Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Few Little Glimmers of Sunshine

I've tried to blog.  I know I promised I would, and I had every intention of doing so, but life has intervened and the truth is, we are going through a very difficult time right now and are doing our best to remain patient, diligent, and faithful.  Some days that is easier than others, but we are hanging in there and doing our best.  I explained to my friend that the past few months it has been very challenging to find the words to share all that I am feeling despite my best efforts...sometimes the language escapes me and all my emotional energy is going into remaining centered and tuned in as best I can be.

We're actually doing quite well, considering the challenges we are facing financially.  Though there is concern, and at moments panic creeps in, we are all pulling together and everyone is encouraging and optimistic that the right thing for work for Dominick will reveal itself eventually.  I am pleased to see that real stress is being handled with considerable grace and unity.  Conversations have not been easy as we have had to prepare the kids for the fact that we are now at the point where we have to consider all option, and that may very well include moving far from what we feel is our heart's home. Living in small town rural Colorado is a little slice of heaven, but it also means opportunities are decidedly limited.  We have been anticipating a change for years now, and have been looking at every possibility for over 2 years, but nothing has panned out as of yet.

So, at the moment, we are in a little grieving process as we say goodbye to the life that was, and remain as open as possible to what lies ahead.  Equipment from the airport restaurant is being sold off a little at a time, final paychecks have been issued and loving goodbyes said to wonderful, dedicated of whom has literally made it possible for us to leave for each and every adoption, and whose daughter we also watched grow up.

And yet, God continues to show up and remind us that we have not been abandoned, and right now I have to tell you that each and every reminder makes a huge difference. We received a very special gift from an anonymous person who has no idea just how much their help brought us hope...if you are reading this, Dear Friend, thank you with all our hearts, not only for the gift, but for the love shown and the faith you have in our family.  I don't know why over and over again our family is blessed so often with the love of others, for we truly don't deserve all that has been showered upon us, but we are eternally thankful and have never ever forgotten all we have to "pay forward" in whatever ways we can...knowing full well it will never equal all we have received.

Easter turned out to be a lovely "gift"of another sort, as it was lining up to be a less than stellar holiday for us.   The last day of ski season turned out to land on Easter Sunday, and Dominick and all the kids except for Matthew worked.  With just Matthew and I attending church, everything felt a little out of kilter, and not just a little lonely.

As usual, just being at church lifted my spirits a bit, and prior to arriving there I turned to Matt and told him,"Thank you for coming to church with me today. I know most 15 year old boys would argue and fuss about it and refuse to go with their mom."

Matt glanced over at me and said, "Mom, you don't have to thank me, of course I'll go with you anytime, even when you are older.  I know I don't show it much, but I like being in church with you."

And a little glimmer of sunshine peeked through the clouds of my soul.

After church, we learned that two of our dear friends were going to go home and be alone, so we immediately invited them over, and I phoned Dominick to inform him of our guests.  Matthew and I rushed home to clean a very messy house, and ran to the store to purchase a few additional items to dress up our meal. as we had not planned on much of anything to go with our ham since it was just going to be us.  The two of us got everything cleaned up and the meal prepared, and we had no clue that a little surprise would arrive along with our guest, who had planned a Big Kid Easter Egg Hunt for the kids!  What a blessing, as we didn't buy Easter candy this year because...well...honestly...the kids are getting older, and candy for five is a bit expensive, so with trying to save on costs as much as possible we all decided not to do anything this year. Well, in comes our personal Easter Bunnies who hid eggs containing not only a little candy, but also $1 in some eggs to "up the ante".  Oh, how cute it was to see these big hulking monster children of ours act as excited as a 4 year old on Easter morning!:

Our Sweet, Kind Easter Bunnies!

Matt keeping the masses at bay until the go ahead is given!

The hunt is on!

Amazing what a few plastic eggs and a little love can do for someone...

Such a little thing, an egg hunt for older kids, but the thoughtful gesture delighted them all!

Even the 12 year old going on 18 got a kick out of it!

