Monday, January 25, 2016

Oh...Azlan. My Azlan.

Today, I woke up with a light tap on my front door at 3:45am.  Yes. The miracle is that THAT woke me! :) My friend was at my door and I had just opened my eyes.  Ahh. 5 minutes later, Azlan and I were in her car headed to Seattle for 2.5 days.

We arrived shortly after 8am.

Cranio facials appts.  Then the dreaded dental.

My poor boy.  As he was getting the disgusting impressions of his teeth done, he was staring into my eyes...with total fear.  I was holding his hands...very close to his face...saying as courageously as I could "you can do hard things...we've got this" and then the vomit.  He vomited. Over...and over and over again. Probably 12 times. With the impression still in his mouth.  It was awful. He was crying. I was crying.  There was vomit everywhere. It ... was awful. When it came out he laid his head on my shoulder and we both cried.

It was such a small thing. But it was hard.  And every little hard thing that he has overcome is what has made him who he is today.

Getting a toy monkey made up for it :)

He thinks this surround X-ray is pretty awesome.

And then this.  The talk about this X-ray.  Now...the talk in all its detail will be a few weeks out when the team has had time to get together and go over every detail of this and tomorrow's sleep study results.


Here is his X-ray from Feb 2014:

And here is his X-ray from today.

Now I don't know what you see but I can tell you what I see has had me in or near tears all day.  Oh my beautiful Azlan Honor.  Looking at his top jaw and his bottom can see how the underbite (which was "severe" in 2014...)is even greater today.

We were told by the team that there are about 4 surgical options.  The problem is, he is already too severe for options 1,2 and 3.

That leaves number 4.  Number four...let's be really tough.

We don't know (yet) when this will be scheduled. It will be based on a number of very important factors.  His breathing is getting more and more labored. His snoring s much louder at night.  His speech is getting even more difficult as he grows and the gap in his jaws grows.  And then there is his age.  We would rather do something severe and traumatic at 9-10yrs than 13-14yrs.  For many reasons.  We don't know WHEN it is...we just know this is what's in his future.  We wait to hear back from the craniofacial team as to when.

I know I haven't told you what option number 4 is.  But it's not pretty.  It's just...his only option.


Yes it's visible externally. Yes it's something that's adjusted daily. Yes it's awful in so many ways.'s understood to be his only option.

Perhaps for the people you know..."cleft is only cosmetic". Please. Please don't ever say that to us.  We aren't hyper sensitive to the words you use...just saying for Azlan...his cleft was not "just a surgery" at 5 months and...TADA!  It wasn't.  

Tonight...we are laying in our hotel room with our sweet friend who came on this trip with us.  Tomorrow he gets his sleep study done.  

Tonight we are all laying in our beds watching HGTV Tiny Houses and laughing so hard...hearing Azlan's sweet laugh beside me is the best medicine.  The...very best.  

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Today we got news from our adoption agency that ZhenAi does NOT know she is being adopted. They don't wish to tell her. On top of that...that in this particular province the children in foster homes are often brought to the orphanage for 1-2 weeks pre gotcha day to grieve there privately.

I have felt off....sick, actually..ever since.

I'm so thankful our agency feels the same way. They are begging that she be told and even shown pictures of our family.

In every 'human sense' this situation isn't good.  She's 12 years old. She needs to give consent to be adopted. Yet, they are dropping the news on her suddenly and ...

And then I remember.  In my deepest doubt...that this isn't our story.

Ridiculous faith.  Remember, Janice...?

My heart is heavy tonight.  Faith in the thick of questions and concerns.  The faith that you know for sure this is where God called you and this is your daughter. And yet...I'm human just like you.

Standing at yet another crossroads in my life.

The power of choice.  Which path do I choose? Oh the faith path is so tiny and wind-ey.  It's dimly lit.  If you can see further than your's no longer faith.  Ahhh...and yet I know.  I know that's the path where the beauty is.  That's the path where you get to see God's presence in your life like nothing you could imagine.

Easy...? Please don't let me be the one to make you think such.'s not easy.  But as if laid in front of you as your foot is in mid-air...the pavement just suddenly appears. Just in time.  The path made fresh in front of each step. Just in time. You see there is indeed footing there. You will not fall.

Ah.  That's where I am.

And...I'm tired.  We are so close to being finished on the house.  It's all happening at the same time.  And I...? I humbly ask for you to pray for you think of it.

And...if I'm to be completely honest...pray that God would just shine that light a little further down the path this time.

Pray for this beautiful girl. That she would know her family is coming.  And God would ready her heart for all that is to come.

**Update on the process, we have Article 5 pick up Feb 1. Expected gotcha date is Feb 29.**

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"Can boys with cleft lips...whistle?"

We were sitting at the dinner table a few months ago.  Azlan had a big question.

He started kind of hesitant.  All eyes (and there are many at our table) were on him.

"So...I've been wondering might seem like a silly question.'s a big one to me..."

He trailed off.

He has always spoken his mind.  He was two years old, NO ONE except me could understand his speech...and he would tell me if he did (and if he did not...) like my outfit :)  So what was the hesitation...?

