Sunday, December 28, 2014

Raising big hearts.

We have boys. Six of them!! They are all boy.  Chazano and Zion LOVE football and most other sports. They all love lego, transformers and ninjas.

They have heart.

We have worked hard to nurture heart, especially in our sons.

Isn't it interesting how 'heart' gets knocked as a boy and as a teen but when you are an adult...heart is an amazing thing in a husband and father...? But...what about the gap?  If it's not cool as a kid...when does it suddenly...become cool?

We've been working hard against the grain.

On Christmas Eve we watched "The Great Escape" with our older kids.

At one point, I was cleaning the kitchen and Zion (9) stepped around the corner and offered to help. Yes....he would step away from a roller coaster to offer to help.  But...I noticed his lip was quivering. I bent down to ask what was wrong and the tears came.  I had no idea what was going on.

Then he said "Mom...he died.  I can't believe he died. That was the saddest thing ever. He was killed. And did you know he was blind...?"

A man in the movie.

I bent down and hugged him and agreed how awfully said it was. We talked about tough things and how they do happen, especially in war. (This is our child that has been obsessed with the army since he was a toddler).

After we were done talking, I kept loading the dishwasher.  I could see his reflection in the window. He put his face in his hands and sobbed.


All boy. Tough, rough, football...boy.  With heart.

We cherish it here.

Our philosophy for parenting is we are raising little people.  Not babies. Not toddlers. Not children.  We are raising...the next generation.  What we cultivate today...becomes greater tomorrow.  Whether that's cute little temper tantrums of a 2 year old ... that turn into not-so-cute, embarrassing outbursts of a 4 year old 'tomorrow'....or soft, sensitive hearts in young children...that become people of empathy tomorrow.

Future Mrs. can thank us later.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Defining moment.

I had one of the biggest, most critical defining moments of my life yesterday.

This actually wasn't something new.  I have heard this before.  But this time...a light bulb went on and everything was different.

I was straightening my hair and I turned music on.  It was loud and I was loving each song.

Then...a song came on that I haven't heard in a very...very long time.

But this time...something was different.  It hit me like it was God speaking directly to me.

"You Can Have Me" by Sidewalk Prophets.  

If I saw You on the street
And You said come and follow me
But I had to give up everything
All I once held dear and all of my dreams

Would I love You enough to let go
Or would my love run dry
When You asked for my life

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

I paused it right here. I put the straightener down.  And I was completely stunned.

So...I've been very transparent about my journey with Taizi.  It's hard. I find it extremely hard.  The emotional side of the daily surrender required...feels overwhelming.  I haven't asked God "why?" but I've asked Him everything else.
 "How long...?"

You know how you have said what you personally could and could not handle...? And you bless those that can handle what you can't...?  Well that's been me, my whole life...with mentally disabled children.  Love them.  They are precious. They need love and care and a lifetime of a special heart...but that's just not me.  I'm not that person.

And then God called us to Taizi. In the most crystal clear way...He called him.  We knew. Beyond the shadow of a doubt.

And at first it was so unknown.  He was so unknown. His physical disabilities were so unknown.

But now...we are 2 years in and there's a lot more 'known'.

I don't know what I thought...but I never ever thought this would be our life.

Fully deaf yet so mentally disabled that teaching sign is not possible.  No communication.

Drooling. Burping.  Hitting himself.  Chewing his tongue.  Biting his tongue.  Bruises all over his ribs from jabbing himself in his ribs with his thumbs all day long.

Then, in our small house, finally finding a small break in the afternoon where we could put him in his playpen with his toys.  It's all he did downstairs in the living room so this was perfect. Just a few hours without the burping, hysterically giggling, humming noises, hitting himself, watching him rock back and forth for hours... this was just the perfect plan.  Until I went to get him and found him naked...his every piece of clothing off...his diaper off and ... yes.  Everything saturated.  And this was his new pattern.  So there was no more break.

And that was hard.  Really...really...hard.

Perhaps for wouldn't be.  But I promise you...the day in and day out...drain of this is hard.

No progress.  No return of affection.  No attachment.

Just work.

Emotionally, physically...draining.  Work.

This is our life...?

Many of you have asked (well-meaning) what life will be like with Taizi in five years. In ten years.  In fifteen years.  And the very thought of that would tighten my chest and I could feel the panic.  I don't know.  Our mission has been one day at a time.

Dean and I would often talk and he would consistently said "Janice...this wasn't about Taizi.  I don't believe it ever was.  It was about you and I."

That never sat well.

Couldn't I learn these hard lessons another way...? I've learned faith in the hardest times. I've learned surrender when I couldn't see around the corner. But no end in sight...? Each day harder than the day before...?

This is really about me?  What...?

I believed it in my head. But that's as far as it went.

This was 'too far'.

'Too much'.

Going through the motions and feeling like I was dying a little bit more each day.

And then the song.

If I saw You on the street
And You said come and follow me
But I had to give up everything
All I once held dear and all of my dreams

Would I love You enough to let go
Or would my love run dry
When You asked for my life

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

Oh Janice.  Oh...Janice.  If He said I had to give up everything.  Everything I once held dear...and all of my dreams.

Would I love Him enough to let go?
Or...would my love run dry...when He asked for my life...?

Oh...this was the biggest, clearest, brightest light bulb...defining moment. Ever.

Do I love Him (Jesus) enough to let go...? Or is this too much...? Has my love for Him run dry...?


When did my love become unmoving...?

When did my love become unconsuming...?

That's it.  This IS consuming.  This IS taking all of me.  This IS the biggest stretch in my life.  This IS that far.  It IS that much.

But I love Jesus that much.  Yes. Yes I'll give up everything.

If You’re all You claim to be
Then I’m not losing anything
So I will crawl upon my knees
Just to know the joy of suffering

I will love You enough to let go
Lord, I give you my life
I give you my life

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

I want to be where You are
I’m running into Your arms
And I will never look back
So Jesus, here is my heart

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

I'm not losing anything.  It has felt like it for two years.  That I'm giving everything.  But Jesus is really who He claims to be...then I'm not losing anything.  I will love Him enough to let go.  

And it hit me.  This has all been about surrender.  For two years I've blogged that this journey was all about surrender.  And it was. But it was all about bringing me right here.  To this point.  To love had become unmoving and definitely unconsuming.  

