Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brokenness.

Today I (again..) realized how in every situation...I have a choice. And today....I chose brokenness. It actually can be a good thing. It was prime opportunity for anger, even bitterness. But instead I just sat almost numb before God. Ok. What do you want me to do? Is there something I'm missing? Crying out to my Dad...I'm broken. I'm bare. I'm yours. Shine from me. If it's possible in this situation...shine from me.

It was actually a beautiful place to be.

And to my Dad...it was better than a Hallelujah.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More firsts. Lots of repeated lessons.

It's been a busy week. Nevermind. I take that back. Our LIFE is busy. Seriously busy. Sometimes I think...we have a lot on our plates and it really doesn't slow us down. Life is pretty structured around here and honestly I'm not sure we'd get much done if it wasn't!

School..has been going. Tirzah and Zion are loving it and learning lots. Tirzah is totally hungry to learn and it's fun to teach her. Zion takes a bit more time but still loves when word blends click and he realizes he can read a word, it's so cute. Duka and Zano are sticking with the basics. Zano is moving ahead in the preschool program, Duka, not really. Duka's biggest struggle is obedience. So we are starting there. He has this super strong quiet inner streak of "my way is best. always". So he often spends most of the morning with colored blocks learning how to obey very simply instructions like "put in piles of colors" or "separate circles and triangles" etc. Honestly if it takes a few months to learn the basic life lesson of listening and following instruction, then no time lost.

Azlan, interestingly enough, is the one that plays most with the twins. He's found his spot. Duka needs to be monitored carefully b/c Azlan wants to be with him so bad he'll endure anything and Duka can be mean to him. We have seen Azlan a few times crying by himself (which is interesting seeing he comes off as thick skinned) and when you ask what's going on, his feelings were hurt by someone making fun of him etc. So they are learning what is and isn't ok. I think Duka's in a hard spot b/c Chazano is clearly the funny outgoing one (and the one Tirzah and Zion play most with) and it's like Duka is trying to find his place...so as we often see in kids, he's doing it by putting someone else down. Learning as we go.

We have also had some GREAT moments lately too. Moments of kindness caught if even at a glimpse. Azahria fell down and we saw Duka RUN to help her. That's followed with lots of cheers for being an awesome helper.

Good news is Duka now sleeps in underwear and is dry 9 nights out of 10. He has no water past dinner (and what he gets at dinner is pretty little) but he's learned he needs to have a lot less so he can be dry.

We all went to the park last night on bikes (well Mama pushed Azahria Peace in the stroller) and once we got there we took training wheels off two of the bikes. Starting with Tirzah...she struggled but then I got her going on the concrete and then let her ride onto the grass well one of the times she kept going onto another piece of concrete...that was it...she was on her way!! She rode around for a few minutes by herself. It was so cute to see all the others cheering her on :)

Then Zion. Mr. Ambition himself. Tells Daddy "let go of me" and away he went. Hardly a struggle at all he did great! We tried a bit with Zano and Duka~I think they need more time as they JUST got on a bike for the first time every a few months ago. But still it was an exciting night.

Azlan's sedated ABR is for Monday ... mind as well ... this weeks is crazy full and packed. Actually, this month is. And we have some pretty big goals this month for our business so we'll roll with it.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Always Good. Always.

Today was heavenly. Were there any miracles...? Not really. Were the kids suddenly ready to go and transformed....? no. What changed...?

Last night I ran to my Father. Funny how many times I have to learn this lesson. As soon as life gets too much...I hide. Not much different than Adam, am I? Last night I ran to Him. And my heart was filled. It's as if I can hear Him whisper..."Janice...I've been waiting. I've got a plan. I've had a plan. I've not changed my mind. Glad you came back". Maybe you have to be where I am for that to warm the coldest areas of your heart, but it sure does mine.

"Honest cries...of breaking hearts....
better than a hallelujah sometimes..."
Amy Grant.

Oh. It so is.

Praising Him when things are great...is great. But how genuine is it? Is your love really tested when you are infatuated...? Any of us married longer than 10 days will tell you ...'no'...

