Thursday, April 28, 2016

Amazing.

Update on us and our life.

ZhenAi is doing really well.  We are seeing more and more what her life has been like until now. She sits. And she stares. A lot. And I think I'm constantly pulling her out of that trying to stimulate her...and she's always dragging her feet.

She goes outside and squats. And just stares.  She sees the kids playing and she goes beside them and squats...and just stares.  She pushes the paper and crayons away, goes to sit on the couch...and just stares.  Ahhh.

She has a quiet, gentle spirit and it's going to be interesting to see how this year goes as we work hard to help her grow.

Grow.

Not become.

Not meet our expectations.

Not catch up.

Grow.

Just grow.  She is without a doubt a stunted flower. Having been nurtured very very little in the grand scheme of things.  She's weak. Frail.  Limp.  And often...blank.

So we don't have these big expectations.  She's not here to become our star daughter and make us proud.

No.  No...she's not.

We just want to nurture and love her and help her...grow.

To whatever she can be when nurtured properly.  Therapy. Medical help.  Food. Attention. Stimuli.  Love.

Grow.

Life has been busy, it always will be.  But we are together. All of us.

Azahria turned 8.  Oh my Azahria Peace.  The child that owns her name.  She's purple, glittery, all about unicorns and rainbows....and dirt and tonka and bugs and worms. She's one of a kind.  Quiet. Sweet.  Doesn't say a lot but when she does she means it.

When we started singing Happy Birthday, ZhenAi started clapping EXACTLY like the chinese people do when they want to attract you into their stores! It was funny and clearly something she's done many many times.

I tried to get her help me with dinner a few nights ago. She would put the croutons on the salad then quickly walk away. Then I'd call her back to do more. And the moment I looked away she'd scoot off.  To sit and stare.  :(

Yesterday we all loaded in the van...all 13 of us...to drive a now reduced total to 2.5 h round trip trek for 30m of speech therapy for Azlan. :) And you know what? It's wonderful.  We talk. Laugh. Sip on a coffee. Kids are singing, drawing, playing Monopoly Deal.... and that is our life.

Yes it's busy. And we are together. Living. Working. Doing school. Growing.

As I sit here tonight, Chazano just walked into my room and said "Mom...I've been wanting to tell you...you are amazing! You have 11 kids, you cook all the time, you always have such a clean kitchen (I think this is important to him ;) ), you teach us all school, you work so hard helping other moms, you JUST got home from China and I don't even think you stopped to rest since you got home!! And well...I just wanted to say...I can see how hard you work and you are amazing."

I see myself so very differently. As do you.  Flawed.  Not as patient as I hoped to be today.  Didn't take Azahria up on her offer to go hiking the mountain tonight.  Caved to buy a coffee when I've been trying not to.  Ate way too much pizza for dinner.  The last load of laundry just got washed AGAIN b/c I forgot about it.  The clean clothes need to be folded and put away. No I don't have laundry day. Laundry is like cooking a meal. It's all throughout the day. Every day. And that moment you let it get behind...you feel like you could scream. I see the laundry room. And the fact that I didn't make it to the post office...yet again.  And how I have a pile of clothes to return to the mall...that's probably past it's date that I CAN return it.  I see how I didn't feel like drying and straightening my hair today b/c it takes forever and my coffee was already cold...so I've had the worst hair day.  I see that the pantry is empty and I'm begging my husband to do the grocery shop b/c I detest it.

You get it right...? That's what I see. But that's not what my 11 year old son sees.  And it's not what everyone else sees.  And it's a good lesson for all of us.

We are harder on ourselves than hopefully anyone else will ever be.  As one of my close friends recently said to me "hey...stop that. That's my friend you are talking about!" and I did stop. In my tracks. Convicted of how I talk and think about me.

Tonight I'm going to take it.

I can do hard things. And I'm doing hard things. Day in and day out.

And that...supposedly...I hear...is amazing.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Thank you!

I should have blogged way sooner!  After posting and asking for prayer, we had an outpouring of love and support today and a MASSIVE answer to prayer.

So tonight...I sit and thank you. Thank you for being part of our village that most of the times...helps best just on your knees asking God to guide, direct, comfort and heal.

And He answered you.

Thank you.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Peace.

There is chaos.

There is also peace.

ZhenAi is doing really well.  There's this sadness that has hit me, however.  She's just...there.  And you can tell ... she's just always been...just there.

She is non verbal.  She just sits. Follows Tirzah and I... like a shadow. Often unaware of any rule of personal space...so you have to show her to not sit on top of you on the couch etc.  She almost just...exists.  And she's so content doing so...that it's scary.

School has begun with her.  However...it's really hard. Right now we are doing pre-k...but pre-k in the sense of teaching her how to color.  That's our focus.  Trying to make up for some of the major milestones that she has missed.

She will sit there for HOURS during school working on the picture. Often...just drawing lines with the crayon. I have to keep demonstrating the color motion. She will do it for a bit then stop.

She is now down with Tirzah. Her bed is set up and she seems to be doing well.  It's hard because she's definitely a big (tall) girl and 12.5y...but developmentally...not a peer.  So we just want to make sure Tirzah is not feeling a little claustrophobic.  So far, it's going well.

