Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cherry Blossom Theme

As you can tell, I changed the theme on my blog. I have always wanted to set up a Cherry Blossom theme. All 3 of my children were born in Japan during Cherry Blossom season. Cherry Blossoms also remind me of Rachel as they are so beautiful when they bloom but they only bloom for a very short time. In fact, we dedicated a Cherry Blossom tree located at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC to Rachel back in 2007. We haven't been back to DC since then to visit the tree but hope to some day.

So let me know what you think about the new theme. I know I have been saying this. But I really am going to start blogging more. This is in conjunction with a new project I am working on that I hope will help build up a community of expat or westernized working moms and wives in Hong Kong and be able to provide value and support for them. I am still brainstorming as I want to come up with something different to what is already being offered in Hong Kong but I know I need to get more active in social networking again. I do miss my old blogging days. It seems like life in HK is such a whirlwind I barely have time to write my thoughts down (or even to think them!). Anyway, I am going to head off to the AWA Charity Bazaar soon. Believe it or not, this will be my first time to visit after almost 3 years in Hong Kong. A good friend as a booth there and I am curious to see what other things will be there. I will bring my camera so I will report back later!

Sonia

Monday, June 27, 2011

Preemie Mom's Oath

I saw this on another micropreemie mom's blog and really like it. So I wanted to share this here as well.

Preemie Mom's Oath:

I have sat in the NICU and waited.
I have cried and prayed.
I have endured.

Like most things in life, the people who truly have appreciation are those who have struggled to attain their dreams.

I will notice everything about my child.
I will take time to watch my child sleep, explore and discover.
I will marvel at my surviving miracle every day for the rest of my life.

I will be happy when I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of my child, knowing that I can comfort, hold and feed him and that I am not waking to a nurse taking another temperature, an alarm going off, another round of meds or because I am crying tears for fear of the unknown.

I will be happy because my baby is alive and crying out for me.

I count myself lucky in this sense; that God has given me this insight, this special vision with which I will look upon my child that my friends will not see.

Whether I parent a preemie with physical challleges or medical issues, I will not be careless with my love.

I will be a better mother for all that I have endured. I am a better wife, a better aunt, a better daughter, neighbor, friend and sister because I have known pain.

I know disillusionment as I have been betrayed by my own body.

I have been tried by fire and hell many never face, yet given time, I stood tall.

I have prevailed.
I have succeeded.
I have won.

So now, when others hurt around me, I do not run from their pain in order to save myself discomfort. I see it, mourn it, and join them in theirs.

I listen.

And even though I cannot make it better, I can make it less lonely. I have learned the immense power of another hand holding tight to mine, of other eyes that moisten as they learn to accept the harsh truth and when life is beyond hard. I have learned a compassion that only comes with walking in those shoes.

I have learned to appreciate life.

Yes I will be a wonderful mother.

Author Unknown

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sharing a Devotional by Brett Hilliard - With me, or without me?

I wanted to share this devotional written by the senior pastor Brett Hilliard at our church Island Evangelical Community Church. Both Jong and I were deeply touched by this devotion - I think it is because we did go through a period of time wondering why we had to go through so much pain and grieving, during the early days when Isaac was so tiny and struggling in NICU after losing Rachel. Yet, we were and have been able to cling on to the truth that God is always good, faithful and merciful. And now we are at a point where we could reflect back and and see clearly just how much He loves us and has blessed us through all that we have gone through. It is really, really good to know that Jesus knows exactly how we felt. I hope this devotional can be an encouragement to all those who are going through grief, or a painful or lonely time.

Devotional - With me, or without me?

By Brett Hilliard

I’ve always said that it’s the people I’m with that really make a difference. No matter how difficult a situation, a job, a location – if you are with people that you enjoy, then you can make it. It’s who you are with that matters most.

This personal conviction of mine is certainly even more vivid when it comes to experiencing the presence of God. Knowing God is with you is vital. Now of course we know this intellectually, but there are certainly times in which we feel this reality more experientially.

Knowing God is near can make all the difference. And those times of doubt or when God seems distant can be agonising, and make us vulnerable.

Matthew seems to point this out in the most unusual of ways.

There are only two times in which Matthew actually translates the original spoken language of Aramaic into Greek (the language the New Testament was written in).

Matthew 1.23 says, … that shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, “God with us”.

Matthew 27.46 says, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachtani?” that is, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?”

These two verses retain the original spoken language, but then provide a translation. The Man who is named, “God with Us”, questions God by asking, “Are you with Me?”

Do you catch the irony?

