Saturday, November 23, 2013

Make a wish...

If you were granted one wish…what would it be?

This morning, Taizi and I got out in the cold and made it to Macy's just on time. We were invited by Macy's and Make A Wish foundation to speak to their staff for the new "letters to Santa" fundraiser.  I was told nothing, just come and speak.

We came in to the center of the staff circled around us and I was briefly introduced and then given the floor. I told Taizi's story.  Just a piece of it.  And I looked around to see many women wiping tears.  Then I told what this Wish is doing for our family is just a few weeks. How our amazing children never once have asked why we adopted Taizi. How they never once have complained about numerous trips to Seattle for Taizi.  And how when they found out Taizi was granted a wish…they were so excited for him.  And then I figured out that they didn't know they were included in his wish…! That moment was amazing.  It was pure joy.  The staff all cheered for Taizi and then presented him with a special Christmas ornament and stocking.  Many of them walked up to me at the end to thank us for giving Taizi as I mentioned…"the gift of life".

On the way home Taizi was the in the back of the car in his carseat and we are driving down the freeway.  I have the radio on…which I hear…and he doesn't.  And the song "Kings & Queens" comes on.

Little hands, shoeless feet, lonely eyes looking back at me
Will we leave behind the innocent too brief
On their own, on the run when their lives have only begun
These could be our daughters and our sons
And just like a drum I can hear their hearts beating
I know my God won’t let them be defeated
Every child has a dream to belong and be loved

[Chorus:]
Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in Your majesty 
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free
Shout your name in victory
When we love when we love the least of these
When we love the least of these

Break our hearts once again
Help us to remember when
We were only children hoping for a friend
Won’t you look around these are the lives that the world has forgotten
Waiting for doors of our hearts and our homes to open

[Chorus]

If not us who will be like Jesus
To the least of these
If not us tell me who will be like Jesus
Like Jesus to the least of these

Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in your majesty
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free shout your name in victory
We will love we will love the least of these
We will love the least of these
We will love the least of these
We will love the least of these
We will love the least of these 
We will love the least of these


Without looking in the back seat…I reached my hand back there. Blindly.  I could hear Taizi banging his head back and forth against his seat.  And suddenly..perhaps 5 - 7 seconds after I stretched my arm back there…I feel this tiny, tiny, warm hand slip into my hand.  I got chills.  It was such a sweet moment.  We held hands for as long as I could…until my arm began to hurt.  

We stopped to get donuts on the way home for the kids and instead of carrying Taizi, I held his hand and he walked. And it took forever. And it was cold. And it was so so warm.  


Taizi's wish is Florida. We fly out very soon for a week of being spoiled and not having to worry about a thing.  We are really really looking forward to this trip…all 12 suitcases are lined up and getting ready to go!


As I thought about making a wish…I remembered my sister recently was here visiting and we asked each other over breakfast what our wishes would be.  I thought for a very long time and finally said "my wish would be to go to Heaven. And come back". Coming back would be a very important part of it. First b/c I am going to Heaven someday…I don't need to wish for that. Second…because I would love to tell, with unshakeable passion…everyone else all about Jesus and how very very real Heaven is.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

1 year. 10 years. Perspective.

One year ago we were in China.

November 5, 2012 was Taizi's gotcha day.  Oh I can instantly feel my stomach tighten remembering that day.  We were prepared for anything and yet it still felt steep.

I can still see the yellow wallpaper in that Nanjing bathroom…where I would frequently go…silent…and just sit.  What…? Us…? Really…? God…?

As poor little Taizi would sit on the floor completely freaking out. Hitting himself. Giggling. Crying. Crossing his eyes. Staring at his hands. Beating his hand against the leg of the chair.  Oh… Oh…








Yes. He has come a long ways. And yes…we have come a long ways.  It's been quite a journey.  

Health-wise…? Still a mystery.  CHARGE syndrome has surfaced a few times with Children's.  We know he's totally deaf. Legally blind in one eye.  And mentally disabled.  

While he's "grown leaps and bounds" according to everyone else…he hasn't :) It's amazing what a head of hair and cute toddler-clothes will do.  B/c he hasn't grown at all height-wise. Not a cm. In 1 year.  Yes. That's crazy.  But his brain MRI showed a very tiny pituitary and that's going to be examined further in the new year.  He's gained weight…just no height.  In fact he still wears all the same clothing he wore in China. I'm actually just getting tired of the same clothes, because apparently it will wear out before he out-grows it.

And it's been hard.  He's kept us in constant state of surrender.  We don't know the answers. We definitely don't know the future.  We don't even know tomorrow.  It's a day at a time.  

But…he's home. And he knows he's home.  

