Monday, October 28, 2013

Oh, What a Beautiful Weekend...Oh, What a Beautiful Life!

Finding the sacred in the ordinary is something I actually work at.  Somewhere along the line a few years back, I "got it" that recognizing the Light when it shined a little brighter was one tangible way I had of creating a life for myself that was happier.  Contentment came with gratitude, and gratitude came from noticing and reflecting.  When you have what others might consider a mundane, dull life, it might seem hard to find anything that is sacred.  I mean, after all, how holy can a day be that is filled with tasks such as laundry, emptying the dishwasher for the third time, or reading and discussing the differences between the Pilgrims and the Puritans?  You're dressed in your "Mom/Teacher Uniform" which is so classy with your $3 Walmart Fourth of July Tshirt and your Faded Glory jeans which are a tad bit more faded than they ought to be, and you look around and ask yourself, "Really?  God is here in this?"

Yes, actually, God is really there, and probably clothed in that very same Walmart Tshirt with sleeves rolled up, grabbing a few glasses to load in the dishwasher right alongside you.  It's just that we aren't taught how to see or feel God's presence, we don't always recognize it because we think it ought to look different than it does.  We also don't talk about it much, because our culture and our religious leaders haven't done a very good job of helping us see and feel God's presence in the's always some big epiphany or crisis in which God is evident.  What a shame, for we might be missing out on the most intimate moments with God when we fail to be open to the Spirit in the "little" things.

God was everywhere this weekend, one of the busiest we have had in quite a while.  It actually started with a lead up to the weekend as volleyball teams had end of the season practices and parties before the tournament Saturday.  Bed time was at 8:00 PM Friday night, as we had an early day and everyone had to be rested and ready to play!

6:30 am had us in the car driving to the recreation center where the day long volleyball tournament would be held.  Red "Flames" jerseys donned, the excitement and anticipation was building, and as the sun slowly rose in the sky, so to did the chatter in the van.  Five kids are spread across three teams, and Olesya and Matt would end up playing Angela's team for certain at some point during the day long tournament.  We all filed into the courts, where the sound of the bouncing volleyballs being served over the net in powerful punches reverberated throughout the large gymnasium.

Our homeschool league plays some serious volleyball, even at the younger level, and their opponents are the local private Christian schools within an hour and a half drive.  If I counted correctly, we watched 8 matches over the course of the day, one after the other, after the other with only one break in the afternoon for about 45 minutes.

Good form, Matt!

Love the concentration...

Matthew and Olesya both improved SO much this year!  Huge leaps in skill level.

The pressure's on with the gallery watching Olesya's serve.

While everyone was hoping for a medal at the end of the day, there was one little thing we were all wishing for...that Joshua might serve the ball over the net for the first time.  As one of the youngest first year players, Joshua struggled all year as he tried to put all the mechanics together to be able to bump the ball correctly, or even hit it at all, and he was never able to get a single serve over the net the entire season.  His coach worked and worked with him, and Josh went out into the backyard and tried over and over again to serve the ball from our patio over our garage roof, failing to do so most of the time.  However, this past week in practice he was able to serve it over the net a few tines, and the two coaches who work with his age group both made it a point to tell me about it. Would he be able to do it in the tournament, his last chance of the season?  We were all pulling for him!

Josh and Kenny, on the same team, focused and ready! we go...

Good position, can he do it?

It's up...and...IT'S GOOD!!!

The gym erupted in loud cheers, as his teammates all were so happy and excited for him, and his coach told me later that she even cried when he finally...FINALLY managed to be successful in serving.  Later, other coaches from the older teams came up to me and expressed their own joy at seeing a kid make a big leap in skill.  The woman who is Head Coach for the program told me she and all those around her had jumped up and cheered with great excitement at seeing Josh and his big grin afterward.  She said, "That is why I put so much of myself into this program, for those moments when a kid sees that hard work pays off and they achieve something they never thought they could do.  Watching our less naturally talented kids gain skills and have those special moments makes all the hours worth it.  Tell Josh that all of us are really proud of him!"...and this wasn't even his own team's coach.

No one will be able to tell me that the tears of others for a 10 year old boy hitting a ball over the net for the first time is not the presence of God, and I can not help but be incredibly moved by that, even if it sounds corny.

Then there was our very special cheerleading squad:

The dearest people in the world to us.

We don't have family nearby, and I have precious little family anyway with just my mom.  God has filled in the gap with some of the most wonderful people in the world who have spent countless hours pumping love into our family.  What a treasure!  What a blessing to have people who would get up at such an early hour, and drive to the next town all to watch 5 not-superstar unrelated children play volleyball.  These are our teachers, mentors, adopted aunties and general all around Super Spoilers.  Their ministry has enhanced our lives more than any of them will ever, ever know, and Dominick and I both are aware of the gift God has given us in these smiling, loving faces who accept Team LaJoy as all their own.  We all have been adopted.

