Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving LaJoy Style...and Pie Challenge!!

***We interrupt this regularly schedule blog post to announce that we are jumping on the 2012 Pie Challenge late, and need your help!  We started this to raise money for John Wright's ministry in Kyrgyzstan to raise money to help bring Christmas to orphans there in Kenny's old orphanages.  If we raise $500, all the Lajoy's will take a pie in the face and post the video here on the blog!  All you need to do is head over to John's blog at and click on the Paypal link on the right.  Then when you donate, make a comment that it is for the LaJoy's, and as soon as we hit $500 we will do the pie in the face for all the world to see!  We really appreciate it so much.  The children remember the small gifts and trips out they are able to have with this money, as it is often the highlight of the year for many of them. PLEASE, help us raise the $500 for Christmas for the Kyrgyz orphans!***  We will now go back to our regularly scheduled blog post :-)

Today was Thanksgiving, and it was also a day of discovery and death.  Sadly, our day started off when Olesya realized that Jack, her hamster, had died during the night.  It was not unexpected, as Jack had been acting odd the past couple of days and was unable to open his eyes.  I warned her that it was likely he was nearing the end of his time here, but the death seemed to bring out some very strong emotions for her as her reaction way exceeded her relationship with the hamster.

Funny, you think you are on stable ground when almost 3 years post adoption you find there is more beneath the surface that is dredged up.

Dominick and I talked first, then we asked Olesya to sit down with us and share what was going on to try and see if we could discover what was beneath her extreme reaction.  After about 20 minutes of conversation, the truth finally came out when the real tears started to fall.  She talked about how the past 2 weeks while I was gone she had fears I was going to leave her and not come back, like her birth mom did...that I would choose to walk away from her.  Part of her seemed to understand that I would not actually ever do that, but there is a part deep inside that is really quite fearful of rejection.  We talked about her need to continually prove how much she loves us  and why that is unnecessary.

"Olesya, I have been committed to you since the day I received your photo and put it on our bulletin board, and from the day I first met you I realized you were my daughter and I never wavered from that.  I am never going to voluntarily walk away from you.  I won't promise something won't take me away, just as you can't promise me that you won't get sick or get hit by a car someday and leave me.  But I can promise you I love you forever and that will never change."

She doesn't understand why she feels the way she feels, she seems to have a little insight into her own lack of confidence, but today it felt like she had none.  There she sat across from me, in melt down mode, and there was little I could do. The work it takes to heal such wounds is years in the making, and it took 3 years for some of it to even come to the surface.  We talked a little about Joshua and how he feels the same way sometimes, too.  I tried to be honest about her birth mom, as I told her that yes, her mom had left her, but that she could see that most moms do not walk away from their children, and that I had already weathered some very difficult times with her and her siblings and I never walked away.  I asked her to remember that during times when she found herself lacking confidence.

Adoption work feels to me right now like it will never truly be done, it is as if we will be processing over and over again with each of the kids as time goes on, helping them to frame and reframe their lives as once orphaned children.  It feels not just a little overwhelming this evening.

We had an interlude late this afternoon as we went to our friends' house for dinner, and had a lovely meal and shared some much needed time together.  Life has been such lately that we haven't  had as much time to spend just hanging out with friends, and we all miss it very much.

The real manifestation of Thanksgiving happened later, after we returned home, and we all seemed to feel a need to connect on a deeper basis.  Matthew is sick, fighting a cold that is getting worse, and he snuggled in with a blanket and laid down on the couch while the rest of us gathered with shoes off and quietly sat together with the lights from the Christmas tree turned on for the first evening after putting it up yesterday.

I started sharing about how life just feels very, very difficult right now, and asking if anyone else felt sort of out-of-sync.  There are several things going on in the background that I am not blogging about, things that are weighing heavily on my heart and taking a lot of soul space.  We are also undergoing a lot of change as the kids mature, as this is the first Christmas when Santa and his elves have been left behind, and we are firmly stepping into the next stage.  We will be having a different Christmas this year, as we all agreed to one family purchase and a single small gift for each of the kids.  It's all we can do, and it will definitely be enough.  How I loved it when the kids said, "Mom, there is nothing we need, we already have it all." and they really and truly mean it.  I asked twice to make sure, because Josh is still younger, but even he said, "We would just be asking for something to ask for it, not because we need it.  Remember mom?  There is a difference between want and need, and I really don't want OR need anything."

