By Emily Plezia
I won’t lie. This past summer has been the worst season I’ve ever experienced. We began the summer as a hopeful and excited family, starting new paperwork for our second round of foster care. I was eager to spend the summer with my kids in a new home and planned to spend our summer days hiking and berry picking in the National Park nearby.
Then my husband lost his job.
Then my dad lost his three-year battle with cancer. Expected, but it was still tough to say good-bye. Then our cat randomly died. Our first baby, who journeyed with us as not just a pet, but a family member, over 13 years and 4 interstate moves. It was a sudden and shocking blow for the whole family.
A brief reprieve as my husband found a job, but it didn’t work out.
Then we had problems with our van and our refrigerator died, leaving us with some pretty big expenses. Kind of scary when you don’t have an income.
Throw in a few cases of lice and pinkeye, and that pretty much sums up our summer.
I admit I lost my traction and only took the kids hiking twice. We won’t be able to get our foster license until one of us has been working consistently for a year. I struggled to find motivation in the midst of my self-pity. My husband felt as if he couldn’t provide for our family and was discouraged with the amount of job opportunity in our small town. We were in a funk and didn’t know how to get out.
But God, in His all-knowing way, has been using this season to teach me some important survival skills, which I’d like to share with you.
It’s only a season
This difficult time won’t last. Embrace the lesson that God may have for you, no matter how difficult and uncomfortable, and use it to encourage someone else in the future.
Identify what’s important
Yes, we need an income, but people are more valuable than things. Encouraging my husband in the midst of his trial has strengthened our marriage. Since he wasn’t working this summer, we had several weeks to enjoy family time together. Time is fleeting, and we won’t ever get this time back. So I’m glad we were able to spend it with the kids.
Recall what God has already done for you
Remind yourself and each other of how God has been faithful throughout uncertain times in the past. If He could miraculously provide us with jobs, homes, purpose and beloved friends in the past, then surely He can bring us through our grief, fear, insecurity, and frustrations now.
Read the book of Psalms – it’s full of people reminding themselves of what the Lord has done, and refocusing their faith from their troubles to the One who has all the answers. This defense tactic works wonders against the enemy’s attacks.
Seek something new to enjoy
When I was younger, I used to read voraciously, but I haven’t read a grown-up book in about 15 years. Being forced to slow down has given me the opportunity to rediscover that lost love, since we had plenty of time to spend at the library. I found myself grateful for the chance to rest and escape into someone else’s story for a bit.
Find someone to pour into
Go visit a neighbor. Sponsor a child. Volunteer in your community. Looking outward and becoming part of a solution to someone else’s trouble can give you a new sense of perspective and purpose. I started a Women’s Group at our church, which has been a blessing to me and the other ladies who have joined.
Keep your eyes open for unconventional opportunities
Eventually, my husband and I both found jobs at a local organization that provides resources for struggling families. It doesn’t pay much but will help make ends meet. Our positions also satisfy the desire to help those in the foster care system. We get to invest in the lives of at-risk children, but also help families succeed rather than ending up in the system.
Although our circumstances haven’t improved completely, I have sensed a shift in my heart and in our home. The conditions surrounding us have changed – God hasn’t. We can be satisfied with the provision He has brought and will continue to bring.
When I keep God’s goodness, faithfulness, and trustworthiness at the front of my mind, I can look at the ever-changing landscape that surrounds me and be content in knowing that He isn’t finished with our story.
Emily is a child advocate for Compassion International and lives in rural Montana with her husband, Armin, her three children, and her dog.