****Pie Challenge Update: We have raised $545 thus far for Christmas in Kyrgyzstan...THANK YOU so much! All 5 kids get a pie in the face, a little fact I...um...failed to tell them about until yesterday. It was greeted with cheers BUT they said it wasn't fair that they don't get the chance to get US in the face! We are $155 short of reaching our goal of $100 per family member and a pie for all 7 of us. Please consider donating at www.actofkindness.blogspot.com . We all know it isn't really about us getting slammed with pies, it is about bringing hope and love to children who are hidden away from the world, forgotten and left behind. God has not forgotten them, but WE need to be God's representatives so they know that. Give up that latte for a few days, help an orphan have a special day in a life filled with dreary sameness. They can't say "thanks", but we can and do on their behalf.****
It has been one year since our family found itself hurting, bewildered, and with sinking hearts were on Day 3 of visiting the girls in Kazakhstan. We were being rejected in the coldest manner possible with Angela leading the way and Olesya uncertainly following along. What had begun as a trip to fulfill the expressed dream of both these young girls turned into the single greatest emotional challenge Dominick and I have ever experienced, in a lifetime together of many difficult moments.
This morning I took the time to go back and read some of those posts from December last year, when a Christmas miracle was in the making but initially appeared to be heading towards an outcome with heartbreaking results. I don't usually go back and re-read posts. Once they are written, they are done and tomorrow brings something new. These, in particular, were extremely hard to read, even knowing that all turned out beautifully. I think my difficulty in reading them explains why it was so hard this past year for my soul to recover, I hadn't realized fully until this very morning how deeply I had been effected of the events of last year. I didn't have time to reflect much on the pain experienced, for I had a new version of our family to help shepherd and far too much on my plate to begin any kind of introspection.
A year later, there is a wholeness that a year ago was unfathomable. Like a piece of fine china that was broken and Crazy Glued together, we are stronger in the broken places, even if we look less then elegant when propped up on display. God's repair work is of Master quality, and what mere mortals could never fix, God somehow patched up.
So much healing has taken place, and our beloved daughters are truly LaJoy's in every possible way. Have there been hiccups? Certainly, but most who know us in person can attest to the fact that we are firmly family, that the girls are happy, extremely well adjusted, and have handled the transition to their new life with grace and gusto.
Walking arm and arm with both of them last night, I was struck by the fact that our relationship with the girls would have been impossible 10 years ago. We would not have had the maturity to approach last winter with the insight we needed to proceed. Our spiritual growth led to much needed understanding, compassion and faith in God's ability to restore hearts. We had grown as parents, we had grown as God's children, and we had learned that God might be able to work through us to do the seemingly impossible.
During school yesterday we were working on our writing journals using topics I had selected from a "Manners" curriculum. Our conversation somehow drifted from it being bad manners to interrupt someone, to my observations of Angela's dismissive behavior towards a couple of her caretakers at the boarding school whom she obviously did not respect much. While she was not necessarily obnoxiously rude to them, it was quite clear that she had little respect for them and she acted quite differently with the other adults in authority. She got a huge grin on her face as she said "Yea Mama, but they not like you...they not strong and sometimes it easy to not listen to them then I do what I want. If you my mama in Kazakhstan...ohhhh...I never be like that, you not let me be bad! Hahaha!".
Where Olesya's love was offered easily and freely, Angela's had to be earned through respect, and that respect came from helping her feel secure in knowing we could and would handle her firmly, fairly and lovingly. Without that respect, we would have failed at integrating them into our family. Without the loving support that God offered through so many others who reached out to us, it would have been extremely difficult to let my own yearnings take the back seat they needed to take in order to earn that respect. Today, both girls love us all deeply and completely, and Angela's hand that slipped into mine as I drove home last night was the hard earned reward for all the months of tip toeing around one another, all the wrestling with emotions, and every moment of pain we experienced one year ago. Olesya is sick with a cold, and she laid her head on my shoulder last night as she gave me her good night hug and said "You the best mama ever...I love you mama."
What a difference a year makes.