Friday, December 23, 2016

At the End of 2016...

Dear Family and Friends,

It's Linda. I have lots to share with you. I wish I can share more these daily and sacred moments but sometimes in the busy-ness of life, I would forget or had already moved onto the next task. It is literally God who is reminding me to blog right now. And to DO IT NOW.

God is wanting me to write because we need to update you all, but honestly, it's more for me to remember how far we have come this year (these years) and to just stop and relish. I am so thankful.

The girls have been blooming, thriving, growing, running, and I am amazed.

2016 marks a dramatic upturn in Alicia's vocal skills. I am overcome at Alicia's speech development. The daily repeating the same phrases have finally kicked in and she is talking more and more. She is still learning and sometimes her words sounds so mumbled and jumbled together that it takes the Holy Spirit to translate for me. But her speech is improving every day. As I reflect more, I found it's more me that God is working on... to teach me to slow down and to truly listen to her. She has a lot to say.

A few months ago, her speech therapist said to my dad who in turn shared with me that he was working with Alicia to speak 3 words in a row. The therapist said she still wasn't good at saying 3 words at a time. But I think I have heard her say more than just 3 words before. Then one day soon after that report, Alicia came home and pointed to the mess that Kaitlyn had left behind, and said "Meimei, 亂七八糟" (what a mess!)... I think I just counted her saying 6 words in a row!! I rejoiced!

Currently, Alicia is attending a special education class in a public kindergarten. Her teachers are wonderful blessings to us. We appreciate their perspective and attitude of teaching Alicia. And under their care, she goes to school with the biggest smile. That just brings such joy to my mama's heart. What a gift this school has been to us!

The biggest goal we are working with her right now is to prepare her to attend 1st grade next year. Right now, we have a few options of where to place her. Two main ones. One, is to keep her in the special education class where it is more isolated from mainstream students. She will be with two special ed teachers. Another option, is for her attend mainstream class and for specific subjects, a specialized teacher will pull her out for more one-on-one or smaller class setting to work with her. Right now, I am applying her to be in the second option. I am not going to sugar-coat it. It's a steep climb. She has to prepare to be even more independent. She has to work on her physical endurance and strength. She has to improve on speaking up even more and expressing herself and her needs.

In my meeting with her current teachers, they asked me what is the goal her father and I have for Alicia. I said for her to thrive well and be independent. For her to be the blessing she is, to the full potential that God has given her~ whatever that looks like. Alicia is normal. Her normal and her story isn't like what everyone else's but that is still normal. I don't want her to be isolated. I want her to see more of the world and I want the world to see her. Because her growth and potential will only increase if she walks out of her comfort zone and we all will be so blessed because of knowing her. But I have to be honest, there are so many times, I just want to hold her and protect her from whatever harm I may fear is out there in the world. Then God reminds me that He is holding her. I cannot and do not need to watch her 24 hrs a day. She is thriving and growing well.

Campbell often wisely reminds me that what I am doing for Alicia, I need to do for Kaitlyn. I will be honest; it's easier to look over KK only because it seems like it just comes so effortlessly for her. She's speaking more words every HOUR. She's curious, observant and brilliant. She loves going out. She still gets shy with people she doesn't know well but she has such an amazing memory. She would be talking to me about things that happened or places she has gone when she was a baby and couldn't talk yet. It is so incredible to me. Right now, she is learning how to play with Alicia. Her version of playing with her sister is to just take Alicia's things... which doesn't go well with Alicia. But they are making improvements; at least KK doesn't bite anymore... We are learning. KK also loves "cooking" and making me eat what she cooks. She likes to steal my makeup and lotions and which she would then stand in front of the mirror and put them on her face like she sees me doing.  Kaitlyn is a feeler. Her laugh is contagious and the spirit of JOY is over her. I love hearing her laugh with Alicia and Alicia loves KK. She thinks KK is so funny. I quote my mom, "Kaitlyn 不會吃虧". Kaitlyn will not be denied. She goes for it. She gets want she wants. She says what she feels. So we are encouraging her strengths and teaching how to use her giftings well.

But Campbell is right. I have been praying a lot for these two girls. I ask God for wisdom to know how to pursue these girls' hearts. God told me that for the most part this past season has been so much about their physical needs. To make sure they eat, they sleep, they are clean... but now I sense there is a new season taking place in their lives... Now, it's more than just physical. It's about their mental, spiritual, emotional, social development. And I want to madly pursue their hearts and make sure they know how much they are loved as we are instructing and parenting them. This is so crucial. For Campbell and I, it's not just about raising them to do what is right. It's not about correcting their behaviors. It's about who they are. Do they know who they are? Do they know what is true? Do they know how to think for themselves? And all of that starts now. That knowing of who they are, what is true starts with knowing they are unconditionally, completely, wholly, loved.

