Sunday, August 7, 2011

Music of the Heart

I'm not going to lie. The past few days have been a struggle. I've been wading through a muddle of emotions and thoughts, some positive, most burdensome. Thankfully, the Lord in his ever tender ways is always by my side and has been helping me through.

In trying to think of how to convey what I've been experiencing, the thought occurred to me to do it through song. About a year ago, Linda and I hosted a weekly radio program in which we played music and shared personal stories from our lives. It was an extension of the current ministry we're working with.

Anyway, since music often can convey a lot, I thought I'd take you through a musical journey of my heart. Hence the title of the post. =)

First off, an oldie but goodie.

I mentioned that my emotions have been pretty complex lately, and well, I feel like this song expresses a lot of what I'm going through.

While I am so thankful for everything that the Lord has brought us through, I definitely, definitely have days when I long for the simpler days of yesterday. The days before Alicia came along, the days before we had to deal with ventilators, ROPs, BPDs and doctors. The days when both Linda and I were working and we had a rather comfortable lifestyle. The days when our main concern was what to make for dinner that evening, or what to eat for lunch. The days, as the song says, when I didn't feel like half the man I used to be.

The trouble is, that as soon as I have these thoughts, I immediately feel a twinge of guilt, because to go back to those days would mean that I'd have to go back to the days when Alicia didn't exist, when I didn't have this precious jewel in my life, and I definitely wouldn't want that. No matter how hard things are, I would never give Alicia up for anything. So you see where I'm torn.

Then came this morning. My heart was especially heavy as it always is at the end of a weekend since I've started working again. As much as I do enjoy working again, it's always so hard to leave Linda behind. Though I know, I'll see her again in a few short days, it's always heart-wrenching to leave. As much as I wish that it didn't hurt so much to leave, I'm glad that it is hard to leave, because it means there's a bond there. Linda's my best friend, when she's around I feel comfortable and secure. And now add Alicia into the mix, and it makes it that much harder to say goodbye. Made me think of this other song by BoysIIMen

Today, after our morning visit, I practically cried knowing that it would be a few more days before I saw my girls again. Thankfully through modern technology we can still stay in touch and I can keep up to date on all that's happening with my girls though I can't be physically present with them.

Some of you may feel like I'm a sap, but you know what? I don't care! I love my wife and I love my daughter and I don't care what anyone says about how hundreds of families have lives where the father/husband live in one state or country while the rest of the family live some place else. That's just NOT the way it's supposed to be! Fathers are not supposed to be GONE from the family picture. Don't tell me my daughter doesn't know the difference. She KNOWS! Her heart beats faster at the sound of my voice after not seeing me for a week. She knows! And let's say she doesn't know, MY WIFE KNOWS! My wife needs me and I need her. You show me a family where husband and wife live separately for years, and I bet you a large majority of them have some sort of relational problems, whether it be between husband and wife, or father and child, or both.

So yes, I will put up with this for the time being because that's what we have to do. But if this is more than one or two months, I'm sorry, but you will not see me living apart from my family. Too many families have absent fathers, and I will not be one of them. I am a firm believer that many of society's problems stem from this model of family life. No way, no how. Not for the Chang family. I'm sorry.

Anyway, off of the soap box now and back to the music.

So this morning, after leaving the hospital, my heart was pretty heavy. I pictured Linda who at that time was having her daily Alicia cradle time and I just felt miserable. I wanted so much to be there with them enjoying our family time. I wanted to pray but I had no words. I wanted to talk to someone, but I didn't know who to call. Everyone, I knew was either busy or wouldn't know how to handle my emotional state. So I just sat at the bus stop on my own.

It was at that moment that God spoke to my heart and told me to pull out my iPod and listen to some worship music, and just to worship. Half out of obedience, half out of desperation, I did. I pulled out my iPod, and chose a song.

After this song, the cloud over me started to lift.

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to you always

Oh, how I long for the day when I can see Jesus face to face. I was just telling Linda how I really wish and pray for the day when I can sit and talk with God face to face the way I sit and talk to Linda. How awesome would that be?

Then I heard this song by Chris Tomlin.

So often over the past year and half God has brought the image of the Eagle to mind over and over. Eagles use the power of storms to soar and fly high into the sky. And in Isaiah (a book of the Bible) it says: but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

It's true, as we continue to hope in the Lord, we find renewed strength, though we get tired, though we get wearisome of the journey, he gives us power to keep going.

I love these lyrics:

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

Fall on my knees and rise... Beautiful!

Next on my playlist came a song by Big Daddy Weave that pretty much expressed all I was struggling with, but then ended with some amazing truths.

I need to remember this
That it's when I'm at my weakest I can clearly see

He made the lame walk and the dumb talk
And He opened blinded eyes to see
That the sun rises on His time
Yet He knows our deepest desperate need

And the world waits while His heart aches
To realize the dream
I wonder what life would be like
If we let Jesus live through you and me

As if that weren't enough, next God had me listen to this

He is
He was
He always will be

Even when it feels like there is no one holding me
Be still, my soul
He is

So many times over the past few days, I felt alone. Yes, I had Linda, but she was in the same boat as me. I felt we were drifting in our own little sea. I mean truth is, many, many of you are praying for us every day and you love us and your messages bless us. But you all have your own lives as well. You don't have time to sit with us every day and hold us and coddle us. It's impossible. But this song was a huge encouragement, even when I feel like no one is holding us, not even God, in reality he is. He's right there.

