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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The gift of Whitney.

We drove 4 hours to Seattle for a quick...but necessary appointment to give Azlan clearance for his big surgery coming up.  With his scoliosis they needed new X-rays to show he's ready to go for mouth surgery.

His medical assistant...she walked in and said 'hi'...but there was something special.

We chatted briefly about seeing the doctor and she left.  As she stepped back in, little Nazara was walking around the room and caught her eye. She said how cute this little baby was and then commented on her own babies.

She has two.  One 3 year old and one just a month older than Nazara.

When she came back again we had a few more minutes to chat.  She softened every time she mentioned her two baby girls.

Conversation somehow turned to family and life and future.  She spoke up and said she can't have more children because of brain cancer.  Um. Yes.  That stopped me in my tracks.  Brain cancer? Who? The baby...? You...?

Her.

She's sitting in front of me and I'm trying to process and stay with the conversation.  She's so young. She has two little baby girls. She has brain cancer...?

The more she talked ... the more awestruck I was.  She was diagnosed in pregnancy with her youngest daughter. They waited til it was safe to deliver her and then treatment and surgery. This was a cancer "normally found in 55 year old men".  Ok. I've heard of that before.  Christina.  That's the cancer Christina had.

She showed me her scar ... which was barely visible.  From her forehead all the way down her head into her hair.   She's so young. She's beautiful.  She's sitting in front of me and as she's telling me how they got all the cancer but she gets scans every 3 months to look for a sign of it...

She said this.  "They gave me 3-5 years".  Everything in me wanted to say..."for...?" but I knew what she meant.  For life.

She's 28, if I remember correctly.  28 years old. Married. A mom of 2 little babies.  3-5 years.

I found the words to say I didn't believe our meeting was by chance.  She agreed. She spoke openly of faith and courage and hope.

Three to Five years.

She had so much joy.  We spoke of how none of us are invincible...yet we live as if ... we are.  How she is trying to live every day as the gift it is.

That day. In that room.  Having driven 8 hours round trip with 10 children for this 30 minute orthopedic appointment.  I realized the gift I had been given.

The gift of being challenged to live my life...thinking I have a 3-5 year lifespan.

What would I do differently?  I would love purer.  Deeper.  With great abandon.

I would seize every moment. Every day would matter. Every single day...would matter.  Nothing would feel mundane.  Breakfast with my children...? A gift.  Another day...another gift.  Bedtime prayers and kisses and hugs...times ten...? A gift.

I would live.  I would make a conscious choice to live.  To live with purpose.  To live building memories to last a lifetime for my family.  To live with passion. To live...without fear.

I walked out of that clinic room...different.  Lighter.  Free-er.

I was given a gift.  A huge gift.  The gift of living with a 3-5 year lifespan.  The gift of perspective.  The gift of courage.  The gift of realizing...again...I'm not invincible.

The gift of Whitney.



Friday, July 25, 2014

Life.


 Our summer.  Fun. Family. And the first year we've had Dean home full time. These were usually those long, hot days when he came home tired and exhausted.  We worked hard for this...and it's been worth every effort.  Raising our children together...full time.  Ahh. Love.  And the fact that we get to help so many other people do the same....love.



We have been traveling to speech therapy again and making family memories while we do it. Today we packed a picnic lunch and found a fun park by a little brook. With 10 little kids that LOVE exploring...it was a hit.

Izrael and sweet Nazara hanging close to Mommy


This "huge...GIANT...crayfish" kept appearing ... and disappearing. Finally...it stayed visible when I went to see it ;)




 Oh Izrael Promise. The baby that was such a miracle and then...adding to her miraculous story...she survived having a penny stuck in her esophagus for 6-7 months. Oh baby girl...you are lovely.  She comes close to me many times a day and says "Mommy...? You are my FAVORITE".  Zihao has caught on to her and finally called her on it. "You can't have that many favorites. Just one. You tell everyone they are your favorite!" She just smiled ;)  Well, baby girl...you are my favorite too.  And yes...Zihao...I know...I say that to you all ;)


Love.








