Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lightning Love

The house is far quieter this evening than I have grown used to.  With Kenny, Angela and Olesya all off at camp, the four of us are feeling a little lost without their happy chatter surrounding us.  The table has the extra leaves removed for the week, and seeing it that way brings to mind the years when it was just Matthew and Joshua, with no hint of the three new loves that we would eventually add to our lives.  A little too empty, a little too neat.

Matt, Josh and I were playing triominoes this evening talking about how different it feels.  Matt looked up at me and said "I like the way our family is now better than when it was just us.  I miss them all.  We're not the same without them."

Very, very true.

Sometimes I stop to think about what life would have been like if we had played it safe.  After Josh, it would have been quite easy to wipe our brow, say a long "whew!" and not tempt fate.  Oh, you have no idea how many times we heard what a big mistake we were making in adopting Kenny, then Angela and Olesya.  Well, actually, many of you long time readers DO know as I have blogged off and on about some of the more surprisingly unkind comments that were directed towards us.  We were asked everything from how could we possibly consider it after Josh was so "screwed up", to many comments about our financial state of affairs.  We were reminded, as if we were somehow quite uninformed, that older child adoption is fraught with risk, and that we would "ruin" our family.

In every way, it would have been easier to remain a family of four.  One would think we would have more resources available to us if we had made that choice...more money, more time, more freedom.  It would definitely have been less challenging on a daily basis, not dealing with Kenny's cyclical setbacks and academic issues, or Angela and Olesya's emotional baggage.

But then we would have missed feeling this way tonight...we would have missed three people we love dearly and who fill the hole in our lives.  We would have missed out on Kenny's high pitched girlie squeal and deep thoughts, Olesya's wholehearted giving nature, and Angela's silliness and depth.

We would have missed nights like last night, the epitome of who we are as a family.  We were up late with the kids, and the girls and Matthew were out on the couch with Dominick and I as a thunderstorm rolled in.  We sat there quietly talking about camp, what was packed, who might be there this year.  BOOM!!!  A huge thunderclap made us all jump and the lightning was very nearby.  We quickly opened up the blinds and peered out, giving huge "ooohss" and "aaahhhsss" as we enjoyed God's light show.

Angela said "Oh, I like's so pretty!" then she added "I didn't like it in Kazakhstan, it scared me."  Olesya added "It always made me want to cry, it scared me so much."  Angela admitted "I used to put my blankets over my head and hope it went away fast, I hated it."

I asked "So what's the difference now?  Is it because you are older?"

Angela looked at me and softly said "The difference is family...I'm safe now."  Olesya said "Now it's fun to see, we're not alone and it's not scary with you and Daddy and Matthew here with us."

We all ended up out on the porch, standing there with the wind gently blowing, our faces tipped upward.  Matthew had no shirt on and said "I'm cold!!  But I don't want to miss it!" and Angela offered him her fleece vest, so he said thanks and put it on, and I wrapped her up in my arms to keep her warm as we watched a way better version of fireworks than we experienced last week.  There we stood, swaying gently together, my arms around Angela, Olesya's arms around me.  Olesya slipped away and returned a few moments later saying she had gone to check on Joshie and cover him up, as she was worried he might be frightened.  Kenny was not enamored of the lightning, electing instead to remain inside with a book in hand which is how he had been the past 2 days...a little miracle in itself.  But everyone was accounted for and safe.  No one had the urge to hide beneath covers because there were no arms to run to.  Here there is a mother and father, sisters and brothers, all caring for one another, and no one will ever be alone again.  In the darkness, there is ever present love, and the raging storm changes from terrifying to tantalizing.

I thought about the parallels between the lightening we were witnessing there on our porch last night, and the negative expectations of others as we added to our family.  While so many looked at the emotional assault that Josh inflicted upon us and wanted us to shy away from any more painful experiences, all they could see was that lightening can strike twice...and the second time we might not be so fortunate to make it through intact.

The only thing Dominick and I could see was that we had somehow, with God's intervention and support, managed to make it through and a child was healed and whole.  We figured that if we made it through that storm, we could somehow manage to weather others as well.  The two of us also thought that lightning could indeed strike twice...but for us the lightning strike contained power...light...and love.  We were not afraid of the loud thunder clap that precedes the bright bolt, for we knew that was only harmless noise, necessary and frightening, but essentially harmless, and the reward would be the brilliance lighting up the night sky.

Holding Angela in my arms last night, her head leaning upon my shoulder as we quietly whispered to one another, my thoughts raced back to the prickly, terribly hurt child we met a year and a half scared to love, stubborn in her self-protection and walled up so high it was very hard to scale.  Oh, she had an enormous amount of thunder in her that needed to be heard.  The vibrations ripped through my heart, and yes,  it was terribly painful.  So were the nights spent holding her as the pain was finally released from a childhood that was filled with loss, fear and neglect.

But what others are afraid of is also what leads to Lightning Love, the kind that takes you by surprise, catches your very breath with its brilliance, and has power beyond measure.  That kind of love is something special, and only those who make it through the storm are lucky enough to be enveloped in it.  It is hard earned, and you come out the other side exhausted and yet somehow remarkably you understand that this is God...this is the Spirit at work...and you are amazed to have been allowed to be a part of such a happening.

