Monday, May 23, 2016

This.

This says it all perfectly.

Every word.


"Tell Your Heart To Beat Again"

You're shattered
Like you've never been before
The life you knew
In a thousand pieces on the floor
And words fall short in times like these
When this world drives you to your knees
You think you're never gonna get back
To the you that used to be

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again

Beginning
Just let that word wash over you
It's alright now
Love's healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
Cause your story's far from over
And your journey's just begun

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again

Let every heartbreak
And every scar
Be a picture that reminds you
Who has carried you this far
'Cause love sees farther than you ever could
In this moment heaven's working
Everything for your good

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again
Your heart to beat again
Beat again

Oh, so tell your heart to beat again

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The gifts.

Last week, someone that I don't even know, spoke wisdom into my life.

She said "Janice...promise me something. Promise me you will look for the gifts along this journey.  There are so many gifts...and if you don't look for them, you will miss them."

That random thought from a near-stranger shifted my focus every single day that followed.

Every single hard, gut-wrenching day.

Gifts.

You see what you look for. There is no question.

We have been looking for gifts and we have found them. Every single day. In often...the most unlikely of places.

It's been so wonderful for us to even tell the people who were the gift to our hearts that day.

I don't know what you are going through. And I know...you don't know what we are going through.  But someday when you find out...you will wonder how we breathed our way through it. I promise.  Hard up until now... has been merely 'not great' in comparison.

I am here to tell you...as a living survivor...that there are gifts along the way.  Gifts that if you don't look for them ... you will miss them.  This has made us intentional. Focused on what matters.  Searching for joy.  Searching for gifts.

And finding them.

Beautiful...heart felt gifts. That, yes, I can truly say....we would have never ever experienced if it weren't for this dark path we are on.

I have woken in the middle of the night with one line from one of my favorite songs in my head.  So loud I have wished I could shut it off. Yet...grateful that I couldn't. Because it needed to be that loud.

From Diamonds by Hawk Nelson....that one line "it's here in the ashes....I'm finding treasure..."

I can say with every fiber of my being...it's true.

It's so true.

Here in the broken ruins of this mess .... there is treasure. And it's so beautiful.

I am choosing to share now...in a vague way...yes, I know.  It is vague but someday you will see the rest of the story.  I'm sharing it while I'm in it...because I'm not the only one.  You are in the hard too. I know...because I have received so many emails and private messages thanking me for encouraging you in your hard. That's the magic.  In the depths of despair...we can still offer hope to others.

Please...promise me something.  Just one thing.

Look for the gifts. Because there are so many gifts along this journey you are on. And if you don't look for them...you will miss them.  There is treasure in these broken ruins.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The hard.

As many of you know, one of the mantras in our family is "I can do hard things."

We all have our hard.  Your situation is your situation and when you are in the thick of it...it's as hard as you can handle and you find yourself deep breathing through it.

Have you ever noticed that it's all about perspective?  That moment when the 'real hard' hits and you suddenly realize up until this point, all the 'hard' was a cake walk in comparison...?

Ever been there?

That's where we are right now.

Hard? We haven't seen hard before now.  Well, yes...we have. But now that we are in this hard...no...we haven't.

Some wisdom from the hardest of hard...

~everything you are sure you could never survive...? You can.  When surviving is really your only choice.  You can.

~your heart will keep beating even when you are convinced it cannot possibly.

~when you are at your weakest...and have no strength left to rely on...you can tangibly feel the presence of God Himself.

~you can cry all night long and get up and be productive the next day.

~you are a fighter.  You are.  Like you've never known someone to be.

~in the hardest of hard...you will see you are never alone. Millions have walked this path before you. Tragically.  And suddenly you become like family. You have a bond that forever connects you to those who survived a similar hard.

~when people rally to pray for you, something magical happens.  You suddenly seem stronger. More capable to carry on.  Almost like Someone steps in and holds you.

~if you listen closely, you will hear messages of hope. From the most unlikely sources.  Sometimes giving you just enough to keep you breathing.

