Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter.

This weekend has been wonderful.

The weather has been beautiful. Dean worked on Saturday but was off with plenty of sunshine left in the day and we...took the boat out for the first time.

This is how it went:

Dean in truck towing boat.

Me in van with 9 kids. I pray with kids that this will work.

Put boat in water, it won't even turn over. I pray with kids that we can figure out how to get it working today.

Pull boat out of water, all get in van.

Drive to walmart. Dean goes in. I pray with the kids.

Dean comes out with a $100 purchase of a battery booster. We open it to see it needs 36 hours of charge time before it will work.

But we noticed it was sealed funny.  So I press the button that tells how charged it is and the number 98% appears!!!

We drive back to the water, put boat back in water, hook up the booster, I pray with the kids on the dock...and it starts immediately! :)

It was a beautiful night. And the joy on each child's face was priceless.


5 little boys at the front of the boat :)

 Miss Tirzah ~ loving it!


Zihao loved watching over the side of the boat


Dirty face and all, miss Azahria Peace


Love this shot of Azlan


Heading home!


Azahria sitting with Taizi. He never made a peep. Clearly loved it, life vest and all!






Our captain ;)


Izrael riding with Daddy


Zion ;)


Mama and Azahria


We came home and while getting ready to watch The Bible on the history channel, I, without giving it a thought, sat down and put dread locs in Chazano and Zunduka's hair.  It's one of those things, if I think about it, I won't do it. My fingers still hurt. However...the product worked great this time AND it took 22 minutes on Chazano and 23 on Zunduka's! ;) Dean looked at me and said "do you have any other speed?" ... he knows the answer. No. Full throttle or I'm sleeping :)

After church today we came home, put Izrael down for her nap, started lunch and got ready.  We woke Izrael after 3:00 as everyone was loaded and ready to go!  We went out again on the boat and it was so beautiful.  74 degrees according to Dean's phone and not a breeze.  We had 8 easter baskets and a huge bag full of stuffed eggs on board.  The kids were confused ;)

We found an island and beached it. Dean got off and quickly hid all the eggs and then we all got off and ready for the hunt. It was so cute and a nice mixer upper for the kids!  Izrael and Zihao were hilarious annnnd Zihao was blind. Totally. I'd walk him right up to an egg and say "get it yayyyyy and egg" and he'd cheer and walk away  ;)


We brought the little kids' chairs ~ sweet idea! Taizi never budged, he loved it!!

Mama and Izrael and sunshine ;)


Love this. Izrael has piggy propped so she can see over the boat ;)


Looking for eggs on the island!


Zion, Chazano and Azahria


Chazano helping Zihao 


Izrael, so funny, kept stopping to see what was inside the eggs ;)


The boat. :)


Only Azlan would venture out for who-knows-what. The water was frigid.


Daddy and Zihao following


Zunduka


Izrael sees one!


Of course I'm clapping for her ;)


Azahria checking out all her goodies on the boat


Love this picture of Zunduka


Taizi and his sippy


Daddy teaching the boys how to fish. It was at this time we remembered we had music! We found Klove and loved it!


Daddy and Taizi.


:)


He sat like this almost the whole time. Totally loved it.



Loved Chazano's dreads in silhouette!


Heading home


Love this picture. The water was like glass, it was calm, warm and we had a beautiful view of the sunset


Big kids holding hands with little kids. I jumped out to get this picture :)


We came home, made a treat for the kids, put the little ones to bed and sat down to watch The Bible.

Ok. Our feelings. 

So far...we've been iffy.  We know the stories, our children know the stories and the actual facts in the Bible are sufficient...but this production definitely changed several things. Not significant things that made us not want to watch it...but things that left us annoyed. 

Until part 4.  

We have it dvr'ed and we watched about Jesus.  

Ahh. I love the actor for Jesus. He has something beautiful about his face. His eyes. Something serene. Meek.  Pure.  He's striking to me in a way I picture Jesus being striking.  Normal. Yet striking...just having something 'about him'. 

We skipped ahead for the kids to the accusations and up to the crucifixion.  Seeing each child completely engulfed...even talking to the screen "no He IS the king!" "why why why...?" was so beautiful.  We were on the couch and they were all on the floor in front of us. Tirzah was sniffling. Chazano quickly grabbed his shirt and wiped his eyes several times. Zion was struggling to watch everything he knew to be true.  

I, again, was moved.  What struck me was how we are no different today.  Not sure? Post something on facebook. Watch it get flamed and how quickly the "likes" of the opposing point of view add up.  Watch how you...just to keep the peace...delete the comment.  

How easy it would have been to deny Jesus for Peter.  How difficult it would have been to stand your ground.  Not due to doubting the truth...but due to being in the extreme extreme minority.  The peer pressure.  

It's powerful. Before you accuse and point fingers...think of yourself. Ever caught in a crowd (even of christians...) gossiping...? Ever speak up and have everyone guffaw at your comment of defense...? What do you do next...? Just be quiet? Hmm. 