"I've been wondering...if boys with cleft lips...can whistle?"

I could feel the lump in my throat.  I mean.  I got what this meant to him.

All of his siblings are learning to whistle and it's kind of cool, right?

He has a severe, severe underbite.  (We have a big appt next week to see when he needs a major jaw surgery b/c his underbite is so extreme it's affecting his breathing).

He has a category 3+ cleft lip and palate.

His mouth doesn't make the perfect circular motion. His teeth are a (beautiful) mess.

What do you say?

I'm a realist.  I never want to lead my child one direction and feel cheated that I painted something prettier than it is.  Or anyone else for that matter.

He said my hesitation and said "can you look it up on your computer?"

I smiled and said "No, Azlan. I don't think that's a good idea."

His eyes got big! "Why not??"

"Well...because what if I find that they cannot?"

He didn't miss a beat.  "I would love to know that because then...well then I'd stop trying!"

I smiled.  "See...that's exactly why I don't want to find out. Because what if...they can't. try so hard for so long that become the one who does!"

I can still see him processing. He was just staring at me and then that sparkle in his eyes.  That sparkle that he was born with. Yes. Yes...he was.  His eyes smiled so long BEFORE his mouth ever did that I was always able to capture those newborn photos because his eyes always told me the story.

"Mommy.  Are you serious?"

Yes.  Yes...I am.  Everyone at the table was watching this teachable moment.

Why not you...? Why not be the first...? Just because (hypothetically) everyone else has failed...why must you?"

Do you know...I have never looked it up. And he has never stopped trying.

In fact, last night at the dinner table he brought it up again.

"Mommy...? What do you think? I've been trying every day for so long and it just doesn't work. I don't think I'm even close to whistling.  Is it my teeth? I think it's my teeth. They just aren't in the right spots.  Or my mouth. It just doesn't work..."

Azlan always has had his emotions just right...below the surface. He looks like he's fine then he will burst into tears.

I could tell that's where he was right then.

I said "how about we ask Miss Dottie tomorrow at speech therapy."

He LIT up.

This afternoon at speech therapy he turned and whispered to me "remind me to ask about the whistling." She caught us sharing secrets and asked what :)  So I told the story.

You know...she didn't frown. She didn't miss a beat.  She said "well why not? Let's try".

And she proceeded to spend the next several minutes of therapy intensely helping him with his tongue, his lips, his air whistle.

No...he didn't whistle today. But he walked out of that office with a bounce in his step.

Knowing...absolutely knowing...he's going to whistle.

And when he does...can you imagine the celebration?

Oh yes.  The greater the obstacle...the sweeter the reward. Always.

And the lesson. For all of us. Who cares what's been done before us! Why does everyone else set the standard for what we will accomplish...? Why even know what they have done? Why not...give it everything you've got?  Even I don't want to know. So please don't write me and tell me how the odds are stacked against him.  We don't need to know that.

Tell us after the fact. After he's accomplished it. Then ... yes, then I'll research it. Not a moment before.  Right now...? Azlan is determined to reach this goal.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Heavenly Christmas Gift.

If you read my most recent post..." I otay?" you will see the stress and anxiety I've been struggling with regarding the new house.

Christmas Day morning...we were not at the new house yet. We did not celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day. We chose, as a family, to wait until we move in the new place.  So Christmas Day was weird for us. We worked. Hard. On the shower in the master bedroom. We are installing all tile and all hardwood floor. Ourselves.  This is just one of the many things we are doing to save necessary money.

Our neighbor down the hill is a retired Navy Seal.  Our kids are in awe of him. We can't wait to sit and hear his stories.

He woke Christmas morning and looked out his front window to see the hill covered in a thick, heavy fog.  But...there was something. Brilliantly...shining...on the hill.  He couldn't believe what he saw.

He looked. He grabbed his phone to take pictures.

His text said this "I saw your house filled with the Spirit of God..."

When I saw the photos, I started to cry.  Like...that cry.  That cry like when I saw ZhenAi's photo for the first time. It's a deep, spiritual cry that I can't explain. I'm not crying. I'm not emotional in the moment but my eyes are crying. Yes...that. If it sounds confusing, it feels much more so.

You can try to explain these photos away. That the sun was shining on windows...but it's the wrong angle for the windows. Where his house is and where our window doesn't add up.

Tirzah said it best. She said "I'm sure people will say it's all sorts of things but ... I believe."

Tirzah believes it's angels.  Angels with flames of fire.

I don't know what it is. But the tears that come every time I see it tell me it's something special.

What a beautiful Christmas gift.  After all the questions. Fears. Stress.  My doubts...if we will ever get in this house.

My close friends both had the same immediate thought when they saw the photos:

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"Mommy...Am I otay...?"

Nazara is 2.5 years old.  She's the baby of the family.

She had a head cold and went to bed at her normal bedtime.

It was about 11pm and all of a sudden she cried out "Mommy...!! Where are you??" :)

I ran upstairs and laid down beside her.  She scootched (yes, it's a word. In my world anyway) in close.  She went to sleep. She was breathing very heavily, not stirring a bit.  All of a sudden, she spoke up.