Zion adores Nazara (who doesn't...?) and was playing with her at basketball. So cute.


Crazy little girls snuggling with Mommy


And then there's this.  This picture that captures a bit of the life they all exude. They are simply wonderful. Tirzah adoring her baby sister. Zion actually wanted to hold Nazara. Zunduka with his legs crossed  because that's just him.  Chazano smiling with his teeth visible ... which he never does. Azlan looking more and more little a mini-Dean especially now with his new glasses. Azahria Peace as cute as ever. Then the inseparable Izrael and Zihao...and Taizi. Who after 22 quick pictures is actually looking in the direction of the camera.  Yes...we celebrate all those little moments here.




Blessed. Truly blessed.  I only wish you could hear their joy...experience the life they bring...by viewing their pictures.  


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Friend.

This month has been a month for me.  You know...really...a month.

It has been rocked with deep sadness and grief and pain and regrets and... hopes... seemingly dashed on the rocks.  Yes...all that...in one. And that all happened in the first 15 days.

These are the times I am so thankful for those people in life I can truly call "friend".

You know...the friend that you can truly let your walls down with. The ones you can cry and tell them you feel like you are failing...and they smile at your raw transparency.  Instead of beating you while you are down...they hold your hand and pray with you.  Pray for peace. Pray for joy. In the middle of the 'whatevers' you are facing.  Courage to endure.

The freedom to be that real and open.  The mystery in sharing your burden...and how both of you walk away lighter and free-er instead of both now being burdened and weighed down.

Oh...the word friend.  It's a deep, emotional word for me.

The wisdom that was in my friend's advice to be 'friendly with everyone...but be friends with few".  We all learn these hard lessons through life of being an open book with a person we shouldn't be.  However...the danger is when we put walls up so high that we never bare our souls to anyone.

Proverbs 12:26
"A righteous man is cautious in friendship..."

I have a few very very very real, close friends.  People I definitely bare my souls with.  I cry. I laugh. The conversation starts with how I'm throwing in the towel and ends with laughter. That's what a friend does.  Sharing your struggles...lightens the load.

One of my favorites:

Proverbs 27:17
"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."

Tonight...my heart is so thankful for these amazing people that God has gifted me with.

Friends.






Thursday, July 17, 2014

Perspective.

This is written on the shirt I was wearing today.

Stop.

Read it again.

Ouch.

Perspective.

Gratefulness.



Sunday, July 13, 2014

The land...in between.

The Israelites were there for 40 years...on their way to the Promised Land.  And it couldn't have been pretty.

167 mentions of God's promise...from what I could see...in the Bible regarding the Promised Land.   "God promised the land of Canaan to the Jews as an unconditional covenant – 55 times the Bible records that God confirmed the gift with an oath. Twelve of those times He stated that the covenant was everlasting." (according to one Bible site).

Nothing like the Israelites, but in our own small tribe...I feel stuck in the land "in between".

We look back at the three huge events in our life recently that led us here and there is not a shred of doubt that God was directing each move. It was actually so extreme, we often commented that we felt like we were in the bleachers watching God make each play.  Each of these three big events were crazy God-moves and brought us to this cute, smallish...rental house.

It's not tiny. It's just that we are rather...huge.

For most families...it would be a lovely situation.  For us...it's a little crammed.

It was short stop on the way to our house.  Temporary. Necessary. But very...temporary.

This week we found out we are not able to start building our house until at least January. Could be the next year.

I'm not going to lie...it was a gulp. No. It wasn't.  It was not a gulp. It was a sob.

Jokingly the day before we heard this news, I said to Dean "if for some crazy reason we couldn't build our house right now...I would need a serious attitude-overhaul to settle in here".

Yah. That.