Ever stand up and do the right thing though it's the hardest thing you've ever done...? At all cost?  And have the other side rally the troops against you...? Do you think "I regret ever standing up for the truth"...? The gossip, though completely fabricated, swirls almost as if it's alive.  You hear it from strangers, from people near and far.   It's powerful.  I've been there.  Really...been there.  

Here was Peter. So committed to Jesus.  Yet seeing the forces against Him and against Peter..he caved. Watching it made me realize how easy it would have been ... to do the same.

I was struck by how when Jesus put the soldier's ear back on after Peter cut it off when Judas betrayed him...how the soldiers HAD to think "wait...wait...wait! This man just put my ear back on! As if ... as if it never happened...! Wait...what are we doing here...?"

But, like robots...the continued with their mission.

We stopped it right before the crucifixion. 

I was moved by how hard it was to watch the beatings...yet the Bible says Jesus back looked like a plowed field.  Woah. The movie didn't show that. We couldn't see that. We couldn't handle that. Yet that's what happened.  Ever see a plowed field...?

We turned it off there because we want our children to see the seeming 'defeat' and total victory all in one sitting.  

Oh...easter.  Good Friday. The day when all seemed lost for those disciples.  When it seemed...they had won.  Death itself had won.  

And then.

3 days later.

Oh the victory.

This morning in church we sang one of my favorites...and I had this crystal clear thought that I was to type it out tonight on the blog.

This is the gospel.

This is what happened...really happened on easter wknd.  This is what we celebrate.

"Death in His Grave"

Though the Earth Cried out for blood
Satisfied her hunger was
Her billows calmed on raging seas
for the souls of men she craved

Sun and moon from balcony
Turned their head in disbelief
Their precious Love would taste the sting
disfigured and disdained
Hung with a thief
Arose as a King

Laid down in grief
But awoke with keys

Of Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in His grave

So three days in darkness slept
The Morning Sun of righteousness
But rose to shame the throes of death
And over turn his rule

Now daughters and the sons of men
Would pay not their dues again
The debt of blood they owed was rent
When the day rolled a new

Hung with a thief
Arose as a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke holding keys
To Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

Hung with a thief
Arose as a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke with keys
Of Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

He has cheated
Hell and seated
Us above the fall
In desperate places
He paid our wages
One time once and for all.






Oh...like Aslan in Narnia...it looked like the evil had one the moment He was dead. But He was defeating death itself.  Jesus laid death in His grave as He rose again. He conquered death.

Tonight...we go to bed thank-full.  Hearts humbled with His sacrifice.  Oh if only they knew what they were doing that day.  The God of Heaven himself stood before them...beaten, bleeding, battered...the creator of the Universe in human flesh...we cannot even comprehend it.  But as we talked to the kids tonight about...He could have called 10,000 angels at any moment and stopped it all. He allowed every single bit of it.  

Willing sacrifice. 

As Aslan said...If the Witch knew the true meaning of sacrifice, she might have interpreted the deep magic differently. That when a willing victim who has committed no treachery, is killed in a traitor's stead, the stone table will crack, and even death itself would turn backwards. 

Mmmm.  He's alive! An innocent man, a sinless sacrifice...paid for the sins of many.  Oh it's all because of Him and His sacrifice...I go free. Grace.  Nothing I've done. No good deed of mine.  Pure grace.  Undeserved. He took my place.  



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Today's day.

:)

I had laid out clothes for everyone (except myself...rrr) last night.  I woke when Dean's alarm went off at 3:30am.  He went and got coffees and gas and really it was to warm up the van as well but it was not very cold this morning.

I went to wake the boys and get them dressed. Honest truth: I have never woken the twins in 3 years. We aren't sure if they sleep...? I walk in and see 2 sets of white eyeballs staring at me through the dark. I really don't know if they sleep.  I hope so...!  But I still had to manually dress them b/c they were wobbly.  I went to get Azlan and saw in perfect Azlan fashion...he decided to sleep in his clothes.  This boy...he's so...Azlan. :)

I sent each one downstairs to lay on the floor/couch and wait for Daddy.  I had 7 dressed, hair done etc and shoes on when Daddy walked in. Onllyyyyy...they were all up chatting away. Umm...it's the middle of the night!  I quickly grabbed Izrael and Dean got Taizi. Each of us got one baby ready and in there some where... I was dressed and ready to go and so was Dean.  It just happens. Not sure how ;) We were all in the van 100% on time and ready to go. It's pitch black outside and it took a few reminders that it was the middle of the night. We were shocked when 20 minutes in...everyone (except Chazano and Zunduka...I'm telling you...they don't sleep!) were sleeping.

We arrived at our appt...20 minutes early. There must be a first for every thing in life... and this is one for this family ;) Dean and I grabbed breakfast at Subway as in my morning scramble I had made breakfast for all the kids to-go ;)

When I went in to the appt I saw there was a full playroom so I ran out to Dean to tell him he was free to bring everyone in.  We were in the Bellevue Children's clinic today.

