Sunday, June 12, 2011

Whole Lotta Birthday Lovin' Going On

Can it be? June 12th has rolled round again, and we now have a strapping (and I do mean strapping!) 12 year old son.

The day started out with church where I was the guest preacher...and with knees knocking I got past that.  I will never, ever be very good at this part of ministry, as I am simply not a good orator.  I am learning and challenging myself to do something I am not very successful at, and one day maybe I will be adequate.  It is an incredibly difficult thing to do, and for someone who avoided public speaking as much as possible throughout life, it seems God is forcing me to work on this area over the past several years.  Speaking at adoption events, having to do TV and video interviews (we did 2 while in for Voice of America about Kyrgyzstan adoptions and one  for the Joint Council on International Children's Services for a promo video), and delivering sermons...all have stretched me to the very limits of my tolerance for this sort of thing.  I remind myself whenever asked to go outside my comfort zone that God doesn't ask us to be perfect, God just asks for our willingness.  In that, perhaps there is something that can be used.  I sure am not perfect, and with public speaking I am well below average, but maybe God can take it and use it somehow simply because I am willing to be embarrassed even though I am NOT being all that gifted at it.

After that, it was home for a last minute birthday get together for Matthew.  We have toned down birthdays since graduating to 5 kids, and in fact have never been all that great at huge bashes.  I wish I had the party planning skills that some of my close friends have, who are so creative and on the ball!!!  I really do have some friends who are awesome in that area.  But we asked if a few friends could make it for dinner, and we had a small BBQ and a cake for Matthew's 12th birthday.

Low key though it was, it was plain old nice.  Adults visiting, kids playing and splashing around happily in the pool.  Messy BBQ sauce and cake frosting everywhere...we may not be fancy but we enjoy the company of those we love, and we hope they feel cared for when in our home.

Sitting back, watching Matt this past year has been like watching a movie played in triple time.  In one year, our little boy is gone and a young man has truly appeared.  He has grown so much this year, about 6+ inches (no kidding), his voice has deepened, and his confidence has grown.  Funny, but from the time he was very, very little, he was solid...someone you knew you could count on.  That may sound odd when speaking about a young child, but Dominick knows what I mean.  It is hard lately to remember that he is only an 11 or 12 year old boy, as he is filled with much wisdom for his age, carefully considers all moves he makes, has focus and direction, and is honest and  plain old decent.  He has gradually grown to be a little protective of me, showing me great care and thoughtfulness, which in turn will translate into those same actions passed on to his future wife.  He has the LaJoy sense of humor which is ALL Dominick :-)  and he is a delightful companion on road trips, being my navigator and co-pilot.

But I think what struck me the most this evening in watching the kids gathered round as Matthew opened his gifts, is that we are an extraordinary lucky family to have children who all stand by one another, enjoy one another, and unabashedly show their love for each other.  Kenny and Josh took the last of their savings to buy Matthew a Star Wars Lego set and couldn't wait for him to open it...then tonight Matthew made it and handed it over to the other boys to play with it.  Angela had us all cracking up as she wrapped our gift to him, the game of Risk, in a very creative, layered way and she giggled the entire time she was wrapping it.  The delight on her face as he opened her trick present was a riot to see, and equally wonderful was Matthew's face as he first uncovered the gift wrapped in his swim trunks with a girlie mask on it, then the next layer he found 2 pair of Kenny's underwear enveloping his gift, followed by a Mermaid towel.  All the kids thought this was pretty hilarious, and watching them laugh together touches me.

Then there was the sweetest gift, as Olesya had been working for weeks on making her first real sewing project, which was a quilted blanket for Matthew with airplane and camo print.  Matthew's reaction showed that he knew this took her a lot of work, and he definitely loved it.  Olesya has a tiny bit more to finish on it, and then is going to enter it in our local annual quilt show in the Kids Division.  Matthew asked me tonight "Mommy, can't I sleep with it just for tonight?" so it was easy to see just how much he loved this special gift from his "twin" sister whose birthday is exactly 2 months later than his.

When you think that we have pulled together this family from across the world, forced children out of birth order...more than once, changed their entire lives by ripping them from the only homes they have known, then added more change with homeschooling and being outside the norm here in America, had children whose hurts are soul deep, and yet see the love they are capable of and the warmth with which they treat each other, there is nothing more that I need to do to feel like my life has had meaning.  I honestly don't know how we have pulled it off, but somehow we have, and I am grateful beyond words to all who have helped to nurture our kids and provide them with a sense of loving community, for we know it is not all our doing.  God has provided some of the most loving, caring , wonderful role models and mentors for our kids, and Dominick and I certainly can not take credit for all of it.

Here are some photos from today:

Star Wars Legos!

Thanking his brothers...

Dada and Joshie (Josh still calls him Dada)

Matthew delighted with a gift card!  Waddaya think, will he buy more Legos??

Dear Sweet Olesya and her beautiful gift!

I think this will be cherished

Our Twins

Layer One of the Amazingly Wrapped Gift

Layer Two...Kenny's Undies!

Angela thinks this is the funniest thing she has ever done! :-)

Matthew, my dear, dear son, I love who you are, and look forward with great anticipation to discovering who you will one day become.  Thank you for the grace you continue to show your siblings every single day, thanks for your leadership in this family, and for the gentle respect you show your Dad and I.  It is hard not to shed a tear when I think of the young boy who is no longer with us, and yet I smile through the tears at the junior man I see before us today.  Never give in to your lesser self, my son, push yourself outside your box and try new things, reach out to others when you are in need of a shoulder to lean on...and look right here under this roof for the love and support you might one day need.  Continue to give those long, grand bear hugs. Don't rush growing up too quickly, enjoy this last year or two of true childhood, adult life will wait for you.

Be kind, be firm, be strong.

You are simply amazing.

Love Always,


Anonymous said...

Stunning pictures of a beautiful family--you write of the beautiful relationship. The pictures confirm and add to your gifted narration.

Wish I had been there for sermon. Will it be on the church website? You can have gifted narration, but if the sermon does not come from the heart or reach the level of the congregation then all the brilliant narration in the world doesn't matter, and I know you. I know it came from the heart at a level that could reach heart to heart, mind to mind.

Love and birthday congratulations to all,

Anonymous said...

It's so good to have you"back", I've missed you. I used to love to speak in public and I think it may have been because, whether speaking to three folks - or fifty, I tried to speak as though we were just chatting,at my kitchen table.Heaven knows, I could not orate but I loved visiting with people.Anyway, it worked for me. Great blog !Hugs, Elva

4texans said...

I love it! What wonderful things the kids do for each other, it's so wonderful to see all of their happy faces. You are amazing parents to amazing kids!