So this is my 2016 lesson. Everything in my life that is worthy of my time takes my whole heart's intention. I am not going to figure out how to love well, parent well, manage my health, family, finances and future just by winging it. I need to be intentional. I commit myself to God. I ask Him for wisdom. Then I move into action. I seek and ask for wisdom. I ask questions and go find answers. I don't understand a lot so I need to find solutions.

Please keep praying with us:
1. For Campbell and I to fully walk and run with the Holy Spirit as this new season starts. Our hearts are to position ourselves ready for whatever He calls us into.
2. For Alicia to gain confidence in herself, in her skills. For her to continue to accelerate even more and faster. For her to encounter God in her sleep, during the day.
3. For Kaitlyn to grow and prosper as a 2 year old, for her to know her Heavenly Father's heart.

There are more but as I write, I am losing track already! SO I am going to end this post for now and continue as the Lord leads.

LOVE and PEACE! Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, June 10, 2016


Well, it's been over two years since our last post. Way too long. Linda and I were chatting about how life has been getting busier and busier and how the girls are getting bigger and bigger. And as such, we really need and covet the prayers and support of our friends and loved ones. So she suggested that I get back into the blogosphere and start posting updates.

So here it goes...

Life has been incredibly full and blessed with the two. Kaitlyn is growing into an absolutely spunky and spirited little girl. So smart and quick-witted. And quite the little drama queen. I really personally think that she'll make an amazing actress one day. She is quite the ham. And when she feels something. SHE FEELS IT! Oh, man. Cue the waterworks. Haha...

Alicia is absolutely thriving and she's improving in all aspects. Recently on her fifth birthday we were looking back to the photos of her first few days on Earth, and we just marvelled at the journey which the Lord has brought us on.

It almost seems like the child in those photos was some other child and those days in the NICU were a lifetime ago. And yet when we look at those photos, the emotions and memories washed over us afresh.

For those that have been keeping up with us on Facebook, you know that Alicia over the past five years has had several bouts with febrile seizures. For those of you who don't know, febrile seizures are seizures that very young children get sometimes when they have fevers. In essence, their bodies overheat and short-circuit their brains causing nerves to misfire. The first few times this happened, doctors were concerned for Alicia because, well, anytime anyone has any type of seizure it's important to find the reason. So the first few times Alicia had the seizures we spent several days back in the hospital so doctors could run tests and observe her to make sure that the seizures were indeed febrile and nothing more serious. After getting the test results and not finding anything abnormal, and because of her age at the time and the fact that her cousins had a history of having seizures doctors told us it probably wasn't anything too serious. Most kids grow out of having the febrile seizures as they get older and their brains mature.

When Alicia had her fifth birthday we thought we were in the clear. However, about a week ago, Alicia woke up with a temperature higher than normal. It wasn't quite a fever, 36-37 degrees C, so we didn't give her medicine, but Linda, being the good mom she is, was still on alert. We went to church that day, and Linda even brought our thermometer with her so she could keep a watch on Alicia's temperature. I'll admit that I kind of teased her about being a bit over-cautious, but it turns out moms just have a sixth-sense about these types of things.

We got home from church, and Alicia's temperature was still in that warm-but-not-fever range, but we figured she was fine, so we put her down for a nap, and then left Alicia and Kaitlyn in the care of Linda's mom as Linda and I had scheduled to attend a class that afternoon.

It took us about 30 minutes to get to the classroom, and not two minutes after sitting down for class, Linda gets a call from home. Knowing her mom would never call unless there was an emergency, Linda immediately picked up the call and left the classroom. One minute later, she came back and my heart sank into what was a familiar sense of dread. "We have to go. Alicia's having a seizure."

My initial thought was... "Not again."

So we grabbed our stuff, left the classroom and the building and grabbed the first cab we saw and headed back home.

On the way home, we called Linda's mom to get a status update. Alicia was still seizing and we could hear Kaitlyn screaming in the background. We had some seizure and fever medicine on hand from the last time Alicia had a seizure and we tried to describe where it was to Linda's mom so she could administer it to Alicia and hopefully lesson the attack. Lesson learned. While we never hope we need to use the medicine, but we should always inform all caretakers of the whereabouts of the medicine and how to use it.

It took us about 15 minutes to get home, and on the way home we asked Linda's mom to call an ambulance. So pretty much not two minutes after we arrived at home we heard the sirens.

As soon as I got home, I picked Alicia up and held her. By now her left side had been jerking uncontrollably for about 20 minutes. And her fever was up. We asked Mom what had happened and basically, Alicia had woken up from her nap needing to pee. On their way to the bathroom, Mom felt that something was wrong cause Alicia just kind of got weak at the knees and couldn't walk straight. Then she suddenly threw up at which point she started having the seizures.

