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Full Buckets, Empty Tank

This is a challenging time for all families. Moms and dads everywhere are dealing with the reality of comprehensive remote learning (CRL), which has left many families facing really difficult choices. ”Do I leave my children at home to their own devices? Do I hire a babysitter or put my children in daycare? Do I quit my job?” For many parents, the option to quit a job and stay at home seems impossible. We are forced into a situation where we can either leave our kids at home and pay our bills, or stay home and parent, while coming up short on funds at the end of each month. On top of these concerns are the academic repercussions of CRL. Many children simply do not learn unless they have the opportunity to interface with a teacher. Many are staring at a screen but do not have the recourses to accomplish work at home. Many never log in because they do not have the oversight to stay focused and on task.

Foster parents are facing even greater challenges. All foster children have special needs of some sort, based on their ACE’s score, cognitive abilities and social emotional development. Sitting in front of a screen to learn, when many are on 504 plans or IEP’s, means they are not receiving the services they need to succeed.They need modifications and adult involvement. In other words, they need the teachers and instructional aids who work with them on a daily basis in a regular school year to be successful. They need a curriculum that meets their cognitive needs and they need qualified adults to proctor that curriculum.

So where does that leave us? Our buckets are full. Our emotions are running high. It is unhelpful to pretend like we have it all together, like this situation is easy or fun. It is NOT fun. The pandemic has created a new set of circumstances that bring with it new stresses, new traumas, new anxieties, especially for children who experience heightened stress and anxiety already. Similar to the picture I shared in this blog, we are trudging uphill... in snow... carrying two full buckets, as if our lives depended on it. Unlike the young boy in this picture, our life doesn’t depend on the stress, fear, anxiety and frustration, we are carrying in our buckets. It’s time to empty them.

I want to assure you, I am not judging you, because my buckets have been full, friends. I understand exactly how this feels. I have four amazing boys for which I am responsible each day, children of trauma who are growing and changing and healing all the time, but are still facing deep challenges on a daily basis. Sometimes I am convinced, no matter how well-meaning the teacher is, no matter how hard they might be working, they are not learning. I am praying and believing that God will redeem the time, that He will strengthen their minds, but I also know the important piece PEOPLE play in God’s will. We all have a part to play, and it is impossible for me to work full time while also facilitating the learning of my children.

Also, I want to acknowledge the amazing educators who are invested in serving my children every day, even when it feels impossible. I know how hard you are trying, because I am one of you, working with students remotely and PRAYING something sticks. This situation is no one’s fault. We are all in this boat together, and blaming one another helps no one. Instead, we need to believe in one another, speak life over one another, assist one another, and learn not to punish one another for what is completely outside of that person’s control. We must learn to empty our buckets somewhere else than OVER people’s heads!

We do not empty our buckets by pretending they are empty. Saying over and over again to ourselves, “My buckets aren’t full! I’m FINE, just fine!” Will not solve the problem. The buckets will not get empty by venting, either. Believe me, I know! I’ve tried this method. I might feel frustrated with the government, so I go online and let my feelings flow. Or I might feel irritated with the school district, so I write a letter of complaint, or attack a well meaning educator who has NO control over what is happening in the schools. I might vent to a friend who cares about what I am going through, but cannot solve the problem, and instead of feeling better, my negative emotions begins to seep into my friendships. In these circumstances, it is as if I took my full bucket and upturned it over someone else’s head. In the end, I will find out the bucket stays full, because there is always an unending supply of irritation, frustration and gossip. There is an unending supply in the buckets until I learn to get my tank full.

Each of us has a love tank. God designed it to be filled to the brim And overflowing with His great love for us. Ephesians 3:17-19 says, “Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside of you, and the resting place of His love will become the very source and root of your life. Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences - the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is His love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding - this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! (TPT)” His presence is an unending source of peace, grace, mercy, understanding, and solutions to the challenges we face every day. His presence is what we need and what the world craves. As followers of Christ, as ambassadors of His Divine Kingdom, we have access to the treasure store houses of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Do we recognize this - that we are called to be a conduit for the solutions the world is looking for? Do we understand that we are carriers of a presence that is meant to invade every circumstance and bring His glory to every situation? Our freedom and peace begins when our eyes are OPENED to see what we have been given. Ephesians 1:17-18 says, “I pray that the Father of glory, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would impart to you the riches of the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation to know him through your deepening intimacy with him. I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination, flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of his calling—that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that he finds in us, his holy ones! (TPT)“ It is more than our own peace and prosperity that we are contending for, and the sooner we realize it the quicker we will begin to see, not merely a transformation of our own hearts, but a transference of our inner thermostat setting to the exterior environments we enter.

It’s time to empty our buckets before the Lord - time to get into His presence, onto the altar and really allow the Trinity to become the source of all we need. It is a matter of meditation and intention. Do we discipline our minds to be in agreement with His Word? He is faithful, and He can anoint you to discern His will in this season. He can empower you to make hard choices and present opportunities that you were not expecting. He is the God who speaks and things which were not come into being. Do you believe this? I do. I have seen Him meet impossible needs. I have watched Him rewrite the messiest stories. Whether it is a family tragedy, a financial difficulty or the schooling of your children, He will empty your buckets and fill your tank with His goodness. In prayer, present all of your needs to Him and see, just see what the Father will do on behalf of you, His precious child.

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