When you think you can’t handle one. more. thing.

May 29, 2012

You know what sounds easy now? Taking care of 4 boys.

A little over four months ago taking care of 3 boys while pregnant was my limit.

Then meeting the needs of 3 boys while caring for a newborn became my challenge.

Then I asked for help from friends while my husband travelled and I cared for 4 boys.

THEN a stress fracture while caring for 4 boys. And my husband travelled. Seriously God?

When my 2 1/2-year-old got a stomach bug the morning I was trying to get the boys off to school, with a stress fracture and my husband out-of-town, I snapped. “I SURRENDER!”

Only three days before my foot x-ray I had written in my journal, “Just when I feel comfortable parenting 4 kids something happens to bring me back down.”

Then I read in “Jesus Calling”:

“Thank me for difficulties in your life since they provide protection from the idolatry of self-reliance.”

Some encouraged me & said, “I can’t wait to see what God will teach you through all this.”

Honestly learning a lesson was the farthest thing from my mind. Obviously I had not learned the “humility” lesson yet. I continued to “relentlessly replace ‘me’ with ‘He'”. (Remember I am NOT the God-Centered Mom. I am the self-centered mom. Being God-centered is an aspiration, not a reality.)

My mind was consumed with survival, not growth. How was I going to be the mom I want to be when I couldn’t even walk? How was I going to manage the behavior of my boys when I couldn’t administer consequences?

Since others said God taught them big things when they went through trials, my eyes slowly turned outward from me & began to look for the lesson. Here are a few things I learned:

-I am a “doer”. I do. I act. If something seems wrong, I fix it. Not being able to jump up and fix things right away, I was forced to be patient & allow them to fix themselves. What I learned…I don’t have to “do” everything.

-My way is not the “right way”. If someone else is willing to help, then their way is the right way. Otherwise it wouldn’t get done. Learning to let go of the frustration when things aren’t done “my way” was a huge relief.

-My boys need me to sit with them. In doing things my way I miss spending time with my boys. Just sitting. Realistically food has to be cooked, clothes cleaned, dishes washed, but souls need to be filled. Bodies need to be hugged. Moments need to be shared. I have been only meeting physical not emotional needs.

-Even when I could literally not survive on my own efforts. God provided. Even when I was determined to remain self-centered in the midst of this trial. He pursued my heart.

He repeated, “I’ve got this. What are you so upset about? The things you view as sooo important…they do not matter. See my gifts in this:”

  • A generous, helpful mother-in-law and time to bond with her
  • Quiet moments with each son
  • Focused time in the Word
  • A week of breakfasts in bed
  • A day connecting with your sister
  • Boys taking on more responsibility

I open the mail.

Those boys mirror the ages of my boys. I imagine their mom’s thoughts read: “You think you have reached your limit? I’m living in a cave with my 4 children. My ‘home’ is being bombed. I have no clue where my next meal will come from.”

*if you want to learn more about this woman & her boys in South Sudan read here at Samaritan’s Purse.*

It was as if my heavenly Father sent a version of the cliché message, “There are children starving in Africa.”

He said, “Eat of this life. Others are starving. Eat of my body which was broken. Drink the living water. Yes, you have challenges, but you have so, so many blessings! Even if everything in this life was stripped from you. You have me. What matters most.”

When you think you can’t handle one. more. thing., He whispers, “You CAN’T…but I can. Trust me!”

“…We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-9


“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27


  1. Vicky

    I’m usually so busy that I do not take time to read the daily post that come to my in-box! I was compelled to spot today and read this one. It was just what I needed to read. Thank you for sharing. God Bless!

  2. Jess

    Powerful post! Thank you for sharing your heart. I appreciate your authenticity, and LOVE where you said, “My mind was consumed with survival, not growth.” I realize that is me too. It is good to learn the lessons from the other side of the trial but to have joy in the trial as James 1 talks about…that is so difficult, and probably impossible without Jesus’ help. Also, I was really moved by your reminder of other moms TRULY struggling to physically survive. Thank you for that reality check this morning.

  3. tereasamansfield

    This is absolutely beautiful! I needed this today!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      thank you tereasa. Thankful to be a part of His work in your life.

  4. Meaghan Jackson

    Some days I feel like you can read my mind! Although our situation is a little different I do feel like difficulties keep piling up on us. I have been stuck in survival mode for so long and often try to o things my own way. Thank you for this fresh reminder that God is carrying me through and teaching me along the way.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Thankful that I can’t read your mind, but that God can. The same God who spoke to me through His word, knows your thoughts from afar and is guiding you as well. How cool is that? Praying He will continue to take the steps for you and do the work that is weighing you down. Also pray He can shine a light on the areas that you can “let go”, that don’t matter to Him. I know He has done some major “pruning” in me lately.

  5. Lia Hadley

    Just found your blog! I got the same pamphlet from Samaritans Purse and it just melted my heart. I went camping with my husband and two boys this past weekend, I don’t really like camping but it was so humbling to be all of us sleeping in small packet tent, with rain soaking the ground outside and to think about the women that live in worst conditions every day of their lives. And to think that Jesus did not own a house, or a nice car, of more than one change of clothes and yet He was the creator of everything. I write at sipmom dot com

  6. Deb Anderson Weaver

    So true! He is most clearly seen then we are at the tipping point of not being able to handle life! Thanks for sharing…

    Deb Weaver

  7. Kara S

    I’ve been getting nervous recently about the approaching birth of my second son and the pressures and responsibilities that are about to build. Thank you so much for this post and for the reminder to lean on God and trust in His provision and to see the blessings in the midst of it all. I especially like the quote from “Jesus Calling” – it really struck me.

  8. joyceandnorm

    Sometimes you’re waiting for Him to show you something…anything, for Him to speak to you, and then BAM! He does. Love John 14:27. Peace. It’s there.

  9. Mandy

    Excellent post! Thank you for words I needed to hear today.

  10. Darleen

    Even grandmas can receive hope and encouragement from this. THANKS!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      so glad it was helpful to you! blessings.


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