Though rarely showing any signs of 'joy' we often say "it's ok…Taizi is smiling on the inside".  :)

November 6 was Tirzah Liberty's 10th birthday.  Wow.  See…that feels longer than 10 years ago.  Imagine..! 10 years ago we had one tiny, precious baby girl!  That seems like a very, very long time ago.  Tirzah was an adorable, very strong willed baby girl. And I always said if we could break through that strong will, we'd find a beautiful soft heart. She took a lot of work…and every bit was worth it.   What a beautiful heart she has.  

She loves horses. Like…no really…she LOVES horses. She will cry just thinking about looking into her own horse's eyes.  There's something very deep for her there and honestly…I can relate. Though I've never owned or spent much time with a horse…when I feel overwhelmed I imagine riding a horse down the beach in the evening. The crash of the waves and all it's splendor and the horse running like the wind…it's magical. 

She loves her brothers and sisters.  Always been very close to Zion and still is.  She adores Izrael and Zihao and Nazara.  Adores. And they adore her! Izrael will stroke Tirzah's face and just stare at her…pretty amazing.

She loves Jesus.  No…she really loves Jesus.  She talks about Heaven a lot. I've often said it seems the veil between the here and now and eternity is so very thin for Tirzah.  It's just a breath away for her. It is for all of us…for her it seems to be at the forefront of her mind.  
We talk openly about life and death with our children.  We have talked so often about different scenarios that could happen. Someone in our family could get cancer. Someone could be killed in a car accident. We don't know what's ahead. We are only given today. This moment.  She will pause and think the situation through. Often getting a little teary. Then she will say "but then I would be with Jesus…and that's amazing." 

A few months ago she said she only had one concern about dying. She started to tear up as she asked me if she would miss me and Daddy in Heaven.  I pulled her close and said Jesus loves her more than Mommy and Daddy ever could. And that feeling of total security she has being beside us…she will instantly have with Him. She will lack nothing.  She wiped her eyes and smiled.  "I wondered that…but I didn't know for sure and it was the only concern I had about dying".  I assured her I would miss her every single day of my life should anything ever happen to her but that I know I'd see her in Heaven.  "I know, Mommy" she said.  

Yes you may think that's rather deep to go there with young children. And I agree. Yet we have done so very age-appropriately.  We strongly believe our job as parents is preparing our children for life. And death is a very real, sure part of our journey.  She may live long and old. And so may we all. But we discuss openly what happens in so very many families today.  

The gift of Tirzah Liberty.

She had a lovely small birthday. Her favorite cake…chocolate…and in the shape of a horse! An amazing gift from Nana and Papa…a blue iPod Nano! She listens to music around the clock!  A fun gift from Auntie Joss of iPod skins and headphones. She was so excited when Auntie Tanis' card arrived…another $20 to save towards her horse. Yes…she's serious!  All her siblings approached me and said they wanted to buy her a special gift. They each gave $2 and got her the horse piggy bank she wanted from Target.  Seriously…they adore her! $2 doesn't get earned easily! :)




Opening her Nano from Nana and Papa!


Her piggy bank from her siblings


Yes..Daddy got her a pink gun! No…it's not real but it's heavy like a real one. She loves it!


And she LOVES this big stuffed horse for her bed!



November 12th was Zihao's gotcha day.  

Oh that day.  I still get a little emotional thinking about seeing that beautiful, beautiful boy walk through those doors. Oh he was so precious.  He was crying so softly.  And the 40 minutes or so that he wept and wept on my shoulder. And I…with him.  



Mommy crying with her Zihao-boy

So precious


I love this picture. Us all ooh'ing over our shoes :)




Zihao has grown a lot.  Yes in size, a bit, not a ton but he's grown where it really counts.  He LOVES Izrael. They talk so sweetly to each other. When she gets hurt he'll say "Bael…you got an owed?" :) Yes he calls her Bay-elle ;) He loves to pray at bedtime and he loves to sing.  Oh..yes he loves to sing! :) We often say what would Izrael do without her Zihao? They are so so close.  He's very snuggly. Still struggles a bit with attachment. He's very attached to us but easily attaches to others so we keep him close.  

We made brownies, put a candle in them and he blew it out. We made  up a song for gotcha day and he beamed while everyone sang to him!  

Then we sat down in the living room and all watched our China slideshow.  He loved it. He didn't light up or really respond with his foster family, but we paused it and called her Auntie. We told him Aunties take good care of you and she loved you lots! So we all blew kisses to Auntie and said thank you for loving Zihao. It was cute.  Then we waved bye bye to Auntie :)

What a year.  And to think during all of those adventures I was sicker than sick..and here I sit…holding the precious little wonder of that journey…miss Nazara Journey. Oh how we love her. We love her. And we smile…as we knew we would…with this year behind us and seeing her sweet sparkle…knowing she was the perfect gift. 

Perspective.  

