Sunday, May 06, 2012

Our Village

Our family is under a significant amount of stress at the moment, due mainly to concern over future finances.  We await word about something that will keep us afloat rather than quickly sinking, trying hard not to ask God to give us what we want, but to provide us with what we need, even if that turns out to be something very different than what we thought.  We try to walk faithfully, to trust as much as possible that all will be well, but there are moments when one forgets that our God is infinitely more generous than we could ever imagine.  When you are faced with specific concerns, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.  However, this past week or two we have been reminded once again of God's provision for us and that regardless of how things turn out, we are cradled in the biggest, strongest arms possible.

I have spent some time this week looking back over the past several years, and marveling at the blessings we have received, and quite honestly feeling fairly guilty over it as well.  The truth is, no one deserves all that has been poured out on us, gift after gift, hug after hug, opportunity after opportunity.  The love that has been showered upon the LaJoy's is almost too much to take in, and it leaves me asking the question "Why?  Why us?", for as anyone who knows us would attest to we are no more worthy than the next folks.  In fact, if I am to be brutally honest, God ought to have thrown hands up in the air saying "Oh, I give up!  They NEVER get it!  I totally have their back and yet have to prove it over and over again...I AM FINISHED!!!".  Instead, God patiently uses others to say "I told you so, do you think you can remember this time?".  

When we adopted Kenny, we quickly realized that what we had been told about his cleft lip and palate needs was quite a bit off mark.  Not unusual in international adoption and I don't even mean to imply it was intentional.  The standards of "OK" on one country are not the same as in another.  We also never expected the tremendous academic special needs he would have.  We never anticipated some of Matthew's physical problems, nor Joshie's attachment disorder.  We also never in a million years expected to add two more wonderful children to our family, rounding it out to five.  In fact, I remember standing in front of a mirror after bringing Matthew home thinking he would be the only child we would ever be able to have, tears falling as promised God unconditionally that we would love and care for whatever child or children might be brought into our lives, old or young, any special needs, if only somehow we could be blessed to have more children.  I loved being a Mom that much...and God surely knows I love it even more today 10 years later.

We knowingly added to our load, but each time we did so feeling certain that it was not just desire, but God placing a situation before us which would have us saying either "yes" or "no".  We chose to say "yes", and have never had a regret about it, not ever...with one exception...saying "yes" has meant that there are some needs that can not always be met.  Several of the kids need braces, but only Kenny will get them because his is a "must" where for the others it is cosmetic.  Kenny has needs to help him develop cognitively and academically that we can't meet ourselves in the timely manner in which he needs it.  We will one day need a newer, larger our mini van comes close to bottoming out on trips like the one we just took, but that will never happen.  

But even now, right now during one of the more uncertain times of our lives, God reminds us..."Don't worry, I've got you covered."

This week we were just informed that our representative with our homeschool program went to bat for us, and somehow got the school to approve funding a $500 remedial reading program for Kenny, which will hopefully help him jump to the next level.  What a surprise that was!  It has already been ordered and is on its way.  

God hugged us.

We got word that Matthew's scholarship to Civil Air Patrol Camp was awarded, and covered the entire cost of camp for him.

God hugged us.

We received emails, FB posts and face to face comments which encouraged us.

God hugged us.

We got the best news ever that the adoption process for Kenny's buddy still in Kyrgyzstan has resumed, and he will be in his mom's arms for the first time in a couple of weeks.

God hugged a bunch of us.

Then we received this:

God didn't just hug us, God high-fived us!  An anonymous donor assisted with getting Kenny an iPad, something that is already quickly proving itself to be life changing for him.  For some kids, this is a toy, for Kenny it is an incredible tool (and, of course, a toy too!  Isn't it even for adults?).  Dominick and I are dumbfounded at all the help available for a kid like Kenny in this tiny little tablet. I have found the most awesome apps for him to use, that we are already in the process of training him to use daily...chore charts to remind him to do simple things he forgets like brushing teeth and showering.  Now, instead of me going down a list of several items, I just ask "Did you check your chart?" and he goes and reminds himself of the things he forgot.  A simple calendar app with a to do list is already set up and Kenny has added many items himself, having learned how to use it quickly.  Two different speech apps, three or four phonics/spelling training apps which are SUPERB and already we see where this will work with his deficits.  The Kindle app alone is amazing, providing an in text dictionary the moment he needs it, which is tedious several times a page if you need to drag out a hard bound dictionary every time.  Logic and critical thinking games abound, and multimedia presentations of hundreds of topics are available,  providing him with information presented  in a way that will more readily "stick" for him.  The most difficult part?  Having the time to train myself so I can teach him on it, and researching among the hundreds of thousands of apps available.