I am trying to push her a little bit with bathing and drying herself off. She has zero initiative to do more than necessary :)  She won't do anything besides sit in the bath and forces me to do it all. If I put the shampoo in her hair she will let it just run down her hair.  Sometimes yelling out if a drop of water drips on her face.  She definitely needs help getting dressed and most days the clothes will be inside out and 90% of the time...backwards.  If you come and see that...it's ok. We are ok with it. It's a lot of work for me to take it off and start over. Right now...it's ok :)

She still just imitates the same few words and appears to have a significant paralysis of her mouth. She can't move her tongue on one side which makes sense for how her words sound.  For example..."thank you" sounds like "Dah...DAH...DAH...DAH...DAH DUUU" that's how she says it every time. She's working really hard to say it but it has this huge build up and then finally happens.  Yes there will be lots of appts ahead as we try to see where we go from here to help her reach her potential in baby steps.

She's 12.5 years old. But ... it's not as it seems.  Someone recently told me they were shocked we adopted out of birth order.  Well #1...we followed God. As simple as that. But #2...to actually answer your "concern" (I'll give the benefit of the doubt here)...we know the difference between age and developmental age and Tirzah is still "the big sister".

On Thursday I look the girls to get their hair done.  It was a treat since I do everyone's hair. ZhenAi's hair had to be cut.  It was actually...awful :( It looked pretty but it was thin, tangly and super oily. We were having a hard time managing it. The moment we cut it...it felt thick and healthy. It's cut right to her shoulders.  By the way she bounces around...she appears to like it too :)

There have been other things happening in our family. Without any details, just asking you to pray.  Oh the darkness that is often in an adopted child's past. A past we know little about but are starting to see peaks into.  There's so much trauma. Pain. Loss. Darkness.  And that leads us to today.  Simply asking you to pray. God knows who and what.  And we are asking you to simply stand with us and pray for God's hand to heal and guide and direct.

In the midst of so much sadness...there is so much peace.   Last night, friends came over for coffee and desert and were referencing a secular book where the regret of someone's life was summed up in "if only..." but they were saying how as christians..."if only..." is not the thought.  No. In all of this we focus on what we know. For sure.  God led us here. To this child. To each of them.  Not because we were strong enough, qualified. No.  Not one bit. Because He is.  And this journey started in faith and today we realize the faith part of our story will continue.

Those of you who followed our story home from Africa will remember how God kept giving me the one line of the one song by Jesus Culture "though the world sees and soon forgets...we will not forget who You are and what You have done for us..." It was actually to the point of me sobbing in the airplane bathroom b/c I was almost tormented by this phrase. I knew right then and there God was giving me something I would need for days...and now I see...years...to come.

It's so easy to forget.  In my reading in Joshua I was struck by how God told His people to set up memorials so that their children would ask and be told the stories of how God rescued them.

(Joshua 4) He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[b] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.

It hit me right there. Such a simple thought...but am I remembering...? Am I recording the moments that God rescued us? The moments when He 'showed up' and my faith was built and I couldn't miss how real my God was?  How quickly do I forget?

As the song says...the world sees and soon forgets...yet so do we all. It takes a commitment to remember.  To see and not forget.  And that...? That is where we are right now.

Yes. We are ok.  Our home is happy. Full of love. Joy. All the wonder.  But there is a pain and now a process that we have to muddle through for healing. Deep healing.  And for that...we ask for your prayer.  Thank you for walking this journey with us.  All the way. Here.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Total Gratitude.

It's 1:28am.

Our house is very, very quiet.

I had a great face time conversation with a great friend tonight.  Me, sipping coffee on the couch, her just a few too many miles away...but we connected.

Tonight has left me feeling just plain grateful.

Today was an amazing day.  Something beautiful happened today and no I can't share it.  But it's ok. It wasn't a big thing.  It just left me feeling oh so grateful.

And in the middle of this amazing, beautiful day...my dad called. And we had a short conversation that was ... wonderful.  And I hung up the phone and again....felt so very...grateful.



Zihao has asked me 158 times today how my day is going...and then told me 142 times how much he loves me. And every time I replied with "I love you more" he predictably followed up with "oh Mommy...you always say that."

Tirzah went to bed giggling with glee that she "finally remembered April Fool's Day" and has a trick planned for her brothers. (I'm pretty sure the boys forgot what tomorrow is...so that makes it even better).

We ended the day with a super fun bon fire...with the best S'mores I've ever EVER had...and a sky full of stars like it was displayed just for me to end a perfect day.

I hear the soft breathing of Nazara and Izrael in their little beds in our room (yes, they are. No, not in our bed...but you know we have to slowly break them in to their bedroom a hallway away from us, this has  been a big move from a tiny rental house where we were all on top of each other...to here) just makes me sit and smile...as if I didn't have reason enough.

And it all brought me here. To this point. Where I sit...when I should be sleeping. Instead I'm looking out this massive window in our bedroom. I see lights and stars and all things lovely and I feel...yes, I feel...grateful.

Even for this.  The small things. Like Big Piggy still being with us to take silly pictures of in the park. With freshly picked flowers placed on his head.  And Izrael and Nazara giggling behind me as I took the picture...full of total joy.

Even this.