Linda's mom is amazing. Don't know how she stayed so calm dealing with an elder granddaughter who was seizing all the while trying to calm a frightened younger granddaughter who was crying hysterically. You'll remember our Kaitlyn is quite expressive about her emotions.

While the sirens got louder, Linda found the seizure medicine and we did our best to administer it rectally, however, being our first time using the medicine, we had no idea if we did it right at all. By the time we finished administering the medicine, the ambulance arrived and we climbed in.

It was seriously a scene from a movie, Linda and I climbing into the ambulance, Kaitlyn and grandma standing at the window. Kaitlyn crying hysterically in fear as we drove off. That image will forever be burned into our minds. I hope you parents never have to choose between caring for one sick child or comforting another. It's heartbreaking. So thankful we have the help and support we need at times like this.

We rode in the ambulance and the paramedics did what they could to get Alicia's vitals. "Temperature 38.4." "Blood oxygen... can't get a good read. She's jerking too much." "How long has she been having the seizure?" "Is she responsive?" "Can she look at you?"

The five minute ambulance ride felt like an eternity as we finally pulled up to the all too familiar emergency wing of Alicia's hospital.

We got out of the ambulance, and being seasoned veterans, we went right into our emergency room routine. Linda would go check Alicia in, while I accompanied the gurney and explained to the doctors what happened.

Within 5 minutes nurses had an IV in Alicia and began administering anti-seizure medicine, which helped Alicia to relax. And then gave her fever medicine which lowered her temperature. They then hooked Alicia up to a heart monitor and also took some blood for testing. And then let Alicia rest.

For the next seven hours, Linda and I kept vigil over Alicia in the emergency room and waited. By now we were familiar with the environment and kind of knew what to expect. Basically, doctors would run some tests and would want to observe Alicia to see if her fever or seizures returned. If not, we hoped we could go home.

Thankfully, at around 8:00 that evening, after running some tests, the doctor cleared Alicia to be discharged and we could go home. Hallelujah. No drawn-out hospital stay this time.

We scheduled a followup appointment with Alicia's paediatric neurologist and then we went home.

I thought, like the past, that we were in the clear. I mean it was just a febrile seizure, right? She'll out grow it.

Well ... and here comes the actual point of this post, we took Alicia in to see her neurologist yesterday. After looking at her charts, he began to deliver his prognosis.

"I'm concerned," he said. "This is already the fifth seizure that Alicia has had. Owing to the fact that she's now older and should be over these seizures by now. And also the fact that her seizures are only on side of her body. And that her seizures are usually over 15 minutes long. I'm concerned."

Have you ever watched a movie and as the ominous music grew louder, a sense of dread started growing in you? That's how it felt except it wasn't a movie. It was my daughter's life.

I watched Alicia as the doctor spoke about her, and while I don't think she understood what the doctor was saying, I could tell she could feel that something was up. So I grabbed her and just had her sit on my lap and held her tightly while the doctor spoke.

"I can't say 100% for certain. I will want to run some tests before deciding. But my guess is that she will probably need to go on medicine to help keep her nervous system in check. And to minimize the chance of these seizures." Why do doctors speak in such absolute terms? It felt to me like he was handing out a life sentence. And I could start feeling a sense of dread creep up in my heart.

But then as quickly as the dread started to grow, a new thought entered into my mind. While I absolutely respect doctors and am so appreciative of their expertise and professionalism. They are NOT God. And regardless of how you feel about the existence of God, you cannot deny that doctors are not perfect. None of us are. And when doctors offer their prognosis, it is not fact. It is at best, their guess and opinion as to what will happen in the future. Calling a doctor's prognosis a "guess" kind of makes it sound trivial and that's not my intention. What I mean is that it's a conjecture. No one can predict the future with absolute certainty. They can only give an educated guess.

So I realised then and there in the examination room that I could partner with fear and partner with anxiety and start to worry over my child's health, and the potential of her needing to take medicine for the rest of her life. Or I could start to pray and I could hand over my anxiety and my child over to the God who knew Alicia better than anyone. The God who created her. The God who has amazing plans of her.

And I felt a wall go up. Not a wall in the sense that I was rejecting what the doctor said, because that would be stupid. But a wall of protection around my heart, refusing to allow what he said to cause fear and anxiety. Because, as God reminded me at that moment, we'd been through all this with Alicia before.

When she was born, doctors told us, "Prepare your heart. She's weak. She probably won't make it past this week." Then when she did, they said, "She's got brain damage. She probably won't walk or talk." Well, guess what. She is.