Dean and I watched Extreme Home Makeover Sunday night. I have not seen it in a LONG time. I don't think it was accident that we saw this one. We both cried at least 6 times. It was amazing. A family...the dad an avid football player and coach. The mom an amazing loving woman. Married her highschool sweetheart. Their daughter, lover of horses. Their son, paralyzed from the waist down. The dad...now diagnosed with ALS. Devastating. The football team he coaches are a bunch of boys from broken homes and no dads. They all look to him as dad. It was amazing. Not very often you see the good side of humanity. We would be shocked if they are not people who love Jesus. Still coaching with slurred speech and major limp...the town pulled together and built them a dream home fully wheelchair accessible and paid off all their medical debt. We just sobbed. More than that was the strong tie of the family. This was it. Let me tell you something. There was sincere, genuine love in that family. Things good...? um no. She said people often hug her and say sorry for the huge burden she has to carry and she looked at the camera crying and said "they just don't get it. What a privilege for me to walk this journey with this man!". See that much ? Not really. That's love.

Love is proven and tested in trauma. It just is.

Go to prayfordaisy.com and read a picture perfect family's story of their 6 year old daughter's second battle with cancer. Read how they all say, beyond the shadow of a doubt, how THIS journey ... they wouldn't trade it for anything...because they only THOUGHT they knew Jesus before...now they really know Him.

Last night. I broke.

Today..what a contrast.

School went amazing. Oh the kids didn't 'get' it anymore today.

If you have followed this blog....if you have seen my life...if you've ever examined your own life...you know that the one thing that changes every thing...every horrible circumstance...is you. Your heart. Dry. Tumbleweed. Or a child in front of the fountain lapping every drop. That's the difference.


Today I was quenched.

Ahhhhhh.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Insert scream here.

... and yet in the middle of craziness (seemingly) there is peace. Such a sweet friend of mine chatted with me today and asked if I'm really truly asking God for help here. I'm not. So now I am. There you have it. And she is true enough of a friend to hold me to it.

School. Schmool. The preschool program the twins are in is about age 4 level. Seriously. It's wayyyyyyyy too young for Zion. Zion is bored out of his mind so I'm switching him to Tirzah's program. But the twins...I came downstairs this morning and said "this. Is. Not. Working.". Insert scream here.

They simply do not listen. They have life going on in their own little heads and they look at you (past you) and smile but are not really there. The story had pictures to follow along with. Vivid, colorful pictures. Doesn't matter because they simply are not 'there'. So the reading the story 2, 3 times actually helps nothing when the child is not listening. It's extremely difficult, on the calmest of days, not to get really frustrated.

We are seeing some reactive attachment issues with Duka. Peeing again in his bed after 7 days of perfectly dry nights...now pee under his pillow....?? There's real, manipulative, on purpose things going on.

Insert scream here.

It's not lovable. It's not cute. It's not natural to feel all warm and fuzzy here. And I don't.

Insert scream here.

But my sweet sweet friend who has a child...with attachment issues...is such a help. I never know if it's good or bad that she can pretty much complete my sentence. I hate labels. I hate terms. We will get through this. We will prevail. I will surrender. I will love. And...while I'm at it, I'll stop screaming.

Having Daddy home more has been a big bonus b/c Daddy is no longer the 'tickle monster' but an authority figure that you have to obey just like Mama.

Eating is becoming a complete test of all patience. Duka has never ever ate slower and sometimes completely refuses to swallow. I do believe his stomach is adjusting to his true appetite instead of eating out of 'what if this is my last meal', he will say "I'm full". It's refreshing to see that! The child is so tiny that he can't possibly need that much food!

