Sunday, September 30, 2012

A song of thanksgiving.

In the last few weeks...3 donors to our Both Hands Project...came back and donated again.

Thank you.

Today someone gave us an anonymous gift at church to help with Azlan's travel expenses to China.

Our hearts are full.

It's such a beautiful place to be.  Just this little random character in God's story.  He writes the lines.  He tells us where to go. He moves the other people around us.  It's all about Him.

Jonah 2:8.

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

But I...with a song of thanksgiving...
will sacrifice to You.

What I have vowed, I will make good.

Salvation comes from the Lord.

Whoever you are...thank you.  From the bottom of our hearts...thank you.  God used you today.


**A Both Hands Project update: To-date, $13,218.65 has been donated to this fundraiser by amazing people like you!  As you may remember there was a $2500 matching grant offered so the total for this project so far is $15718.65.  Amazing.  A financial update for our adoption is:
When we receive TA (hopefully this week) $20,500 will be wired to China for final adoption expenses including orphanage donation fees (mandatory) and in country travel (flight from Taizi to Zihao).

We still have $2400 in our adoption account from the last grant awarded to us from Kaitlyn's Fund.  That plus the $16,177.82 from Both Hands = $18118.65.  So upon TA we need an additional $2381.35

After TA we are responsible for our flights to and from China and within (except for that one flight from Taizi to Zihao).  If we could purchase them right now this would be about $2500...however since you purchase so last minute...this is estimated at $4500 including the one way flights to bring Zihao and Taizi home.

So the update is we are $2381.35 plus approx $4000-4500 travel short.  Let's just say $6400.

(none of the above numbers include added costs of bringing Azlan with us).

While I don't love sharing the numbers b/c I don't want you to think we are asking for your money...I share because you all have been such a part of this journey and I think it's important to know where we are.  We are not asking for your money.  God has supplied 100% of the funds for this adoption so far and we trust Him to supply the rest.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Passport and appetite.

Azlan's passport is on it's way.

Izrael's appetite is insane! Poor baby. How many times did she just tire of eating and choking and give up? She's eating like a horse today!

Our TA did not arrive today on day 14. Which means...day 17 at the earliest. I'm a realist so when the agency tells me "most family are receiving them in 7-10 days now"...17 is brutal.  Give me worse case scenario. Always. :)

14 days.

I seem to know many people who get their TA in 7 days. 10 days. So 14 days I must admit feels like that brutal time at 37 weeks pregnant when you are no longer counting DAYS but counting MINUTES. You know what I mean...brutal.

I'm hoping that the Chinese holiday in the first few days of October isn't going to delay TA even further.

We aren't quite sure why our agency pushed us to get a medical letter saying how many things would be expedited when really it shaved off about 3 days of one step.  Rrrrr.

Ok so let's sum this up with we really are praying for that TA.  We need it SOOON to travel in October.


**update: well day 14 is out. 17 is the earliest and honestly I have to find out if that's even possible with the holiday in China next week.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I prayed for a sign.

A crystal clear sign that I should trust my instinct.

I wasn't expecting yesterday's trauma to be the answer to taking Azlan to China.

But it was the answer.

Just the night before the Izrael-episode I went to sleep praying "God, I know I have this horrible deep feeling that we shouldn't leave him behind but how do I know to trust it...? What if it's just my feeling...? Give me a clear sign that I can trust my instinct."

And then yesterday.

Oh. I can trust the God-given instinct He built deep inside of me.

I knew something was wrong with Izrael. And there's something telling me we need to take Azlan with us.

Thank You for the crystal clear answer.  And yes, I'm still thanking You for Izrael.  Every part of my being is crying out thank you.

Tomorrow at noon we have an appt for Azlan's passport. Trusting Him every step of the way.

Miracle.

Many of you know our story with Miss Izrael. Her middle name isn't Promise b/c it's cute...

She really was promised.

After years of infertility, 3 miscarriages, and always needing fertility medication...God asked me to trust Him. Completely. No meds.  A baby was going to be a miracle baby.