One thing I've noticed is about doctors is that they tend to give you the the worst case scenarios, because in a way, they have to. Could you imagine if they said, "Oh, there's nothing to worry about." And then something bad happened? That would be a nightmare for both the patient and the doctor. It's better to say the worse case scenario and then if it turns out good, then everyone's happy.

So basically, that's where we are right now. We've scheduled another EEG for Alicia in the next couple of weeks, where once again she'll need to take some sleep medicine so she can sleep while they monitor her brain activity. Past experience has told us that Alicia really has a hard time relaxing and falling asleep for these tests, so prayers for that would be appreciated.

We will wait to see the results of the tests before the doctor tells us if he's going to put Alicia on medication.

My heart is at peace, because I said earlier, I know that Alicia's life is in God's hands. And we've had promise after promise that she's going to be fine. And we choose to trust God in this. If in the end she does need medicine, then so be it. But I'm believing that she won't.

Over the past few days God has brought Alicia's life verse to mind over and over.

"I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done." Psalm 118:17

Pray with us. I don't know if you believe in the power of prayer. Or if you believe that we have the power to create or destroy with our words. Regardless. Pray. But please pray with a spirit of celebration and thanksgiving. Do not pray out of fear or anxiety.

 Thank God for Alicia's health. Thank God that Alicia is alive and thriving and that she is, and is going to continue to improve each and every day.

Thank God, for us, that Alicia will NOT need medication. And that her brain is and will be more and more stable as time goes on.

Celebrate with us the amazing girls that Alicia and Kaitlyn are.

Part of the reason I want to start this blog up again is because one day when Alicia needs to share her story on the world's stage, she's going to need a record of all that God has done.

So Alicia, this is for you!

Know that Mom and Dad are your biggest cheerleaders. And you've got aunties and uncles, brothers and sisters all over the world praying for you and cheering you on.


Probably... You are not only probably going to grow up to be an amazing witness of God's power and grace. You ARE going to grow up to be an amazing witness of God's power and grace. In fact, you already ARE!

Saturday, May 10, 2014


We are the parents of two daughters. Wow. Amazing. I don't think my mind has completely wrapped around the fact that we now have two children rather than one. Two little ones who bear our DNA and will call us Mom and Dad. Whoa.

So, praise God. Kaitlyn Hannah Chang has arrived safe and sound into this world. And I don't know whether it is because my children share their parent's flare for the dramatic, but it seems that both of our children feel the need to enter the world in a very unique and definitive way with enough twists and turns to be their own soap opera or reality TV show.

As I shared in my last post, Linda and I were woken up at 5:00 a.m. to begin the prep process for surgery. About 7:30 a nurse showed up to our room with a wheel chair and helped Linda into it. By 7:45, before I knew what was happening, we were on our way to the delivery room.

I followed behind the wheelchair in an excitement-filled daze, hardly believing we were about to undergo a procedure that would bring our second daughter into the world. We get to the delivery room area, and huge steel doors slide open allowing us into the ward. Next we enter a smaller room and the orderly who was wheeling Linda, pushes her into a special quarantined area for deliveries, and I start to follow only to be told sternly that I couldn't enter yet, and to wait outside while they asked Linda some survey questions and prepped her for surgery.

At that moment another sliding door with a glass window slid shut separating Linda and I. All I could do was stand by helplessly unable to communicate with Linda in any way. A few minutes later, the sliding doors slid open and I was able to shout, "Linda, Jia You!" (which is something we say in Chinese when we want to encourage someone to "Hang in there and press on.") It was then that Linda realized I wasn't with her, and she asked me, "Aren't you coming in?" I told her I couldn't right then, but I would be in as soon as they let me. And then the doors slid closed, once again separating me and my wife.

It was then that I realized that I had been sidelined. It's ironic that I wrote in my previous post about my complete obsolescence in this whole child-birth process. Never was it more evident than in that moment segregated from my wife by a heavy steel door with a window.

Well, I stood outside the door for about 30 minutes while they prepped Linda for surgery. And I was just buzzing with excitement. Our daughter was coming, and I was going to be able to be there to witness her arrival. Could this be happening? Wow.

During the waiting process they brought me some scrubs and a surgery cap to put on, so I would be clean enough for the operating room. After what seemed like forever, the door finally opened and a nurse intern ushered me into the operating room.

There I saw my wife laid out like a science experiment, with green sheets covering her entire body except for a rectangular patch exposing her stomach. I was quickly informed the path of which I was allowed to walk, shown my seat and told that I was not allowed under ANY circumstances to touch anything other than my wife's hand.

Once I sat down, the procedure began. I held onto my cellphone, ready to capture the moment that Kaitlyn's head emerged. From my position, I couldn't see too much, only the doctor and nurses working on Linda. I tried as hard as I could to crane my neck to get a better view inside the abdomen, (I know, weird, but I was really curious) I couldn't see anything.

