I went on an adventure a couple of weeks ago! An actual real-life adventure in the most beautiful place in the Texas hill country... Possibly my favorite place on earth, but to be honest, it would probably be a fight to the death with the Smoky Mountains.
At the beginning of this adventure, I was so looking forward to reliving my old pre-kid days in the youth ministry, getting to know some students better and having the opportunity to speak the Gospel into their lives... What ended up happening was pretty unique, pretty special. It ended up being a week that was completely ordained for me in this very specific season of my life... and I'm so grateful for the girls who joined me on this journey, speaking the Gospel to me, listening to my rambling words and saying so many of their own words, sharing their hearts, their lives, their trials, sadnesses, adventures. It was beautiful. I am changed because of these moments... these 2:00am, sitting in a circle saying words, stinking of sweat and dirt, barely able to keep our eyes open, laughing til we cry, crying til we laugh, heart sharing, love giving, prayer filled moments.
Incredibly blessed, humored, refreshed.
If you know me well, you know that I like to cry every day. It's my actual preference, and to be honest, I think the days I feel my healthiest are the ones when I have cried at least once. I'm not talking about weeping or bawling my eyes out every day, some days there may not be tears that actually fall, but just ones that well up, a moistening of the eyes in a brief emotional moment, and other days it looks like uncontrollable tears because I just cannot. stop. laughing. I come from an incredibly emotional family, and I like being emotional... most of the time I consider it a gift.
With that in mind... I have entered a new and unique season of my life. After our son's adoption about a year ago, I spent some time breathing, resting, feeling secure, grateful, blessed... and then I sat on my couch one day and just. couldn't. get up. I sat there in my security and realized: I had nothing to cry about! Everything was just... good! Life had completely normalized and I literally had no reason to cry. It felt very unnatural, almost sad... so sad that I began to cry while I was stuck on the couch and I just. couldn't. stop. This was not the "everyday-tears" gift that I love so much, this was depression, and it was ugly. I spent several months on the couch, barely thriving as a mom and a wife, not in the Word, spending little time in prayer, not sleeping, overwhelmed to my core and feeling very confused about why this sadness had overtaken me when life was just so very PERFECT. Somewhere around August, God granted me some relief from this bizarre despair, and has since been steadily guiding me through some big ups and downs, showing Himself in some very unique situations, closing doors, asking me to close doors, giving me tears, giving me conviction, giving me Himself... and asking me if He is enough.
"Am I enough?"
I heard this question all week as I contemplated this season of my life... a season that has been covered in discontentment.
"Am I enough?"
I finally got it. At 2:00 in the morning, sitting in a circle saying words with seven teenage girls whose lives look an awful lot like mine did twenty years ago and an awful lot like it still looks today...
...sitting in a circle saying words, life-giving words of hope, encouragement, affirmation in Christ as our King, God as our Father, and begging each other to recognize Him as ENOUGH. More than enough, and all we need in the insanity, fear, and unknowns of life and growing up.
I have been there, and I'm still there..... growing up, experiencing all of this craziness one day at a time, learning (slowly) how to be content when my plans and my life-fillers are trampled underfoot and replaced with simply Him. Allowing Him to become everything... and watching Him work out these beautiful, sometimes confusing, but always perfectly ordained details.
I'm feeling very blessed, probably a little emotional, to know these precious girls on a deeper level, to know their hearts and for them to know mine. I'm feeling convicted, thinking about the transparency and openness of our words that brought us closer as a group and gave us insight into each other's hearts, minds and lives... and what a picture this is of walking closely with Christ. In the same way I had neglected truly knowing the students in our youth ministry, I have put too little work into knowing Him over the course of the last nine or ten months. As I got to really know these girls for the first time, He was revealing that I have been making the very same mistakes, relationship-damaging mistakes, with Him. I have become lazy, not sharing my heart with Him who has redeemed it... not learning who He is through His word... not giving all of myself to Him... I have tried so hard to become opaque, not embracing transparency in our relationship despite my total knowledge that He knows my heart better than I even think I know it myself. I have tried to fill it where I felt it was empty, and all along God has been overflowing it, asking again and again: "Am I enough, Anna Kathryn?"
So... this is where I am today... life is still completely amazing and totally "normalized" and most days I don't have any reason to cry. That still feels incredibly unnatural, so to keep myself healthy, I'll do some reminiscing, watch a sad movie, or listen to a song that I know will bring tears to my eyes. Some days I feel like I've lost my purpose in this season of life outside of foster care, but He is faithfully showing me what true purpose is: "To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." (Westminster Catechism)
I'm incredibly grateful that in this unique season, not only is He renewing and refreshing me as a growing mommy, but He is giving me the opportunity to glorify Him and enjoy Him within the youth ministry again, and I so look forward to the sanctification He will achieve in my heart through the students He has brought into our lives!
I have several exciting things going on right now... one is this brand new webpage that I am slowly figuring out and the regular posting I plan to resume over this summer. And in regards to that, I think I'd like to start a 'here-and-there' style series for the junior and senior high girls He's given me the opportunity to hang with... past, present, and future. I'm still going to write regularly about family, foster care and adoption, the NICU, and random things like anthills, but these will be different, these words will be for Y'ALL (and y'all know who you are.) So, tucked in and around my normal posting about my mama-life, what I'm learning and how I'm growing with my little family, the "Saying Words" series will begin showing up here and there, especially for you, sweet girls.