I came downstairs and everything was different.  I hugged Taizi differently. I fed him differently.  Now I'm all in.  Because it's not a negative that this feels 'hard'  'the ultimate sacrifice' and 'totally consuming' is that big. But I'm willing to go that far.  

Click to listen to the song here:

Monday, November 24, 2014

A bigger tool box.

Do you look back on your life...and see pain? Like...a lot of pain?





I recently went through something...painful.  As in...a lot of tears. A lot of questions.  A lot of hurt.

It was my husband who came to me with this thought: "What if pain...builds you a bigger tool box?"


He then went back and reflected on our three babies that we lost early in pregnancy.  These are some of the lowest points of my life.  I still feel the knot in my stomach when we talk about it.  How can anything good come from losing your baby? Losing three of them.  No. There's nothing good in that.


Dean reminded me how many moms that I've been able to encourage through that same loss...years later.

He then said "You'd never have that tool...had you not gone through that pain and loss."


He was a contractor for years so he kept bringing it back to construction lingo. "Everyone has a hammer, screwdriver, you know...the basics.  But when some strange pipe bursts in your house and you run out to grab this specialized tool...that you would never ever have had...had that random incident not occurred....

That tool that you don't know if you'll ever need again...

but you will.

He didn't need to go on.  I got it.

Could betrayal give you a tool that you would never ever have needed otherwise?

Could you learn forgiveness, coping, and healing from that horrible incident in your life...that you never would have had otherwise...?

Could I even let myself go to this place of truly seeing purpose in all things?

There's a line.  I do not believe that "God gave you a cheating husband so that..." No.  No He's not the giver of bad things. That's a fact.  Sin is the reason for the pain. But could He allow the pain so that we can learn the skills, acquire the tools necessary...and someday...yes....some will see a greater purpose.  A need for those tools that you might even be able to say "I'm so glad I have something to help..."


Instead of asking "why? Why me...?" instead of screaming "I'm done!" "I give up!" what if I really saw a way to build my tool box. Of rare, but yet...oh-so-usefull tools.  That someday...perhaps years down the road....I'll see a greater purpose for.


Life is hard. Full of hard things.  Pain.  Deep...cutting...pain.  Fighting the sting of lies...gossip...forgiving over and over again...choosing to overcome when it goes against every part of your being...fighting a disease that might take your life...hard...things.

Then I saw this. You know. Just-so-happened to see this online.

Yes.  A broken what can change the world.  Our brokenness we so want to run and hide from...that's what offers hope to a hurting friend.  Pain filled nights...survived...give hope to a friend going through unimaginable loss.   








I I have a full toolbox.  I can honestly say...I don't want any more tools in there.  Yet...I have a feeling...there's more to come.  Pain can be such a powerful teacher.  If we let it be.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Is He good?

Tirzah came with me yesterday. She didn't come in...but she came to the hospice center. She knew where we were and she knew what happens there.

I told her about my friend. I told her how old she was. My daughter is 11. So at we all thought at 11...she said "oh, I didn't know she was that old" but then I told her that 41 is only 4 years older than Daddy. That changed everything.

She knew how many kids she has. And how old they are. She listened as I told her how sad this was.

My friend is dying of cancer.  Honestly...I should have expected what I saw...but I didn't.

My poor friend who was with me. She all but had to close my mouth for me as I stood in total shock.  I could see no resemblance of the beautiful lady I had seen not that long ago.  She looked thin. Frail. And really old.  It was heartbreaking.

Her breathing was so spaced that there were a few times my friend and I thought she had just breathed her last.  Awful. We stood there in total silence.  In awe of what cancer can do to a young, healthy, vibrant woman.


On our way home, Tirzah and I were silent.  There wasn't much to say.  I couldn't really talk. Tirzah knew I had just seen my friend and she said several times "I'm sorry, Mommy".

I looked at her and said " He good...?'

There was no gap.  In fact, she whipped her head around from looking out the window and said, without hesitation..."Always Good, Mommy"

Me: "Always....?"

Tirzah: "Always.  He can't be anything else."

Me: "But she's dying. She's laying there dying."

Tirzah: "I know Mommy...but He's good."

Me: (taking this as far as I could to stretch her as much as I could) "If it was you in that bed...would He still be good....?"

Tirzah: "Oh Mommy...yes. He would still be good"

Me: "If it was me...?"

Tirzah: "Yes!"

Me: "But why would He..."

Tirzah: (she cut me off) "You know He doesn't make Cancer, right...? He doesn't give bad things"

Me: "Could he stop it though...?"

Tirzah: "Oh He could have stopped it long before it started!!"

Me: "but...He didn't"

Tirzah: "I know.  He didn't"

Me: "and if it were you in that bed..or me...or my friend. Why. Why didn't He stop it? Is there purpose in everything?"

Tirzah (At this point we had just pulled into her driveway and I'll never forget this moment...) She put her hand on the handle of the door...she looked over at me boldly and said " I don't know what His plan is...but I do know He's always good. He can't be anything else. And sometimes He says YES when we pray sometimes He doesn't. I don't understand it all but I know He's always good Mommy" and she hopped out of the van, smiled over her shoulder and skipped into the house.

Yes I was pushing her.  I was trying to see what she really believed.

I sat in the van for 5-10 more minutes. Still so sad for my friend's family. But struck with the raw faith of an 11 year old girl.  Who had just entered into the horror of that being her or her mommy in that hospital bed.


Understand it...? No.

Waver in His goodness...? Not a chance.

He is always good. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Great things.

A friend wrote me tonight and it got me thinking.  Thinking.   In my closet.

Thinking about that verse again in John.


If only we could see what God sees...then I truly believe we would see the a gift.

Yes.   A gift.

I can still hear the pounding of the waves at the Oregon Coast.  Dean and the kids all sitting by the fire...and I walked to the ocean.  I could feel my heart skip a beat as I got closer to its roar.  Oh...the ocean holds a special place in my heart. I...can't...quite...explain it.  I can feel His presence there.

I walked close to the water and I said out loud..."It's so hard. It's so...very...hard".

And I heard Him speak.  

"Oh Janice...".  I knew it was my Father's voice. I could hear it so loud...I couldn't tell if it was audible or not.  Somehow it was louder than the roar of the ocean....yet quiet like a soft whisper that was anything but startling.

"Oh Janice...I have great things for you..."

Great things.  Did you hear that? He has great things for me...!

And then I knew there was more.  It was like I had stopped Him mid sentence and he was letting me wander off ... but there was more. So much more.

"Great sacrifice.  Great surrender.  Great reward."

Yes. Great.

I don't see sacrifice as "great" in that way.  It's GREAT as in it's huge and it's very hard.  But GREAT? That's the kind of great things You have...?

Great surrender...? Wait...haven't I already surrendered...? There's more. much more.

Great reward.

Yes. Great things.

My mind still goes to Jonah 2:8. When we were battling with God...about adopting Zihao 2 years ago.  "Not us. Not now. No....not us" and we were praying so desperately for clarity. And I laughed as I heard Him quietly say I was to read Jonah.  Jonah? We all know the story of Jonah!! What was He going to give me there...?


Jonah 2:8

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

There's so much more He has for us in surrender. No clinging to what we feel is it....letting go and surrendering to Him.

In doing that...the "grace that could be ours"...

I don't know for sure what that is...but I do know I don't want to forfeit it.

I love verse 9.

But I, with a song of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.


Great things.  Could His gift of 'great things' be found in the trouble...?


28 days in the heart of Africa.  Losing our precious baby. The grief. The devastation. The sorrow...I still can't talk about without crying...

Great Things....Lord?

Great things.

Those 28 days changed me.  Turned me to Jesus like I never knew.  He was all I had.  And His presence was almost tangible.

Great things.

Peace. Trouble. Overcome.

He does have great things for you.  In the middle of the fire...I know all too looks anything but great.  But He sees the end.  He knows how the fire can change you.  Can mold you.  Can bring you closer to Him.

Great sacrifice.  Great surrender.

But don't miss the end...great reward.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Peace. Trouble. Overcome.

I sat in our bedroom closet at the end of a long day.  I picked up my Bible and started to read.  I'm reading in John.

Oh...yes...I do sit on my closet floor each night with my Bible.  I know. Random. It used to be on the edge of our master it's the closet floor.  Whatever works.  It's quiet.  I'm alone. There are no distractions in there.  It's my spot.

John. It's familiar. I've read the Gospels dozens and dozens of times.  It's hard to read what is familiar.  My mind was skipping ahead...I would reread verses just because I was having a hard time really paying attention.

You have been there...right?  It's so familiar. We know it so well.  That...perhaps...we miss it.

I almost missed it.

John 16:33.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (NIV)

Yes.  Peace! He came to give me Peace!!

Quickly followed by " will have trouble."


What did you say...?

You tell me these things so I can have peace.  And then You quickly tell me I WILL (not might...) have trouble.


This is so often what we miss.

No promises of a smooth path.  So many times we read and we see what we want to hear.  PEACE. He came that I would have PEACE.  Close my Bible and move along.

No. There's more.  In this WILL have trouble.

(insert heart sinking feeling here).

But take heart.  I have overcome the world.

I get it. Maybe that's so familiar to you as well...that it's not hitting you.  Or maybe you didn't have a  day of "trouble" like I had.

Maybe you don't know a beautiful mom of 3 hospice right now dying of breast cancer...begging God for Christmas miracle.

 I do.

Maybe you don't know of a young child...who's parents are fighting day and night for the strength to fight for her life...just one more day.  Just the hope of one more day.

 I do.

Maybe in the busy-ness of your don't see the mom who's made mistakes she can't see how to fix.  Choices...she's vowed she would never moments of despair and desperation for value...after years of being told she wasn't good enough...wasn't beautiful enough...wasn't thin enough.

 I do.



Take heart...?

I went to bed with peace. Praying for my friends to find their peace in Him tonight.

In fact...all through the night...I heard that verse over and over and over again.  It wasn't even  a quiet whisper.  It was louder than that.  It spoke right to my realist self where I needed it most.  I don't do sugar coated well.  Give it to me straight.

I will have trouble.

Not what I wanted to hear...but if that's what's ahead...let me know.

Take heart.

He knew what our very next thought would be.  I love this.

Like He's saying " don't go's ok! Take heart! I have overcome...!"

We aren't in a bubble.  We WILL have trouble.  Maybe your name won't be flashing in  You won't be named "Hero of the day"

But...Heaven is taking note of your trouble.

Peace. In Him.

He overcame.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Gotcha Day.

I can still remember how hard it was to sleep the night before...

I can still feel the quivering of my stomach that ride into the Social Welfare building...

I can still see Azlan's excitement about meeting Taizi for the first time...

I still remember being so shocked that 18 month old Izrael never cried, never showed any emotion of distress at all that I was holding this screaming child for so long...

And I still remember knowing in those moments...we didn't know the half of what his special needs were.

Gotcha Day.

The day we met Taizi for the first time.

The overwhelming smell of something wrong when he was placed into our arms.

How extremely tiny he was.

How when we got back to the hotel ... he showed pure delight in banging his head as hard as he could on the wooden legs of the furniture.

How we knew...that first day...that he was deaf.

How much I didn't sleep that first night that he was with us.

As Dean fed him...I escaped into the bathroom and sank down on the floor...speechless. I can still see the ugly wallpaper covering the bathroom wall...I can still feel my stomach swirling...I started to cry.  I cried. I cried. And I stood up...looked myself in the mirror and said " can't ask what you have done. You obeyed God.  That's what you have done.  He's got this. He's got you."

Oh what a journey it has been.   In the beginning we saw the most progress. Because so many of the things we taught him...were things he was simply never taught.   We hit that ceiling pretty quickly.

He has never grown.  He still wears the same Robeez baby shoes age 5.5years ... that he wore that day in China.  His feet are size 03.   His clothes...he still wears those jeans and overalls that we brought in our suitcase to China. 

He's had heart surgery...he's had palate surgery...he's had scans, MRI, tests, bloodwork, you name it.

And in the favorite doctor ever...says "Taizi...he's a medical mystery".

What we know...?

He's deaf.  He's mentally disabled.  He's not growing.  He's not attached or bonded to us more than he would be to you.

He's well fed. He's happy...I think.  He shows no sign of happiness. He doesn't "enjoy" life.  He sits. He rocks. He hits himself.  He will wander to different parts of the living room, picking up a block and staring at it super close to his eyes.

His nights are not fun.  He goes to sleep quickly. And wakes quickly.  Screaming.  He's hard to settle.  We can't tell if he's had a nightmare...we can't communicate in any way.  Every night we put him to bed...we sit and wait...and like clockwork we hear him kicking, hitting himself, freaking out and screaming.

And the thing I love to hear the most we are special. We are better. We are gifted. We are so good at this. And how you...couldn't do what we do.

And you must...have no idea...what the daily surrender looks like in my life...if that's what you think.

I'm not stronger. I'm not better. I'm not more capable.  I'm not gifted for special needs.  I don't find this journey easy.

It's hard.

The strength it takes every surrender to God's so extreme.

I'm a goal setter. I'm driven. I love a plan. I'm a realist.

Taizi forces me to have no goals.  Have no plans.  Know not at all...what tomorrow looks like.  And every day....feels like "ground hog day".  All over again.

What does tomorrow look like? I don't know.

Neither do you.

What does life look like for us when Taizi is 12? 14? 18?

I don't know.

My goal to have a great day. That day. One day at a time.

The gift of God's grace.  For one day.

One more day.

There's no five year plan.

When asked...his doctor isn't sure he'll every grow.  Based on these last 2's unlikely.  His nutrition is now what most 5 year olds eat. Table food. High fat. High calories. No growth.

Right now...I see that as a blessing.  I can carry him. I can bathe him. I can handle a tiny Taizi.

The sadness of the reality that 2 years later...Taizi would go home with you and show no sign of distress...abandonment....rejection or anything else.

We don't know what God has in store for Taizi...or us.

But we do know that was His decision ... that day.  When we signed that paperwork...I was absolutely feeling uneasy and terrified.  But we knew...this was exactly who God called us to.

He's asleep now.  The screaming has stopped. I stand beside his bedroom door...I'll stop and again pray...for the grace...of another day.  For my goal driven personality to surrender only have a goal...of a great day. Even if it feels like yesterday. Even if there's no progress.


Friday, October 31, 2014

My Crossroads.

Every day in my life I'm faced with the question...

Do I surrender...?

What does surrender really look like?

Will there be any of me left...when it's all said and done?

Should there be any of me left...?

It's hard.  It's just plain hard.

Life with Taizi gets harder.  As he gets gets harder.

The gap of where he should be ... and where he is...becomes increasingly obvious.

This is who he is. This is where he is.'s hard.

While it looks like's not.  It's...actually...progression.

As his brain grows and learns and does new things just like a healthy 5 year old's does.'s different.

It's not new and exciting to us. It's not things you cheer on as a parent.

The fact that he's learned to swallow air and burp...often...isn't the kind of progression we had in mind.

That he's hitting himself over..and over...and over again in the the point of bruising and even breaking the skin until he, not that either.

When he has to put his spoon down and take both hands and repeatedly hit himself in the head, over and over and over...before picking up his spoon and then doing it all over again...

It's not how we have always measured 'growth'...'development'...'progression'...

But the hard that it is. It is for Taizi.

As what is really happening inside his brain is revealed more and more as each new day dawns...the reality that this IS his progression hits.

And it's hard.

It's hard to embrace it. It's hard to like it.  And it feels near impossible to love it.



God saw ahead. He knew. No...we didn't know. But neither did we walk in blindly and make a huge mistake.  He knew. He called. We answered.

And more than ever my entire lifetime...I'm constantly standing at the crossroads.  Surrender or Fight.

While Surrender may seem like the easy way out in your me...fight is what is natural.  Fight...question...resist...go down kicking and screaming...that's my go-to.

Surrender...? That's against my grain.  And likely against yours.  I know. You don't have a Taizi. do.  We all do.  My Taizi just happens to be a very mentally disabled 5.5 year old boy.

What's yours?

Surrender isn't easy.  It feels more like a freefall off the cliff.  I'd rather hold on. Tight. Yes...even to the weakest branch of the weakest tree...than to let go.

Yet I know...

I know that the freedom is in the surrender.

Oh how many times does He have to show me...? The hands up...head high...surrender.  Not out of defeat. Surrender isn't about defeat.

Surrender is about winning.  It's about choosing not to fight.  Choosing not to struggle.  Choosing to let go.  Hands up.  Heart...perhaps trembling.  Letting Him fight for me.

Standing at the crossroads of Surrender and Fight...tonight...tonight I choose Surrender.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Doing well.

Azlan is doing really well. Looks to be healing well, now done all medication.  His stitches still haven't dissolved (really hoping they actually used dissolvable...)  We have a follow up appt next week in Seattle.

Thank you for thinking of us.

We went out for ice cream this week, thanks to a sweet friend that sent a gift for us to do just that :) We always have complete strangers offer to take our pictures...and even if they don't know how to use my camera...we get pictures of us all together.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

But ... why does it need to be changed?

Tonight Azlan and I were sitting together and talking.  He seemed quiet. So...we were chatting about everything that has recently happened.

At one point, he said "but why did they do it?" Fully assuming he was asking about the surgery yesterday, I went into 8 year old detail on what happened to the implant and why it was very important that it needed to come out.

He let me go through everything then stopped and said "no...not that.  Why did they do it in the beginning?"  Ohhhh. That.

So I went into detail about when he was born with the cleft lip and palate...he was also born with a hole in his gums (jaw).  And how they need to take bone from his hip to patch the hole.

Again he listened to me ramble on and then said " why does it need to be changed? That's my point. The hole. I loved that."

Oh. immediately had such a powerful application that I simply pulled him into a hug.  Yes there's an answer...but to him...there's a question.

And I got it.

It's all he ever knew.  It was a part of just who he was.  He was born with it. Why did it need to be changed anyway...?  I saw into his heart...and it was real simple: "you could have avoided all of this.  Everything that happened...was because you are trying to change it and patch the hole. Why? I liked it."

As I hugged him...I got it.

I saw the bigger picture. He can't see it. But I can. And you can.  You are probably baffled right now at how an 8 year old, brilliant boy...would even consider not wanting a huge hole in the very visible part of his mouth... fixed.

But wait...

God sees the end from the beginning. And He puts us through the fire...with an end product all planned out.  Yet we see the fire. We see the pain. We see the process. And honestly...we don't get it.  We like the way things are. The way we are. It's all we've ever known.  Why the pain? Can't you save us some of that...? Especially since...we like the way it is.

And God is going "ooohhh no.  No, no.  See ... the way it is...isn't going to work.  Yah...I know it's all you've ever known...but trust Me...I have something SOOOO much better. This pain and stuff you are going through in order to get there...?'ll see. You'll see. I promise's worth it."

But maybe instead of the eye roll and the lecture of how short sighted we are...and the laugh out of the corner of His mouth...maybe...just like I did with my son today...He just pulls us into a hug.

"It's ok. The answer can wait.  Right now...I get it.  To you...right just don't see what I see. But'll see."

All that's how it ended with Azlan today.  There is a bigger picture. We all see it.

He doesn't.

Why the hassle...? Why does it need to be changed...? He likes it perfectly the way it is.

But we know...we know there is much better. There is not an ounce of hesitation on our part whether we should proceed or not.

Is there...?

We know with the pain, the set back, the recovery, the risks....the everything that comes along with this path...we know the end so very far...beyond where he is today.

And...just like does God.

Azlan was so sincere. It was so heart felt. I wished he had asked me days and days ago...because this was clearly the deep question that he was baffled by all we were putting him his mind...for what? Why does it need to be changed?'ll see.

You'll see.

And so will you.  You'll see how it had purpose.  How the comfort you found yourself in before it all there was so much more for you.  And you'll look back...just like Azlan will....and go..."ohhhh.  Now I get it.  Now I see."

Friday, September 26, 2014


Yesterday we were told to call the surgery center at 8:30am to get a surgery time. They call me at 7:10 asking if we could be there at 11:00.  Ummmm no. We couldn't. It's a 3.5 h drive plus we had 10 children still sleeping.  We are good...but...not that good ;)

We got on the road and arrive around 1.

When we checked in, they didn't even let us sit down, but called us back to be prepped for surgery.

The senior resident plastic surgeon talked to us first. He looked in his mouth, showed no alarm (clearly he didn't inhale...) and said "likely we will just remove a bit of decay, sew it up and move forward, It's unlikely he will need another bone graft".

Then the attending surgeon came in.  He did not look in his mouth.  He spoke very confidently and we had a good talk. I told him...please...don't go conservative.  How does it help us if you take a bit out but the rest has to come out next week. He said "after looking at Azlan's medical file, seeing the photos and hearing about the smell...this is urgent. I won't be conservative...if the 'bug' (infection) is's all coming out otherwise we risk the infection getting to his real bone (jaw) and then we have serious problems."

 Surgery was about 1.5 hours.  The surgeon came and met with me.

He said 100% had to be removed and "it was an awful lot of bone they had implanted in there. A LOT of bone. His cleft is massive. WOW.  The gap by his nose is so huge, so much bone...but the infection was absolutely throughout and that is what you were smelling".  We talked for a while. I was very open about our feelings about the surgeon telling us this was doable with a qtip in the office.  He stammered and looked away.  Then said "well,... I"m not him so you should ask him".  Hmm.  I asked more questions and he said "There's no way he saw the photos I saw and heard about the smell...b/c when I did...there was no doubt we were dealing with something serious".  Problem: He did. He claims to anyway.  He said "you need to ask him what he was thinking because I'm with you...that doesn't add up. At all".

He tried to cover for him at the end and said "we had a talk last night and he knew my feelings about urgent surgery and he agreed with me" :)

He said you don't ever sew up an infected area. Infection heals better open.  But...once he saw the huge cleft...he said "I knew we had a big decision to make.  There was no way we could leave that open. It was crazy. Plus his jaw would be exposed and at risk. So we sewed it up but left holes for drainage".

He said the next 2 weeks are very critical when it comes to healing from this infection.  Then we need another 4-5 weeks for solid healing and then....a

This is 9 days post op.  The surgery that went so well. It was intense but...his recovery was amazing.  A gift.  No pain. Ever.  And a fierce infection.

When did it all start? Well the smell started on day 3.  It worsened daily.  But...he had none of the signs of infection that we were told to watch for. No swelling. No redness. No pain. No fever. No fatigue.  No irritability.  Nothing. He had a horrid smell that I hope to never smell again in my lifetime...and it did not look right in his mouth.

Now we know what we were seeing.  The gums literally were gone.  He said when there's an infection in the body, the body will do everything to expel.  So it did. The gums totally were gone.  I mean...crazy. And yes...we were viewing the actual bone that was implanted.  And it was rotting. And that smell...

91%. He kept focusing on 91%.  91% of this surgery is a total success.  9%...infection.

91% is great. Except when you are the 9%.

Today...Azlan is the 9%.

Yet not a statistic.

No...never a statistic.


So much more.

Next time...what are the 'odds'?  9% that this will happen again. When I asked about what he's experienced, he said "I've never had to do it more than 3 times in a child".

I think that was supposed to give me hope...

It left me...feeling otherwise.


I left feeling defeated.

I woke feeling defeated.

We have a child limping from a huge piece of bone being removed,...and in Azlan's words "it's just in the garbage somewhere.".


He will heal from this only to repeat it all again. Limp for another month from the other hip.  Eating mush for another 10 weeks. Another 6 weeks of no running, no bikes, no ball.

In quietly in the back of my brain, somewhere deep inside I hear it start to rise..

You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it's hopeless
That's when He reminds You...
That you're an overcomer
You're an overcomer

Not defeated. 

The night before the second surgery ... the..."surgery of defeat"....

I opened my Bible...then closed it.  Then...I grabbed it and clutched it to my chest.  No words. No prayer coming.  Not sure I wanted to hear what He had to say.  Sad. Pathetically sad.  True.  Raw and true.  

I sat still on the edge of my mind numb.  

Where is my hope? Where is my strength?  I'm not amazing.  I'm not gifted in how to handle defeat.  I've cried, I've sobbed...I've asked "where are you??" in my not so lovely voice.   

But I felt compelled to open it up.  Just open the Book.

But now...this is what the Lord says.
He who created YOU, O Jacob.
He who formed YOU, O Israel;
Fear not, for I have redeemed YOU;
I have summoned YOU by name;
When you pass through the waters,
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will NOT sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, 
you will NOT be burned;
the flames will NOT set you ablaze.
FOR...I am the Lord, YOUR God,
the Holy One of Israel, YOUR Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in yours stead. 
Since YOU are precious and honored in MY sight,
and because I LOVE YOU,
I will give men in exchanged  for YOU
and people in exchange for YOUR life.
Do not be afraid, for I AM WITH YOU,
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north "give them up!"
and to the south "do not hold them back"
Bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth
everyone who is called by my name, 
Whom I created for MY glory, whom I formed and made.

Isaiah 43.

Do I need more than that?

No.  That...that is enough. 

I will take what comes. I will not ask WHY. I know WHO. I am His.  And when I can't do it...He can.  When I feel defeated...He's not.  When I'm done...Oh...He's never done.

You are precious and honored in my sight...and because I love you.

One of the most beautiful things I've ever...ever read.  And it's from God. To Me.

Through Him...I'm an overcomer.  I might be down for a moment...but it's definitely not over.

It's a new day.  Today is a new day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The real update.

The update...was the factual..medical...update.

This is the real update.

I feel like I could be sick at the thought of what is ahead. Why didn't it work? It's too early to be rejected.  We were told we would not know for 6 weeks if the body accepted it.  Day 9 and it will be all removed.  What happened?

Then I remember my commitment to not ask "why?".  Wrong question.

It's not about "why...?" that's just anger that never gets satisfied.  Is there any answer that would be good enough for my heart...?  I can't see the full picture.  I don't have the bird's eye view.   I couldn't handle the answer right now.

But I do know "Who...?".  I know Who is with us.

 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8.

That's all that matters.

And the song that has been consistently in my head all evening...

"You are are good...and Your love...endures forever..."

With all the questions I refuse to ponder any further...I will focus on what I do know.

I do know He wastes nothing.  I do know He is right here with us...promising never to leave.  I do know He sees the end...He has the full-picture view.  I do know...

"'s not a dead end road...if it takes you where you needed to go..."

My heart hurts tonight.  This isn't how this was supposed to be.  Yet...I find total peace in the One who loves Azlan more than my heart could ever be capable of.

And He is good...He is good...and His love...endures forever.


We spoke to the surgeon today.

She first suggested we keep our appt for Friday but this smell is almost unbearable. We don't know how we'll make it in the car with's that bad.  That...bad.

Finally she really listened and said "I had a patient once...just once...that had this same issue. When they finally came into the office, it smelled like a dead body in the room. It was that bad. I didn't know how the family handled it until that point."

I asked more about that child and she said "yes it was all dead, they had to do surgery, scoop everything out and redo the entire surgery a few months later when his mouth healed".

She then spoke to our surgeon and we are still shocked but his idea was to "bring a qtip and take any dead bone out in the office on Friday".  I may have accepted this craziness but Dean...did not.  He said "this surgery failed. This is crazy that we would wait back in line with clear total decay happening in his mouth with the risk of infection. Not ok"

A qtip in the office? What is he thinking? I'm shocked he said this after seeing the photos!

The doctor on the phone, since she did have a patient once in the same situation...said "I know..I know it's bad what you are dealing with. I'll see what I can do".

She called me back later and said "yes he wants to go ahead with the qtip in the office plan Friday".

I paused and said "do we have any other options because we aren't ok with this plan". She paused and said "absolutely, I already have a surgeon booked for you Friday afternoon in Seattle to clean it all out. I had a feeling you weren't going to go for that plan and I already had it set up."  THANK YOU!!

Then the office called me and said "the surgeon that will be doing this surgery said he cleared his schedule tomorrow for you to come b/c he doesn't think it's right for you to wait another day based on the photos and description of smell."

Thank you!!

So we leave in the morning for Seattle for an afternoon surgery to clean it out. We have no idea at this point if it all has to come out or not.  If you want to know my gut...everything will come out.  There is no way this smell is from one small piece of decay. No...way.

Also the fact that the gums came wide open.  The doctor on the phone said that definitely indicates a problem b/c skin has problems healing over decay.

There is no infection right now.  I know we had that concern but this isn't infection. It's simply bone that did not take...and is his mouth. (However they have said there's clearly a risk of infection with dying bone in his mouth so he is on antibiotics)

I promise are not jealous of a 4 hour car ride with this smell. My poor boy.

We had a good talk this morning and I sat all the children down to tell them.  They were so sad and Zion had big tears in his eyes.  Azlan was blinking them back and bit and then said "Ok mommy...let's do it".


That resolve.

Let's do it my boy. I'm with you.

Doesn't mean it's not painfully heart wrenching.  Doesn't mean that at all.

But we will do it without complaint and still thank God for the miracle of no pain.

Please pray for Azlan.

Closer to You. This...this too.

I tossed and turned for a long time last night praying for peace to come.  I kept seeing the inside of Azlan's mouth and shuddering.  Peace. It was so close but just too far away for sleep.

I read. I prayed. I laid and I waited.

I woke with a gift.

I woke hoping it was all a dream, knowing it was not.

I woke with this song going through my head.

The sun comes up, the sun goes down
We're watching and we're waiting
The wind blows north, the wind blows south
Life is always changing
But You stay the same
God, You, You remain

You're my constant in the change
You are the color that never fades
Every season I go through
Is bringing me closer to You

A newborn cries, we say good-bye
Blink and life it passes
Chasing dreams, we break our wings
But we'll just keep on dancing
And You lead the way

You're my constant in the change
You are the color that never fades
Every season I go through
Is bringing me closer to You

Till everything falls into place
When we're standing face to face
Every healing and heartbreak
Bringing me closer

Then sings my soul out in wonder
Then sings my soul, You are the answer
Then sings my soul, I'm Yours forever
Then sings my soul out in wonder
Then sings my soul, You are the answer
Then sings my soul, I'm Yours forever

You're my constant in the change
You are the color that never fades
Every season I go through
Is bringing me closer to You

Till everything falls into place
When we're standing face to face
Every healing and heartbreak
Bringing me closer to You

Then sings my soul>

The part I put in bold is what I woke with.

So today...I will take that this too....will bring me closer to Him.  This too.

You can listen to it here:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pumpkin Spice and a really good cry.'s 11:30 pm and yes...I just sat down with a cup of coffee. No it's definitely not decaf.  

That sounds really tough but honestly caffeine doesn't affect me in any way. 

We just came in from outside. 

I got off the phone with the plastic surgeon on call at Children's and immediately walked outside into the dark...put my head in my hands ... and cried.

Dean followed me. He held me as I had a good...deep...cry.

We sent a photo to the doctor on call and I talked about the smell coming from his mouth. I've honestly never smelled anything like it. No amount of people telling me "mouth surgeries can make your breath smell bad" could eliminate my concerns.  This...? We can smell it a room away and it's unlike anything I've ever smelled.  Something...something smells like it is dying. 

Then the photo.  There is something wrong with his mouth.  I'm seeing something I should not be seeing. for sure.

She talked to me then said she would call me back after she viewed the photo.

She called back in 2 minutes and said " are correct. Something is wrong."

We talked for a few minutes, she does not believe he is at risk for anything serious. She gave us a list of things to watch for but said we will keep his appt with the surgeon for Friday morning (locally...amazing! He is coming to our city to do a local clinic and they got us an early appt).  

When I asked more questions she said "yes." "No." "yes..." "Yes that would be correct." in all the places I didn't want to hear it.

She said the smell seems to be from the bone...dying.  

From the photo she said it appears as if the gums are open and we are indeed viewing the bone graft very visibly.

As only a realist would ask... I said "tell me what we are looking at. What is done from here." and she replied "we will have to take it all out and start over."  Of course she reminded me she's basing this off a photo but we assured her it's more extreme in person than the photo shows (try getting an iPhone in your child's mouth for a picture).'s Pumpkin Spice coffee...staring at this beautiful face...and a whole lot of Jesus.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


He's growing up.  Exactly why my heart hurt for this surgery...because he's growing up.

With growing up...comes hard things.

Learning how to process your thoughts and feelings in far too often...a very cold, cold world.

Besides the miracle of no pain...truly a miracle by the the miracle of how he is really doing.

Last night he laid on our bed and I went up and laid in the dark with him.  He just kept looking at me with that smile.  We talked for a long time. About hard things. And purpose.  And I must have leaned over and kissed his forehead 8 or 9 times in our talk.  There were plenty of those kind of moments.

The moments when a word simply wouldn't do and instead...a kiss said what needed to be said...and what couldn't be said.

Oh how I love this boy.  I have always adored him.  Always. He's always needed an extra dose of Mama's heart...and he's always had it.  No I don't favor him or give him special treatment.  Yes I really had to say that because...yes...I've really had people tell me not to.  And that's ok.  To those should really meet him.  Because then you would know.

Azlan shines.  He shines from the inside out.

There is a sparkle in his eye that gets lots of questions. The dentist has asked "what is it?" the doctor has said "wow...he shines" and people just meeting him have said "he has this special sparkle in his eye". And he does.  And that isn't just those beautiful eyes he got from his daddy...though they melt me every time. This is something from the inside.

A deep knowledge that he is ... enough.

Think about that.  Couldn't we all use a dose of "enough"...?

Life is hard.

People are hard.

What if we truly believed we were simply...enough...?

Not enough as in "no need for improvement".  Nor..."I guess I'll do."

Enough as in...not in a competition.  Not "-er".  You know what I mean.  How often do we think "if only I was ______-er...."   ....?  What if we could live without "-er"...?


Azlan has never asked "why me?".  Ever.  He's never looked at the others and said "no fair".

We talked about this last night. I asked him if if thinks that way and he looked at me and said "no...why?" :)

He is more serious. More subdued. But beautiful. And witty. And he's becoming the real Azlan.  He's finding out who he is and all the while knowing...he is ... enough.

Are you?

Friday, September 19, 2014

One Amazing Update.

Azlan is now 3 days post op...and is off all medication and 100% pain free.  He never had pain at all. It just never came.  The surgeon said "that would be highly highly unusual as he had a LOT of bone removed from his hip".  Well...we had a LOT...a LOT of people praying for no pain for Azlan...

The only pain he's had at all is more of a weakness. discomfort when he walks. He limps quite extremely which is totally expected.  We carry him up and down stairs and anything further than a few steps.

His personality is subdued.  Sweet. Subdued. Definitely not sad.

He asked to sleep beside me last night saying our bed "is comfier" ;) It worked. He slept beside me all night long and every time I opened my eyes... I stared.

Today he got a very special box in the mail from a very special friend of mine that Azlan has never met. She sent a box with daily envelopes and gifts starting with a youtube video her and her children made for him.  It's called Operation Smiles for Azlan. Seriously. Totally amazing.

Here's a few pictures of him opening his first envelopes. One piece of the puzzle went missing but it was still adorable!!

Then $10 with instructions to go on a milkshake date with Mommy!

A picture of him laying down showing the incision on his hip. The cut is much higher than where they took the bone from, we were told.

Thank you for praying for Azlan.  We shouldn't be in shock that he has indeed had no pain.  Because...God works like that. He loves showing how amazing He is and having everyone spin their heads!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The day after.

We are doing fantastic. Azlan is on a lot of pain medication and he hasn't felt anything yet.

He slept really well. I woke this morning to giggles over his bed as the two nurses were laughing at his sense of humor.  I then heard him say "I think I've been in this bed for about 21 hours now" :)

Every nurse has run her fingers through his hair and several have asked if it's natural color :) Yes...with a little help from some dessert sun and lots of summer swimming!

He's been laying here in bed listening to this song over and over. He loves it and listening to him sing it out, completely off tune (he is his mama's son) couldn't  be more precious.

Listen and let him know if you like it too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16, 2014.

I tried to avoid counting down to this day...interestingly...that didn't slow it down one little bit.

Today arrived.

With sunshine.

In and out.

On the way to the hospital, we turned the music up and we sang. We all sang. The baby clapped her hands and laughed...everyone else belted it out.

"I want to be like...Jesus...!"

"You are...bigger than any battle I'm facing...!"

We sang.

Then we stopped at Target and went toy shopping. Nana and Papa sent money for the kids and we had fun. The best  part is how creative our children will be.  They each got $5 to spent (except Azlan) and instead of each buying a small thing...yes...that's right...they combined their money! Brilliant.  The girls all got a tea set and the boys got Legos.

Then all the big kids hugged Azlan and him and I went inside.

Excited about his new Lego set from Nana & Papa!

Cuddling with his lion that Tirzah bought him. (She's lovely)

We opted to give him the oral sedation just to relax him.  He was doing amazing but I knew he was nervous.  He responds to that really quickly and got silly and floppy :)

Cuddling with Mommy as the time is getting close. 