~you will be ok.

~He really does work ALL things for good to them that love Him. All things. Even the horribly ugly, painful, impossibly hard things.  All things.

~trust that still small voice. Just do.

Don't worry about us. Please don't.  We are ok. Pray for us...absolutely. But don't worry.  God is always good and He has never ever abandoned us.




Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Storm.

The storm.

That's where I am right now.  The winds are vicious. The waves are making me shake.  Every question is screaming in my brain.  All the 'what ifs'. Everything.

Doubt.

Fear.

Hopelessness.

Chaos.

No this isn't about ZhenAi.  No this isn't our marriage.  This is about one of our adopted children.  Their past has surfaced for the first time and it...it is a storm.

And if you were here...you would see little sign of it.

The turmoil is on the inside.  The panic surfaces when all the little people said "amen" one last time at the end of the day, had their foreheads kissed, their blankets tucked in tight...and the lights turned off.

Then...it happens.

Am I equipped for this battle? Can I do this?  This...?

This morning in church we talked about the storm.

You know. The story we all know so well. That storm. The storm when the disciples were in the boat.  And they were freaking out and then to top it off they thought they saw a spirit walking on the water.

But..it was Jesus.  Of course He showed up.  He always does. In fact...He promises never to leave.

And today it was brought out that He calmed the turmoil of their minds and hearts before the wind and sea.  Hmmm.  Yes.  This was a moment for me.  He wants to calm our hearts...our fears...our anxieties before He touches our circumstance.

Then there was that moment of Peter in bold faith...following Jesus' "come" and steps out off the boat...and walks on water.

He did!  Until...

Until he saw the wind.

My mind went racing to this storm we are in right now.  Oh God has been so present in this story. It's His story. I've always said that.  He called...so clearly.  Each time.  Each child. We answered.

And now ... this? What...? Why...? I can't! I simply...cannot.

And everything inside me is questioning everything I absolutely know to be true.

You called us here...? To this...? You really think we can do this...?

As my husband sits beside me with no fear. No anxiety. He looks at me and says "this child is in the right family, Janice.  This is where they should be and we are going to do everything we can to help him.  God has not left us. He's here. He knew we would be here...and He's here".  Even here.

The storm.

Have you ever noticed in your life...not in some fancy little christian cliche but really...truly...experienced...how in the darkest storm of your life ... when your faith is tested beyond it's capacity...you get to know your God like you didn't know was possible this side of Heaven? When comfort and peace are the furthest from any natural part of the process ... and yet you experience it...?

Three nights ago I had a dream. A dream that I went to the mailbox on a dark day where I was questioning everything...and there was an envelope. No note. Just an envelope with a check folded inside.  I opened it to see a large amount.  Then I woke.  What was that all about? No explanation. Just random. A random silly dream.

It was just that. Until yesterday. I stopped at the mailbox and saw a small envelope in there.  It looked empty.  I opened it to see a folded check...no note. A check. For the exact amount that it was in the dream.  I have gone to look at this in my purse about 15 times since then to see if I dreamt the entire thing.  Was it a dream? A ghost on the water?

No.  Jesus in my storm.

The most silent of whispers.  Just letting me know...He's there.  He's here.  In this storm.

We ended the message this morning with this song.



You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine


Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you're my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBJJJkiRukY




Thursday, April 28, 2016

Amazing.

Update on us and our life.

ZhenAi is doing really well.  We are seeing more and more what her life has been like until now. She sits. And she stares. A lot. And I think I'm constantly pulling her out of that trying to stimulate her...and she's always dragging her feet.

She goes outside and squats. And just stares.  She sees the kids playing and she goes beside them and squats...and just stares.  She pushes the paper and crayons away, goes to sit on the couch...and just stares.  Ahhh.

She has a quiet, gentle spirit and it's going to be interesting to see how this year goes as we work hard to help her grow.

Grow.

Not become.

Not meet our expectations.

Not catch up.

Grow.