We had another sweet little surprised waiting for us from Massachusetts in the form of a box marked "Don't Open Until Easter" didn't take the kids 2 minutes after arriving home from work to rip  into the box:


Hmmm...what did our MA family send?  Did Candi send...

Candy? Along with beautiful cards!

It has been pointed out to me that our family is the "huggiest" family around.  What a wonderful thing to be known as!  The chocolate bunnies were so thoughtful, and just being remembered and loved long distance was special.  Auntie Kim also gave the kids a little Easter treat and sent it home from church for each of the kids, so they each ended up getting a few small treats from magical bunnies.

Olesya made a beautiful card as a thank you, but it had to be delivered via photos because the real blossoms would fall off in the mail. Love this young lady's caring heart!

These faces...those smiles...and not just from the ones with the last name of LaJoy...God provided us with people to share the day with so it became special for all of us, and not just another lonely holiday for any of the 9 of us.  So glad our home can be a home for many we love.

Afterward a killer game of Scrabble ensued, while Rummikub was played at the other end of the table by everyone else.

Josh is grinning because he just figured out how to double a score with the word "lotuses"...I picked the right teammate!

We actually had a repeat of the week before with our friends George and Wendy coming over on a spur of the moment invitation, as we had gone to hear George sing in a concert the weekend before, what will likely be his last concert with the Valley Chorus.  We all loved being there to support him:

I am glad the kids know it is as important to be there for their adult friends as it is to them to have their adult friends there for their special moments.

And how our friends support the kids. God showed up again when dear family friends sent Matt a "Request for Proposal" for the dream project he had of building his own 3D printer from scratch, then creating plans for a drone and building it from parts made on the 3D printer.  Yea, pipe dream...but they wanted to help him fulfill it, so here he is reading his "RFP", he was SO surprised!  

Their "Investment Firm" required him to put together a written budget and show them plans, then he had to give them an oral presentation about the proposed project.   He is in mid-build of the printer right now, awaiting more parts from China before he can complete it.  He spent SO much time researching this, learning and studying.  He is taking a Udemy course right now online about Engineering and AutoCAD for 3D printers.  All of this was Matt's idea, so I am glad I didn't have to come up with anything to design a course.  At this stage, he is "hacking" his own education in some areas and bringing me ideas of what he wants to learn, then pursuing it.  We still do standard core courses together, and I love that I still get to read side by side with my 10th grader :-)

God showed up in more concrete ways as Kenny has begun to do the same thing as Matt with his own interests, and I am getting such a kick out of watching these kids blossom in their own ways!  Kenny wanted to take a Comparative Religions course (Any surprise there?  I think not!), so I found him a curriculum, but he has gradually added to it on his own, wading his way through a challenging book by Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, in order to better understand Atheism, and he just finished a short read he picked up at the library titled, God's Message to the World: You've Got Me All Wrong.  As he is reading, he decided on his own to create documentation with "pro" and "con" columns to record his thoughts about the major themes he is reading about.  For Kenny, this was a huge leap in self-direction, and I was really proud of him.  

Through times of uncertainty, the learning continues all over the place as we finally finished American Government and the kids had their final exam...a 4-5 hour monster test. I have been told I am a little tough as a teacher :-)  Interestingly, those comments come from those who are not my students!  My "students" have come to expect such things...hahaha!  The girls are taking Russian and still really enjoying it.  They feel they have a mentor and friend in Kamala, and Skype has made a lovely relationship possible between them and their teacher who is doing a fabulous job, and no doubt improving her English at the same time.  Josh has just finished a course on Rifles, taken from a Boy Scout merit badge book, and we'll see what he wants to study as an elective next.

And me?  Well...I am lucky enough to continue to be able to sing with our church a capella group and our local Sweet Adelines chorus.  It has helped keep the stress level down, as music is really something that transports me a bit.  We had a performance the past two nights, and here I am in full stage makeup (i.e. The Hooker Look!  Not my thing, clearly...) One of the kids commented that I never post pictures of myself, so I guess I have to once in awhile...dang, I am looking old!!