While on the phone with my friend today I was watching out the window as Duka and Zano start taking Azlan's clothes off. ....? I watched. Azlan did exactly what they said. It's almost a bit chilling to see how the 2 can gang up on 1 and Azlan, as strong as he is, just listens. I waited. They took his favorite coat off. Then his shirt. Then Azlan's lip started to quiver. I called Zano and Duka to me. They stare. Blankly. Mama: "what are you doing?" Zano: stareeeee. Blank. Duka: stare...."ummmmmmmm". Ok. Mama:"why are you taking his clothes off?" Duka:"ummmmmm" Zano: stareeee. "ummmmm". This can go on for an hour.
Enter my life.
Insert scream here.
I ask Azlan. He says "they just said stay still, we are taking your clothes off!". Then his lip kept quivering.

Insert scream here.

God I need you. I can't do this on my own. The kids have definite baggage. Not necessarily of abuse. Of neglect. Of never having to submit to an authority. Of just surviving the best way you know how.

Seriously today my head simply hurt. I tried to think back to Africa and remember how I was so confused about "Though the world sees and soon forgets...we will not forget who You are and what You've done for us..." and I think I'm getting it. Father, please. Help. I cannot do this on my own. I have seen what You have done. I know what You can do. Please don't leave me now.

There's days of confusion and just questions. Why? This was Your choice, not ours. I have never believed in sacrificing our 4 children to save more. Please help us. And give me Your heart. I need a love so much deeper than mine.

"This is where the healing begins...
ooohhohhhh.
This is where the healing starts!
When you come to where you're broken within...
the light meets the dark....."

Tenth Avenue North. All of their songs just grab me at the core. They get it. They get me.

Take all my screams of frustration and confusion and 'where do we go from here's and please insert peace. Insert peace here. What a contrast.

The same gift I was ultimately given in Africa...the gift...of one day at a time...seems elusive now. All I see is 'forever'. And it feels impossible. Please give me the gift of one day at a time.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 2 of school and life.

School is IN session :) I had to be 100% organized first which I must admit is TOTALLY working for me ;)

4 new desks, 4 new chairs (red, orange, red, orange) and 4 kids ready to go every morning and we are on our way! The ciricc we are using is very much for each child at their own speed which is just plain a necessity in this family. Tirzah has already accomplished 1 week's worth of work in 2 days. Chazano and Zunduka...we are at the basics of basics. You know what...we already know the struggle. It's listening. They LOOK like they are listening...but they are not. AHHHHHHH! New concept. Right?

So after reading the most gigantic story ever...TWICE (because apparantly NO ONE listened to round 1...) Zano and Duka couldn't even tell me the featured animal in the story. The answers were "Jesus?" "God?" "dog?" Ok. scratch that.

So I made a quick decision that the best way for them to learn the lesson was ... to have them sit at their desks with their hands folded while Tirzah and Zion got to color the pictures and do the activities related to the story. The next time I read a paragraph they knew it word for word. I wonder how many times we'll have to learn this lesson...? :)

Last night we had a little party for Azlan. It was so sweet. In fact, he asked to pray for his meal. When 'amen' finally rolled around Dean was laughing at me because I was wiping the tears off my face. Yah. My preciousness. And here he is, 4 years later, praying for the food. Love Love Love him.

So tomorrow is back at school again. I have to say it's quite fun. I get to sit there with my coffee and schedule and it's quiet and organized (how very me...the quiet part anyway...I know...never would guess that would be a love of a girl that chose to have 7 kids!) and Azlan and Azahria seem to have fun out in the playroom while school is in session. Come lunch time it's all fun and games for the rest of the day as Azahria sleeps it away :)

Tomorrow I have a 'genetics appt' at my OB office. I'm not exactly sure what it's for but I think it's to do with Azlan having a cleft. The big ultrasound is October 25th and as of right now...the gender will remain a surprise til mid March. Do I sound like I'm jumping up and down excited about this ... ? :) AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Can you train a brain that cannot stand surprises in any way...to love this one? Ok. It's ok. I'll be ok. And I have gotten to find out for all 4 so far. :)



Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ahhhhhhhh.

There are few words to describe what I saw this morning.

We have said good-bye twice...way before we were ready...two little babies that you would never know were to be #7 by the amount of excitement in this house!

