After an emotional and stressful week filled with lots of events and circumstances that required a lot of thought and "mulling over" in my mind, today was the remedy I most needed. Dominick and I really rarely have time together, something we have probably not made enough effort to remedy but that our ridiculously busy lives sometimes doesn't seem to leave much room for. We try to capture a few minutes here and there, a phone conversation on the fly, a whispered conversation in bed if HE manages to stay awake (hahahaha! It is a running joke in our family how fast he falls asleep, he even feel asleep once while talking on the phone to his mom!). This morning we had a couple of hours of uninterrupted time together, just talking around at the kitchen table and while doing small chores like folding clothes out of the dryer and emptying the dishwasher. We had 17 years together without children if we count our dating years, and so we certainly can not claim we have not had enough time in our marriage alone together...it just all happened during the first part of it! But we do treasure those times right now when we can just be with one another, catch up on day to day conversations, gauge where each other is in many areas. I am very much looking forward to our long drive and overnight trip alone to Denver and back in a week as we go to process our immigration paperwork and get fingerprinted. We always end up looking at each other and saying "Hey! I know you!" and laughing over it. And yet as much as we sometimes miss that alone time together, we wouldn't trade our life now for our old life for a single second. Sharing private grins as we look across three dark headed little guys is such a reward.
This evening we attended a concert in a neighboring town about 45 minutes away. It is a small little town, the kind you imagine might not still exist but does and is kept a secret from the world. This was the free first concert of the season of the Valley Symphony and we accompanied our adopted Grandpa with all the boys and had a pincnic dinner. The concert was held at a beautiful park and there were probably 300+ people in attendance. The kids all ran off to play at the playground under the canopy of the most beautiful shade trees while the adults sat and talked and then our Grandpa had to go work throughout the concert leaving Dominick and I again alone in our lawn chairs to visit. This is the kind of event you think is only depicted in the movies anymore, as surely no one in America actually has a life like this. Well folks, that is why we live where we live because yes...some of us still do. There was bunting hung from the outdoor concert area, watermelon was plentiful, Boy Scouts presented the colors of our nation as the laughter of little children filtered gently over the sounds of the nearby creek, and the local political candidates canvassed the crowd handing out small bags of homemade chocolate chip cookies in an effort to woo voters. Yea, small town America and its values DOES still exist.
As the band struck up the beginning chords of the Star Spangled Banner, Dominick and I both glanced over towards the park where there were 25 or 30 kids playing and our eyes both flitted as we tried to spot our three amongst them all. Actually, it wasn't hard at all as one by one we spotted them each, there in the evening golden sunlight glow standing at attention amidst the gaggle of scrambling kids surrounding them, and each of our sons had their hands over their hearts and were singing their National Anthem...three still, proud Kazakh and Kyrgyz young men showing respect for their country. Standing 100 yards away were two equally proud American parents.
It is such a gift to raise our kids in such an environment, where they can experience small town life and enjoy all that comes with it...the closer relationships, the seeing everyone downtown on Shopping Day, the knowing that if you do something wrong someone WILL see it and WILL tell your mom and dad! While our town itself is a smaller city of around 25,000 and pushing 40,000 in our county, the school they attend is an a community of about 2000 total, if you are lucky. We are surrounded by lots of smaller towns and smaller cities...cities that don't have a Walmart and where the appliance store is still family run. It's a place where innocence still exists to some degree, or at least where knowledge of evil is delayed just a tiny bit longer. Sure, we have drugs and we have alcohol...but we also have real cowboys and a flourishing FFA and 4H program. It's a place where presenting your son with a BB Gun when he turns 9 or 10 is a right of passage, and where their best friends actually know how to rope a calf and herd cattle. It is this place that is one of the things that has contributed to our sons being who they are, and we feel very grateful for it even if it requires an extraordinary level of effort to remain here where the average income when we first moved here 12 years ago was $19,000 per year and where 70% of the kids at our school qualify for free lunch.
It is our hope that this week we will receive some better feedback on the adoption front, and until that time we are in constant prayer and trying hard not to lose faith in the promise we feel He made us, that they WILL come home. We received photos this week, and I was struck by a panic I usually don't feel...time is passing, they are growing up...and what will we do if they don't make it home? In all seriousness, thoughts of picking up and moving to Kazakhstan actually crossed my mind even if that is utterly ridiculous. And how in the world, I wonder, can I feel such an incredible and abiding love? It makes no sense...or maybe it makes all the sense in the world. This time it is simply different, that's all.
And during our ride home tonight as I listened to all the happy conversation filling the car leaving no empty spaces at all, why did I still feel the empty spaces? How can you miss something you've never had? It makes no sense to me, and yet that is exactly how I feel at times right now.
In the middle of my ponderings we arrived home and stopped to check our mailbox. I could hardly believe what I held in my hands. Two large manilla envelopes, return address the "FBI". I groaned inwardly thinking the fingerprint cards and approval we need for our dossier had been rejected as we had just sent them out a week ago and were told to expect they could take up to 18 weeks to come back, so I knew it was not good news. I asked the boys to say a quick prayer before we opened it up, as at this stage we don't want to lose another week or two as we get new prints made and send them in. As I quickly tore open the first envelope, I let out a little yelp as I discovered this WAS our approval, letter and all. I was dumbfounded...there was no way this could be the real deal. They received the request on the 8th of September! We are supposed to be waiting up to 18 weeks for this to be returned! NO WAY!! It is impossible!
Seems I forgot in all of this how Big our God is. Forgive me, God, for my doubts and dismay. I will try not to worry, despite what rumors may float or what others may say, you once again reminded me Who has it all under control.