I fought with God (faith is not easy)...yes I wanted the meds. And in the end He won.  (hopefully always the case).  I said we would name the baby Israel / Izrael b/c  Jacob's name was changed to Israel after fighting with God in the OT.

Izrael Promise.  She was the miracle baby.

Months ago...months...many months. She began choking on food.  Vomiting soft foods.  We really thought due to having no teeth she wasn't chewing properly. No crankiness. No fevers. No illnesses.  It seemed relatively normal.  Then she started wheezing when she cried.  We went to the Pediatrician who felt it was something she would outgrow. He didn't feel there were signs of infection, stunted growth etc etc.

Long story short he ordered a swallow study.

We went in for that yesterday morning.

The techs whispered. A lot.  I know that's not a good sign.

They removed her sweater saying something was showing up from her sweater on xray.

They came back and did more still xrays.  Whispered. Rewound the video. Watched again.  Finally my speech therapist said "Janice...there's something wrong. Really wrong." she put her hand on my shoulder.  I could feel the blood drain out of my face.

She said "I need you to look at this X-ray..." I turned to see a large, perfectly round object in the middle of her esophagus.  I felt weak. I immediately said "what in the world...?" she said "we think it's a coin. She swallowed a coin". I started to cry. Really cry. She said "it's ok, we can get it out with surgery" I finally got out the words..."you don't understand...it must have been there for MONTHS!" she said "...what...??" I said "she's been having these strange symptoms for MONTHs!" she whisked us down to ER.  I called Dean. He came.  In ER the doctor contacted a local ENT.  We went over to see her.  She was amazing.  She said she sees all sorts of things but this long...? She said we win the award. We don't want the award though :(  She said "we are just going to operate tonight...."

The surgery started at 5:47pm.  There's a long story about that. How she had to be sedated in my arms twice b/c the surgical team was so delayed. As in hours. :( It became awful. A very hungry very tired baby...

Finally she was taken in.  Dean grabbed us food (I had had not one thing in my mouth since the night before)...it was now 6:45.  The surgeon came out.

She said "it was bad. And messy".  She sat down and talked to us.

She said with her scope she couldnt' even see it b/c it was completely enclosed in granulated tissue.  She prodded it and it bled.  She kept poking until her tool clanked against the penny.  She said it was so helpful knowing our story b/c it would have baffled her that it was so grown over!  I felt sick.

Can you imagine...? A penny stuck in your throat.

So long that the body grew blood vessels around it to enclose it...

I seriously was feeling sick.

My baby who could not talk.  Was suffering for MONTHS.

She gave us the penny.  We talked more. She said it was very bloody and messy but she got it out.

We talked about the risks of it having been in there so long. She said it could have perforated her esophagus...there could have been infection and septicemia...many things could have gone wrong. It could have blocked her esophagus completely.

We sat in pure amazement.

She started out promised.

From 12-18months...she was protected.  Never once had a flu. Cold. Fever.  Infection. Nothing.

My heart hurts.  She came home with us last night and slept all night. In fact I woke her at 9am. Happy as could be.

I have cried many times today. Just thinking about my baby...with a coin ... larger than her esophagus...actually stretching her esophagus...for months. Eating around it.  Oh my goodness.

Thank you God.  I'm humbled.  Grateful and in awe.

My heart is so full and yet hurts at what was.  She would say "owie" when she cried and we had no way of knowing. The doctor had no way.  It was completely overlooked. There never was an incident of choking and panicking (when it would have originally gone down her throat).  Just complete gratefulness.

To all of you who prayed...thank you.

We can take our child to China in peace.  I can't even go there. I can't even fathom.

How many miracles does God do for us...without us having a clue...?


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Decisions.

What's on my mind lately...? Big decisions.  With very little time to make them.

Ahhh.

I can't leave the nagging feeling about leaving Azlan home.

He needs more time and attention than the other children.  He takes more work.  More patience. And often an interpreter (one of his siblings). 