Taizi began immediately.  But I had a lot of time to spend with him and he does respond to a simple correction.  From hysteria, screaming, extreme grinding, hands in his face to starting all over.  When the team came in to the room he was sitting on the table and completely panicked. He sat, grabbed my leg ( I was sitting there beside him) and clawed his way up my leg and laid onto my shoulder. It was oh-so-sweet until within a few seconds he opted to head butt me and nailed my jaw. The doctor stopped and was like "OUCH". Yah.  After the exam it was back in the stroller. I got hit twice in the face by his head today...and it was less than lovely :)

His weight was 9.8 today. Ohhh...we have no idea.  We just take each day as they come.

So that means he's lost 200g since the last appt.

We talked about these little 'holes' for lack of a better word he has on each ear. One is always open and oozing. He said we need that surgically removed asap b/c if the infection persist, it can infect the ear cartilage.  Well it's been oozing since the day we first met him so it probably has been going on for some time.  The other one, I assumed was a mole, is on his neck. He said it definitely is another one and is related to his deformities. So interesting how all these little things are connected. He said sometimes they track all the way up the neck to the sinuses.

He said he would like to pin his ears back at age 5 (only a year away) b/c if he IS a candidate for hearing aides (we look at the positives ;) and we do know he needs glasses, he can't do either well with his ears the way they are.

He said he can see ear drums in both ears but with goldenhar (as is the case with Azlan) sometimes the bones are all fused together and non functioning. Azlan has all the 'pieces' but they are fused and do not move/work at all.

We went for a behavioral audiology exam which my opinion has never changed on: it's out of the ark!! Sitting a child (Azlan did it starting at a few weeks old) in a room with random frequencies and toys banging all over the room tells you...what...?  I had to wear ear plugs in there b/c her sounds starting at 50 dcb!

When we came out she said he laughed at 95dcb (which he laughs all the time and esp in a strange room) but it could have been due to the vibration if he's sensitive to that and he is. In other words, even with the sounds put right onto the bone behind the ear...he responded to nothing.

Therefore he is getting the BAER test which is done under sedation and the only accurate way to measure brain response to sound. As the ENT says...that doesn't tell us how he HEARS sounds but how the brain responds to sound.

On April 10 he has a sedated brain MRI and now a CAT scan to see the bones of the ear and if they are fused etc.  Then they scheduled another sedated day in the O.R to put tubes in his ears due to fluid and an open palate and the BAER.

It was a great, productive day. I must say since the beginning of the journey we have never walked away without information and many times a diagnosis! Nothing has felt pointless or like a waste of time.

He will be seeing all three boys as well. He was shocked that we have 3 boys with clefts, goldenhar and deafness. He said the three are not that common together and we told him the 2 from China did not even have this in their medical files.

You'd just have to know the WHO is overall this journey to get it ;)

Soooo we left.

And went to a playground with a coffee and the kids had so much fun.

It would be so much fun in the summer as it's all a sprinkler park. Azlan at the top!


Zihao isn't super active. We always cheer when he runs ;) He sat on the whale for a long time.


Little beauty Azahria Peace


Zunduka...always climbing


Azlan and Chazano


Tirzah climbed to the top only to have Zion scream at her on the other side ;)


Chazano and Izrael in a sunken boat ;)


BOO!


Then we headed home. We stopped at the outlet mall where I bought a baby gift for my friend that just adopted a newborn baby girl (gorgeous!).  When I came out Dean buckled Izrael into her seat and came around to get in the van. I had noticed my feet were extremely swollen (it's a first for me and NOT cool :)  and when Dean got back in he had this massive back from Coach. I don't think I breathed or said a word for quite a while.  I opened it to find this beautiful bright pink bag I had oogled over a while ago and would never have bought b/c I would never have spent the $ on myself.  

Seriously. My husband is amazing.  

We've been through it all. And back. And we are here living something beautiful. Together.



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Us-update.

On our family:

We had all dentist appts in the last week or so. Every child that had cavities filled last summer was 100% cavity free!! WOOHOO! Ok that really is a big deal. And makes me smile seeing as I've been hardcore I-refuse-to-miss-one-night-of-brushing-or-flossing-these-kids-teeth!!  And it's paid off! Yes they brush in the morning, I brush and floss them all at night. The dentist loves that. Tirzah however thinks it looks like an awful lot of work and may mean 9 kids is NOT going to happen for her ;)

Chazano somehow, someway got skipped last summer for fillings. So he had SEVEN done yesterday. Yes. 7. His teeth are so different from his twin brother, it's crazy.  Chazano's hold plaque really well, so well, that they were scraping chunks of it.  His teeth are also 'extremely groovy' according to the dentist, meaning they have very very deep grooves and stain easily.  Hopefully now that this is behind us we can keep him cavity free as well!

7 kids cavity free...? Pretty awesome! They were last at the dentist in July! (Our schedule seems a little crazy to do this every 6 months but we try ;)

I had my 26wk ob appt.  My doctor asked me how I feel and honestly...great.  I know what it's like to throw up around the clock with no relief and to not have that...? Amazing.  My ribs are out. Yes. Still. And the pain is almost unbearable and I don't say that lightly.  I have cried a few times this week b/c you would never know I'm in pain and then all of a sudden I reach my max of tolerance, cry, and get over it. :)  I told my ob, apart from my ribs...it's the fact that I feel 30-32 weeks pregnant. Being my 6th pregnancy...it's just weird.  She measured me and I measured 30cm, 30wks.  That's a full 4 weeks ahead of where I should be.

