Treading Water

I have been busy surviving.

Imagine that you are on a beautiful tropical island.

The breeze is balmy. The sun is warm. The view is spectacular.

And you are stranded in the water just 100 yards offshore. You can’t swim back against the strong current no matter how hard you try. You are stuck treading water. You are focused only on surviving. The breeze and the sun and the view are all there, but you can’t enjoy them because it is all you can do to keep your head above water.

This is how I feel most of the time.

I know there are beautiful, precious little souls surrounding me, but I am so busy surviving that I can not truly enjoy them just now.

It seems as though my entire day consists of meeting someone else’s needs. Cooking. Dishes. Laundry. School. Dishes. Wiping bottoms. Wiping noses. Dishes.

And I think I would be able to handle all of this if it weren’t for the emotional fatigue that threatens to overwhelm me. My number one job these days? Mediating. Constant mediating.

And yes, even though I am not supposed to, I worry. Will this turmoil cause permanent damage to Joel and Hannah? Will our family’s love be able to undo the hurt in Leah, Naomi, Micah and Levi’s past?

Some days are better than others. This was not one of those days.

But even when I feel like I do right now, even when I am bent under the weight of what we are shouldering, even when all I want to do is drop into bed and ignore the dirty dishes in the sink, I have a hope for what I can glimpse on the horizon. I know that this will all get easier with time.

I know I have shared this verse in a previous post, but it is worth sharing again. This is the verse that keeps me going. This is the verse that runs through my head over and over on days like today. This is my promise from a God who loves me.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  ~ Phillipians 1:6

And I am thankful that even on days like today, I am still being honest when I end my post like this….



(Because that is what He has given me – 6 beautiful blessings.)

15 thoughts on “Treading Water

  1. Summer

    Oh your honesty is refreshing. Your heart is amazing. Treading water… head barely above the surface… those moments are when God’s the only reason we are able to breathe. Simply breathe. We (my husband and I) shared with a family last night about your journey. (We are only the 3rd family to adopt from our church. So this is all new to them.) Your families journey continues to encourage my weary, waiting soul.

  2. Joni Voss

    One thing that helped me tremendously as my family grew was to lower my expectations: of how clean my house should be, how well-behaves my children should be, of what I could accomplish in a 24 hour period. Once that happened, my feet hit ground and I began to be able to ” play in the waves.”. Your children see and feel your love…that is what’s most important.

  3. Ann

    I’ve heard when you are caught in a rip current to swim parallel to shore,…makes sense, cease from fighting against it and ride it out! I pray that you will just focus on the important things right now and not got caught up in keeping up with doing EVERYTHING! You really are right where God wants you, humbling as it may seem, and He will carry you to shore!!

  4. Karen

    Natalie, I have been following your journey and your wonderful blog since “the beginning” when Erin shared it with me. This is Paul’s Aunt Karen writing, and I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for your transparency as you and Scott, by faith, have stepped out into these unchartered waters. The only thing I have to encourage you with at this moment is to tell you that YOU are also God’s precious child. He sees YOU. Even as you care for and discipline and instruct the six souls in your keeping, he is concerned about YOU. It is his gentle fingers tipping your chin up above the waves that would overtake you. It is his tender voice whispering, “I’m here…trust me…don’t despair.” It is YOUR Father’s heart that rejoices in your obedience and willingness to learn and try! You are his and he has promised that the waters will not overtake you and the fire will not consume that which is secured in him. I pray the Holy Spirit would minister comfort, restful sleep and renewed strength to your weary (and wary) soul tonight. His mercies are new every morning and I pray that tomorrow you’d awaken mercy-full and planted safely on dry, solid ground. Prayerfully believing on your behalf.

  5. Alisa

    Dearest Natalie,
    Even with (only) 2 kids days like this are familiar. I can tell you that when I took the word “perfect” out of my vocabulary, it helped. I have homeschooled my kids their whole lives. I understand the demands of being a SAHM and homeschooling. Not to your degree, but still. I also used to babysit your husband and his siblings, so you understand I have had experience in this area! LOL
    I realized a long time ago that saying “that’s perfect!” about a letter, a picture, a clean room or anything else is setting yourself, and a little one for failure. Nothing on this earth is perfect. Stop using that word, expecting that level, or demanding that of your mothering/teaching.
    God made you just as you are for a reason. We’re not perfect, but God’s mercy is. God’s love is. God’s peace is.
    Thank you God for your perfection! Thank you for the Putnam family you have made great. I ask for peace, patience, and fun for all of these precious great 8! Natalie, you can do it! Praying for a better today! <3

  6. Lacey McDonald (@LaceyJean2)

    Dear Natalie,

    Thank you..Thank you..Thank you.. for your posts. It is so incredible what you and Scott have taken on. I appreciate your honesty and your verses that God has laid on your heart to share. I feel the same way and i only have two. Two with a past, two with a biological mom who tries to be a part of their happiness. This often only causes confusion and hurt. Some days I feel just as you described it is good for me to hear that indeed He has begun a good work in us and our family..and HE will be faithful to complete it.


  7. Nicole

    You wouldn’t be true to yourself or your 6 blessings if you didn’t feel the adjustment to change! Change is very difficult and having alot of change takes alot of adjusting! I am proud of you for being honest! Honest with yourself, with your family and with your friends! Please please please call on us if you need something because we are on the outside looking in, we don’t know what can help! DO NOT be afraid to ask for help, if people can’t help, they will tell you! God is so alive in you and He is alive in your family! You are a blessing Natalie, a true blessing!

  8. Denise Van Zile

    Your sweet cook and maid in Ethiopia were right when they were amazed that you were not going to have somebody like one of them to help you! And they were imagining a much less busy and complicated lifestyle, I am sure!
    I am praying for you!!

  9. Jaimie


    Sorry to break this to you, but the answer is no. Your family’s love will not heal some of the deep wounds in the children’s hearts. But God’s love will, and He has chosen your family to pour that love through. Just keep letting it pour through you. When we reject God’s love, He just keeps pouring it out. When we reject a gift He thoughtfully and lovingly gave to us, He just keeps giving.

    When I was training for my triathlon, David had me practice floating on my back and doing the back stroke as “survival mode” in the water. If we got kicked, swam over or were otherwise having trouble, we were supposed to just roll over on our backs and progress in whatever manner we could… sometimes, you just have to roll over and float for a while to catch a breather.

    I know this isn’t preferred, but could you pick one meal a day to use disposable dishes – like maybe lunch time? Then, even the littlest ones can help clear the table and it relieves some of the burden off of you.

    Strength, peace and blessings to the whole house!

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