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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Is He good?

Tirzah came with me yesterday. She didn't come in...but she came to the hospice center. She knew where we were and she knew what happens there.

I told her about my friend. I told her how old she was. My daughter is 11. So at first...as we all thought at 11...she said "oh, I didn't know she was that old" but then I told her that 41 is only 4 years older than Daddy. That changed everything.

She knew how many kids she has. And how old they are. She listened as I told her how sad this was.

My friend is dying of cancer.  Honestly...I should have expected what I saw...but I didn't.

My poor friend who was with me. She all but had to close my mouth for me as I stood in total shock.  I could see no resemblance of the beautiful lady I had seen not that long ago.  She looked thin. Frail. And really old.  It was heartbreaking.

Her breathing was so spaced that there were a few times my friend and I thought she had just breathed her last.  Awful. We stood there in total silence.  In awe of what cancer can do to a young, healthy, vibrant woman.

So...very...sad.

On our way home, Tirzah and I were silent.  There wasn't much to say.  I couldn't really talk. Tirzah knew I had just seen my friend and she said several times "I'm sorry, Mommy".

I looked at her and said "Tirzah...is He good...?'

There was no gap.  In fact, she whipped her head around from looking out the window and said, without hesitation..."Always Good, Mommy"

Me: "Always....?"

Tirzah: "Always.  He can't be anything else."

Me: "But she's dying. She's laying there dying."

Tirzah: "I know Mommy...but He's good."

Me: (taking this as far as I could to stretch her as much as I could) "If it was you in that bed...would He still be good....?"

Tirzah: "Oh Mommy...yes. He would still be good"

Me: "If it was me...?"

Tirzah: "Yes!"

Me: "But why would He..."

Tirzah: (she cut me off) "You know He doesn't make Cancer, right...? He doesn't give bad things"

Me: "Could he stop it though...?"

Tirzah: "Oh He could have stopped it long before it started!!"

Me: "but...He didn't"

Tirzah: "I know.  He didn't"

Me: "and if it were you in that bed..or me...or my friend. Why. Why didn't He stop it? Is there purpose in everything?"

Tirzah (At this point we had just pulled into her driveway and I'll never forget this moment...) She put her hand on the handle of the door...she looked over at me boldly and said " I don't know what His plan is...but I do know He's always good. He can't be anything else. And sometimes He says YES when we pray sometimes He doesn't. I don't understand it all but I know He's always good Mommy" and she hopped out of the van, smiled over her shoulder and skipped into the house.

Yes I was pushing her.  I was trying to see what she really believed.

I sat in the van for 5-10 more minutes. Still so sad for my friend's family. But struck with the raw faith of an 11 year old girl.  Who had just entered into the horror of that being her or her mommy in that hospital bed.

And THAT...that...faith.

Understand it...? No.

Waver in His goodness...? Not a chance.

He is always good. 


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Great things.

A friend wrote me tonight and it got me thinking.  Thinking.   In my closet.

Thinking about that verse again in John.

Trouble.

If only we could see what God sees...then I truly believe we would see the trouble...as a gift.

Yes.   A gift.

I can still hear the pounding of the waves at the Oregon Coast.  Dean and the kids all sitting by the fire...and I walked to the ocean.  I could feel my heart skip a beat as I got closer to its roar.  Oh...the ocean holds a special place in my heart. I...can't...quite...explain it.  I can feel His presence there.

I walked close to the water and I said out loud..."It's so hard. It's so...very...hard".

And I heard Him speak.  

"Oh Janice...".  I knew it was my Father's voice. I could hear it so loud...I couldn't tell if it was audible or not.  Somehow it was louder than the roar of the ocean....yet quiet like a soft whisper that was anything but startling.

"Oh Janice...I have great things for you..."

Great things.  Did you hear that? He has great things for me...!

And then I knew there was more.  It was like I had stopped Him mid sentence and he was letting me wander off ... but there was more. So much more.

"Great sacrifice.  Great surrender.  Great reward."

Yes. Great.

I don't see sacrifice as "great" in that way.  It's GREAT as in it's huge and it's oh...so very hard.  But GREAT? That's the kind of great things You have...?

Great surrender...? Wait...haven't I already surrendered...? There's more.

Oh...so much more.

Great reward.

Yes. Great things.

My mind still goes to Jonah 2:8. When we were battling with God...about adopting Zihao 2 years ago.  "Not us. Not now. No....not us" and we were praying so desperately for clarity. And I laughed as I heard Him quietly say I was to read Jonah.  Jonah? We all know the story of Jonah!! What was He going to give me there...?

Oh...Jonah.