Again...the only time I've measured ahead is Azlan.  My doctor is fantastic...but a tad nonchalant.  She said "So...you have another cleft baby...you could totally handle it..." YES...but knowing during the pregnancy is a gift. She shrugged and smiled.  No no...I'd love to know.  She even suggested twins and said "you could handle that too" ya...maybe I could...but I'd like to know that as well :)  (by the way...it's not twins).

She scheduled an ultrasound for 28wks and with the coaching of 2 good friends who work in the ob world...I called the doctor today to request it earlier.

Tomorrow we leave at 4am for Seattle doctor appts. We do this in stride at this point...and we all look forward to it. Don't tell anyone....we are strange :)

And...to finish with the important stuff...our hearts are still broken.  So many of you have written us privately and we are so thankful for each of your thoughts. The best news is that many, many, many of you have been prompted by this story to stop waiting for the right time...and talk to that person in your life about what matters.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Heart-broken.

*Without reading each other's post...this is what we each of us wrote. This is by Janice

Saturday afternoon, Tirzah and I went out shopping.  I was in the dressing room at Macy's when I got a text from Dean saying "call me when you can. Bad news...."

I grabbed my phone and dialed his number.  He answered the phone in sobs.  It took me a few seconds to piece together what he was saying.  Then I heard "Mark died. He's gone. He took his life". And my husband...sobbed.  Perhaps even wailed into the phone. I felt the blood drain from my face and I sat on the small stool. I said "Oh Dean...I don't know what to say....Oh Dean...noooo...."

Let me tell you a story. A piece of our story.

Several years ago when Dean was a new contractor, he bid on and got a job.  It was a couple building a house with a small vineyard in our area.  Dean was a roofing contractor at the time and did his roof. There was no contact between Mark and Dean for several years until recently.  He recently bought a new house and called Dean to build him a fence.

Having the memory of an elephant, I actually remember having a baby Azlan in the van when Dean built that original fence for him way back when.  So this is 6ish years ago.

Last year, when they reconnected, he offered to even help Dean on the fence. Being retired, he enjoyed that.  I remember Dean telling me how much Mark liked him and he felt God had put him in our lives to reach out to.

Mark was a man who lived all over the world.  He met his wife in the Middle East.  He was a smart man, well travelled, with life experiences to fill hours of stories.  He was so interesting to be around.

Fast forward to our Both Hands Adoption project in July and August. Mark was drawn to our family and wanted to be a part of it.  Though he was unable to be there the day of the project, he came the night we all met at our house and stuffed envelopes to mail out to potential sponsors.

I remember feeling a bit of tension simply because Mark is a strong man. Not quiet.  Strong.  And not a christian.  Our house was packed with born again christians.  One of my closest friends opened the night with asking everyone to go around the room and tell what you admired about Dean and Janice.  I remember that Mark was last.  Several people broke down in tears as they talked us jumping off a cliff in faith to trust God as He called us to surrender our lives in this way.  I remember seeing him out of the corner of my eye and wondering what he was thinking.

When it came to Mark's turn, I can still hear him saying "I have read about people like Dean and Janice...just exemplary human beings...but I've never known them until now."

A few days later he came by our house to drop off his envelopes. Dean wasn't home from work and he just chatted in the kitchen with me.  I still remember my mind scrambling at the counter...thinking...'what is it? What does he see in us?  Why is he so drawn...?" He was clearly fascinated with us...yet we couldn't figure out why.

I remember hearing Dean constantly say "I know God has placed Mark in my life for a reason and I've got to make a point to reach out to him.".

Sadly, the American curse is busy-ness. Our family, with 9 young children and 2 businesses...is no exception.  Time flies...faster than we can comprehend. Before we know it days turn into weeks...into months...and God-forbid...years.

Recently Dean did a huge fence job (within the last 3 weeks) and he needed a helper. He remembered Mark saying "call me anytime, I'd love to give you a hand" so he called him.  Mark came out one day and Dean was doing concrete.

Later that day, Dean called me to tell me about Mark.

He was sad to hear Mark's marriage of 14 years was ending that next week.  And that Mark was moving to Tailand. Tailand? Yes. He was a globe-trotter and said he had a friend in Tailand...as well as fine dining and women (in his words).  Dean felt sick.

Dean told me how he sounded so empty...and had verbalized how retirement was simply not what it was cracked up to be.  That he was empty.  Dean said it was the perfect 'in' to say "I have what you are looking for..." but they were pouring concrete. It was a bad time.  Instead he told Mark he was going to get together with him before he moved away.

I recall Dean saying to me something about "if I ever heard something happened to Mark...it would be the worst day of my life.  I have got to sit down and be straight with him about Jesus".

Yesterday we were driving through town and Dean said "Ahh I have GOT to call Mark" and he picked up his phone and called him. He left a message something to the effect of "I hope I haven't missed you...really want to get together. Call me.".

We went on with our day.

I put the little children to bed for their naps and went out with Tirzah.