Losing our baby in Africa~seriously felt like it was going to kill me. How can you do that...alone? How can you do that...with no shoulder to cry on? How can you do that...in Africa? How can you do that...the same day you adopt twins? How...can you survive...that? It was one of the most beautiful times in my life. Because Jesus became almost tangible. I felt His presence. He was real. He caught every tear. He held every shaking sob in His hand. I knew He cared. He knew it was a time of decision for me...would I turn it into distrust? Would I turn it into anger? Would I feel betrayed? I had laid out the fleece before I got on that plane. If the heartrate was over 120bpm I would take it as a clear sign from Him that this baby was going to survive. The heartrate was struggling at 110 a day earlier. I nearly popped off the bed with news of 132bpm. I knew it was the answer.

I flew 26 hours to Africa, solo. I arrived and my first night there...I said goodbye to a baby of Hope. In an emotionless night of laying frozen, talking to my God that suddenly felt far away. Asking questions that felt empty and confused. I constantly came back to the fact that I simply never leave His hand. He is good. Always. No matter how deep the pain...He is always good.

Something happened a few months later that left me completely in tears. 7 pregnancies in 10 years...all on medication. I had medication lined up for the following month of July. It was June. I was reading and praying one night and I stopped as I heard "this month, no medication". It vividly brought me back to an ultrasound at 19 weeks in my pregnancy with a little boy named Azlan Honor. I sat on the table and heard a voice "your baby has a cleft"...after questioning the tech and being asked several times if I felt OK...I laid back wondering if God just gave me a warning. Not 15 minutes later I was told by my doctor that our baby had a cleft. That was a huge faith building moment that would carry me through many days to come. God didn't only know, he planned and he was kind enough to let me know...He knew. He cared. About me.

Here I am, 4 years later....sitting on the side of my bathtub (I know...I have this odd trend of reading and praying in the bathroom..however..it's a very quiet place in our house:) and I hear "this month, no medication". You would think...I'd be excited. Natural response,right? It wasn't. I immediately said "no. No. I'm doing meds next month". Why? I felt like I could 'trust' medicine. I didn't want a big faith ride. Not now. I've done that quite a bit lately...I'm going to go by the seen this time. I started crying. I knew I had a decision to make. Would I surrender and trust God? I opened up my bible to my reading and the verse jumped out off the page "I cried out to the Lord my God, and He healed me" I remember closing my Bible quickly jumping up and saying "I'm just not ready for this". What if I DID trust ... and it was all in my head? What if it weakened my faith instead of strengthened it? Why not just use the medication next month? I got in bed and tossed and turned for a long time. I cried. Finally I got up and said "Ok God...I'll trust you. No meds". A few days later I decided to tell two friends in confidence so that they knew ahead of time. If it happened, I knew it would strengthen their faith.

Fast forward to finding out #7 is on the way. No meds. I have never been in so much shock in my life. Seriously I shook. Then I called the 2 friends I had told. They couldn't believe it.

We decided to keep it quiet this time but there was a quiet peace inside me that this baby...was here to stay.

Today, at 13 weeks we got to see our precious little baby on Ultrasound. He/She moved, kicked and flipped for 30 minutes while I watched.The doctor took a look at his/her brain, heart, spine and even took a very premature check at the lip to see if we could see evidence of a cleft (it's too early) but I walked out again with a quiet peace of a promised baby.

One of our favorite songs came to mind...a few months ago I'm not sure I did believe.

Do you wonder why you have to,
feel the things that hurt you,
if there's a God who loves you,
where is He now?

Maybe, there are things you can't see
and all those things are happening
to bring a better ending
some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see

Chorus:
Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning

My friend, you know how this all ends
and you know where you're going,
you just don't know how you get there
so just say a prayer.
and hold on, cause there's good who love God,
life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time,
but you'll see the bigger picture

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning
yeah, yeah,
before the morning,
yeah, yeah

Once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
memory, memory, yeah

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

com'n, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the hurt before the healing
the pain you've been feeling,
just the dark before the morning
before the morning, yeah, yeah
before the morning

Christian lyrics - BEFORE THE MORNING LYRICS - JOSH WILSON