My PRO list of taking him with us:

*He does so much better one-on-one.  We take him on lots of Mommy/Daddy dates b/c he definitely thrives in solo time.
*As brave as he is...he doesn't like being alone at all! (what a great family for him to be in!) But he feels being 'left out' more than any of the other children.
*He really feels a connection to Taizi and Zihao because of their medical conditions.  I believe it would really help if Azlan were there with them in China.
*When I went to Africa for 28 days...he regressed so severely in speech therapy.  It was awful and took months to get back where he was.  That was when he was with his Daddy...so I do have concerns.

My CON list...
*cost.  :(

1 full extra return flight plus the cost of his passport and Chinese visa (the latter 2 costing close to $350.)

We have talked. Are praying for clarity.

Dean's pro list:

*Azlan would thrive spending that much time with just Mommy, Daddy and Izrael. 

Dean's con list:

*$$.

We are on the same page.

------

Friday, September 21, 2012

Needing a God-sized miracle...

Do you believe in those...?

I do.

We do.

Today our agency told us "it would take a miracle for you to travel in October..."

Why?

Well even though TA is likely coming this next week...October is just a bad month for adoptions in China.  Because...there's this massive trade show in Guongdong (where the consulate appts are and also where Zihao is) and it lasts for a long time. Like 3 weeks I think.

What does this have to do with anything?

Hmmm.  Our hotels could go from $125 a night to $300 a night (we'll be there 10-12 nights...gulp) and...that's if there's even rooms available.  Or consulate appointments.

Yes...I know when it's been this long what's another few weeks.  However...we believe in storming Heaven's door for a miracle.

Are you with us?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Excitement...

is hitting me!  I would say "us" but Dean will get excited the moment we have TA and we have a date;)

I can't believe it's so soon!  I bought the sweetest shirts for Zihao and Taizi today...can't wait to show you!  I love LayneJames.com! She does the best embroidery work and is so affordable and wonderful to work with ! She made Zihao's red shirt for his birthday that he clearly loves ;)

Ok. Just had to pop in and say that.

There's a few of you that I would give the biggest hug to right now...well...you know who you are.  Please hear from the bottom of our hearts...thank you.

1 Samuel 12.

16 “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

That feeling...

Those of you that have gone through a pregnancy and had a baby. You know how you are so thrilled you are not only counting WEEKS you are counting DAYS...? Like "I'm 24w2days" (yes...that was me).  Then all of a sudden you are 39w3days and you STOP counting. Now you are consumed with "what is ahead of me...?" "will I be ok...?" "will my baby be healthy...?" and so many more.

Not worry. Not anxiety.  A real live reality check of 'WHOA this is happening!'

For 12 months and 1 week we have been waiting.  You know it's funny it was such a hard core surrender of our wills but both Dean and I are 'all in' once we surrender.  No half hearted-ness. If we say yes...it's yes!  Now here we are at the dreamed-about-many-nights-stage in the process.  We are simply waiting for Travel Approval.  It's inevitable. We are going to China.

WHOA this is happening!

I have that same butterfly feeling deep inside that I've experienced 5 times with each pregnancy.  I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.  There's so many emotions.  The biggest feeling is one of complete humility to know we are in the center of where God wants us.  That this isn't about whether 'we are happy with the children when we see them'... or if we 'need to bond before we know for sure' ... this is about God having chosen them and chosen us and knowing this simply is not about us.

When I think of Zihao and meeting him my heart leaps.  Joy. Pure joy.  Life. Light.  That sparkle in his eye.  When I think of Taizi I instantly get a lump in my throat and fight the tears.  Sadness. Heart wrenching sadness for my precious baby's first 3 years of life.  I cannot wait to see that light in those eyes!

I was talking to a friend yesterday and I remembered she's going to Hawaii in October. I said "I can't believe you are going to HI in October...and I'm jealous..." she never hesitated...."Janice...you are going to CHINA in October...!"

True story.

Whoa...this is happening.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Article 5!

I honestly am done asking what each step means...so all I know is that we are at the END!!! This is the final piece of paperwork in this 12  month journey (look at timeline on the left...said yes just exactly 1 year ago!) from when God first said "MOVE" and we finally said "yes Lord".

We are now waiting for TA or travel approval from China.

There is no thought of panic....right...?