My close friend's friend…was recently diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Covering the liver and into several spots of her bones.  41 years old. Married to a man who adores her (what a gift!) and 3 beautiful children.  Oh…Oh…

My friend and I went to visit her.  As I'm sitting there listening to her pour out her heart…I could so easily put myself in her shoes.  How your life can change in a moment.  How difficult to surrender in that journey. To have joy in that journey.  To keep hope alive..in that journey.  That's a very real journey tonight. And as you are reading this post…will you just pause her and pray for this sweet sweet friend.  She is fighting…fighting for her family and for her life.  Please pray for her strength to do so…and for her hope to stay so very alive.  

No matter where you are in your life. No matter how overwhelming…how daunting the circumstances…just stop for a few moments…and think if that were you. Your spouse. Your child.  Everything else…is nothing.  Stress…? No that's no longer stress.  Money issues…couldn't care less now.  Relationship drama…? Totally on the back burner.  
Perspective changes everything. 

Oh to live like we were dying.  We would all change a lot, wouldn't we…?  We'd think less. We'd do more.  We'd nit-pick less. We would love more.  We would look at our phones and computers WAY less. We would spend more time with deep connecting eye contact.  We would say "not right now" only when we had to. We would take the time right then and there to do it…why yes…right now.  

We are all dying.  I mean…the clock is ticking for each of us.  And to have the discipline to live like we are dying…would change everything.

Perspective.  

Thank God for your health. For your family.  For God. For what really matters.

And please…pray for my friend. And her family.






Friday, November 1, 2013

Be strong and take heart.

When Nazara was about 2 months old, we had her sleeping on our large couch in our master bedroom. She couldn't roll yet and we had pillows surrounding her just in case :) When I was training her to sleep she would cry for a little before she would fall to sleep.  But right in front of her face…was my pillow. And I was laying there right beside her.

In fact…I was so close I still remember the little puffs of her breath and me watching every single moment. I never closed my eyes. I watched her.

There were one or two times in those days that she spit up a bit…and she never knew where I came from but in a split second I would grab her and pull her to my shoulder so she didn't choke or panic.  Instant rescue.

One of those nights as I lay there watching her cry…my eyes filled up too.  And instantly I got the picture of God with me.  How many times do I feel like I'm floundering and panicking and completely…overwhelmed and "where are you God…?" is the only cry of my heart…?

If Nazara could have articulated what she was thinking…it would have possibly been that.  But little did she know…I was so close…so close I could feel her breath on my face as she drifted off to sleep.

As I laid my head down on the pillow next to this precious little gift…it all came together.  Never once has He left me on my own.  Sometimes it's felt like I was abandoned. Floundering. Panicking. Overwhelmed. But every second…He was so close He could feel my panicked heart beat. My sweaty palms.

One night I remember reaching my hand for little Nazara but knowing it would hinder training her to sleep…my hand hovered over her. Just a few inches over her back. In the dark…as she cried…my hand was outstretched and wanting so bad to pat her back…

This picture was beautiful to me.  When He says "I'll never leave you" … He really means it. It's literal.  Just like I've never ever left Nazara.  And any time I did let her cry…it was for her greater good.  The moment she was in danger…there was no hesitation. I scooped her up and comforted her as she nuzzled into my neck.

I've thought of this so often lately…and tonight…I felt prompted to blog about it.

When you are feeling alone. Floundering.  Abandoned.  Forsaken.  Picture me with my hand hovering over my crying baby in the dark…ready to rescue the moment she's in danger.  Your God has never turned His back on your broken heart. He's never walked out and closed the door and let you deal with it on your own.

On the contrary…He's standing right there in the shadows reaching out to wipe your tears…wanting to pull you into that tight embrace.

Why?

God doesn't answer why.  He tells us we will go through difficult times.  And then follows it up with "I will never leave you…"

A few years ago I went through some heart break.  Heart break as in … I-don't-want-to-get-up-off-the-floor heart break. The loss of our 3rd baby was too much. I can't bear it. "Can you hear me…?"
"am I just another voice in the sea of pain…"  ... "Where are you God…where are you…?"

In the last few months I have met with several friends…who are going through complete…total heartbreak in their lives.  Most recently I drove home from having coffee with a friend and I was praying out loud as I drove home.  And it hit me.  Perfect, pain-free lives don't comfort broken hearts.   They just don't.  It takes broken hearts to comfort broken hearts.

For the first time…ever…I smiled as I thought about those sad, sad days in my life.  Mended broken hearts…can comfort broken hearts.

He doesn't tell us 'why'.  He tells us 'who'.  He never says 'why' we'll go through it. He tells us 'who' will be there every single step of the way.  Never missing a cry. Never missing a plea. Never missing another falling piece of our heart.

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you…
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you…and help you.
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


Recently I cried and cried as I poured out yet another broken heart to God.

He answered with this:

Be strong and take heart…all you who hope in the Lord.
Psalm 27:4.

In church today we sang one of my favorite songs…and as I sang it, I was struck by how much this blog post ties into the song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08s3GKRict8

Please take a few minutes to click the link and watch.