The time came for Angela's team to play Matt and Olesya's, and what a surprise it was!  While the end result was sort of expected as Angela's little stronger team won, the surprise was that Angela had possibly the worst game of her life (her own words!) and we all laughed, joking that the pressure was too great playing against her siblings.  Her coach even had to pull her out and give her a little pep talk because she was so UnAngela-Like in her play.  Luckily, it only lasted that one match, and all of us including Angela found it a little hilarious.  She went on to have a stellar afternoon in other matches, and they all had fun playing each other:

Looking good, Angie!

LaJoy's never take competition all that seriously!

Competition or not, we make the time to smile and wave!

Cheering each other on!

Ready and waiting...

Olesya really rocked it!

Dad who gave mom a break the entire day by handling the 
scorekeeper duties while making new friends himself.

Angela's very special coach.  She has had Coach Andrea twice, and even as she battled cancer she has been such a positive, thoughtful influence in the kids' lives.  It is to her credit that Kenny has become such a good server and developed enough skills to play a decent amount.  She said, "If I can get him to be a consistent server, he'll play even if he never gets to the level of others kids in other skills." So she worked and worked with him, and now he is one of the most consistent servers on his team.  Again, God using someone to elevate others...Coach Andrea is #1 in our book.

After her pep talk, Angela pulled it together in a Big Way!

In between the last games, we went for a quick drive around the park near the Recreation Center, just to get out in the beautiful fall sunshine for a bit. was just what we needed.  Wasn't it a little taste of perfection?

Lovely #1

Giggly Lovelies #2 and 3

Lovely #4

Smiley Lovely #5

Handsome, Happy Lovely #6

Looking at these photos as I edit them and post them, I can't help but smile myself.  What a beautiful life I have been gifted with!!!  I have done nothing...NOTHING to deserve the love I am surrounded with and the little joys of each day.  Getting up and living my dream of being a stay-at-home mom, watching up close as the kids learn and grow into  amazing, hard working, sweet natured, unassuming young people.  Heck, I realize it is a gift from God to simply have four teenagers that I don't merely tolerate, but celebrate being with!!

Sunday morning after church, we all had a big job ahead of us, as we neatened and decorated the house for a surprise birthday for our adopted Grandpa.  Watching Joshie carefully and methodically using the riding lawn mower to ready the yard, I saw a man sitting there, not a 10 year old.  He stopped half way through this very first effort alone on the mower to come to the door and ask, "Hey Mom, can you take a look to make sure I am doing OK?  I want to do it right."  I peeked out the screen door with a dishtowel in my hand and reassured him that he was doing an excellent job, and he jauntily strode off to hop back on the mower and complete the hour long process.  Watching him from afar in the afternoon light, he looked so beautiful to me.  Fall is such a touch emotional time for Josh, but he reminds us all season long that healing happens, and that is God's blessing for us all to claim.  He is still insecure and uncomfortable this time of year, spending several nights a month sleeping on our bedroom floor, but he is healing, and that alone is something to never take for granted.

Our surprise party was  awesome, and somehow we pulled it off!  George had offered to take Matthew to a concert with him (another gift of love and time that has gone on for years), and Matt did a good job of faking him out as they drove up to the house.  He expected to stay for dinner and a little cake, but he had no idea that over 20 people would be there hiding inside!

The girls decorated the cake for him!

 With more candles than can almost fit on the cake, Josh helped blow them out!

The boys lean in to hear a musical card.

It was just a beautiful weekend all the way around...a beautiful life!  Love was everywhere I turned, the Spirit was whispering through the insistent pounding of volleyballs, the mechanical growl of a lawn mower, and the gentle sounds of the ladies a capella choir as we sang in church Sunday morning, just a few voices that sounded so large and so sweet blending together beneath the lovely creaking wooden ceiling of the Sanctuary that has truly become our Place of Peace.  Love was in the faces of so many people who have been a consistent presence in our lives.  It can't get any better than this, and I know if I think it ought to, then there is something wrong with me.

And you know what?  It is all happening with that $3 ugly ol' Walmart TShirt. 


Anonymous said...

Awesome! What a wonderful life! I got tears in my eyes for Josh too! So proud o f all of them for working so hard!
Teresa F.

Anonymous said...

Great photos thank you for sharing! You are clothed in righteousness that your heavenly father gives you and are BEAUTIFUL!

Writer200 said...

The simple things in life are truly wonderful. And so easy to pass by without thinking about them. Oh, and God is in those little moments. Just like He showed Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-12.

YAY! The joy of getting a really good serve off is awesome! Hooray for Josh!

Thankful that you and the rest of the LaJoy crew are enjoying this October.