The procedure started out pretty smooth, but then the next thing I know, the doctor starts slowing down, and I hear her making comments about blood vessels, and a lot of things being stuck together and that this procedure was going to take a bit longer than expected. The doctor would work a bit, and then she'd look, and then I'd see this look of concern followed by a look of determination. It took about 20 minutes for the doctor to finally get down to the uterus in order to get Kaitlyn out. Just as I was wondering how much longer it would take, the activity began to pick up.

Again, I couldn't see anything, so I can only guess that the doctor finally was able to get down into the uterus and it was time for baby to come up. I looked down for a second to get my phone ready, and next thing I know when I look up, I see baby's head. A tug and a pull, then the baby's whole body is out. And then I hear for the first time, the sweet cry of my baby girl.

It's so funny, first thing I check as I did with Alicia as well, was to see if indeed she was a girl, and well, yes. She was. haha...

But man, so much bigger (naturally) than Alicia when she came out. And a good set of lungs. It was amazing to watch Kaitlyn get cleaned up, and see her turn from greyish blue, to pinkish red as she sucked more and more oxygen into her body.

My first instinct as a Dad when I heard her crying was to try to calm her down, but then I remembered that the crying is good, it's her taking her first few gasps of air. So I let her cry, but I started to talking to her, and you know the most amazing thing is that when she heard my voice, she stopped crying and started listening as if, "Hey, I know that voice."

At first, I hadn't noticed that she had stopped crying in response to my voice, only that she had stopped crying. It was only in reflection that I realized, hey, she knows me. Again, amazing.

It was at this point that I realized that I was focusing entirely way too much on Kaitlyn and not on my wife who was still on the operating table. So I turned to walk back over to Linda, at which point I was scolded and told not to approach and to stay where I was. So I froze in my tracks, turned around and went back to Kaitlyn. 

Once Kaitlyn was cleaned up a bit, they weighed her. And that's another funny story in an of itself. I was so chocked up on adrenaline that when they weighed her and announced her weight, it completely didn't register what they were saying. I heard the weight, I saw the number, but by the time I got out of the operating room, I completely forgot everything.

Next was another beautiful moment. They took Kaitlyn and carried her over to Linda so mother and daughter could meet for the first time. Kaitlyn by now was crying at the top of her tiny lungs because she was not happy being removed from her comfortable palace. But the moment they brought Kaitlyn close to Linda, and she heard Linda's voice, she completely got soft and calmed down. Her eyes were completely closed, but she found Linda's nose and rested her long slender fingers on it. It was a sweet moment as baby and momma bonded.

Soon, though, it was time for baby to get wrapped up and sent over to the nursery for final check up and a bath. But before we wrapped her up, doctor had me go over wither her all of Kaitlyn's extremities and appendages. Two ears, ten fingers, ten toes, definitely girl, etc... Once we checked that Kaitlyn physically was OK, the doctor wrapped her up, and then miracles of miracles, I got to hold Kaitlyn for the first time and actually carry her out of the delivery room.

With Alicia we had to wait a couple months before we were allowed to hold her and cradle her, but Kaitlyn it was within minutes. Amazing.

God is so good. Baby girl is healthy and alive. There is more to share about our first day post delivery, but this is getting long and it's late. So I will share more later.

But for now, I will just say thank you for all of the love and support that all of you have been sending us from around the world. We really are so grateful that we and our children are so dearly loved.

Friday, May 9, 2014

New Life

Well, it's been almost a year since our last post. And what a year it has been. Alicia has grown so much, and is moving along in her development quite well. And ... oh, yeah. We got pregnant! Actually, that's why I'm here typing again.

Right now, I'm lying in a hospital room, next to my wife who is resting as she prepares for yet another C-section.

Reminds me of the first night that I wrote on this blog, back then I was also in a hospital room, next to my sleeping wife, who had just had an emergency C-section. Crazy how time flies and how life goes on.

We arrived at the hospital last night, and Linda and I were commenting on how the circumstances surrounding this birth are so completely different than Alicia's birth. This time around, we'd known about this C-section for months. Months ago, our doctor told us that because Linda had had the C-section so early last time, if we tried for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), Linda's risk of uterine rupture during delivery was increased. So our OB-GYN highly recommended another C-section. Well, I don't know if recommended is the right word, more like informed us that we would be having another C-section.

At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about this, because first of all, it meant that we'd be taking baby out several weeks early (37 weeks vs. 40 weeks) and second of all, I still remember the recovery process for Linda from the last C-section. It was quite uncomfortable. So I was really hesitant, and even considered telling our OB-GYN that no, we'd like to try for a VBAC anyway. But after praying and then talking to several of our friends in the medical sphere, and considering the fact that our doctor is a well-known high-risk pregnancy doctor here in Taiwan, and also me not having the first clue on child-birth, we decided that we would go ahead with the scheduled C-section.

