So much has happened over the past week or two that I haven't been on my computer much. Most of the "stuff" has been little and insignificant, but there has been one major change that has affected us all and until we notified our family and closest friends, I was reluctant to say anything here.
I could still say nothing here, but then I wouldn't have a good explanation about my distraction from all things blog. Also, as Christians, I think it's important to share our joys and our burdens so that we can understand each other better as real live people and not just text on a page.
I want you to know something of our struggles because then you know I am real, I am human and I do break -- even when my faith is strong and I'm clinging to the Lord. Ironically, it's times like these when I long to blog -- or write -- most of all and I just couldn't bring myself to the keyboard. I did plenty of Instagramming though for those of you who follow me there.
The short story, which is pretty much all I know at this point, is that S left home. Her departure was abrupt and sad for all of us, but it happened and now we are trying to regroup and comfort one another in her absence.
If you have read my blog with any type of consistency, you probably saw this post and understand why I did not add 'shocking' to the adjectives above. She has run away on two other occasions -- it's just sort of how she deals with stress and reality of life things that she doesn't want to face. But now -- at only a week before her 18th birthday, in a state that views children as accountable adults at the age of 16 -- I don't know that I can call it running away from home anymore.
She left. She moved out. She decided to be on her own.
C has since been in contact with her. Through a variety of strategies and resources, he tracked her down, as well as a number where he can reach her (sort of). In the early text messages, she said she was "happy and safe." But yesterday when he asked to hear S's voice and for her to call him, there were several lengthy pauses before she called and then spoke very little. It has made us concerned that while we believe she might have gone of her own accord, it is possible that she is not staying where she's at of her own will.
On the flip side, we know how withdrawn she can be when she pulls away from all of us. Perhaps she's annoyed that she's been found. Maybe the contact makes it harder for her to completely disengage from our family and everything she knows. Maybe she's struggling with too much pride to admit that this was a dumb choice and she needs a rescuer.
In the meantime, we are keeping our focus on our Lord and on our other four children who are on a roller coaster ride of emotions. One moment they are angry at her and at the world. The next they are crying and upset. This gets followed by a looting and division of S's worldly possessions, most of which she left behind.
It's hard to tell what she actually brought with her. Her room was already a mess -- a big mess -- and so determining what's missing is difficult. It does seem that she took her toothbrush, some of her makeup and hair styling stuff and J noticed a photo frame missing from the dresser but can't remember what the picture was. In my efforts to clean up that room to make it more user-friendly for J who now has that big room alone, I have not found something that deep down I really, really hope she took with her.
I haven't found her Bible. We gave it as a gift to her when she was about 11 or 12 and it has her name engraved on it. The cover is pink and brown. It's pretty recognizable as hers around this house. Nobody has seen it.
So of course having the Bible with her and reading it are two separate victories, but if she did in fact take it with her, this is wonderful and amazing to me. The Bible symbolizes her hope and faith and she may have abandoned us all in an impulsive decision, but she still, at least, hopes to remain connected to her Father. As her mama, this brings a lot of peace to my soul.
I'm still having my ups and downs emotionally. I'm frustrated with her for going, but worried that she may not be as happy and safe as she originally led us to believe (if that was her texting C to begin with). Our trip to New England has been canceled and I was so excited to visit everyone there and to see the ocean and trees again that it's a huge letdown not to be going. Helping our other kids through their feelings and their in-fighting is really hard.
Staying strong with and by my husband as he continues to make efforts to contact her is requiring loads of strength that is only available to me by the grace of God. I feel weak and angry and sad and afraid.
What's worse is that every single close friend of mine is under spiritual attack in their own homes. I feel so sad for them, but unable to really do anything to relieve them -- so I pray. And in their own struggles, I feel worried that I'm overburdening them by sharing with them my struggles.
God has apparently been trying to get me to focus more on Him by stripping away available support anywhere else. Where everyone else is weak or unavailable emotionally, the Lord is strong. He's reminding me to come to Him. To take comfort in Him. This is easier said than done because there are just so many distractions. All the hurting people around me distract me from retreating into the safety of His arms. He's there, but at the moment, I feel Him at a distance. I can't seem to get there.
Yesterday, I cried in my bed till about 1:00pm. I am so grateful to our other four children that for one day they seemed to get along and play nicely together. They fed themselves. They came to check in on me and gave me a lot of hugs. They were my cheerleaders and they cheered loudly when I finally climbed out of bed and into the shower. God is good.
So today, it's a new day. I set the goal for myself that no matter how I was feeling, I would rise and shower and dress for the day all before 8:30.
I know 8:30 sounds pretty late in the morning for some of you, but I was just trying to set a goal that was before 1:00. Besides, it's summertime and we're a little more laid back about the clock around here at the moment.
I met that goal.
I set a secondary goal to eat before noon. Yesterday, my first meal (my "brunch") wasn't until about 2:30. This is not healthy or useful. This is not taking care of my own needs so that I'm able to take care of the needs of others. As I type this blog post, I have my breakfast sitting right next to me and it's not quite 10:00.
I've already gotten two loads of laundry going today and straightened up the kitchen. And now, I have the focus and time to write. The kids are playing happily together in the loft. Not sure how long that will last ... but thankful for the moment.
Today is a new day.
My other goals are to 1) keep breathing, 2) pray and spend time with my Abba Father and 3) pick one section of S and J's room to sort and organize. There's a lot to do in there but taking it one section at a time is all I can tolerate emotionally for now. I'm much too sentimental about stuff and everything of hers reminds me of the good stuff and the challenges about having her as part of our lives. Then any bit of peace I find withers away and I feel lost again.
But I'll get where I need to be. One day at a time.
I appreciate any prayers for our family and those close to S who were also greatly impacted by her decision to go away. Please also pray that S is indeed safe in her new environment and comforted by our Lord if she is not. And please pray for my friends that they find hope and joy amidst their own struggles. Thank you.