We are back home and settled in once again. As wonderful as it is to go away on a trip, there is still something soothing about returning home each time. Our airport runway is very close to our home, we look out our back windows and watch airplanes land, and we flew right over our house as we came in for our landing Saturday evening. Our little town is so beautiful, housing tracts dotted with farm fields between them, mountains surrounding the entire area. It is so peaceful and a place the seems to restore all of us...as much fun as the kids had in California even they all cheered when we landed and were excited to be back. I am glad they carry that sense of "home" with them wherever they are.
The last few days of our trip we swam, visited grandmas, and managed to squeeze in a last minute trip to the mission in Santa Barbara which Matthew had really looked forward to. He is a total history buff and is always interested in seeing things that he has studied about, so we made sure to visit the crown jewel of the California missions before going on to the airport in Santa Barbara to fly back home. I got a kick out of taking the kids to the same place where I took field trips as a child myself, and I was pleased that they showed a respect and reverence for this sacred place that I am sure I myself did not show when I was their age.
While in California we celebrated Matthew's 9th birthday early, as it is on June 12th and none of the boys has ever celebrated with their grandma's present, so we decided to have an early birthday. He was spoiled a bit and loved every minute of it...and Dominick and I sat back and wondered where these past 8 years have gone...they flew by so quickly! And we marveled at the young man he is becoming, gentle, introspective, quiet, mature...and perfect in every way. It was nice that he was the center of attention for a special day, as with Kenny and Josh for brothers he has often been overlooked at moments by others and he has gracefully allowed his brothers to be in the spotlight without trying to push his way to the forefront.
So now that we are home and the excitement has dimmed, the work begins. Out came the now familiar file folders labeled with agency names, documents required, etc. as we began the paperwork for our adoption. I have made a few phone calls to get the ball rolling, and now need to knuckle down and get moving on the applications, biographies, medical exams, homestudy update, etc. I wish I could just snap my fingers and make this part magically be all done, but alas we left the "Land Where Dreams Come True" behind last week, so I have no choice but to get in and "Get 'er Done!" as we say around these parts.
I received an email from a dear friend of ours this past week, an "Epistle to the Scared", which made me smile, made me think, made me feel justified in my fears and yet gave me courage as well. Although we have great confidence that what we are embarking on with this last adoption is exactly what God has in mind for us, it doesn't mean that we aren't stepping forward with some fear and trepidation. This is a huge step for us, one that back when we adopted Matthew has led us to a life we never imagined for ourselves. We are being quite honest with ourselves about the challenges that lay ahead, about what this means for our family and our own future, about the practical aspects. I know there are many families far larger than ours is going to be, I know there are also families whose children have far greater challenges that they face every single day in life. There are going to be sacrifices on every one's part, there are going to be things that we will do without permanently. But as Kenny said upon hearing the news "God answered our prayers!!!" and Matthew said "I am glad they will not have to grow up there, I am really glad they are coming home." There is wealth, and then as my mother put it the other day, there are "treasures". Our children are our treasures, they matter more to us than anything else in the world. NOTHING compares to the life we have with them.
My friend referred to the kind of "fear and trembling" we are experiencing right now as "Holy Fear", a phrase I loved the moment I read it. It perfectly describes where we are at right now with everything...I hope he doesn't mind me quoting him here, but he said "We were operating from some other set of values and aspirations that were embedded deep within our psyches somewhere, God knows where, God knows how." as he discussed situations in his own life where he and his wife did things that others thought were totally crazy...just as we feel right now.
And it is true, true for all of us, don't you think? We ARE operating from a different place than others when it comes to adopting. For many of us, we are walking around filled with "Holy Fear" that we are following God's plan for our life, but scared of what He is requiring of us. But "Holy Fear" is also not a bad place to be operating from either. It is probably the way we all ought to be living our day to day lives, not just when the chips are down and we are faced with the stress of a big event. Keeping the "holy" in all we do is something almost all of us fail at regularly.
So I guess we will be carrying around backpacks full of Holy Fear for quite some time to come :-)
We also had such a kind offer this weekend, friends of ours from church have decided they would like to help us repaint the girls' bedroom and get it ready for their arrival! I know we are still a few months away from that happening, but those months will fly by faster than we can imagine, I am sure. I was so touched by this offer, as each time we have adopted it has felt...well...kind of lonely, actually. Kenny's adoption was a little different but you still feel you are walking around carrying this little secret that others don't see the way you see it...for us it is childbirth even if it is older kids joining our family. I can understand why others might not be able to see that, but it takes a little of the joy out of it all. I mean, there are moments you just want to shout to the world "Guess what?? Something amazing is happening to us right now!!!". Having someone else share your excitement is priceless, and I have so appreciated those who have gone out of their way to give us a hug and say they are happy for us. Lots of naysayers are viewing us with a critical eye right now, and the support from others helps serve as a counterbalance. And I'll bet the folks who step forward with a kind and caring word have no idea just how much it really does help.
So here we go again, much to our great joy regardless of the "Holy Fear" we are going to carry around with us for awhile. One last time, one last adventure, one last journey to complete our family. Matthew, Kenny and Joshua all repeated our family manta this evening over some chores that await us tomorrow..."We're LaJoy's, we can do ANYTHING!!". There are 2 more LaJoy's waiting for us to imbue them with that same sense of being able to accomplish whatever they set their minds to. And their parents are going to lead the way as we show by example that yes, we CAN do anything...especially if God is providing you with the road map. It may not be easy, it may often be the opposite of what others think you ought to do with your life, it may be actually be sheer lunacy.
That's ok though..."Holy Fear", wrap yourself in it and hang on for the ride!!