Jonah 2:8

Those who cling to worthless idols...forfeit the grace that could be theirs....

There's so much more He has for us in surrender. No clinging to what we feel is it....letting go and surrendering to Him.

In doing that...the "grace that could be ours"...

I don't know for sure what that is...but I do know I don't want to forfeit it.

I love verse 9.

But I, with a song of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.

Ahhh.

Great things.  Could His gift of 'great things' be found in the trouble...?

Hmmm.

28 days in the heart of Africa.  Losing our precious baby. The grief. The devastation. The sorrow...I still can't talk about without crying...

Great Things....Lord?

Great things.

Those 28 days changed me.  Turned me to Jesus like I never knew.  He was all I had.  And His presence was almost tangible.

Great things.

Peace. Trouble. Overcome.

He does have great things for you.  In the middle of the fire...I know all too well...it looks anything but great.  But He sees the end.  He knows how the fire can change you.  Can mold you.  Can bring you closer to Him.

Great sacrifice.  Great surrender.

But don't miss the end...great reward.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Peace. Trouble. Overcome.

I sat in our bedroom closet at the end of a long day.  I picked up my Bible and started to read.  I'm reading in John.

Oh...yes...I do sit on my closet floor each night with my Bible.  I know. Random. It used to be on the edge of our master bath...now it's the closet floor.  Whatever works.  It's quiet.  I'm alone. There are no distractions in there.  It's my spot.

John. It's familiar. I've read the Gospels dozens and dozens of times.  It's hard to read what is familiar.  My mind was skipping ahead...I would reread verses just because I was having a hard time really paying attention.

You have been there...right?  It's so familiar. We know it so well.  That...perhaps...we miss it.

I almost missed it.

John 16:33.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (NIV)

Yes.  Peace! He came to give me Peace!!

Quickly followed by "...you will have trouble."

Wait.

What did you say...?

You tell me these things so I can have peace.  And then You quickly tell me I WILL (not might...) have trouble.

Great.

This is so often what we miss.

No promises of a smooth path.  So many times we read and we see what we want to hear.  PEACE. He came that I would have PEACE.  Close my Bible and move along.

No. There's more.  In this world...you WILL have trouble.

(insert heart sinking feeling here).

But take heart.  I have overcome the world.

I get it. Maybe that's so familiar to you as well...that it's not hitting you.  Or maybe you didn't have a  day of "trouble" like I had.

Maybe you don't know a beautiful mom of 3 children...in hospice right now dying of breast cancer...begging God for Christmas miracle.

 I do.

Maybe you don't know of a young child...who's parents are fighting day and night for the strength to fight for her life...just one more day.  Just the hope of one more day.

 I do.

Maybe in the busy-ness of your life...you don't see the mom who's made mistakes she can't see how to fix.  Choices...she's vowed she would never make...in moments of despair and desperation for value...after years of being told she wasn't good enough...wasn't beautiful enough...wasn't thin enough.

 I do.

Trouble.

Peace...?

Take heart...?

I went to bed with peace. Praying for my friends to find their peace in Him tonight.

In fact...all through the night...I heard that verse over and over and over again.  It wasn't even  a quiet whisper.  It was louder than that.  It spoke right to my realist self where I needed it most.  I don't do sugar coated well.  Give it to me straight.

I will have trouble.

Not what I wanted to hear...but if that's what's ahead...let me know.

Take heart.

He knew what our very next thought would be.  I love this.

Like He's saying "no...no...no don't go there...it's ok! Take heart! I have overcome...!"

We aren't in a bubble.  We WILL have trouble.  Maybe your name won't be flashing in lights...here.  You won't be named "Hero of the day"....here.

But...Heaven is taking note of your trouble.

Peace. In Him.

He overcame.




Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Gotcha Day.

I can still remember how hard it was to sleep the night before...

I can still feel the quivering of my stomach that ride into the Social Welfare building...

I can still see Azlan's excitement about meeting Taizi for the first time...

I still remember being so shocked that 18 month old Izrael never cried, never showed any emotion of distress at all that I was holding this screaming child for so long...

And I still remember knowing in those moments...we didn't know the half of what his special needs were.

Gotcha Day.





The day we met Taizi for the first time.

The overwhelming smell of something wrong when he was placed into our arms.

How extremely tiny he was.

How when we got back to the hotel ... he showed pure delight in banging his head as hard as he could on the wooden legs of the furniture.

How we knew...that first day...that he was deaf.

How much I didn't sleep that first night that he was with us.