Dean's cell phone rang. It was Mark's wife. He assumed right away that he had already missed Mark and he had left for Tailand. But she was crying.  She told him she was so sorry to say that Mark had 'passed away'. Dean said he felt every bit of blood drain from his face.  Nooo. Nooo. Nooo. There's no way.  No. Please, God...no.  He carried on a conversation with her as she wept and at the end he asked if he had died of a heart attack. She said "no, Dean, it was much much worse than that. He took his own life and I found him."

Dean's recounting this to me as I stand in the Macy's dressing room.  I feel like I'm going to throw up. I keep tapping my foot to keep me from blacking out.

Oh God...No.  No. No.

The finality of it all.

Gone.

This man was in our life. Drawn to our family. Searching. Lost.  Trying to fill that void with everything but what it was created to fit....a Savior.

Us...feeling like we missed an opportunity. The opportunity of not only a lifetime...but eternity.

Oh..Mark saw our life. He knew we were christians. He heard things so clearly that night.

And it wouldn't have been an easy conversation.  Dean had said something to Mark last summer and Mark had really come out with swords. It was political.  It was de-nerving...there was no doubt.

There is no doubt that was in the back of Dean's mind when choosing the 'perfect timing' to have a straight conversation. However, he was going to have it...before he left.

And now in a flash...it's too late.

We came home from shopping and I saw a husband with the light completely gone from his eyes. We fell into a hug, with no words. There are no words.  What we both are feeling...cannot be spoken. Not even to God.  We cannot put it into words.

Complete. Total. Devastation. Loss. Heartbreak.  Sickening loss.

We opted to go for a date last night. To spend time together and talk.  Not sure what we'd talk about but we knew we needed to go out.

I had a spotted fox coupon for a restaurant. We got there, walked in and saw it was packed. Loud. And a buzz. I looked at Dean...we put our names down .  Just before the lady called us, Dean walked up to her and said we'd come back another night.

We have never done that.

We didn't know where we were going.

We drove around for a while and I suggested a place and Dean suggested a place. I said "let's do yours". We had never been there. Why not.

We arrived, were seated, ordered, prayed, talked.

All of a sudden, I hear this lady say "DEAN!" and she came from behind him. Not behind me, she came from behind Dean. How she saw him and was confident enough to know it was him with only seeing the back and side of his head...I don't know. He saw her and immediately stood up and the two of them stood in a long embrace. He looked at me and whispered "It's her...!" I knew it was.

It was Mark's wife.  She then said "what are you doing here? I came here with a few close friends b/c this was Mark's favorite restaurant..."  Dean told her our story of how we had just left somewhere else....she put her hand on her chest and said "this is so special, it's just what I needed tonight".  We were speechless.  That restaurant has been here for years, we have never walked into the front door.

The night felt like a blur.

I got in bed and was so restless. Everytime I woke, I looked over to see Dean in a similar state.

Praying we would wake to find out it was all a dream...yet the moment the sunlight hit our eyes this morning, we knew.  This was reality.  Unchangeable. Final. Reality.

In our talk last night we both committed to doing things...that free us to have time to invest in people.  Not stuff. Not things. Not running like ragged Americans searching for which way is up b/c we have ourselves overcommitted, over-involved, over-spent, literally in debt of time.

That the purpose of our lives is to prepare for eternity and to seize the opportunities of those God places in our lives.  To live 'out loud' with our faith and invest in people not things.

To stop waiting for the right time...because it simply may never come.

This is a huge wake up call to us. But yet one that doesn't bring hope of the change we can make happen...because it is still overshadowed by the pure sick empty loss of what just has occurred. Gone.

To die without having your sins forgiven by Jesus alone....means an eternity separated from God forever in hell.  This is the devastation of our hearts today. The thief hanging beside Jesus on the cross was saved in his last few moments...we absolutely know that's possible. But if he died as he lived....our hearts are broken.

_________________________________________________________________________________

This is what Dean wrote:


It’s one thing to lose a friend that doesn’t know Jesus.  That is horrific!
It’s another thing to lose a friend to suicide.  Completely tragic!  The questions come fast and furious, “What didn’t I know?  What should have I known? Did I not listen enough? What could I have done better?”
But it’s yet another thing to lose a friend that doesn’t know Jesus, that takes his own life AND I felt deeply that God put him in my path so that I could show him The Way .... The Truth .... The Life,  AND he expressed to me the lostness he was feeling just two weeks ago .... It doesn’t get worse than that!!

I remember where I was standing on my jobsite when he shared that retirement sure wasn’t easy and that maybe he’d find some meaning to his life in his upcoming move to Thailand...  It was such an open door I don’t know how I didn’t fall right through it and say, “Oh I totally know what you are looking for, there is no doubt in my mind ... It’s Jesus!!”   Actually I do no how.  1) I was concentrating setting posts in concrete on a difficult part of the job and thought if I got in to a deep conversation it would be difficult  2) I wondered about a negative response (the only time I had seen him get riled up was a brief discussion on politics where I thought he was a bit irrational when it came to his liberal point of view) and didn’t want to potentially get him upset just as he’s about to help me out on my project.
  1. I thought that I’ll file away what he had said and definitely sit down over coffee or have him over for a BBQ at our house before he leaves and tell him about The Hope of the World - Jesus Christ.  
  2. Was even gonna speak with my pastor to get advice on how he would approach it.

