, teething babies keeping me up at night, living in our home while renovating it, or my 4 year old having a hard time transitioning into his new school, the life was being sucked out of me.
My eyes were not fixed on Jesus, they have been fixed on my circumstances. Circumstances that change and fluctuate. No wonder why I was derailed. I took my eyes off my source of consistancy!
As I sat down in the seat in the middle of worship, peace overcame me. Remorse and repentance to the Lord, Jason, and my kids. I was so mad that I let satan steal my joy and believed his lies of not having or being enough. God is so faithful to gently guide us and be there ready to forgive us as soon as we ask for it. I came home renewed.
Then Sunday came, yes just 2 days later. You see, it isn’t just any Sunday. It is September 18th, the day I have been counting down to since the beginning of August when I decided to cross something off my bucket list and purchase tickets to see Garth Brooks.
Saturday night Weiland was up most the night with a stomach ache, Marty was up twice with a horrible cold, and Jason was up coughing. I thought I was being so loving and considerate when I told Jason that he didn’t have to drive to Orange County with me, he could stay home and “rest”. “Rest” taking care of our 2 sick babies, and a VERY high energy Weiland. It was either that or I have our sitter come watch the kids while Jason lays in bed and takes care of himself if he needed anything. Those were the only two options, right?! And then it hit me, “Elizabeth, this is not the time to leave town. Embracing this season and thriving in it is being home and present with your sick husband and kids.” So, I let go of the ticket and stayed home to take care of my family.
If it weren’t for that gentle and liberating time with Jesus the Friday before, I don’t think that I would have been able to make the right choice for my family on Sunday. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my good, good Father. He is so patient with us. So kind. So faithful. So gentle. He is relentlessly in love with us.
This lesson of contentment is not super easy for me. But I am committed to learning and growing until my days on earth are done.
Thanks for reading 🙂
I woke up this morning, actually the alarm clock that my 4 year old set, woke me up at 5:00 this morning. I am the type that when I am woken up I have a hard time falling back to sleep. So tossing and turning began until 6:00 when I heard my second son’s usual morning scream to let the entire house know that he is awake. If I don’t sprint (stumble violently) to him immediately he will wake up Weiland who he shares a room with. YOU DO NOT want to wake Weiland up before he is ready, I repeat YOU DO NOT want to wake up Weiland before he is ready. Hence, the dramatic entrance morning by morning to grab Marty as fast as possible.
The babies have a massive gated in area full of toys that we put them into play, or sometimes I use to keep them safe and out of outlets so that I can crawl up into a ball and take a nap in there. This morning was no different, I grabbed a couch pillow and curled up to try to get even 10 min more of sleep while Marty crawled all over me thinking that it was hilarious when he would pull my hair and I would moan. This lasted for about 30 minutes until the cutest little dainty squeal emerges out of the door in the hallway. It’s official, no matter how NOT READY I am, the day has begun.
With fresh diapers and smiles both babies are strapped in their boosters for breakfast. Marty who apparently doesn’t like food, well, unless it’s french fries and ice cream, is throwing every option I try with him on the floor. Molly, who eats more than her weight has inhaled a banana and is screaming for a bit of anything and everything I try on Marty. In the middle of getting whiplash from feeding the babies on each side of me, Weiland comes out with a big smile…This is never good, my friends!
“Mom! I forgot to put my pull up on last night!” All I hear is, “Mom! I left 2 additional loads of laundry for you in my room!”
I put Molly on the ground to partake of the buffet that Marty has provided for her so that I can run and strip the bed to have it ready in time for Weiland’s nap when he gets home from school. In the time that it took me to take Molly out of her high chair and walk to Weiland’s room to strip his bed, he has successfully spilled an entire cup of orange juice all over the floor including an abnormally big and soft blanket that he apparently likes to cuddle with while eating breakfast. What’s another load of laundry at this point?!
Both babies decided to poop at the same time. Which led us to our usual wrestling match to pin them down with one hand and change them with the other, looked at the clock and it was 8:00.
Striving to Embrace today…
Embracing and Thriving, two words that have become very repetitive in my vocabulary in the last year. Not because I have arrived, by any means, but because I am learning what the words mean and what they look like in the context of my ever changing life.