God is going to test this pathetically weak heart of mine all the way to the end.  This journey was way easier than the African journey...yet here at the end we are still thousands short and I'm left going "ok God...anytime..." :)

For praying with us...thank you.  For praying for our precious little boys in China...thank you.  Please continue to pray for their fragile little hearts that God would miraculously prepare them for all that is to come.  That all the gifts and photos we sent them will have tremendous impact and they will even recognize us when we meet.

For our children here at home (gulp) they will have fun, stay healthy and really enjoy this time with their close friends.

For Izrael as she embarks on a journey around the world. That she will stay healthy and just do well overall.

And finally for God to continue to provide all the way to the end, including a quick TA as the China Trade Fair begins in mid October and supposedly fares and hotels go through the roof and for many reasons...we need to avoid that . :)

The donate button on the left is still active for the Both Hands Project and your gift is still tax deductible.  From our hearts...thank you.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

THE WINNER....is....

#2!!!!

:)

So here's what you don't know....is who drew which ones :) this is pretty cute...b/c both my mom and my friend were way off! :)

#1...is Zion :)

#2...is...drumroll...the birthday boy!!! Azlan! :)

#3...is Chazano. We laughed so hard at this one...ALL he draws all day long is superheroes! So it was funny that he named them The Walker Superheroes today! :)

#4...is Zunduka!

The numbers were :

#1. 7
#2. 13
#3. 10
#4. 11.

Don't tell our boys but I think we will get them a shirt made with their picture for Christmas. They would love it! ;)

VOTE!

Ok my blog lurkers...come out of hiding to vote!

We did a fun little contest w/ the kids today :) After school they had to draw a picture of "adopting Zihao and Taizi" and the winner's picture gets put on a new shirt for Zihao. They are pretty excited. Only 4 kids participated. I'm not saying who did and who's pic is who's until the end :) UNBIASED voting haha.

Ok here we go! Comment here and vote!

#1- Mama and Daddy with Zihao and Taizi in China getting their pics taken by a photographer.


#2.  The 9 kids in our family.  It's pretty cute how this child chose each person's favorite color to color them with. They somehow got distracted and made baby Izrael a giant on the end but it's funny :)


#3. The Walker kids are super-heroes!!



#4. The Walker kids go for a family walk.  It's funny how this child said Tirzah on the left is holding baby Zihao and Zion on the far right is holding Izrael and the one in the middle is Taizi :) Cute.



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Final update ...!

From Taizi's orphanage! Can't believe we are so close!

Here are a few photos we were sent today. In the measurements they gave me the same weight they gave us when we first got his file.  We'll see what is true when we arrive. I wouldn't be surprised if he weighs even less than a year ago :( Our little precious we are so close to bringing you home !!

My heart beats a little bit faster seeing these pictures.  You are so so loved.




Monday, September 10, 2012

My Ebenezer.

I'll be honest...I'm a missionary's kid and I don't think I've ever known what that has meant. I have sung it in a hymn but don't recall knowing what it was.

Last night as I sat to read my Bible I paused and prayed. My heart still felt hesitant and I knew I had to surrender..again (there's a theme here).  I prayed for something.  God give me something from you.  Speak to me...I'm praying You will speak to me.

I was in my reading in 1 Samuel.

1. Samuel 7.  God had protected His people against the Philistines at Mizpah.
vs. 7
When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them.  And when the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines.  They said to Sameuel, "do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that He may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines".

In the verses that follow the Philistines engaged in battle and Israel had the victory.

vs. 12.  Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mispah and Shen.  He named it Ebenezer, saying "thus far has the Lord helped us".

I stopped right in my tracks.  I read and reread.  Here I was doubting. Not if God had called us. Not if God had provided. But in my heart of constant sad-faith...asking if God would continue to provide.  Would He lead us this far ... for panic and mayhem.  He answered in such a beautiful way.  Stop...Janice...and build your Ebenezer.  They literally put a stone on the ground to remember that so far...God was with us.

So last night...and today. I acknowledge I don't know what the next few weeks look like.  I don't know how or when or the specifics of His provision for the rest of this journey. I didn't know where $32,000 would come from and yet it did...and I freely admit I don't know where the necessary $8000+ will come from. What I do know...is "thus far...has the Lord helped us".  

