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A Burning Heart with an Empty Cup

This week has been a tough one.

I’ve struggled with even writing this one out. I don’t want to seem insensitive or to come off like what I’m dealing with is any greater than someone else’s current situation. But here goes nothing.

I haven’t updated recently on our fostering journey.

We moved unexpectedly a month ago and decided that when we got moved and settled we would finish the process. At the time that was only supposed to be signing the contract and having one final home visit before our papers were sent off for approval.

We found out last week that the majority of our case file was M.I.A and we would have to redo almost all of the paperwork, our background checks, fingerprints, and 8 weeks worth of homework.

I struggled with wondering if this was my sign to just quit. Maybe we weren’t equipped for this and this was God’s way of showing us that it wasn’t the right time.

“I’m spread too thin as it is, there’s no way I can take on another teenager.” says my brain.

After a friend knocked some sense into me and reminded me God would slam a door and make it impossible for us to do this if we weren’t ready, I realized it was most likely the enemy trying to stop me from doing what we were called to do.

I spent most of the weekend and the beginning of the week preparing paperwork and getting ready for our final home visit Friday.

Wednesday, my best friend’s husband was rushed to the hospital and ended up in ICU after suffering a stroke.

I immediately jumped in and volunteered to keep her kids. Zero second thoughts.

We already have four kids, so what’s a few more?

I knew I had a lot to do, but this was nothing compared to what her family was going through.

I couldn’t not help.

I say this a lot, but I’m saying it again to make myself feel better…

I am not bragging on myself or saying any of this for recognition. I am only saying it so maybe you can get an understanding of where my heart and head conflict.

I have a servant’s heart.

My deepest desire is to serve and help others.

Be it foster care, making dinner for someone, being a listening ear, keeping kids, giving my last dollar for someone’s child school supplies, or just writing this blog to share my thoughts.

I want to help.

But my head…

It is always playing against me.

And if I’m being honest, it holds more weight in my decisions than my heart unfortunately.

Thursday evening I got a call that a friend of 12 years would be having brain surgery the next morning.

I, of course, said I would be there by her side.

Because again, how could I not?

I was already beating myself up for feeling like I wasn’t doing enough for my other friend, so there was no chance I was going to let someone else go through this alone.

I literally made myself physically sick with stress over how I was going to make this work.

Getting 6 kids up, ready and off to school, three stops before our home visit, being at the hospital with my friend, making my house look somewhat reasonable for a caseworker to walk through, getting home to actually be here for the home visit, and getting kids picked up from school on time.

I couldn’t do it.

Why did I do this to myself?

What was wrong with me to think that I could take all of this on? Knowing the stress I was already having over my own shit I had to deal with, I still rushed to someone else’s side.

My cup was empty. I had nothing left to pour out.

With four kids, school functions, athletics, and meetings take up most of our time.

I didn’t realize how long it had been since I had been to our small group.

I also have slacked on my own study I should be following and couldn’t tell you the last time I just opened my bible to “refuel”.

I had already reached out to my church leaders, community group, and close friends to cover my friends in prayer.

But, selfishly I asked a friend to pray for me.

I didn’t want to.

I didn’t want to take away from the very serious situations my friends were in.

But I needed to.

I needed to know that someone was praying me through what I was dealing with.

I was beating myself up for not doing enough, while also crying through the night because my plate was so full.

And I had done this to myself. My friend hadn’t asked me to keep her kids.

My other friend didn’t ask me to be there for her surgery.

I wanted to do this.

I needed to help others, because that’s who I am and what God has called me to do.

I finally got the balls to call our caseworker (who is new and we haven’t met yet) to tell her I couldn’t make Friday work. I was, as always, fighting with myself because I thought this would look bad on us and that it would look like I couldn’t handle fostering.

When I told her the situation she said “I’ve heard from a few people you’re a burning heart. Don’t worry, we’ll see you next week.”

I thought to myself, “What the hell is that supposed to mean? Does she think I don’t have it together? Did people tell her what a mess I was and this was a nice way of saying that?!”.

Turns out, that wasn’t the case. More on that later.

Once again my brain and it’s irrational self was in overdrive. Working against me telling me what I was doing was the wrong thing.

That’s a trend if you haven’t noticed. A vicious cycle I go through on the daily.

But being a follower of Jesus means serving.

It is my job to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

To show people Jesus in the flesh.

Every time I choose to do something for someone else, I am showing them Jesus.

The enemy wants you to think of yourself only.

He doesn’t want you serving others, so he will use whatever he can (in my case, my own thoughts) to convince you that what you are doing isn’t the right thing, or that it is never enough.

I prayed that night for the Lord to help me to get through this.

To stop the thoughts of not doing enough.

To give me patience with the kids and my husband who was also at his wits end with me.

I opened my bible app and just prayed I’d read something that made sense.

I won’t lie, I did swipe around a few times because a lot of the Bible doesn’t make sense to me, but I stopped in 1 Peter, which I’ve never read before.

1 Peter 4:10: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Well then. Here’s your sign.

When you are living your life for Jesus, you’ll be pushed to your limits and that’s when you realize you aren’t able to do it alone.

Just like when I asked my friend to pray me through the week.

Not because what I was going through was any more relevant than what my friends were, but because I wouldn’t have the strength to show them Jesus, without Jesus.

I needed him to fill my cup, so I could pour out to others.

As I said earlier, my caseworker said she’d heard I was a burning heart.

Apparently people in the office, who I’ve met along the way, and references she had to call to vet us, told her how strong my desire was to help others.

They see what I’m doing and they know that I love it. They recognize it’s a need for me to give to and serve others. It’s a good thing, even when I let my head tell me I’m setting myself up for failure or filling my plate so full that it’s overflowing.

When you have a burning heart for Jesus, you also have a burning heart for others.

But what good is this burning heart and desire to give, if you have nothing to pour out?

If your cup is running low, lean into the Lord and his word.

You may not feel like your efforts of serving are fruitful or noticed, but I promise you they are.

You may never get a thank you or a pat on the back, but you’ve done your job in being Jesus with skin on and showing his love to someone who may not have seen it before.

I’m sure I’ll have many moments this week where I feel burned out and like I can’t go for one more second.

But I will lean into the scripture to fill my cup so I can continue to pour out to others.

Jesus came to serve.

So I will too.

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