So here we are, week 37 and two days. Linda and I were woken up about two hours ago to begin the prep process. (I'll spare you the details.) It's baby day and if all goes well, we'll be meeting our new daughter within two hours. Crazy.

There are so many thoughts running around my head right now. I'll be honest, right before starting this entry, I was researching C-sections and all that entails and doubts started creeping up in my mind again. Perhaps we should have pushed more for the VBAC, maybe we should have asked more questions. But too late now. We're on the train and it's already left the station.

Also, I can't help but feel absolutely 100% useless during this process. I mean other than my early contribution to the life of this child, up to this point I have pretty much not had anything to do with carrying her, nurturing her, incubating her and keeping her healthy. And for the next few hours, I will have nothing to do with her coming out, other than standing by Linda's side and encouraging her. I mean, seriously, for the past 9 months, every ache and pain, every physical change, every sore muscle, every kick, every needle prick, every swollen appendage has been Linda's and Linda's alone. And now, over the next few hours, it will be her who will have to endure the epidural, her who will have to deal with the surgery and her who will have to deal with the recovery.

I feel completely and utterly useless.

So any man, woman or child who ever disrespects a mother (and I'm talking to myself here, too), no offense, but you're acting stupid. I mean these WOMEN are AMAZING! What they have to go through to bring these children into the world - I mean, WOW.

And it's like, I want to have more kids, but how do I dare ask Linda to go through all of this, AGAIN? I mean? Really. It's not something I can ask of her. It would be one thing if I could take the pain and struggle of bringing the child into the world, and do something to help. But seriously, as I said earlier, I pretty much am 100% obsolete in the pregnancy, birthing and recovery process. It's not my body that has to deal with all the changes and discomfort. Ever want to feel useless? Be a husband, awaiting the delivery of your child. Don't get me wrong, this is no self-abasement. I'm not putting myself down. I am just accepting my lot in life (well at least in this process). So as much as I would LOVE to have another kid of my own (yes, I know... let's see how it is with two before opening my mouth and making such a statement), in the end, the decision is completely up to Linda and God.

So gentlemen with wives who have been or who are pregnant. We seriously need to bow down and honor these women as the queens and warriors they are. I mean, they go through a heck-of-a-lot to give life to our children. We best not EVER disrespect them EVER.

So on this day, the birthday of our second daughter, and two days before Mother's Day, I just want to say to ALL the mothers out there, THANK YOU. THANK YOU! May God bless you immensely for all you have done. YOU ARE AMAZING!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

712 days...104 weeks... 24 months... 2 years

Happy Birthday Alicia!!

Baby Girl is 2 years old today.  Time sure flies! Hard to believe that two years ago, Linda and I were still recovering from one of the most eventful night of our lives, and our little girl was clinging to life by a thread. Now look at her. So full of life and most importantly she's thriving and improving each and every day.

I still remember clearly doctors telling us that they had no guarantees for us on how long Alicia would be alive. The odds were sorely against her, and if she survived to the end of the week, it would be quite amazing. Back then all we had to cling on to was our faith that Alicia was in God's hands. We kept praying for and proclaiming with all of you health, and life to our little one. Back then there were moments when it felt like we were maybe kidding ourselves. But we clung onto God and his promises. We knew that he would carry us through no matter what. And we believed that Alicia was going to be all right.

And as you can see, today, she's not only OK, she is blossoming into an adorable little girl.

Does she have challenges? Sure. She's a bit behind developmentally, but that's OK. We will continue to take her to therapy and get her the help that she needs. At the same time, we're going to continue what we've been doing since the beginning and continue to cling on to the hope that she is going to be able to live a 100% normal and healthy life with no disabilities or handicaps. We're going to continue to speak life over her and full health. And we ask you to continue to do that with us as well.

A year ago, on the eve of Alicia's first birthday, I wrote about how I look forward to the day when I'll hear her call me Daddy for the first time, and while we're not quite there yet, we're getting there! A couple of weeks ago, she started adding the syllable "ba" to her babbling. Now we just have to help her to associate "ba" with me! =D She is definitely understanding more and more. When we ask her "Where is baba?" she'll look at me. And if I say, "Give it to baba" She'll reach out and give me whatever's in her hand. So she's definitely more aware and interactive, which is an encouraging sign.

Now, on the day of Alicia's birthday, allow me to leave a little message for my baby girl, so that one day when she's older she can read and know what Daddy was thinking on her second birthday.