"Mommy...? Am I otay...?"

My eyes popped open. I was wide awake.  But it was a "did she really just say that?" moment.

I quickly answered. "yes, my love. You are okay".

She said "Otay Mommy. Otay" and went right back to sleep.

I laid there for the longest time.  Smiling in the dark.  Holding my sniffly 2 year old girl in a half hug.

I knew that message was for me.  How my 2 year old, in her sleep stupor, had just spoken directly to me...was a gift.

Here's what I knew in that moment. just need to be told you are ok. You are going to be ok. And you are going to make it.

Ever been there?

Come on. I know you have.  If you haven't...someone you love, has.  And they simply need to be told..."you are ok".  I realized holding Nazara close...she just asked what I was asking...without ever using the words.

Don't read too much into this.  There's no hidden meaning here. I'm being transparent and real.  I have a lot on my plate right now.  The mortgage paperwork is making adoption paperwork look like a walk in the park. And that...that's saying something.

I find myself questioning if we'll ever get in the house, yet knowing deep down that we will.  There have been random, even crazy...bad news days.  Then there have been gifts and blessings that have left me spell bound.  There have been tears and questions...and then there has been peace. Peace that God brought us here not to drop us and leave us.

And all along I didn't realize until the moment my baby asked it...that my heart was crying out to God asking "am I okay...?"  Longing to hear the whisper.."ah my love.  You are totally ok. You are going to be ok. And you are going to make it. I got you."

I had tears rolling down my cheeks as I laid there processing what had just happened.

It's been a long season of waiting.  Of working. Of....striving.

At the end of the day...I just wanted to hear that soft, sweet voice that calms every fear in my heart. "oh Janice.  You are totally ok. And are going to make it. Just like you always do. We got this."

If that's you...then this message is for you.  You are going to be okay.  Whatever is happening. Whatever is burdening you. are okay. You will be okay.  You are going to make it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Ahhh. I'm still here.

I know if I tell you my life has been couldn't possibly know what I mean.

But life has been crazy.

We are up to our eyeballs in adoption paperwork.  We are so close to traveling to bring ZhenAi home.  So close that I can't even think about it quite yet because we have so much to get done before we go.

And...we are so close to moving into our house.  I know you think that moving can be fun and stressful but in our case...we are so involved in the building process. Especially now.

We spent today scrubbing the floors and shop-vaccing in prep for cabinets to be delivered hopefully tomorrow and for US to install hardwood floor starting this weekend.  Yes. We are doing that.

We also installed our own wood shelving in all the closets to save a ton of money but that also means caulking, taping and painting them all. I cried after doing the master closet as it took three coats. I'm doing this around being a full time Mama to 10.  Non stop runs to the out house on the property with little kids terrified of falling in (I get it!!).  Snacks, boo boos and just a need for a hug.  Paint everywhere. I'm not a neat painter.  And ... ahh.

It all led to a few days ago I took Azahria out to run errands and I stopped in the parking lot of Walmart and just cried. I couldn't even drive.  I didn't want to do errands, I didn't want to go home and face the hours of paperwork on my desk...I just felt overwhelmed.

I know. This comes as a shock to you. But it shouldn't.  You only think I'm superhuman.  I'm...not.

In my sadness and feelings of complete exhaustion in the Walmart parking lot, I notice this grandpa aged man trying to wrap a large BBQ in the wind. I dried my eyes, pulled forward, rolled down my window...and asked if he needed help. He warmly smiled but assured me he had it under control.  I must have connected with that statement...b/c I promptly parked and got out to help him.

I get it.  I'm fiercely independent too.  But he needed help.  He smiled and sweetly said "you are my Christmas angel".  Ahh. I felt like anything but.  He talked about his adopted grandchildren and was just plain wonderful.  I got in the van with a bounce in my step.

Yes...I have a lot going on right now.  But I'll make it.  We'll make it.  And getting my eyes off my mess for a moment was just what I needed.

I do have specific prayer requests.  We have some strange issue with the IRS and our income taxes not being posted properly.  Whatever...they are a mess and anything but fun to deal with.  But this NEEDS to be sorted asap for us to get the mortgage approved. Yes.  That's on my plate too.

God has shown up in so many ways. For our family. Our house. Our adoption. That we know we are where we are supposed to be.  Yet ... it's amazing how I can sit questioning it all in a moment of weakness.

I am totally transparent about the fact that God called us to this adoption when we were already in the process of building our house.  It's just a lot...all at once.  And they are both at the the same time.

We are trying to get into the house in the first week of January and travel to China in February.

All of this to simply ask...that you would pray for us.  For the tax situation to be fixed asap...and for everything else to line up so we can close on the house quickly and get settled before we head to China.

Thank you. For being a part of our journey and praying with us.  For us.  All of us.


Monday, December 7, 2015


We received our Letter Of Approval (soft copy) at day 21 since LID!

Needless to say...we and our agency were shocked!

What does this mean? This is a big, big step closer to bringing ZhenAi home.

We are likely traveling in February.  And trying to move first of January.

Please...if you would be so kind...keep us in your sincere prayers. We have a lot going on right now.

Thank you so very much, friends.