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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Living in a Shoe

My mom has started referring to me as "the young woman who lives in a shoe" and my friend Sara, calls me "18 kids and counting," although I have never watched that show. I think that living in a "full house" grows you and stretches you in ways you never knew you could be stretched.  When I first went away to college in 1995, it was hard moving into a dorm full of people. We shared a community bathroom, the laundry facilities, a small kitchenette, and a large living space that was called the "lounge." It takes awhile to get used to all the sounds, sights, smells, and scenes that you are exposed to when you leave the comforts of home for a girls dormitory.  I think that is kind of the way it is at my house when people come to visit, or when the girls have a friend over.  Maybe the 15-passenger van in the driveway is a little intimidating, or maybe its the issue of standing in line to use the restroom. Either way, I can always tell when someone is a little less than comfortable with our wacky house that is busting at the seams.  I like to think that I am doing what God always wanted me to do, creating a home for kids who need one, creating memories for those kids, and loving them as they should be loved. Psalm 68: 5-6 says God is a "5 father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families." I look around our kitchen table and think about these verses often. God has put together our family of different backgrounds, and I am very thankful we are exactly what we are. Just take a "typical" evening in my house- I get home from work about 7 pm - there is a little boy with brown skin playing on the floor with a Rottweiller. There is a red-haired, freckle-faced girl talking about a paper she has to write on Harper Lee's book, To Kill a Mockingbird, an autistic 12-year old in glasses trying to play the harmonica, and another boy in glasses making origami birds out of every piece of paper he can find. There is another beautiful brown-skinned boy, digging through the laundry trying to find something he lost, and another dog sniffing at the laundry pile. In the kitchen, a teenage girl and teenage guy take turns on the computer, working on projects, and a sweet bald man is trying to cook dinner amidst the chaos. There are times when it seems overwhelming- the dirt on the floor, the legos in the drain of the bathtub, dog hair all over the furniture, Kool-aid knocked over on the counter - and there are times when I fantasize about the peace and quiet I once knew when it was just me. And then I remember when it was "just me", and I had to sleep with my gun, Rottweiller, and all the lights in the house turned on. I would wake up three or four times a night to check and make sure the doors were all locked. I would sit in silence over a meal, or just park myself in front of the television at night for the company of the Golden Girls. I would take a walk in the neighborhood with my sweet dog, or go walk on the treadmill at the Y. But I was alone. And then there was Christmas of 2007. It was the first and only Christmas that I ever woke up alone. Yes, my sweet doggie was there, but there was no one to exchange gifts with, or share a nice breakfast. I was "the lonely" and God "set" me in a family. He had not forgotten me, although there were times I felt forgotten. He remembered me, and my heart's desire, and moved me and my sweet guard dog to Dahlonega to live with John and his three awesome kids. Then he blessed our home with three more great kids, and others would follow. Thinking about it, I rather like my life in a shoe. There is always something happening, always someone to talk to, or share a meal with. Yes, I like being the young woman who lives in a shoe. I think I will stay there, although we may need to switch our shoe to wide-width.

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