Some or all of those things might be legit.  But I never dreamed in a million years that that opportunity would not come.  How foolish to think that I was sure to have another day, never mind another week.  How foolish to think that he would definitely be around for a few more days  -- he wasn’t exactly the picture of health ... but even if he was, there are no guarantees!!    The thought of suicide, for sure, never entered my mind -- after all, he had plans to move half way around the world.  When I asked him what was in Thailand he said, “Beaches .... food .... girls....” All telltale signs of SEARCHING!

What I would do to have another chance to stop my job right then and there (who cares about the concrete drying!)  and talk to him.  Who cares about a potential “negative response” - how wimpy is that?!?  Worried about a little backlash for telling someone about Jesus, someone that desperately needs Him whether they know it or not.  Oh to not depend on having a chance a few days later.  And by the way, I didn’t have to stop and preach a sermon .... I just needed to open my mouth and confidently tell him I have the answer - Jesus.  Who knows where it would’ve gone from there.  Maybe it would’ve been a small seed that turned into something more later that day or the next.  Or maybe we could’ve had a great conversation right then and there.  Maybe my job would have taken a little longer .... really? Who cares?  That day will forever be in my memory.  I can see him walking and talking (with very little life in his step) like it was today.  

The tears come when the finality of it all hits.  If only I could have 30 seconds of time back.  I know.  There are no guarantees of what might have been different.  But I hope and pray I don’t miss an opportunity to speak up again!
So for those of you reading this, please don’t sleep on that person in your life that God has placed there.  If you are not aware of a hurting/searching person in your sphere of influence, you need to start listening a lot more.  Our world is full of them.  And if busyness is infecting your life, do whatever you can to take back the reigns and YOU dictate who and what gets your time and attention.  If you get a poke from the Holy Spirit to call somebody, stop what you are doing and call. Look for an opportunity to interrupt your busy schedule!  Because at the end of the day, there is nothing more important than being a connector between people & God.  The finality of leaving this world for eternity is overwhelming if the destination is the wrong one.  Be Holy ... Be Bold ... nothing else matters!!

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Janice:

When I got into bed last night I could not get this song out of my head.  So much so...I was so tired...that I said "ok God I will post it on the blog" and it was gone immediately and I slept. 

Here it is. 

Please. Click on the link and watch it. Read the words and listen.  

This is what it's all about.   






Friday, March 22, 2013

Heart-full.

Little Zihao (zee-how) has my heart.  Well...a piece of it.  :)  We were in the doc's office and I took out my phone to take a pic...and look at that little face.  


He loves to say "YAH".  Yesterday morning I went into his room and he was still sleeping. A few minutes later, I walk in and his bed is empty.  I see him stumbling getting his jammies off. I smiled and he said "gooooooood morning mommy".  Seriously.  Cutest thing ever. 

His birthday is in May.  I ask if he wants a truck party and he smiles "YAH~!" I ask if he wants a doggy party and he smiles and says "YAH!" :)  

He has cried every day at nap time. Even though it's Izrael's nap time at the same time so I make it fun for both of them, he cries. Well 2 days ago at lunch he brought his plate over (yes...our children do that! ;) and went up the stairs. I said "where you going?" and he smiled and said "Night night Mommy".  Nothing more thrilling in parenting than when your consistency pays off.  I gave him a big hug and said he was awesome.  He was beaming.  

He has a sparkle. And a light.  We love that.  Azlan has never walked since he was born. He skips.  He has too much joy to walk.  Azahria has never walked. She skips. JOY.  Izrael hops to the potty. It's the best.  And Zihao skips everywhere.  Makes my heart sing.  

Azahria Peace is turning 5.  Yes...5 in April.  And yet, I have cherished each of those five years.  She has been the most like her mama so far.  She sparkles and shines and if you give her direct eye contact, her lip will quiver and she freezes. Oh...like her mama was.  Today she laid down on Mommy on the couch for a few minutes.  Tirzah ran and got a blanket and pillow for us.  

Dean won't be working until 9pm tonight.  That makes for a good Friday.  

Let your heart be full tonight with what God has given you.  Heart-full.





Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dental.

This morning I took Zihao, Azlan, Azahria and Izrael to the dentist. It was for 8am sharp and this NON-morning-Mama made it on time and without coffee! ;)

Azlan has severe dental staining due to being on oral antibiotic for a year. Now that we are off that hopefully we'll see extreme improvement.

Azlan, Izrael and Azahria were all cavity free.  Zihao, being his first dental, of course we knew otherwise.  He was so cute. All brave until he popped into that chair and I've never seen him so tense! His hands were splayed apart, though I was holding one and the tears were streaming down his cheeks. They were just counting his teeth but he was really scared :( Poor baby.

His "cleft" tooth is totally decayed and actually needs to be pulled. The not so good side of this is that that tooth is really important for bone growth as they will do bone grafting down the road.  But...with a decayed tooth and root, there is no bone growth happening and actually a risk of infection :(  He has a mouthful of cavities but the good news is ... he will need 1 pulled, 1 capped and the rest are fill-able.