As we sat there, a couple of the kids went and turned off the lights, and then wanted to light candles we have sitting around for Christmas.  The intimacy of candle light and the quiet of the house lent itself to real and honest conversation.  Questions were asked about where God is leading our family and how uncomfortable life feels on so many levels right now.  Matthew lifted his head up off my lap and said "You have to remember, Mom, if God is leading our family then we don't really have to worry because God always takes care of us in terrific ways."  Angela piped in with, "As long as our family is solid, we are OK.  Everything else can fall apart, but we will never fall apart."  

We talked about how hard it is to love all the time, how risky it is, and we talked a little about Olesya's fears when Kenny chimed in with, "We always take risks as a family, that is what I like most about us.  It is hard to be different!  They don't know how hard it is to be us, how hard it is to learn how to love and trust."  Olesya quietly nodded and agreed that it can be super hard.

The conversation turned to Jesus' lessons, and how really radical they were because they are extremely hard to live out in real life.  We all quietly brought up times when we saw how hard it was to trust or love, and how following what Jesus taught as best we could kept things from falling to pieces.  We brought up Christmas three years ago, when faith was tested and forgiveness was offered all the way around to help heal and bring wholeness.  We were reminded of seeing so many of our friends do the hard work of not just saying they were Christian, but really trying to live up to it was incredibly challenging...and how all fall short now and again, but that the constant reminders of Jesus's lessons help us always get back on track, even when we fail momentarily.  We talked, perhaps for the very first time, about Christ's call to love and how sometimes we don't receive it, and how sometimes we also don't offer it as unconditionally as we'd like to pretend we do.

Kenny then said "Others don't understand us, but that's OK.  They live their lives the way they want to and we live ours the way we want to.  We don't judge others, even if they judge us. I think that makes us very different, because we don't think that just because we do something a certain way, everyone else ought to do the same thing.  I didn't realize until this year as I grew up more how that is really different, and how most people think their ideas about the world are the only right ones.  I think the election taught me that.  They are right for them, but might not be right for everyone else.  I like that you don't think everyone has to homeschool, or that everyone needs to go to church or other stuff like that. I think you have taught us a lot about just accepting people as they are and not trying to make them feel bad because they think different than we do. I just wish others would do the same with us more."

There, by candle and Christmas tree light, my soul was ministered to over and over again as the young adults masquerading as children taught me lessons I needed to learn.  For an hour and a half we sat there talking in ways that only loved ones can, with honesty, without fear of recrimination or judgment.  Dominick silently slept upright in his chair, missing the best parts as he drifted off into much needed slumber.  Josh reassured me as he said, "Even if it is just the seven of us in this house, we are never alone, Mom.  First, there's always God.  Then, you always have us, Dad always has us, and we always have each other.  I remind myself of that all the time." Then he added, "We can get through anything as long as we talk together."

We all agreed it is a very weird season in our lives, unsettled and uncomfortable.  Too much change, perhaps, even for a Flex-O-Matic family like ours to not feel the growing pains that accompany it.  But having this sort of spontaneous sacred time is the glue. In fact, Kenny even called it that, saying sitting and talking together about important things is the glue that holds us together, even when things are hard.  I never really thought of us as Elmer's Classic White School Glue, but maybe that is exactly what a family is for one another.

I am so thankful tonight.  Thankful for Elmer's Glue, thankful for friends who care and share our life with watermelons in fall, and phone calls to say, "I missed you, and just didn't want to wait any longer to say hi."  And I am even thankful for the trials that any life brings, for with it comes opportunity to open hearts, to grieve together, and to offer reassurances to one another that Love Wins.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Cindy!
Beautiful blog, as usual. What a special group you are! You spoke quite a bit about this being a weird, unsettled season. I'll be holding all of you in prayer that you'll get through whatever is going on and that things will smooth out.
Peace and blessing!