Dear Precious Baby Girl,

Happy birthday! You are 2 today. You probably have no idea right now what a special day we celebrate today, but in time, and as you get older, you will know. But for now, Mommy and Daddy will just celebrate for you.

Baby girl, you are growing and learning so much. You have your challenges and Mommy and Daddy need to give you some special help, but it is worth it. To see how much you are improving and growing makes Mommy and Daddy's heart smile.

Alicia, I hope you know how much Mommy and Daddy love you. Mommy pours out so much of herself to take care of you. And her heart is continuously wondering what else she can do to help you to grow physically, mentally, spiritually and in every other way. Mommy often exhausts all of her energy in trying to get you to eat, or nap, or just to finish your milk. You are an amazing girl. And overall, you are very well-behaved and cooperative. But little girl, you have to eat and sleep. That's how you'll get bigger, healthier and stronger. One day you'll understand and one day you'll have children of your own. I hope they eat better than you do, but if they don't, then maybe you'll understand the struggle Mommy goes through every day to feed you. Haha.

But Alicia, you are an amazing little girl. Your smile is like a splash of color on a dreary gray canvas, it brightens everything up. I love playing with you and making you laugh. And I love when I hold you and you hold me back, snuggle and bury your face in my chest. You make me feel like I am the biggest coolest superdad in the world.

There are times when I get frustrated and I yell or put you aside, and I am sorry. Daddy is learning, too. I am learning I need to cherish this time I have with you, because you won't be small forever. One day you are going to be all grown up and have a family of your own. And I'm going to have to compete for your time. But for now, your mine and Mommy's and we will continue to cherish the gift that is you.

Daddy and Mommy have a lot of hopes and dreams for you baby girl. But mostly our prayer is that we would train you up in the way that you should go. We want you to have an amazing relationship with God, and know that he has created you and that you have an exciting purpose here on Earth. You almost went back to Heaven early, but God sent here, and I know you have something important to do. And Mommy and Daddy promise that we'll do our best to help you find out what that is, and support you so that you can have every advantage, resource and tool you need to thrive and give God glory while you're alive here on Earth.

Precious girl, you are my treasure.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Missing Something?

Seriously, how do all of you do it? I mean those of you with 2, 3, 4 . . . 19 kids? How do you do it?

How do you do it, while still maintaining your smile, your energy, and most importantly your hair? Alicia is a great kid and all, but seriously, lately, I feel like we're coming apart at the seams.

Those of you who know me well, know I once had a lofty dream of having four, yes, FOUR, kids. I love kids, I reasoned, it'd be fun. MWUAHAHAHA. Lately, I've really started to reconsider. I mean, part of me still hangs onto the hope that by some miracle of God, we get this supernatural stamina, patience and energy to handle four little kiddies running around our house. But right now we're doing all that we can just to survive.

I sometimes wonder, is it us? Are we doing it wrong? I mean, how do some moms have the energy and capability to have three young boys under the age of five, be pregnant with her fourth child, bake amazing treats and still run 10 miles every day. (Yes, I'm talking about you Mrs. Sawatzky.)

And then others who find the time to sew, and bake, and keep their house clean and take their child out for modeling shoots, and still have time to make baby number two, or three.

I'm like... I really would like to have a second one. But really? Do we dare?

And I'm at odds, too. Because part of me is like... we want a second one, let's get it over with. If we're going to be tired, let's just be tired all at once. I don't want to get to a point where Alicia is a bit older, she can do more on her own, and we can take things a bit easier, and then BAM have to start all over for another 3 or 4 years with kiddo numero dos. At the same time, can we really handle adding another person into the mix, with everything that we have going on?

I mean, seriously, am I missing something? Other families seem all the ready to have more kids. Parents whose kids were born about the same time as Alicia, if they haven't already added to their pantry, are in the process of creating or baking their next sweetie pie. But in our little bakery shop, as the chief baker (my wife) so tactfully put it, "The store is closed."

And while, I would so like to contest and on occasion do try to persuade my wife to prepare for our second, part of me feels like, who am I kidding? We have four hands full with Alicia. How can I even think of having a second, or a third, or dare I say it? A fourth.

On a side note, in my naivete as a young single man, I thought, hey wouldn't it be fun to have twins? Now I think, WAS I CRAZY?! So you parents of multiples out there - hats off to you.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of joys that we experience. Like the sweet smiles that we get from Alicia each day. Or even her crawling up to me just now, putting her little hands on my knees and pulling herself up to be close to me. Those things are precious.

I mean, I honestly have no answers. I don't know what I can do to make things easier for Linda or myself. Or maybe there is nothing we can do. Maybe it's just a phase that we need to go through.