Izrael popped into the chair, put the sunglasses on and opened her mouth wide! Then the dentist looked in and she shrilled at the top of her lungs ! ;)

Azahria was good to go with perfect little chompers.

Then...Azlan.

Oh...Azlan.  We were told in Seattle Children's from the time he was born...he is the most severe of a cleft you can have without being bilateral (2 sides).  He was so wide. Yes he looks amazing now but it was extreme.

His teeth are a mess.  Zihao's are beautiful in comparison and Taizi's are almost a non issue! He had a very minor cleft though it did extend to the nose.

The shock with Azlan's teeth came from the xray.

Woah.

His 2 front teeth...well one is coming in at a perfect 90 degree angle. In other words...completely sideways instead of front on. Yes his front tooth :(  Though his baby teeth are straight...the adult one..the one that matters...is crazy.

Then it appears as though he is missing at least 2 adult teeth on the upper jaw. These are not back molars either...but very visible teeth.

I smiled and the dentist was very warm and sincere and said how well I was handling it.

I came home with a lump in my throat that won't go away.

Upset? No. Scared? No.  Frustrated? No.

It's my child.  I've fought for him from that first heartbeat I saw on ultrasound at 6  weeks gestation.  I will fight to the end.  He gets bullied and it breaks my heart.  He's sheltered...and he gets bullied.  Sunday School (plenty) and the playground.  Not sure how you would like to have a front tooth completely, totally end-on...but that's not going to be pretty...or comfortable.  :( Yes they will fix it.  Down the road.

Can you imagine being born 100 years ago and having these teeth that there was no hope for...? Talk about life-altering.

Talking about bullying...the other day the kids were talking to my friend and neighbor's kids over the fence.  One of her little boys (about 4y) was listening away to Azlan tell a story. Finally he said "I don't have a clue what you just said, but you sure are cute!!".  I laughed so hard, it was the cutest thing ever.  He never made fun of how he was talking, he never laughed at him, but said this and I looked at Azlan who instantly smiled and said "that was cute that he just said that to me".

Soooo...there we are.

I'm not hyper sensitive...but I am when it comes to people saying how a cleft affected child is "hardly a special need as it's only cosmetic! Sew it up and you are done!". With all due respect, our child will have a lifetime of therapy and help to live a life where he's able to communicate with those around him b/c of his cleft lip and palate.  It's not "merely cosmetic" and though I'm fully aware he is a severe case...it is indeed a special need that he's not growing out of.

And I would do it all over again (clearly).  That boy changed my heart forever and every bump in the road is worth it.

Just a few nights ago, when tucking the kids in bed, we talked about Heaven.

I was saying how Taizi will walk, talk and hear and they were all spell-bound. Suddenly Azlan piped up and said "wait...I won't have a cleft lip...? And I can hear? And I will talk like everyone else....?" And he was sparkling.  Yes. As much as I think perfection is that cleft lip and that scar that will forever tell your story...true perfection won't include microtia, or deafness, or speech issues.

In a random moment while we were talking, Chazano piped up and said "will the castles be made of Azlan's special shiny tooth?" and I prayed with them all through my laughter at the thought.  Azlan has a silver cap on his tooth and clearly this is wealth and what he dreams of a castle being.  Stainless steel? Won't be there. If the streets are made of gold....can you only imagine what everything else...?

Yes, we talk about Heaven a lot.  This really is just the prep room for eternity and our children know it. Our eyes are fixed on Heaven and we cannot wait.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Taizi Cardio appt

We had a cardio appt today for Taizi.

If you want to pretend you were with us...here is how it went:

We walked in the door and Taizi went ballistic.  Screaming. giggling. screaming. giggling. thrashing in his stroller.  I'm getting good at this...I picked up a magazine ;)

We were called in and once in the office got him weighed. Not sure how accurate those scales are compared to Seattle's but it was similar to what we recorded in Seattle.  All this time Taizi is giggling til tears are coming down his face.  It's quite sad b/c he's not emotionally laughing. It's totally trauma and it's cry or laugh take your pick.

We had an echo done and it was done quickly.  Which was nice. I can hold his hands and feet but not his head as well.

The cardiologist came in and we talked about Taizi's history.  He said the echo shows the PDA is 100% closed. The left side of the heart is still very dialated or enlarged. He also said the heart is very weak. We had discussed this in Seattle and they were hoping by this follow up appt we'd see great improvement in the strength of the beats. We were told today that he's on the lowest end of normal and that's "iffy" and that he's actually below any normal range.

 The heart is large and very weak.

He put him on a medication to lower blood pressure so heart will have to work harder. We will follow up with another echo in 3 months.

He too, emphasized how significant this pda was and how very serious of a hole in his heart that he had.

And then with a laughing, shaking, hysterical Taizi...we left. :) And we never heard a peep in the van.  :)


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Medical update.

Yesterday was Zihao's appts in Seattle.

We had to leave at 5am ish. (!!) and woke at 4:50. You have never seen 9 kids wake, pee and get dressed and buckled so fast in your life.  :) They are used to it. I had all clothing laid out which of course helped.