And I love the lyrics, "Be still, my soul. He is." These are the very words that God has spoken to Linda and me over and over since even before all of this began. Be still. That doesn't mean to sit quietly and not move. Be still here means to let go. To let lie. To release. Such a hard thing to do. What if I let go, and there's no one to pick up the pieces?

Before I got home, there was one more song I heard. This one I felt like again was a direct cry from my heart.

Savior, please take my hand
I work so hard, I live so fast
This life begins, and then it ends
And I do the best that I can, but I don't know how long I'll last

I try to be so tough
But I'm just not strong enough
I can't do this alone, God I need You to hold on to me
I try to be good enough
But I'm nothing without Your love
Savior, please keep saving me

Savior, please help me stand
I fall so hard, I fade so fast
Will You begin right where I end
And be the God of all I am because You're all I have

Everything You are to me
Is everything I'll ever need
And I am learning to believe
That I don't have to prove a thing
'Cause You're the one who's saving me

SOOOO true. I've been trying to be so tough. I've been trying to be good enough. But I've realized there's no way. I'm not strong enough. I can't do it alone. I fall hard, I fade fast. I have reached the end of myself.

Thankfully, he picks up right where I leave off. He catches the things I drop. He covers me, he saves me. And you know what, I don't have to prove a thing.

Amen? AMEN!

If you don't have time to listen to all these songs, don't worry. Just come back when you can. They're great songs, with great lyrics. And I hope that they will be an encouragement to all of you as they were to me today.

I'll be the first to confess that I am weak. Any of you who have been following the blog will know that this journey has been waring on us. We've grown a bit numb, and there are days when we just go through the motions to get through it. We do talk to God every day as we go through the day, but rare have been those times these days when we've sat down to have a good heart-to-heart with Him. For us, emotionally to sit down and spend any extended time with him, it's really hard. Sometimes I find that all I have strength for or desire to do is to just sit and watch TV. I try not to watch TV, but sometimes it just takes that much more effort to do anything else. And sometimes, we just really don't want to try.

I think the hardest thing is not knowing exactly how much longer Alicia will need to be in the hospital. If we had a date to look forward to, it might help us to be able to pluck up some courage and strength and press forward. But right now, it seems like an endless marathon. Anyone who has done any kind of endurance exercise knows that physical wall we all hit when our muscles are ready to give out, and we feel like we can't take another step or go another inch. From experience, I know that this wall is an illusion, and once you press through it, you begin to soar, because you find renewed strength. Well, right now, Linda and I have hit that wall in this journey. And the hard part is even if we would want to give up, we can't!

And usually, when you hit this physical wall in a marathon, you can encourage yourself by saying, "Come on, just a few more miles, just a few more feet, the end is in sight!" Yeah, well, we know the end is in sight, but is it a week from now, a month from now, two months from now? When? And not having markers that tell you how far you've come and how much farther you have to go, things can get pretty discouraging.

So right now we depend on prayers and God's strength. Let me tell you, we have no more empty words about God's strength and presence. I've spoken and proclaimed to many, many people over the years that God's strength and grace is enough for us no matter what we're facing in our lives. His presence is a comfort and he gives us peace in all circumstances. Yep. Time to test my faith. It's time to live out what I've been preaching. Do I really believe that God is always there? Can I continue to find the joy in all situations? On my own? No. But by God's grace and through your prayers, we can.

So let's keep walking together friends. We shall have victory soon and very soon.

Alicia keeps growing well. She grew 34 grams yesterday and is now up to 1146. We're hoping that the bigger she is the faster she'll grow. We hope her weight gain will be exponential and not gradual. She's still on the vent, but her oxygen saturation is pretty low. We just keep praying that she can start having the strength to breathe on her own. As I shared in my last post, the nurses have been really accommodating and have been letting us hold Alicia after our daily visits. And that's been a blessing. Today, since I had to go, Linda got to hold Alicia for nearly an hour. She said that that was bliss, and it was an amazing bonding experience being able to talk to her while she looked at her face to face, and then just to have Alicia sleep in her arms. Amazing.

Another thing you can pray about is that God would give me the strength, the resources and the wisdom to prepare our house for the grand homecoming. Because our house is close to the mountainside and Taiwan is very damp and humid, we have a lot of mold in our house. This is not only bad for my allergies, but also for preemies. A friend of ours was kind enough to give us an air purifier, and I've been running the dehumidifiers in our house, so things have cleared up a bit. But I'm thinking, I should probably get a second air purifier to really get things cleaned up. Also, I need to clear out some clothes, and other junk that we've accumulated over the years to make room for Alicia's things. Definitely a big project, but one I'm glad to do. =) If there are any volunteers, who enjoy cleaning and organizing, don't be shy! =)

Thanks for continuing to journey with us through all the ups and downs. =) I'm sorry if you're getting sick from the roller coaster of emotions, but just know that I appreciate each of you who read this blog, pray for us and encourage us, even if I don't always say so.

Much love,


  1. Thanks for sharing your journey with us and how God is speaking to you. Lots of powerful songs!
    I really wish I could come help you get ready for the homecoming; I would LOVE that!

  2. I really enjoyed your words about fatherhood and I'm reading them on Taiwanese Father's Day. Yesterday my pastor said that he thinks part of the reason the world is in the state it is is because of the absence of strong fathers. And he has mentioned before about how important a role a father's love plays in creating whole and healthy people who can respond to God. I fully support you as you strive to support your family and be there for them, even though it's hard right now. God bless you!