Just grow.  She is without a doubt a stunted flower. Having been nurtured very very little in the grand scheme of things.  She's weak. Frail.  Limp.  And often...blank.

So we don't have these big expectations.  She's not here to become our star daughter and make us proud.

No.  No...she's not.

We just want to nurture and love her and help her...grow.

To whatever she can be when nurtured properly.  Therapy. Medical help.  Food. Attention. Stimuli.  Love.

Grow.

Life has been busy, it always will be.  But we are together. All of us.

Azahria turned 8.  Oh my Azahria Peace.  The child that owns her name.  She's purple, glittery, all about unicorns and rainbows....and dirt and tonka and bugs and worms. She's one of a kind.  Quiet. Sweet.  Doesn't say a lot but when she does she means it.

When we started singing Happy Birthday, ZhenAi started clapping EXACTLY like the chinese people do when they want to attract you into their stores! It was funny and clearly something she's done many many times.

I tried to get her help me with dinner a few nights ago. She would put the croutons on the salad then quickly walk away. Then I'd call her back to do more. And the moment I looked away she'd scoot off.  To sit and stare.  :(

Yesterday we all loaded in the van...all 13 of us...to drive a now reduced total to 2.5 h round trip trek for 30m of speech therapy for Azlan. :) And you know what? It's wonderful.  We talk. Laugh. Sip on a coffee. Kids are singing, drawing, playing Monopoly Deal.... and that is our life.

Yes it's busy. And we are together. Living. Working. Doing school. Growing.

As I sit here tonight, Chazano just walked into my room and said "Mom...I've been wanting to tell you...you are amazing! You have 11 kids, you cook all the time, you always have such a clean kitchen (I think this is important to him ;) ), you teach us all school, you work so hard helping other moms, you JUST got home from China and I don't even think you stopped to rest since you got home!! And well...I just wanted to say...I can see how hard you work and you are amazing."

I see myself so very differently. As do you.  Flawed.  Not as patient as I hoped to be today.  Didn't take Azahria up on her offer to go hiking the mountain tonight.  Caved to buy a coffee when I've been trying not to.  Ate way too much pizza for dinner.  The last load of laundry just got washed AGAIN b/c I forgot about it.  The clean clothes need to be folded and put away. No I don't have laundry day. Laundry is like cooking a meal. It's all throughout the day. Every day. And that moment you let it get behind...you feel like you could scream. I see the laundry room. And the fact that I didn't make it to the post office...yet again.  And how I have a pile of clothes to return to the mall...that's probably past it's date that I CAN return it.  I see how I didn't feel like drying and straightening my hair today b/c it takes forever and my coffee was already cold...so I've had the worst hair day.  I see that the pantry is empty and I'm begging my husband to do the grocery shop b/c I detest it.

You get it right...? That's what I see. But that's not what my 11 year old son sees.  And it's not what everyone else sees.  And it's a good lesson for all of us.

We are harder on ourselves than hopefully anyone else will ever be.  As one of my close friends recently said to me "hey...stop that. That's my friend you are talking about!" and I did stop. In my tracks. Convicted of how I talk and think about me.

Tonight I'm going to take it.

I can do hard things. And I'm doing hard things. Day in and day out.

And that...supposedly...I hear...is amazing.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Thank you!

I should have blogged way sooner!  After posting and asking for prayer, we had an outpouring of love and support today and a MASSIVE answer to prayer.

So tonight...I sit and thank you. Thank you for being part of our village that most of the times...helps best just on your knees asking God to guide, direct, comfort and heal.

And He answered you.

Thank you.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Peace.

There is chaos.

There is also peace.

ZhenAi is doing really well.  There's this sadness that has hit me, however.  She's just...there.  And you can tell ... she's just always been...just there.

She is non verbal.  She just sits. Follows Tirzah and I... like a shadow. Often unaware of any rule of personal space...so you have to show her to not sit on top of you on the couch etc.  She almost just...exists.  And she's so content doing so...that it's scary.