We were in the van at about 5:15 or so.

We arrived late as the pass was really quite stormy. We've been traveling all winter and this is the first time it's been bad.

The main concern with Zihao is his deafness and therefore speech. His palate is quite botchy but ... he's using it well. He says all the difficult sounds and letters that Azlan cannot say...proving the muscles are functioning in his palate. He does have a hole in it but they'll repair that later.

He has level 1 microtia (ear deformity) with one being smaller and lacking a fold. They will do an otoplasty when he is 6y.

The appt went great with no red flags.  He does need kidney ultrasounds, spinal X-rays, hearing exams, eye tests and the whole works due to having Goldenhar.

In there, we got Taizi in to be weighed.

So. 5 months. 9.5kg.

He had his heart procedure and 10 days later...was weighted at 9.4kg (all on the same scale by the way).

Another 18 days later and he was ... 10.0!!! They were shocked!!!

He gained 600 g in 18 days. They said the normal for a healthy 3.5yo is 180 g in 30 days so not only is his nutrition content off the charts but now so is his gain!  We aren't even connecting this to the PDA repair as they were shocked it was no gain after 10 days....this one we are giving 100% to prayer.

And now that we KNOW the weight gain, we can see it. True story.  His hips have been plain and simple...bony.  Well they are not. I cannot see the bones sticking out!

Besides medical update I want to update about Zihao.  He's been doing so well. He really has a big piece of my heart.  Every time he talks and says a word funny due to his cleft...I think I melt a little.  And he sparkles.


Zihao and Mommy played this cute game in the doctor's office on the iPad.  He was so cute. He had to get some people out of the train before he could let new "peoples" in.  Well he didn't know to move them out so he started shoo'ing them with his hand and saying "GET OUT" I was laughing so hard. ;)


The other day, we stopped by to see a fence client and the man asked Dean if he could meet his "new children".  So Dean got Zihao out.  It was so wonderful to see the look of fear on his face as Dean took him out to meet this man. He clung to Dean and cuddled in his shoulder, refusing eye contact with the gentleman.  Why is that so wonderful...? Ahhh. Because it's been 5 months of begging for the attention of every stranger and this time, he seemed scared that he was leaving us.  Also while in Children's he was very cuddly with me when each doctor came in. Seeing signs of great, healthy attachment.

We stopped at a very cool waterfall on our way home. The kids loved it.


Azahria Peace looking at the falls :)



And we got home long before midnight! Bonus! ;)

Today, a box came from Amazon for Izrael's birthday. Oh she loved it.  My sister sent the cutest outfit and toy purse filled with a cell phone, lipstick, credit card and other goodies.


Someone commented on how big she's getting. She IS big. She's just 2 and taller than Zihao who is almost 4.  She wears 3t and 4t.  She's fully potty trained except for at night and sleeps in her toddler bed. Oh...and I adore her! 


In other important news:  we have a new pediatrician. Yes. The last one that I love...sent us certified letter stating he would no longer be our doctor after the day I cried in his office.  Lovely.  Nothing like leaving us completely up a creek in the middle of non stop doctor appts and referrals.  Well...it all worked out. I told this one the entire story and she said "hmmm. He is a very nice man...I'm glad to hear you say you loved him and were shocked by this.  Here's what I have to say to you. I'm not a god. I don't have a god-complex.  I won't know all the answers, but I'll refer you to someone who does.  I love that doctor as well, he's a nice man. BUT. Don't ever argue with a mother's intuition and you ALWAYS have the right to a second opinion. I wouldn't have put that injection of steroids into my son's head without a second opinion either so KUDOS to you for standing up for your son."  A humble "thank you" followed.  

She's referring Azlan to our new team in Seattle which we are excited about. All 3 boys will be with the same team ( and we LOVE them).



I had a chiro appt today b/c ... well...hmmmm...I have a very high pain tolerance...and little will slow me down...but I'm in a 7 out of 10 pain at all times right now...due to my ribs.  I went in and he said I had 3 ribs out. Really out. So out he doesn't know if he got them back in and on the ride home I confirmed he didn't. He also said "we probably won't get them back in until the baby arrives". No problem. That's only like 12-13 weeks from now.  ;)  I cried. And then decided this too...is a choice.  All about expectation. I will not and cannot let this slow me down. I can handle the pain. I will handle the pain.  And I'll take the prayers :)

I feel like this is such a vomit of words that don't go together at all. I do apologize.  My brain is just spewing things out in no particular order tonight.  


We saw our aunt and uncle a few days ago and they snapped this pic of us in their RV. Here we are.  I look at this and get emotional.  For God to take something and someone so broken. So flawed. So very ordinary.  And make something so beautiful. 4 children from different parts of the globe...a family.  You may see the skin color differences, but I assure you, they don't.  



For the last day I cannot get a song out of my head. It's not how I feel right now...though I certainly do at times.  But I have learned to share it because God is giving it to me for someone.  The words are powerful.  So many of you are feeling this for different reasons in your life.  Take heart.  Jesus has overcome.  He already sees the end.  Take heart.  

Please click on the link and watch the music video with lyrics.