For some, lightning striking twice symbolizes something to run from, for others it symbolizes hope and something to run straight towards at breakneck speed.  It's the same lightning, just seen from two different angles.

Despite the doubts of others, I think I prefer our angle.  Lightning Love is the stuff that heaven is made of.


Anonymous said...

I love reading of the miracles that have occurred in your family, Cindy. What precious moments you share with your kids...thanks for sharing them with us, also. I know they were hard fought moments and days that brought you to this place...and the grace of God, as your heart knows well. We have eight kids, but you have as many adoptions as we do. We also got comments along the way, such as "How do you know what you're going to get?", as if giving birth is some sure bet. Those three births brought us kids who look more like us, have a few more of our characteristics, maybe. But who knew how our own genes would "mix" and the result of that? Those three birth daughters are each unique and have their own strengths and weaknesses...apart and different from our own. One miscarriage proved that pregnancy is not a sure thing, either. Someone asked me, on about our 3rd adoption, "Are you doing this because you want more kids, or because it's a good thing to do?" I sensed at the time that she expected one was exclusive of the other, and that doing it because it was "good" would not be the right answer. Of course we wanted more kids, since this is not a "project". They'll be ours forever, so we certainly needed to be committed to parenting another child. But according to our Christian faith, it is also a very good thing to do. We never would have done it to receive praise or admiration, as that soon dries up or comes only on rare occasions through the years (though praise has come too often and is not warranted). No amount of praise or admiration would be enough to get us through the day to day/year to year/lifetime of parenting another child. We added more kids to our family for both my friend's reasons. Looking back, we see how each adoption led to our next child, keeping us in the adoption process for 18yrs. People asked us how we could wait so long for our kids to come home (four international adoptions? What else could we do, but wait. It was out of our control. It now amazes me, looking back...and I can see why others might have wondered what we were thinking! Few friends our age are still parenting teenagers. We can't imagine life without them, even though they challenge us daily, four kids, two ages, four consecutive grades, two boys, two girls. All too soon, these four will be gone from home, also. Then what? We shall see when the time comes how God plans to use two tired, old people! Like your experience, it hasn't been easy, and we are different people than we would have been without God doing these miracles in our lives. We are humbled that God allowed us to parent eight. We are far from super-parents. We were just willing, because God put it on our hearts and made it all happen. I know you can relate to my life, as I do yours.

For those of us who felt God asking us to be family for a child in need of one, we in turn ask, "How could you not share your blessed life, love, and resources with a child who needs those things? It's not so hard to share...we were used to doing those parenting things. I've had to remind myself that God asks different things of all of us. He asks harder things than this of a lot of people. Each has their own struggles and blessings. I'll never accomplish the things many of those great people do. I only keep asking G od to help me do the right things for my kids, to help them become their best, the people He intends them to be. If they grow up to know and serve God, I will know God has blessed me to be a part of it all.

Thanks for passing along your thoughts and insights, Cindy. Sorry so long, but your posts always remind me of the richness of being part of a family and the gift of being blessed to love kids.

Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...

"And a little child shall lead." Angela has expressed so well that we find safety in love, in family, in God's love flowing through others to us. We are then free to become further conduits for that love. To stand in awe of God's world, to be out in the storms with each other for comfort and courage.

You and Dominick have been the shelter, the conduit, whatever metaphor comes to mind. Your love and courage and desire, fed by your love and trust in God, have led you to form this disperate, unified family.

Once again, thank you for sharing the journey with us.


Hilary Marquis said...

I think we had the same show at our house last night! Enjoying God's handiwork. Tyler was enthralled with the massive blue lightning...put those piddly fireworks to shame! Anara however...was a hysterical mess. She came running downstairs wrapped in her blanket with Tyler hot on her heels trying to comfort her. She ended up asleep in my lap. It broke my heart to think of her and so many others terrified of such storms without the safety, security, and love of a family.

Tammy said...

I am in the process of a second adoption and this one will be of an older child. I admit I think the same things, "What if I don't get so lucky next time around?" But, like you, I can't see myself *not* going through with it. Adopting a child doesn't just change the child, it changes you as well. Seeing what a difference a family makes is so powerful it calls you to do things you didn't think you were capable of doing.

Anonymous said...

This post is just wonderful.

I recommended a couple of days ago that you read a Madeleine L'engle book about a large family that she has often written about, and I was thinking yesterday about how it seems right for your family to read it together, but I don't see my family reading it together. It made me sad to realize that you have such a close, big family and that it is natural for you to enjoy each other's company that way. We've stopped at 2 for now and they are both so very difficult, I don't feel like I can go on with more. But I still wish that we could have that big family that loves to do things together. Instead we're a family that fights and screams and hits. My girls are so out of control, even with therapy and medication, and they are only 5 and 8 yrs old. But every now and then we have a tiny moment of peace and happiness, when they aren't fighting and hurting each other or me or their dad.