School has begun with her.  However...it's really hard. Right now we are doing pre-k...but pre-k in the sense of teaching her how to color.  That's our focus.  Trying to make up for some of the major milestones that she has missed.

She will sit there for HOURS during school working on the picture. Often...just drawing lines with the crayon. I have to keep demonstrating the color motion. She will do it for a bit then stop.

She is now down with Tirzah. Her bed is set up and she seems to be doing well.  It's hard because she's definitely a big (tall) girl and 12.5y...but developmentally...not a peer.  So we just want to make sure Tirzah is not feeling a little claustrophobic.  So far, it's going well.

I am trying to push her a little bit with bathing and drying herself off. She has zero initiative to do more than necessary :)  She won't do anything besides sit in the bath and forces me to do it all. If I put the shampoo in her hair she will let it just run down her hair.  Sometimes yelling out if a drop of water drips on her face.  She definitely needs help getting dressed and most days the clothes will be inside out and 90% of the time...backwards.  If you come and see that...it's ok. We are ok with it. It's a lot of work for me to take it off and start over. Right now...it's ok :)

She still just imitates the same few words and appears to have a significant paralysis of her mouth. She can't move her tongue on one side which makes sense for how her words sound.  For example..."thank you" sounds like "Dah...DAH...DAH...DAH...DAH DUUU" that's how she says it every time. She's working really hard to say it but it has this huge build up and then finally happens.  Yes there will be lots of appts ahead as we try to see where we go from here to help her reach her potential in baby steps.

She's 12.5 years old. But ... it's not as it seems.  Someone recently told me they were shocked we adopted out of birth order.  Well #1...we followed God. As simple as that. But #2...to actually answer your "concern" (I'll give the benefit of the doubt here)...we know the difference between age and developmental age and Tirzah is still "the big sister".

On Thursday I look the girls to get their hair done.  It was a treat since I do everyone's hair. ZhenAi's hair had to be cut.  It was actually...awful :( It looked pretty but it was thin, tangly and super oily. We were having a hard time managing it. The moment we cut it...it felt thick and healthy. It's cut right to her shoulders.  By the way she bounces around...she appears to like it too :)

There have been other things happening in our family. Without any details, just asking you to pray.  Oh the darkness that is often in an adopted child's past. A past we know little about but are starting to see peaks into.  There's so much trauma. Pain. Loss. Darkness.  And that leads us to today.  Simply asking you to pray. God knows who and what.  And we are asking you to simply stand with us and pray for God's hand to heal and guide and direct.

In the midst of so much sadness...there is so much peace.   Last night, friends came over for coffee and desert and were referencing a secular book where the regret of someone's life was summed up in "if only..." but they were saying how as christians..."if only..." is not the thought.  No. In all of this we focus on what we know. For sure.  God led us here. To this child. To each of them.  Not because we were strong enough, qualified. No.  Not one bit. Because He is.  And this journey started in faith and today we realize the faith part of our story will continue.

Those of you who followed our story home from Africa will remember how God kept giving me the one line of the one song by Jesus Culture "though the world sees and soon forgets...we will not forget who You are and what You have done for us..." It was actually to the point of me sobbing in the airplane bathroom b/c I was almost tormented by this phrase. I knew right then and there God was giving me something I would need for days...and now I see...years...to come.

It's so easy to forget.  In my reading in Joshua I was struck by how God told His people to set up memorials so that their children would ask and be told the stories of how God rescued them.

(Joshua 4) He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[b] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.

It hit me right there. Such a simple thought...but am I remembering...? Am I recording the moments that God rescued us? The moments when He 'showed up' and my faith was built and I couldn't miss how real my God was?  How quickly do I forget?

As the song says...the world sees and soon forgets...yet so do we all. It takes a commitment to remember.  To see and not forget.  And that...? That is where we are right now.

Yes. We are ok.  Our home is happy. Full of love. Joy. All the wonder.  But there is a pain and now a process that we have to muddle through for healing. Deep healing.  And for that...we ask for your prayer.  Thank you for walking this journey with us.  All the way. Here.