So here I sit, typing and wondering how in the world I can ever really appropriately express our gratitude?  How does one thank God, anonymous folks, and friends for being our "village" and helping us raise our children?  Especially when it wasn't them who agreed to take this on!  I was so touched at a church meeting recently with a few of our members present and the subject of there being so few children at our church came up, as it is likely coming up in many other churches.  I expressed how our children love our church and even when asked if they'd like to try a church with a larger youth group they looked shocked at me and said "Why would we do that?  We LOVE our church!  We don't need anyone else." Upon hearing this one of the women piped up "Well, they're OUR kids too, and we love 'em!"...and it shows.

And as wonderful as Kenny's Amazing iPad is for him, it is all the little things that make me shake my head in   gratitude...clippings sent in the mail about events for the kids in town because we gave up paying the subscription for the newspaper, a mention on Facebook about what we are studying next year and someone hands me a large reference book that is perfectly suited, magazines consistently shared with us, low cost hair cuts from a dear friend, CD's of music dropped off to borrow so we can stretch our musical palates, lunches out one on one with adults for birthdays, driving back and forth to events, a room full of women who skillfully hid their cringes as beginner musicians played,  and even so far as adults joyfully and willingly attending kids' birthday parties just to show they care.

I don't know a more loved and cared for group of people than our family, and I'd give anything for a way to repay it, I really, really would.  It's just impossible.  After all, we even owe Angela and Olesya's presence in our family to a gift from a special person, their very lives were saved because of the generosity of another.  The sheer magnitude of it all astounds and humbles me every time I think of it, and I recognize how impossible a task it is to ever "pay it forward" in the amount we have received.

But we try, our feeble attempts will never come close, but we do try.  I just wish there were something that made a real impact that we could do, that there were some way for us to offer ourselves up for something extraordinary so that we might feel a little like the score is evened.  But then someone always reminds me that God doesn't keep score, that is a very human thing to do.  I get that, but still...

How I love the village God has surrounded us with.  Why did it take me 30+ years to understand the value of it?  Thank you, thank you for your love and generosity a million times over.

And God, thank you for the reminder that even when fear enters, you are there.  Even when hope is shaky, you are there.  Even when we have bitten off more than we sometimes think we can chew, you are there.


Anonymous said...

You and all the LaJoys are worthy of, deserving of all that you have been given. And so are each and every one of us despite our foibles, follies, hostilities, fears, forgetfulness. We are God's hands and hearts here on earth. We give near and far as we are able. You are near. You advocate for far.

"Pay It Forward" is never something you can measure or see. Like ripples on the water, eventually the ripples reach out too far to see, are to subtle to measure. Not give as much as you get--how dare you try to measure what you are giving or how far it spreads! How dare you judge what your impact is on others! Paraphrasing the church woman, "Well, you're our family too, and we love you!" You give us joy, as you do to all who read your blog or Facebook or come into contact with you and the family.

Each and every one of us worldwide deserves what only some of us have now. We are all called to "Pay It Forward", and none of us see completely the hand of God at work in our actions. Keep it up. What you do matters all over the world.

Love you,

P.S. I am speaking for God also when I say, "I love you."

teshak said...

To me it is as simple as continuing to do all that you do for your kids. Those around you are "paying it forward" for all that you have already done and will continue to do. You deserve everything wonderful that comes your way.

Shannon said...

You are all soooo worthy because you appreciate it with every grain of your being and because you, without a second thought would do the same for anyone else in need. You've proven that over-and-over again! Who else would drop everything and fly across the country to help a friend a need with her crazy family? ((Hugs))