Over and over again, in our uncertainty, we are reminded that we are being the arms of loving friends who reflect God's love to us over and over again.  And sometimes, that "being held" happens right here and God slides in between our bodies and wraps us all up in a warm hug. Just tonight, as Angela headed off to bed, she gave me a of her firm, lingering ones, the kind you can just sink into for a few moments and say everything without words. Tears sprung to my eyes as I stood there, rocking gently back and forth with her in the kitchen, and I couldn't stop myself from expressing what popped into my mind that very second as this tall, strong young woman was enveloping me.

"Angela, there are so many times I wish we had back the years we lost.  I so wish I could have held you when you were tiny."...and then she heard the catch in my voice and hung on tighter.  We stood there for awhile longer, then I pulled away and said I was sorry, that I didn't know where that came from as I wiped my tears, and she said, "Oh no, mom, don't say you're sorry...I think it is sweet."

Off to her room to ready herself for a good night's sleep, while I sat here on the couch trying to compose this blog post.  A few minutes later, I receive an email from her, sharing all the emotion that she couldn't speak out loud earlier.  I won't share her precious words here, but will tell you that she quoted the refrain from the popular children's book, "Love You Forever", and she changed the words to be loving me forever.  Suffice it to say, Angela is easily able to reveal her heart in writing, and though not genetically connected, she is a bit like her Mom :-)

You know, I needed that this night.  As we try hard to keep worry in it's rightful place, and wonder at moments how we are going to take care of us all, I can't help but remember what someone once told me as we prepared to bring the girls home.  "You'll live in a trailer, you just can't afford to do this and one day you will regret it." I can't tell you just how many times over the years those biting words have come back to me. It is harder to push them aside when times have grown even tougher.  But then I have something like tonight happen where our life is not measured in dollar bills or zeros in our bank account, but in the length and strength of a hug, and the words shared from a heart that had long been hidden from view.

Go ahead, God...give us a trailer if that be the case.  These two were worth it, as were the other three. Others may never understand that even if we end up having little of what the world values, we have all we need.  I simply can not conceive of a life lived without my resilient, amazing, loving daughters...Olesya and Angela would be worth it even to the boys, as Kenny told me recently. He said, "Mom, there is no way the girls weren't ours, and even if we have to do without a lot so we could all be together and so they could have a real life and a real family, then it is worth it. I have the sweetest sisters in the world, and I can't imagine Angela on the streets right now, and Olesya close to it. We need them, and they need us...and God won't let us down. It just may be hard for awhile, but we've got each other."

Amen, Kenny...amen...and you, too, are a blessing of untold worth, as are Matthew and Joshua.

God'll show up, God shows up every single day...maybe not in the ways we wish for, but God shows a smile, a hug, a loving arm draped across a shoulder. God shows up in the music we hear, the unexpected gifts we receive, and in the love we offer others.  I'll keep on looking for God in all the little places, and in the faces of those who surround me.  I have no doubts, no doubts at all...God's there.


Candi said...

Beautifully written and expressed as always. God is working things out for you and your family even as I write this. You will never be alone...any of you...and you are all meant to be family. You are loved and supported by so many! And your MA family will always be in your corner because we love you all to pieces!

Karen D said...

I love reading this! It really makes me feel happy when I read your posts. I know things may seem hard but your family is still and always an inspiration to me. And if Kenny wants to learn about Mormons, I'm your gal! Best wishes for some happy resolutions soon.

Trudi said...

Cindy, perhaps the life lesson that is coming is a reminder that home is not the house in Colorado, it is the family. Wherever you go, if you need to move, will be home.
Big hugs and strong wishes and vibes that the right thing comes along quickly. I loved your Easter stories!

Anonymous said...

I would live in a tent as long as I could keep my family. Wish I could win the lottery for you.

Kristy said...

Cyndi ...I had something I was going to order and send you all...can I still send it to the airport shop? When is that done for you all? Will they forward things to you? I may not be the only one thinking of this..

Kristy. (Faithful blog follower...and met you all once a few years ago on our way thru Colorado)

Cindy LaJoy said...


We are actually pretty much done at the airport, though our lease runs through May 31st. We are no longer open, and no one is there to receive mail or packages. Email me for my home address: