Saturday, January 25, 2014

Faith trumps reason.

I've been thinking about this.

Making sense of something ... reasoning it out...doesn't require faith.  I know, I know...I'm the same. I like to figure it out. Write it out. Plan it.  And if it all pans out...let's go.  Whatever it is.  But when God calls you to something...whether small or big...it's just not faith if you have to make sense of it first.

So many things I don't have the answers for.  I don't know the future. Yes...yes...if we had reasoned it out, we would have said 'no'. But it was something we saw God calling us to...very clearly..and that trumped reason.

How is faith even a part of it...if it all makes sense?

Watching God move in your life...in whatever area...it may not make sense. It may not add up. But if He's moving and calling you to something...

Faith trumps reason.

I'm convinced we miss out on so much because if it doesn't make sense, isn't logical, isn't practical...we say 'no'.

How can you see God provide when you didn't step out in faith? We are so self-sufficient today...how often do we really need Him...?

Hmmm.

The challenge: opt for faith over reason.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Obstacles. Excuses or opportunity...?

Azlan is working so hard in speech therapy. I mean...by the end, he's often yawning and just plain done. It's only 30 minutes but sometimes if the next time slot is open, his therapist keeps going an extra 10-20 minutes.

I cannot say enough about what a gift she is to us...to Azlan. She loves him. He loves her. And he works so very hard.

Like anything...it's daily work. We practice each day and each night.

Here's where he is:

He always says "t" for the "K" sound.  As in "corn" / "cat" / "comb".  He would says "torn/tat/tomb"

He now says them properly, says them in a phrase properly, says them in a full sentence properly And can make up his own sentence (which takes focus) and still say them properly! SO we're moving on from the K sound.

On to a huge one. "S".

So so hard for him but he's so excited when he gets it. Azlan has always put the 's' sound out his nose. As in a strong exhale, nasally. Sounds nothing like an 's' but in his mind it does. He had a very severe cleft palate and has an extreme underbite. All making things just plain difficult.  We finally have it coming out his mouth. It doesn't sound like your 's'...it's very lateral. He has to smile to get it close to right...and it comes off the sides of his tongue, half way back in his mouth. Yours...comes off the tip of your tongue, at the very front.  Give yourself a serious underbite ... go ahead, try it while you read this...and try to say "S"....better yet, try to say "SH".  Not so easy. But he is doing it and he's so determined.

Here's what Azlan knows: he was created. Made. Thought out. Planned.  His cleft is no mistake.  He has to work harder to do what you and I do without a second thought. We call those bumps in the road "obstacles". We all have them. They are not excuses. They are obstacles.

See...excuses are always a choice.  Hurdles and obstacles are what they are. They simply are. It's a fact.  An obstacle is a great opportunity to grow. To mature. To become stronger.  An excuse is simply when you let that obstacle win.

We live and teach that.  In business. In life.  We all have obstacles. It's silly to think we won't.  We just teach how to overcome them. How to push past them. How to work harder because of them. But definitely...don't let them stop you. Don't let them define you.

Can you imagine if Azlan said "I want to be a teacher someday...but my speech is bad, my deafness is a factor...and well it won't happen for me because I'm not like other kids" and we replied with..."right, let's look at other options!".  ...?

We aren't pie in the sky people. Believe it and achieve it as if your belief releases this magic dust that heals all. However...your monologue in your head...changes how you act.  You have to have a plan.  Our plan with Azlan is to help him every step. And he knows...he will have to work harder.  He has bigger obstacles to overcome. But...he also knows the victory is sweeter that way.

I mean...who else gets ice cream cones for saying "I see a cow" properly...? Who else gets Subway chocolate chip cookies for saying "Shoe"...?

Right.

Obstacles provide more opportunities for reward.  More reasons to celebrate.

Never let them become excuses.  That...is always a choice.

If you meet Azlan someday...you will quickly be informed what his name means. And that the Lion...is his biggest hero.  Obstacles do mean more work..but in this family...obstacles mean more opportunity for reward.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

So good.

Some pretty amazing things have happened in our lives recently...things that had nothing to do with us...things that we go "wow...that was God...!"

I can't share them right now...but it's been humbling and amazing to see God work in our lives.

Reading through Malachi last night I smiled as the book ended with this:

Malachi 4:2: But to you who love My name...the Son of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you shall go forth and skip like calves coming from the stall.

He gives good gifts to His children.

So good.



Monday, January 20, 2014

I love you...too.

It has been 14 months since we first held Zihao in our arms in China.

He has been lovable from the beginning. He's adorable. Charming. Cuddly. And really will win anyone's heart.  But...we've been trying to win his heart.  Really win it.

Every night that I've tucked him into bed, I've prayed with him, bent down and kiss his cheek...and said "I love you, Zihao". At first he just looked blankly at the wall and showed no emotion. Then over time, he would do a bit of a goofy smile.  Then there was a time where we transitioned to an "ok".  But he definitely never said it back.

About a week ago...I did the same thing I've done for 14 months.  Put lotion on his body, brushed his teeth, helped with his jammies, tucked him into bed.  Prayed with him. Kissed his cheek and said "I love you, Zihao".  As I turned to walk out his door I heard "I love you...too."

I stopped in his doorway. My head turned. I just stood. Still.

Did I really just hear that? I looked up and smiled. "Did you hear that, God...? He said it.  And I knew  he meant it."

Every night since then...as I go to walk away, I hear this cute little voice ... as he snuggles into his orange bear say..."I love you...too".

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Zunduka was adopted at almost 6 years old.

He is very much his own person and quite comfortable in his own skin.  He is quiet. Serious. Loves reading and completely loves reading the Bible.  I mean...loves it.

Last night when he went to bed I was picking up many, many drawings around the kitchen.  I stopped when I saw Zunduka's pile.


He had drawn a series of pictures about the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Starting with this: It says "Peter, no this has to happen." "But Jesus, you will die."


"Jesus had to carry his cross. Peter was sad"


 

"Jesus died on the cross. God was sad to see it".

(he told me the next morning this was the hardest picture he's ever had to draw)


"Jesus died and was buried. Mary was sad"



The tomb.


"Don't be afraid. I have good news. Go to Peter"


"Go to Peter and tell him that I'm alive"


"Jesus is gone because he was the Son of God"


"Jesus flys"



Zunduka...loves Jesus.  But Jesus loved him first.  Zunduka's name means chosen. And it's so very fitting. Not only was he chosen by us...but he was chosen by God.  Zunduka loves Jesus...too.

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Taizi.  Oh...Taizi.

We have made so much progress with Taizi and yet we know there is a ceiling. Actually...we've raised the ceiling according to many professional's opinions.

He walks. He eats. He can even eat a bowl of oatmeal...on his own...with a spoon.  Yes.  And he knows 2 signs. Milk. Food.  The problem is there is definitely a disconnect in his brain.  He doesn't really know what they mean so he's not really communicating.  He knows when he does them, he gets something in his mouth.  So often he does 'food' 'milk' 'food' and gets food. And with 'milk' he does it almost all day long. When he's in the bath, he's signing 'milk' over and over and over. When he gets his cup of milk and goes to play, he's signing 'milk' his entire way.  He signs it hundreds of times a day.  When he's definitely not thirsty.  We have introduced the sign 'all done'. :) We don't know how we will fully teach him that but it's a process. And we have a lifetime to get there.

And when friends come in the door, he seems to know no difference between us and them. He wouldn't bat an eye to be taken home with anyone.

The love...is truly one way.  The "...too" will unlikely be this side of Heaven.

Tonight...while we were watching a game with friends, Izrael (2.5y) went to Taizi, took his hands, and started dancing. I quickly grabbed the camera and got this photo.


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Izrael Promise.  I hear many times a day "I like you Mommy. I need you. Will you hug me?"  All saying the same thing: "...too"

Little Nazara Journey. No words. None necessary.  It's visible: "...too"


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 Too.

I think that little word says volumes.

Too...because it's a response.

Too...because if you didn't love me...I'd never know what it was like to love you.

Too.

Today, singing one of my favorite songs...I got a lump in my throat...

You were reaching through the storm
Walking on the water
Even when I could not see
In the middle of it all
When I thought You were a thousand miles away
Not for a moment did You forsake me
Not for a moment did You forsake me

CHORUS
After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me

You were singing in the dark
Whispering Your promise
Even when I could not hear
I was held in Your arms
Carried for a thousand miles to show
Not for a moment did You forsake me

Chorus

And every step every breath You are there
Every tear every cry every prayer
In my heart at my worst
When my world falls down
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Even in the dark
Even when it's hard
You will never leave me
After all


You were singing in the dark...whispering your promise...even when I could not hear...


And my mind went to Taizi.  Literally and figuratively.  He cannot hear...am I whispering my promise to Him as Jesus has to me?  Right now...I am loving him.  The '...too' is not there.  And may never be there in this lifetime...but someday.  Someday those ears will hear. That tongue will speak.  Someday...there will be a "...too".  

As a parent, so much of what we do is easier...because we know the '...too' is coming.  Someday they will respond to our love.  Some day...she will smile back at me. Some day...he will reach out his arms to come to me. Some day...she will hug me back.  Some day...he will say: "I love you...too."

We have all had those moments. Those pause-in-the-doorway moments. "Did she really just do that...?" "Did he really just say that...?" "Am I dreaming...?" We can all relate to the emotions of that long awaited moment.  It's not easy knowing that moment may never come with Taizi.  Yes sometimes he smiles with us...as he will with you. Yes he will stroke my neck when I pick him up...as he would with you.  Yes he will almost dance when I give him his cup...as he would...with you.  It's not personal. It's just...not.  

I think we are wired...for the "...too".  It's easy to love...in return.  But to give and give and give without the "too"...takes something far bigger than me.  It takes an eternal focus...where there will be response. There will be reward.  There will be '...too'. 


You were singing in the dark...whispering your promise...even when I could not hear...

Jesus loved us...when there was no "...too".  And He still does. When we doubt His presence.  When we question His plan.  When we can no longer hear His voice.  There's nothing coming back from us. And yet...He loves us.  

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Today as our friends were here...Zihao came up to me at 3 random times and said:
 "Mommy...?" 
me: "yah Zihao?"
 Zihao: "I love you...too.".  
And my heart smiled.  I hadn't said anything to him.  But now it's just how he says it. And it's oh-so-very-fitting. 
 Because, little Zihao...I loved you first.




Monday, January 6, 2014

2014. The year of...

No regrets.

I do believe in resolutions. I love clean slates. Fresh starts. New pages. New years.

I love do-overs.

I love deep breaths of clean air.

New years.

There are just no guarantees of tomorrow.

This year...my goal is a year of no regrets.  No regretting not spending enough time with our children. No regretting saying "just wait" and never actually getting to it. No regretting putting off what is most important. No regretting not taking the time to reach out to the lonely...hurting...sad.  No regretting not making time for a friend for coffee.  No regretting not working hard enough.

No regrets.

Sure I'll fail.  But I will make it a point to look back at 2014 and think "wow I lived out of the box, out of my comfort zone...I feared not helping people more than I feared what they'd think when I attempted to help them, I loved more, laughed more, hurt more with others than I knew I could...but this year I really lived. I lived and I lived with no regrets..."

If 2014 were to be my last year on earth...it's to be my one with the most courage, least fear...

Most memories made with my family...least regrets of wasted time...

Happy 2014.

Happy New Year...of no regrets.