I guess part of me writes this to let those of you out there who are in the same boat as me know that you're not alone. Not all families are idyllic with well-disciplined children who sleep, eat, and poop on schedule, and moms and dads who keep a spotless home, while cooking dinner with one hand and changing a diaper in the other.

All I can say is I am clinging on to God for dear life, I tell you. =D

Monday, April 29, 2013

Such a Time as This

Had an interesting conversation yesterday with a new acquaintance of mine that really injected me with renewed sense of gratitude.

One thing God has been speaking to me over the years is that no matter how much at times I think that God has left me in the dust to fend for myself, he never has nor will he ever abandon me. In fact, truth is, sometimes there are things that I take for granted as, "well that's just how things are" when actually, there is no such things as "that's just how things are." We are not guaranteed that things are supposed to be one way or the other. In fact, all we have is because of God's grace and mercy.

What I'm realizing is that it is would be nearly impossible for me to wrap my mind around and comprehend just exactly how much the Lord has done for me.  In fact, I think I am probably blissfully unawares of some of the imminent dangers that the Lord has thwarted from coming my way simply because I never experienced it, so I didn't know it was coming.

I think this cartoon illustrates what I'm trying to say well:


I mean of course, I don't think God is ever capable of accidentally "missing one". But you get the idea.

So basically yesterday, I was having a conversation with this acquaintance when he just casually mentioned that his mom has had a series of health issues ever since she gave birth to him unexpectedly during the hottest part of the year over 20 years ago. Being a dad of an ex-preemie, my ears perked up. Unexpected birth? So I asked him what he meant. He explained to me that he was originally due in November, but he was born mid-August. Three months early, just like Alicia!

He told me that he stayed in the incubator for 10 days. "Ten days!" I exclaimed. He said, "Yeah, I know. A long time, right?" Flabbergasted I explained that Alicia was in the hospital in the incubator for four months! It was his turn to be shocked. After further discussion, we realized that the reason he was only in the hospital for 10 days was because back then Taiwan National Health Insurance was not as comprehensive as it is today. His family could only afford to keep him in the incubator for 10 days.


One other thing about this acquaintance of mine, is that he walks with a limp. Turns out one of his legs is longer than the other and he's had the problem since he was a child. But, since info on preemie care and early intervention was not as prevalent and developed when he was young, his parents were unaware of his need for therapy until he was nearly five years old and still unable to walk. By then it was a little late for him to begin therapy and get the help that he needed, and so he ended up with a permanent limp.

After this conversation, I was just in awe. I mean, have we had a hard time? Yes! Have we had to face a slough of unanticipated trials and uphill battles? Sure! But could things have been 10 times worse? Oh, MOST definitely!

I mean, seriously, we were already so thankful for the medical insurance that brought our over $1,000,000 NT hospital bill down to only $50,000. But to think that had Alicia been born 20 years ago, we would have most likely only been able to allow her to stay in the hospital for 10 days and then what? Linda and I would have had to provide all the medical treatment and care for her at home. (On a side note, we've heard rumors that the government is considering cutting funding in preemie care so that insurance will go back to covering only 14 days of incubator usage. ARE YOU KIDDING?! Talk about sentencing these kids! But that's another soapbox for another time.)

And is it challenging and draining for Linda to schlep Alicia, her diapers, toys, bottles and formula multiple times a week to therapy? OF COURSE! But, am I grateful now for the availability of such therapy and the protocols and resources available in order to diagnose Alicia's need for said therapy so that we were able to get it so early for Alicia? OH, FOR DARN SURE.

So, Father, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that sometimes I take things for granted. I'm sorry that I think I'm entitled and that you're not doing enough. And I complain and whine that it's too hard! When, in reality, you have already done so much. Every day I'm sure there are countless things that you do for me and my family that I am quite unaware of and oblivious to.

Lord, I want to say thank you. Thank you for all the things that you have done and continue to do for us both seen and unseen, known and unknown. Thank you that nothing gets by you, and you know exactly what we need even before we are conscious of it.

Thank you for allowing Alicia to be born at a time such as this when medical information and knowledge is more developed. Thank you for providing insurance so that Alicia was able to and continues to be able to get the assistance that she needs without costing us an arm and a leg.


P.S. Here is on other amazing thing that Linda just pointed out to me after reading what I wrote above. Even if Alicia were born 20 years ago without the developed medical care and insurance, God's grace would have covered her and us even then. Things in the natural realm may have been more "difficult" or "challenging" but in the spiritual realm our God is the same God he was yesterday, today and will be tomorrow. So his grace would have been sufficient for us even Alicia were born back then. THANK YOU, LORD!

Only God knows why he had Alicia born at such a time as this. But see, that's actually the only thing that matters. God KNOWS. And he has plans for her. Plans to prosper her and not to harm her, plans to give us hope and a future.