We are now 3 and 1/2 weeks away from traveling to Kyrgyzstan, and time is actually passing quickly. Although there is much still to do, we are all beginning to really feel the excitement of this trip. But I think the emotion that raises it's head most often is gratitude.
We have felt the love and quiet support of so many of our friends, and some have gone out of their way to show us they care. I spent much of the last couple of days cutting tags out of a wonderful assortment of brand new clothes that one family who is dear to our hearts sent us for Toktogul. Not only was it an extraordinarily kind gift, but it took a huge weight off my shoulders when I got a phone call saying "Don't worry about a thing, I've got it all covered!". Another friend touched our hearts in a special way this weekend as well. We've had people praying for us, caring about us, and even folks we don't know carrying small gifts over for us to our new son.
It has been an incredible time in our lives, one where we have felt God moving in ways which we never would have been able to predict. It is odd I think, but throughout my life I have always felt closest to God when things are going well, when I have been particularly blessed at any given moment. In the rougher times I tend to not to reach out to Him, to feel more distant. But I think that as all adults have experienced, when you have had some hard times behind you, times that have been overwhelmingly sad or have caused you great struggle, you have the ability to really appreciate the good times in a way you might not otherwise do.
Love and caring sometimes come to you from unexpected people and places, just as hatred and anger can sneak up on you when you are totally unaware. The balance of those emotions is what makes life sweet, the rewards of which leave you with a feeling that your spirit is nurtured and your soul is protected.
I am grateful for every single thing in my life, for every bad experience, for every lonely moment. It makes the good times that much richer. Without the isolation once felt, I might never be filled up by the sounds of my family as they slowly wind down at the end of the day. If it were not for those times when every single thing attempted was an effort and nothing was easy, I might not be able to recognize God's hand in my life when He has taken over (and I have not pulled against Him!) and all has easily fallen into place thanks to His goodness. If it were not for disappointments and failings, accomplishments would not take on as much meaning.
Gratitude springs up at unexpected and delightful moments...in the morning sunlight streaming through the kitchen window as I stare in Joshie's eyes and marvel at his long eyelashes, in the sudden surprise at how much younger Matthew looked when he finally lost one of his two front teeth last week, it comes when laying in bed next to Dominick as we are drifting off into that place between deep sleep and slight coherence and hearing him softly say "Cindy, I am so glad I am married to you.." and knowing he really, really means it.
Gratitude is in the little day to day things, not always so much in the big events. With Toktogul, gratitude might come on that first night after he has had his first bath and is in his jammies with Matthew and Joshie next to him, and the reality hits that he really is our son now...that he now smells like and looks like he belongs to us and is a La Joy. It might come the first time he willingly reaches out to hold my hand looking for security and comfort in what will most likely be a very confusing world for a long time to come. Or it might be in simply hearing three little voices laughing and giggling as Dominick and I look over their heads and smile knowingly, recognizing that we are indeed the most blessed parents who ever lived.
As I write this I am in a hotel room alone in Denver, all is quiet, and I have a wonderful room with a luxuriously made bed filled with plump down pillows and a soft duvet. I could order room service if I so desired, and can read and write uninterrupted for the first time in months. And yet for all the posh surroundings and solitude, I am not as grateful as I should be to have this opportunity that many mothers would kill for . I would rather be at home saying for the fifth time "No more stalling, it's time for bed!" as I stand at the sink washing the dishes. I would rather have Dominick snoring in the recliner in front of the TV as I channel surf wishing something decent was actually on.
It really is the mundane things that make up a life, and it is our ability to find comfort and joy in them that keeps us from yearning for things that are of little value. For me, gratitude is not at all a fleeting emotion, but is a constant and conscious daily choice of how to live my life. I've known great sadness, and the absence of that sadness is what gives me joy...I am not waiting for something or someone to make me happy. The simple fact that I wake up and nothing causing me emotional pain instantly appears in the forefront of my mind is enough to make me smile.
So here is hoping that any of you who happen upon this blog today or tomorrow have as much to be grateful for in your life as I do in mine. Here's to going home tomorrow, back to the mess and the noise and the Boys :-)