In other words...never once.  Has He left us on our own.  Never once.

Thank You, God for helping us thus far.  I pause. Reflect and remember.  And give thanks.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Final step is in sight!

Our article 5 gets picked up on Friday and then we are waiting for our TA!  Kind of surreal...!

Last night I laid in bed for over an hour constantly surrendering the sudden onset of panic that would hit me.
  "Janice...it's not about you..."

"... um where is the rest of the money going to come from...? In just a few weeks...?"

 "Janice...I've got this. I've had this from the very beginning.  I've only brought in about $32,000...you think another $8000 is too much for me...?"

"True...but what if it doesn't...?"

"Janice..."

"yah...? Yes. I know, God.  Ok so what about Azlan? I thought I'd have peace about leaving him and I don't.  He regressed so much when I went to Africa. Should we just take him...?"

"...."

"Is this really going to be a faith test all the way to the very end...?"

"...."

"You know we have to have that money before we can ever step on the plane...right...God...?"

"Janice..."

"yah...ok...I know.  Please take this burden. I am choosing to surrender."

"Peace, Janice.  Peace.  Take My peace".

"thank you for not being annoyed with my silliness and lack of faith, God.  Help my unbelief.
umm...God...?"

"Yes...?"

"...well...nevermind...Peace. Peace..."

"Janice...I already know.  Take my Peace. I've never left you. I never will leave you."

And somewhere shortly after that, I fell to sleep.

This journey has been a constant surrender.  I like to know when and where and how and why...and just exactly how much.  It's the money thing.  This journey has never been about us having the money. Not from the very beginning and so why would I think it is now...?

Peace.

Taizi Tommy...your Mama and Daddy are coming.  I'm sure you have no idea ... but your whole life is about to change.  Something beautiful is about to grow from what looks so hopeless to your little heart.

Zihao Ethan...you are beautiful and full of life.  We cannot wait to welcome your bouncy little spirit into our family and love you to pieces.

Peace.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Little hearts.

Each night I try to take Izrael into my office for her to say 'goodnight' to Taizi and Zihao.  Since she is going to China with us...we talk to them all the time :) She gives a big kiss on the picture frame, it's the cutest thing.

A few nights ago we were playing with our Apple TV and saw the VIMEO button. We clicked it and one option was to view videos that we 'liked' so we clicked that. Up came Taizi's video. I thought maybe we had showed the children at one point...? but apparently not.  Oh...it was something to see.  Of course it still chokes me up every time. I looked at Azahria Peace (4) who was sitting on Daddy's lap. her mouth was open and her little hand over her mouth.  She had big tears welling up in her eyes.  Tirzah...sitting beside me was full blown crying.  Azlan said "I don't ever want to see that movie again, it was so so sad" :(

Children with broken hearts for the broken.  Honestly...it's a beautiful thing.  We talked about little Taizi and how special it is that God chose him and chose us to be a family.

This morning I took Izrael to the pediatrician.  She chokes so many times a day on her food it's crazy.  Like...on soft bananas....? She will take 2-3 then seriously choke and puke them all up.  We've been thinking it's lack of molars but there's no way...there's something no right.  Then..she wheezes. Especially when she's crying and takes a breath in...I mean it's really a wheeze.  With no health problems at all (allergies, asthma, etc) in our immediate family we thought lets check this out. I think it's even more strange that she did all of this in the doc office and he said "baffling. I think she'll grow out of it". Hm... not sure how settling that is. We are doing the barium swallow study (not pleasant memories of Azlan eating oreos dipped in barium goo) to figure that out but both Dean and I are not sure about the wheezing. It sounds like her airway is obstructed.  The doc said asthma is purely a clinical diagnosis at this age and the symptoms just are not there. (good news!)

Then this afternoon we had dental appts for Tirzah and Azlan. Tirzah had her retainer put in ... she made it through it and is good to go ;)

Have I said how excited we are to be going to China in a few weeks? Well this is one busy month for us so no sitting and watching the clock but it's awesome to know just how close it is!  CANNOT WAIT.