They asked if I wanted to go into the O.R with him until he was asleep. Absolutely!  So I geared up and he was so funny. He kept staring at me trying to figuring out what in the world I was doing. :) The doctor offered to take a glad she did!

I went in and got to hold both of us hands as he breathed into the mask. His arms went a little crazy right at the end and they quickly whisked me out of there :)

I met Dean and the kids out in the playground and it was beautiful out. We opted for them to go to the Zoo since it was so nice out and I had to stay in the hospital.  

I had a quiet lunch full of deep thoughts.

After lunch I was in the stair well and I thought I heard "Walker" but obviously kept walked. When I got to the top, someone tapped me on the shoulder...and it was his plastic surgeon! So he was calling me!  

We went to a quiet place and talked.  He said it went exceptionally well.  He went into great detail to explain what he did. It's crazy.  They opened up his right hip bone and in his words..."scooped out some bone". He described both the outer and inner bone that they use. The one being soft and pliable.  

Ok so here's what he told me:  basically when you look into his mouth, you would have seen a gap in his gums or upper jaw bone.  A cleft...or a gap.  However...that small gap, he explained, was like the tip of an iceberg. As see a small piece but beneath the surface it's huge.  Yes. That.  I had no idea. So he said that bone that is not just this tiny piece in the gums but instead goes all the way up to form the base of the nose. When they repaired his lip, they did it with soft tissue but he still had no bone base under his nose.  Until today.

Here is the crazy part. He said that gap when he got all the way up to his nose was "huge".  As in well over an inch wide.  I asked if that correlates with the size of his cleft lip at birth and he said "Yes, identically".  So yes...his cleft at birth was huge. Over and inch wide.  This surgeon was in the O.R for that surgery but just as a resident. Well he told me today that one his way out of surgery, he bumped into the Dr who actually Dean Azlan's lip repair. He is an older man and totally remembered Azlan. He said "with a name like that..." :).  He told our surgeon today that "woah...that was a huge cleft".  So picture a triangle.  You see the smallest piece in the gums but the higher you go, the wider it gets. THAT is what was repaired today.  So they took hard bone and filled in the gaps and then with all the marrow (inner bone), he formed it around the soft bone to hold it into place. Firmly.  Because that's all that is holding it in.  



He said this will actually lift Azlan's nose because now he has a bone base, which he has never had before.  He also found a hole in his palate that he repaired.  

The hip will hurt.  A deep, bone pain. Because...that's exactly what it is. 

The mouth will hurt and feel very strange, because, for the first time in Azlan's life, he doesn't have a huge gap in his mouth. 

He woke in recovery crying.  A lot of pain in his mouth.  He went from an "8" to a "4" with lots of medication.  We were able to move to the floor and our nurses have been amazing.  

The one we have tonight has worked in pain management for years. She said the trick is staying on top of it before it hits. Because his hip is so numbed from the local given during surgery, he has zero hip pain. But .. once it wears off it's unbearable.  So that's what we are going to do...stay on top of it.  He will be woken through the night with medicine and I support that 100%.  

The greatest risk after today is the bone graft not taking or infection happening in the mouth. With so much bacteria in the mouth, that's the problem.  Please pray that this doesn't happen.

They want him to walk as soon as he can to bear weight on the hip.  This can be very painful.  He won't be allowed to play sports, playgrounds etc for a minimum of 6 weeks.

Interestingly, the bone will not be visible on X-ray for at least 6 weeks ... so until then, we don't know if the bone graft was accepted by the body. 

Remember I blogged about "the gift of Whitney" a while back? Well guess who met me in the waiting room? Miss Whitney herself. With a gift bag for Azlan.  He loves his gift, a beautiful cowboy hat blanket! 

Then his nurse had him pick out a pillow and of course we got silly with the chicken one so that's the new pillow :)


Thank you for your prayers for our family.  Thank you.

Why is today so hard? Because today marks the beginning. The beginning of the next phase of Azlan's journey. The phase where he's having to spread his wings and fly.  Digging deep into what he knows and believes. Rooting his own faith deep in his own God.  Walking with dignity and gratefulness...and humility.  

As an 8 year old boy that has been deeply loved since his heart first started beating...long before he took his first breath...he knows he has purpose.  I've never heard him ask "why me?' Never.  He's never looked at his healthy siblings and asked "why...not them?"  We talk of purpose.  Purpose.  One will see this was one of the greatest gifts you have been given. Because it molds you. Into couldn't have been without it.

It's not a dead end road....mister Azlan.  If it takes where you needed to go.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I'd be lying.

If I said I was doing ok right now...I'd by lying.

That's the truth.

The lump in my throat has turned to watery eyes. And a stomach that is flipping at all points in the day.  I feel like I could ... be sick.

Yes this is where I'm at with Azlan's surgery coming up.

I've been dreading this day for far too long and it's here. It's here. It shouldn't be here yet.  It wasn't supposed to be here for a few more years. But it's here. The severity of the issues in his mouth has pushed it up much sooner than we anticipated.

Today he had a dentist appointment for a chunk of his tooth that fell off. Glad we found this now as it would be awful after his surgery.  Dean took him to the appointment while I did school with the others.

Azlan came home different. He had his hands in his pockets. He was quiet.  He looked awkward.  He was very subdued. When I asked how it went, he said "good".  He looked down a lot.  I saw watery eyes.

Dean said he was like that from the moment they left.

He knows it's coming.

No...please don't let his spirit be shaken. Please.  We have worked so hard to make him know just how special he is.  Purpose.  Plan. Special.

The lump in my throat got bigger.  I feel sick.

Yes I could tell you all how strong I am...but I'm not.  This is my son. This is the baby I've fought for from his first heartbeat.

This is hard.  It was hard at 5months...but here I am with him at 8 years...and this is much harder.

He knows. He ... knows.

This is his biggest surgery yet. His most painful. The longest recovery.

Bone taken from his hip and implanted into his mouth.

Crutches and drinking liquids for months.

Oh Azlan.

It's not a dead end.

I'll keep telling myself that.  Someday we'll look back and see that amazing empathetic heart he has and know it's all been worth it.

There is always purpose.

Nothing is wasted.

Even my tears.

We can do hard things. We can do hard things.


Christ in me.


We can do hard things.