Well, it’s been over 8 months since my last blog post so I suppose it’s time for the next one. HA! I’m so bad! But now that Jett’s in school every day, I have time and am committed to blogging consistently. Please hold me to it!

I have been thinking about how to share this part of the story for a long time because I want to tell my story without sharing parts of other people’s stories that they might not want shared. Our lives are so intertwined and so it’s hard to find a balance between being transparent with my own life, while still respecting the privacy of those around me. I will do my best! I will share as much as I can, while still trying to honor those I’m sharing about, so that they can have power over their own stories.

In my last post, I shared about how I had been praying for a family, in spite of my own feelings of unworthiness. I also told you when I left off that I chose to move forward with Fox, eventhough I knew that meant I may never get to have my own children.

What you may not know if we aren’t real-life friends, is that Fox came with three kids of his own. He had been married previously and he and his previous wife had 3 beautiful kids together before their marriage ended. His kids had a mom, but being by his side meant I was able to be a step-mom, and I felt there was purpose in that. I really felt like God brought us all together for a reason.

I dove in head first. We had them 50% of the time on paper, and more than that in actuality at first. For the first 5ish years when I was dating and then married to Fox, we built our lives around these kids and they wanted to be with us all the time. I never tried to replace their mom or pretend my role was the same. It was not, and I knew that, but I did try to do the things for them that I would have done for my own children, and I felt a responsibility to them and for them.

I was all in. We went on trips together. We did homework. We had adventures. We carved pumpkins and went trick-or-treating and decorated trees and had amazing, over the top birthday parties. I drove them back and forth across multiple towns to get them to and from school 3 days a week. I changed my work schedule around so that I could take them to and from sports and church. I happily spent my checks buying them clothes and food and toys and experiences. My own family welcomed them in and the kids became a part of our extended family as well. We created a loving community for them to grow up in.

I felt like I was part of a team that was responsible for helping them grow into mature, responsible, loving adults. I showed up for school meetings and sent them to camps. We naturally included them in our engagement and our wedding. We were a family.

We were far from perfect parents. I was a far from perfect step-mom. We made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I can honestly tell you that I gave them everything I had while I had them and loved them the best I could. We had so many great memories together during those years.

Then we blinked and they were not little anymore. I believe the structure and rules in our family that once made them feel safe and drew them to us, began to feel like a hinderance. We were fun, but we were strict. We didn’t let them do everything their friends were allowed to do. We had consequences for bad choices. We took cell phones away at bedtime. We didn’t allow certain clothing to be worn. We didn’t let them have Facebook accounts when they were 9. We asked for passwords on computers and phones and they pushed back against these things as they reached for their indepenedence.

There’s such a special and irreplaceable bond between a mother and child that can not and should not be broken. They rightfully longed for her, and she offered them more freedom. One by one, as they reached adolescence, they left our home to stay with her full-time.

As things began to shift, there were several painful incidents that occured, and one week in particular was especially hard. Each of the three had independently said or done something that had broken my heart. I still felt a huge responsibility for them, but had such little control over the circumstances of their lives. I felt like my hands were tied and I was unable to do a job I was still accountable for.

This especially painful week took place just before I was scheduled to head up into the mountains for a weekend prayer retreat with some of my closest girlfriends. All weekend I prayed for our family. My friends prayed over me. I felt such a heavy burden for these kids and was really wrestling with how I could play my part on this team going forward now that they were gone.

I felt like a failure. I felt like God had given me a job to do and eventhough I felt I did the best I could, I had messed it up somehow. I took all of my hurt and confusion to the Lord and through tears, laid it all bare before Him.

Then I had a supernatural experience. As I was praying, in an instant, I felt the burden disappear. I felt God speak to my soul and tell me it was no longer my responsibility. I had no power anymore and he was lifting my burden. I felt it. Just like that, that burden was gone, after months and months of feeling like I was breaking underneath the weight of it.

I still love them and want what’s best for them. I still want happiness for them and for them to be good people and make good choices and succeed in life, but from that point forward, I no longer felt like it was my responsibility that those things happened, and it was so freeing. I no longer felt like I had failed them and I drove home so much lighter than I had driven up that mountain two days prior.

When they left our home, there was a giant hole in my heart. After years of caring for little people, it was just the two of us. More than ever, I longed for children of my own… children that could never leave no matter how bad they wanted to… Haha!!

I longed to be a mom… my heart ached for it, but it seemed there was no way it would ever happen.

I didn’t know it then, but God was listening. He knew the desires of my heart. He had unbelievably good things in store for me. My miracle was coming…. It was only a matter of time.