As Dean fed him...I escaped into the bathroom and sank down on the floor...speechless. I can still see the ugly wallpaper covering the bathroom wall...I can still feel my stomach swirling...I started to cry.  I cried. I cried. And I stood up...looked myself in the mirror and said "Janice...you can't ask what you have done. You obeyed God.  That's what you have done.  He's got this. He's got you."

Oh what a journey it has been.   In the beginning we saw the most progress. Because so many of the things we taught him...were things he was simply never taught.   We hit that ceiling pretty quickly.

He has never grown.  He still wears the same Robeez baby shoes today...at age 5.5years ... that he wore that day in China.  His feet are size 03.   His clothes...he still wears those jeans and overalls that we brought in our suitcase to China. 

He's had heart surgery...he's had palate surgery...he's had scans, MRI, tests, bloodwork, you name it.

And in the end...my favorite doctor ever...says "Taizi...he's a medical mystery".

What we know...?

He's deaf.  He's mentally disabled.  He's not growing.  He's not attached or bonded to us more than he would be to you.

He's well fed. He's happy...I think.  He shows no sign of happiness. He doesn't "enjoy" life.  He sits. He rocks. He hits himself.  He will wander to different parts of the living room, picking up a block and staring at it super close to his eyes.

His nights are not fun.  He goes to sleep quickly. And wakes quickly.  Screaming.  He's hard to settle.  We can't tell if he's had a nightmare...we can't communicate in any way.  Every night we put him to bed...we sit and wait...and like clockwork we hear him kicking, hitting himself, freaking out and screaming.

And the thing I love to hear the most is...how we are special. We are better. We are gifted. We are so good at this. And how you...couldn't do what we do.

And you must...have no idea...what the daily surrender looks like in my life...if that's what you think.

I'm not stronger. I'm not better. I'm not more capable.  I'm not gifted for special needs.  I don't find this journey easy.

It's hard.

The strength it takes every day...to surrender to God's grace...is so extreme.

I'm a goal setter. I'm driven. I love a plan. I'm a realist.

Taizi forces me to have no goals.  Have no plans.  Know not at all...what tomorrow looks like.  And every day....feels like "ground hog day".  All over again.

What does tomorrow look like? I don't know.

Neither do you.

What does life look like for us when Taizi is 12? 14? 18?

I don't know.

My goal everyday...is to have a great day. That day. One day at a time.

The gift of God's grace.  For one day.

One more day.

There's no five year plan.

When asked...his doctor isn't sure he'll every grow.  Based on these last 2 years...it's unlikely.  His nutrition is now what most 5 year olds eat. Table food. High fat. High calories. No growth.

Right now...I see that as a blessing.  I can carry him. I can bathe him. I can handle a tiny Taizi.

The sadness of the reality that 2 years later...Taizi would go home with you and show no sign of distress...abandonment....rejection or anything else.

We don't know what God has in store for Taizi...or us.

But we do know that was His decision ... that day.  When we signed that paperwork...I was absolutely feeling uneasy and terrified.  But we knew...this was exactly who God called us to.

He's asleep now.  The screaming has stopped.  Tomorrow...as I stand beside his bedroom door...I'll stop and again pray...for the grace...of another day.  For my goal driven personality to surrender again...to only have a goal...of a great day. Even if it feels like yesterday. Even if there's no progress.

Surrender.


Friday, October 31, 2014

My Crossroads.

Every day in my life I'm faced with the question...

Do I surrender...?

What does surrender really look like?

Will there be any of me left...when it's all said and done?

Should there be any of me left...?

It's hard.  It's just plain hard.

Life with Taizi gets harder.  As he gets older...it gets harder.

The gap of where he should be ... and where he is...becomes increasingly obvious.

This is who he is. This is where he is.  And...it's hard.

While it looks like regression...it's not.  It's...actually...progression.

As his brain grows and develops...it learns and does new things just like a healthy 5 year old's does. Except...except...it's different.

It's not new and exciting to us. It's not things you cheer on as a parent.

The fact that he's learned to swallow air and burp...often...isn't the kind of progression we had in mind.

That he's hitting himself over..and over...and over again in the chest...to the point of bruising and even breaking the skin until he bleeds...no, not that either.

When he has to put his spoon down and take both hands and repeatedly hit himself in the head, over and over and over...before picking up his spoon and then doing it all over again...

It's not how we have always measured 'growth'...'development'...'progression'...

But the hard reality...is that it is. It is for Taizi.

As what is really happening inside his brain is revealed more and more as each new day dawns...the reality that this IS his progression hits.

And it's hard.

It's hard to embrace it. It's hard to like it.  And it feels near impossible to love it.

How...?

But...really...?

God saw ahead. He knew. No...we didn't know. But neither did we walk in blindly and make a huge mistake.  He knew. He called. We answered.