I’m strangely encouraged by this not-so-obvious point that Matthew makes. Because even though we know that God is always with us, we certainly feel His presence more at some times than others. And we are the most vulnerable to sin when we somehow question whether God is near.

Yet even in Jesus’ doubt, he clung to truth. Even in His anguish, He chose to stay.

As we approach Easter and reflect on the cross, I’m struck by the oft-overlooked aspect of Jesus’ words from that tree – the gritty, raw, words of questioning. The sense of abandonment expressed by Jesus, but coupled with devotion even amid the emotional pain.

Who we are with matters. Or better yet, Who is with us matters even more. And whether we feel it or not, the truth of God’s constant presence in our lives is a grounding truth for our lives.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday Isaac! (and Happy Angel Day Rachel!)

Wow Isaac! I can't believe you are turning 5 years old. How is it possible that you are already that big! When you were born, the width of your head was barely half the size of my index finger. Now, most people can't tell you were a 23 weeker micro preemie except that you are on the skinny side.

I am so incredibly proud of you my son. You have worked so hard. When you first got assessed over 2 years ago shortly after we arrived in Hong Kong, you were about a year behind in your expressive langauge, fine and gross motor skills. 2 years later, you have not only basically caught up in EVERYTHING, you are ahead in your expressive language skills - my little boy who was almost completely non verbal a little over 2 years ago! (So you are still a little behind in self help skills but putting on shoes on the correct foot and getting a jacket on right can be hard!)

You inspire me. You have such a loving and gentle spirit with a quiet strength that can only be from our Lord. The other day, you told mommy, "Even when things are hard, you have to keep trying." Hasn't that been the understatement of your life! *tears in my eyes* I am so incredibly grateful that Father God let you stay with us despite the incredible odds against you.

I am so humbled that God has seen to it that I would be reminded EVERYDAY of his awesome power, mercy, grace and goodness by seeing you every day. So Happy Birthday my little boy. Please don't ever lose your love for Jesus and the Bible!

And my dear sweet Rachel in heaven. I know you are smiling on us from heaven to see us so blessed by the sacrifices you made. I know you will be having the BEST birthday party in heaven. We love you and miss you so much!

Mommy

Happy 3rd Birthday Abigail!

Happy Birthday my darling Abigail, who turned 3 going onto 5 (bc that's how old Oppa will be tomorrow). My funny girl who is so full of ideas and opinions. She shows us how to love life, laugh and we just love to watch her sparkle! ♥ ♥ ♥

Monday, February 28, 2011

Nothing but the Bug of Jesus? And the Most Important Person in the US Govt

One of our favorite CDs is a Christmas gift we received from my sister called I'll Fly Away: Country Hymns and Songs of Praise and the song we really love is song no. 10 - Nothing But The Blood of Jesus by Ronnie Freeman. (I included the song number because Isaac seriously remembers all the song numbers of the CDs we have in our car so some of our favorite ones are etched in my mind.) Anyway, we were listening to the song and singing along to it again today as we drove up to the Peak for our balloon release for Rachel and after we got off the car, Abigail said, "I really like 'Nothing but the Bud of Jesus' but I don't like Buzz." I went "Huh?" After repeating that she doesn't like "Buzz" a few times, she finally said, "I don't like Bumblebees! Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!" So now I am wondering if she thinks the song is called "Nothing but the Bug of Jesus?!??" :D

Another sweet thing that happened today. My friend and I participated in Isaac's class today to teach about different cultures as Small World Christian Kindergarten will be celebrating its annual Day of Culture this Friday. We were teaching about the United States of America and we decided to teach a bit about the U.S. Government and democracy. So we were getting ready to talk about the President and how he is elected and I started with the question "Do you guys know who is the most important person in the U.S. Government?" And I swear, Isaac's entire class, in unison, shouted, in all earnest, "GOD!" That made my heart smile. :) And of course made me love Small World and early childhood Christian education even more!

By the way, to illustrate democracy, we had the children fill out ballots to vote for Lay's Potato Chips or Oreo Cookies as a snack. I will take guesses as to which snack won the day and reveal the answer in the comments section later. If you live in Hong Kong and you made the right guess before I reveal the answer, I will send you a free sample of Gummy Vitamins or Gummy DHA as a prize! :D

Would you like to hear about our daughter whom you have never met?

Did you know we have three children? Isaac Samuel is our first born son and Abigail Hope is our youngest daughter but we also have another daughter called Rachel Grace. Rachel was Isaac’s twin sister and probably one of the bravest and strongest girls, despite her teeny, tiny size that you would have met if you only had the honor of meeting her.

