Finding Strength in the Sabbatical


Today our family’s numbers are down.

Today I catch myself when someone asks me how many kids I have. I quickly correct the count in my quiver because conversing about foster care isn’t topping the agenda.

Today I am breathing. And I am building my stamina again. 

God is breathing new life as I simply sit. I am learning to say no to placement calls and yes to so much more-for today.

My arms have been so full of someone else’s child for so many months that have grown into years, but today I’m resting.

And in this sabbatical, I’m finding more than I imagined.

These revelations for me have come with time, space, years and tears so listen up foster mama friend.

Be intentional with your time. 

Before long, my seven kids will turn into eight (or nine). But today I am choosing to see the ones before me. I am staring straight into the eyes of my children. Really looking, completely seeing, fully knowing.

I’m thanking God each morning for rest that was uninterrupted by another mama’s newborn. Long nights have left me fully operational exclusively in survival mode. 

I’m sipping my coffee slowly while I can. I’m kidding. That isn’t actually happening but I’m still setting big goals. I am reorganizing baby clothes and toddler toys and boxing up blankets and labeling bins. I’m tossing things too because I’ve come to realize I’ll just buy so many things with the next one.

Preparation for the next arrival is a constant companion.

Tell someone you need to catch your breath because accountability is critical to intentional retreat. 

Set boundaries with your case workers and licensing agency. Be clear on when they can call again. And stop feeling guilty for all the work you’re NOT doing today. It’s okay to say no for now.

Talk to a professional. 

This single act has kept our family’s focus clear and our stride strong (also subjective).

Let tears fall and words fly while you process your demanding days in a safe place.

Find a like-minded therapist that is experienced in attachment and transitions. Please. I’m practically begging you to do this one.

More home, less hustle. 

Clear your calendar. Pencil in, no BLOCK OUT, white space. That means you plan a few days where NOTHING IS PLANNED.

Enjoy the slower moments without an extra kid in your clan. Say no to outside activities. Yes, even fun ones. I’m a sucker for fun, but it can add more stress and chaos than you really need today.

Be present with your people. They matter. And they need to see you. All of you.

Foster mama friend, sometimes you need to be still.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this war raging around you is only made of strong soldiers. It’s full of weak, weary and worn out warriors who MUST be brave enough to retreat.

A phone call is coming and battered little life will eventually find it’s way into your arms. And into mine.

Soon our hands will hold someone else’s child.

But if you need a season of solitude, take it.

You don’t deserve it, but you need it. And refueling is a prerequisite to longevity in this calling.

Take respite with your family. Because they need you. And as long as your lungs find breath, someone always will.


  1. Mary Jo Adams | 4th Dec 15

    I so appreciate this post. We received our foster care license at the end of May, and received our first toddler (a precious little girl) the same day. She left after 3 months. We have had another precious little girl for about two months and we are saying goodbye to her on Monday. I really identify with what you said about feeling weak and worn and weary. I have four bio children too (ages 1 to 9). Adding this fifth child (with their own issues) has been a real stretch for me. My husband and I feel a strong calling to foster, and I’m sure it won’t be long after Addie leaves that we will feel like we need to put our names on the ‘list’ to be called again. But at the same time, these periods with foster children have been very very trying at times. Very overwhelming at times being home with five little ones all day trying to homeschool and keep some semblance of order. I have struggled with feelings of frustration and inadequacy for this large task and this frustration has spilled onto my own children at times. I know the Lord has called us to this and I embrace this calling. I am working on keeping my eyes on Jesus, who is the giver of peace and rest, instead of my own inadequacies. If I let him, He can restore my soul, as psalm 23 says. I am approaching a sabbatical period, and i so appreciate your words of encouragement and direction in this period between children. Thank you for this blog, it has been a great source of encouragement to me. 🙂

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