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
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.
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.
Thank God for your health. For your family. For God. For what really matters.
And please…pray for my friend. And her family.