I’ve been home a whole whopping 1 day and 14 or so hours. That’s it? Well, as each moment passes I am appreciating my weekend more. It isn’t as if I didn’t appreciate WAY back then, I guess I just didn’t know what to expect. It is a strange thing to travel 600 miles with your crazy friend into a foreign country to meet 17 women you don’t even know anything about.

I know what you’re thinking and yes, Canada is a foreign country. It’s so….odd. Hello, ever heard of toilet seat covers? Doesn’t matter if they work, it makes me think the bathroom is cleaner than it is if you offer them. Oh, and rest stops. Do you really think I can hold my pee that long? When I am lost here in Oregon I at least know the road, street, or bridge I just crossed. Do you need a label maker? It was adventurous especially when we started down what Chani called a little goat road. That’s my favorite saying from now on.

I am home now and things are real. I am thankful that the struggles I have are mine and that I’m not dealing with some of the stuff the other women are dealing with and they’re probably glad that they’re not dealing with my load. I told stories and listened to stories and you know what? It was great to sit in a room and not have to worry about every little word that came out of my mouth and how that would be judged. It was great to sit there and think of how I would judge the mamas in the grocery store towing along sullen children and wimpering infants. I, of course, was going to be a better mom than them. You train them up and then they’re perfect. You never compromise and you’re always consistent. You love them and teach them to love and obey Jesus. Isn’t that what the books told me? I did that with Christopher, the only one I’ve had since birth. Guess what? He’s still human and messes up all the time like the rest of us! He is great! There are so many things I love and appreciate about him. There are also things that make me cringe and worry about his future. I have done my best with him since before he was born. I no longer judge the women whose sons don’t get perfect grades or serve the family with joy and strength or whose girls wear too  much makeup and not enough clothes. (I did wear WAY too much makeup when I was a kid.) I thought by now, according to what I had read, that my children would be able to run the house by now and have an easy time transitioning into adulthood.

Now, I am not saying that this is impossible. I read blogs and follow the status updates of my friends. I see their children grow and their accomplishments. They have raised their children well, but I bet they still have some concerns. I bet their lives aren’t as perfect as I make them out to be in my head. Shoot, I even read blogs of moms with RAD kids and think about how much better they’re doing than I am, but guess what? They might be, but they might not be. We don’t write about every moment of our day. We have good moments and bad ones. Most of the moments can’t be shared. There just isn’t time.

We all are doing our best. I think our best gets better and better when we want it to. It’s work. It’s hard work. It’s therapy. It’s learning. Seeking. Crying. Laughing. For me, it’s holding tight to Jesus because I can’t fathom how I would do it without Him. I can’t understand compassion and gentility without looking to Him. The One who would be betrayed by even His closest friends. The One who knows better than even us tired mothers how it can be frustrating to try to get away for some time alone with the Father only to have the crowds following Him. They needed Him. More than they even realized. He had compassion on them and fed them when He didn’t have to. Nobody would’ve been like, “Why didn’t Jesus feed us after we sat and listened to Him all day?”

My friend and I will often say to one another that we were made for this. God knew. He’s sovereign and we were chosen for this road. I realize that even those who are called to this don’t always choose this road. They choose the easier road or ignore that they have been a great gift in this sorrow and joy of parenting. I think it’s hard whether or not your kids come from hard places.

Don’t we all come from a hard place? We are born into a world of sin. We have this nature in us; this flesh that cries out to be satisfied in all things. Our spirit and flesh battle all the days of our lives.

Ann Voskamp’s blog post today reminded me that we only see a sliver of what God is doing. We don’t know whether it’s bad or good, blessing or curse. We only know that we see very little, but God sees it all.

Dear Canada Moms Away Ladies,

I appreciate you. Really I do. I don’t know any of  you well, but I hope to. It is such a gift to be with people who get it. We don’t have to talk about it, but we get it. Even if we’re not currently struggling we understand that one day we might. We all come from different backgrounds. Some struggle with money, some don’t. Some have many and want more, some are done. This is not a hopeless or useless thing we are doing. I don’t know how our children will turn out in 20 years, but can you imagine the life they’d have if they weren’t given a home like ours? How many children between all of us? 70+? We are changing the world. They do not have to carry on the pattern of brokenness that has been laid out for them. It can be different. It might cost us our sanity, but on some days I am okay with that. I feel very thankful right now.