I poured out my heart to my sweet confidant friend today.  And she reminded me of the lessons that are learned...in the land...in between.

It's not where you are going. It's not where you want to be.  It's only do-able with joy because it's just a necessary place along the journey...to the final destination.  But don't stop there.  And...definitely don't set up your home there. It's the land...in between.

And here we are. I had a good cry and asked God..."why here? Why take us here? We were comfortable in our house? We were in no hurry to move forward...You brought us here...to leave us here...?"

Oh. I'm sure we'll see the lessons of the heart...that can be learned in this land....of the in-between.

I know we aren't the only ones pitching our tent in this land.  Half way to where we are really going. The hardest part is that we can see it.  The land is there. We own it. Our name is on it.  It is ours.  It's not a hope...a dream...a goal...it's a reality. It's ours. Yet we are here.  In this rental house...not where we want to be.  Stuck.

And God is still God...in this land.  He's still leading us...though it looks as though He stopped. He didn't.  So we wait.  On Him. To show us what is next.

In-between.  The last place you want to be.

Attitude overhaul...? Happening now. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hard things.

It's been a week of hard things.

I feel compelled to post tonight. And I have so little to say.

Except that I'm so thankful..He has given me everything I need.

And...oh...how He loves us.





Saturday, July 5, 2014

So...incredibly...sad.

Last Monday, after coming home with Azlan from his dental surgery...I got him settled and sat down on the chair with my computer. When Facebook pulled up...I felt the blood drain from my face.  I could not believe what I was seeing.

My sweet, beautiful friend Jenny had gone to be with Jesus.

I got up from the chair, could hardly get the words out to Dean, and ran to the bathroom. I collapsed in gut wrenching sobs.

No. No...please no.  Not Jenny.


Yes this is Jenny.  And her husband Brad.  I knew Jenny's sister from years ago and was connected to her through her sister.  I still remember calling her years ago when God had laid Africa on our hearts. We called her before we called anyone.  I just wanted to hear her story.  What I heard was amazing.  She spoke about how God called her and Brad to Liberia, Africa.  I listened to every word.  I'll never forget when she asked me if the adoption was only $4000 if I'd have that money. I hesitated and said "well no..." she followed up with "so if it was $4000 or $40,000...you need God to show up.  The greater the need...the greater the miracle".

That conversation with Jenny changed everything for me.  She breathed life into this weak little faith I had.  She encouraged me in that phone call to live faith without borders. All in.  

Jenny...got it.  She 'got' life.  She really did. She 'got' faith.  Her faith was bigger to her than what she could see.  In just a few moments of speaking with her...you understood that this was her reality.  And she definitely 'got' love.  

She inspired me every few days with her love for her husband.  Their unashamed public comments of affection to each other was a breath of fresh air.  

One of her most recent notes to me was this:

"I was reading Psalm 94 this morning and verse 9 arrested my attention and made me intercede for your little guy:

Does he who implanted the ear not hear?  Does he who formed the eye not see?  

I LOVE the miracles God is doing in your family Janice.  I am so proud of you all and share the Holy Spirit's enthusiasm for you all!"

She was an encourager. She made time for people.  Jenny 'got' life. 

One of my life's super heroes...the lovely Jenny...is gone from this life.  

Super hero...not super human.  

I believe there is much freedom in Jenny's story.  

Someday perhaps my heart can share more.


Jenny's family.


Yes. 15 of the most beautiful children you have ever seen.  8 adopted from Africa. Some of them have medical needs that are pretty intense.  Please friends...please...pray for this beautiful family.  

My heart feels like it has shattered into many pieces this week.

Jenny's story lives on.  She lives on.  And her story is still unfolding here on earth with this beautiful family each day.



This link will allow you to donate where 100% of the money goes directly to the Groothius family.  

You don't have much? Don't give much.  Sacrifice a coffee to give to these precious children.  We can all do that. Please pray. Please give.