And more than ever before...in my entire lifetime...I'm constantly standing at the crossroads.  Surrender or Fight.

While Surrender may seem like the easy way out in your mind...trust me...fight is what is natural.  Fight...question...resist...go down kicking and screaming...that's my go-to.

Surrender...? That's against my grain.  And likely against yours.  I know. You don't have a Taizi.  But...you do.  We all do.  My Taizi just happens to be a very mentally disabled 5.5 year old boy.

What's yours?

Surrender isn't easy.  It feels more like a freefall off the cliff.  I'd rather hold on. Tight. Yes...even to the weakest branch of the weakest tree...than to let go.

Yet I know...

I know that the freedom is in the surrender.

Oh how many times does He have to show me...? The hands up...head high...surrender.  Not out of defeat. Surrender isn't about defeat.

Surrender is about winning.  It's about choosing not to fight.  Choosing not to struggle.  Choosing to let go.  Hands up.  Heart...perhaps trembling.  Letting Him fight for me.

Standing at the crossroads of Surrender and Fight...tonight...tonight I choose Surrender.



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Doing well.

Azlan is doing really well. Looks to be healing well, now done all medication.  His stitches still haven't dissolved (really hoping they actually used dissolvable...)  We have a follow up appt next week in Seattle.

Thank you for thinking of us.


We went out for ice cream this week, thanks to a sweet friend that sent a gift for us to do just that :) We always have complete strangers offer to take our pictures...and even if they don't know how to use my camera...we get pictures of us all together.







Saturday, September 27, 2014

But ... why does it need to be changed?

Tonight Azlan and I were sitting together and talking.  He seemed quiet. So...we were chatting about everything that has recently happened.

At one point, he said "but why did they do it?" Fully assuming he was asking about the surgery yesterday, I went into 8 year old detail on what happened to the implant and why it was very important that it needed to come out.

He let me go through everything then stopped and said "no...not that.  Why did they do it in the beginning?"  Ohhhh. That.

So I went into detail about when he was born with the cleft lip and palate...he was also born with a hole in his gums (jaw).  And how they need to take bone from his hip to patch the hole.

Again he listened to me ramble on and then said "no...by why does it need to be changed? That's my point. The hole. I loved that."

Oh.

Honestly...it immediately had such a powerful application that I simply pulled him into a hug.  Yes there's an answer...but to him...there's a question.

And I got it.

It's all he ever knew.  It was a part of just who he was.  He was born with it. Why did it need to be changed anyway...?  I saw into his heart...and it was real simple: "you could have avoided all of this.  Everything that happened...was because you are trying to change it and patch the hole. Why? I liked it."

As I hugged him...I got it.

I saw the bigger picture. He can't see it. But I can. And you can.  You are probably baffled right now at how an 8 year old, brilliant boy...would even consider not wanting a huge hole in the very visible part of his mouth... fixed.

But wait...

God sees the end from the beginning. And He puts us through the fire...with an end product all planned out.  Yet we see the fire. We see the pain. We see the process. And honestly...we don't get it.  We like the way things are. The way we are. It's all we've ever known.  Why the pain? Can't you save us some of that...? Especially since...we like the way it is.

And God is going "ooohhh no.  No, no.  See ... the way it is...isn't going to work.  Yah...I know it's all you've ever known...but trust Me...I have something SOOOO much better. This pain and stuff you are going through in order to get there...? Well...you'll see. You'll see. I promise you...it's worth it."

But maybe instead of the eye roll and the lecture of how short sighted we are...and the laugh out of the corner of His mouth...maybe...just like I did with my son today...He just pulls us into a hug.

"It's ok. The answer can wait.  Right now...I get it.  To you...right now...you just don't see what I see. But someday...you'll see."

All that's how it ended with Azlan today.  There is a bigger picture. We all see it.

He doesn't.

Why the hassle...? Why does it need to be changed...? He likes it perfectly the way it is.

But we know...we know there is much better. There is not an ounce of hesitation on our part whether we should proceed or not.

Is there...?

We know with the pain, the set back, the recovery, the risks....the everything that comes along with this path...we know the end result...is so far....so very far...beyond where he is today.

And...just like that....so does God.

Azlan was so sincere. It was so heart felt. I wished he had asked me days and days ago...because this was clearly the deep question that he was baffled by all we were putting him through...in his mind...for what? Why does it need to be changed?

Oh...you'll see.

You'll see.

And so will you.  You'll see how it had purpose.  How the comfort you found yourself in before it all began...how there was so much more for you.  And you'll look back...just like Azlan will....and go..."ohhhh.  Now I get it.  Now I see."