5 years ago while I was 18 weeks pregnant with Isaac and Rachel, Rachel’s sac ruptured and we lost all of her water. This happened during the wee early morning hours of March 1, 2006. I can’t tell you how much this pregnancy was sought for, desired. We had prayed for years for God to bless us with a child but God kept saying please wait, your children will come in My Time. We had struggled with infertility for over 8 years before God wowed us with this twin pregnancy – and not just any regular twin pregnancy – God blessed us with boy/girl twins. It was my wildest dream come true.

So when Rachel’s water broke when I was merely 18 weeks pregnant, it really felt like the sky was falling down to me. In those early morning hours of March 1, 2006, after our doctor told us that there really was no more hope for our twins, as labor would surely start for me shortly, and they wouldn’t be able to stop the labor, and we would lose both our twins, we named our son Isaac Samuel and our daughter Rachel Grace. We had already picked out Rachel’s name. We both wanted a daughter so badly. We had picked out Isaac’s middle name Samuel to honor God for blessing us after our struggle with infertility but we had not been able to decide on his first name yet. Jong said, we have to name our son Isaac. Because he is our first born son and if God wanted us to give him back to Him, we have to obey and surrender. So we named our babies, prayed for a miracle, and hung on to the one fact we know for certain despite the uncertainties we faced – that God is good, all the time.

So that’s when Rachel started her fight. In the early morning hours of March 1, 2006. Without any water, she was shrink wrapped inside me, stuck way down low in me, with Isaac laying on top of her. We were told there was no way she could survive in that environment but she was a brave little soldier. She fought. Her heart kept beating strong, even though she was not able to move. We were told that she couldn’t move because there was no water around her. But she even surprised us there. One time during the many ultrasound checks, she obviously didn’t like being disturbed, and she kicked out so hard that even the nurse could see and feel her kicking against the ultrasound wand on my belly. Rachel fought for 5 long weeks without water, while I was on strict hospital bed rest. I bet you she knew what she was fighting for. She was fighting for a chance for Isaac to make it. I think because she knew that while it was hard for her during that time, she would be completely healed and perfect once she got to heaven. But she needed to fight because she knew her mommy and daddy needed Isaac to stay.

Rachel was born at 23w0d gestation, at 9:58 am (Japan Standard time) on April 4, 2006, weighing 467 grams (1.03 lbs) and went to heaven at 11:40AM April 4, 2006. She even fought after she was born. She struggled SO hard to breathe but it was like she knew daddy needed to spend some time with her and mommy needed to see her before she went to heaven. So she gave her daddy a very precious 102 minutes and only stopped struggling to breathe after mommy was able to convince the hospital staff in Japan that she needed to get into NICU to see her daughter.

This is what we wrote about Rachel the day after she went to heaven on our old blog:

“Despite physical challenges caused by the lack of amniotic fluid these past five weeks, Rachel Grace was beautiful. She had her grandmother Sung's face and her mommy's long slender legs and delicate hands and feet.

We are profoundly heartbroken but were blessed and fortunate enough to touch her, hold her hands and feet and tell her that we love her. As she went to Jesus, we kissed and nuzzled her.

To our dear precious baby girl, Rachel, we love you more than words can ever express. You are the bravest, sweetest little princess your mommy and daddy have ever set eyes upon. Your suffering these past five weeks have given your brother, Isaac, a chance to stay with mommy and daddy for a while. So many people love you and you know how many people's lives you have touched. I'm sure you can hear their prayers from heaven, sweetie. Our aching hearts miss you so much already but we find comfort in the knowledge that you are so much happier now. We will never forget you, you will always be our darling little Rachel.”


It is so hard to believe it has been almost five years since we got to know our brave angel Rachel while she fought the fight of her life inside me. God has done a lot of healing in our family since then and we feel more blessed than words can express. We have grown so much through this journey and feel so humbled and honored that God has chosen us to experience so many amazing miracles in our lives, our marriage and our family these past five years. So although we still miss our little Rachel so very much, and our hearts still hurt when we miss her, our hearts also feel so full of joy when we think about her as her brave fight has blessed us so, so much.

So that’s the story of our daughter whom you haven’t met. We sure do hope that you would get to meet her some day.

“The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:21b

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blogging Again

I am going to start blogging again. At least I am planning to start blogging again. Some of you already know me from my previous blog when I started blogging while on hospital bedrest with our twins and then our early days of parenting a 23 weeker micropreemie and grieving over our brave angel girl while living in Japan. I took a rest from the blogging world for a while but am hoping to come back. This time, I will blog about my kids, my life, Hong Kong and hopefully get a business started. I am still working on the layout of my page but here I am!