I’ve Crossed the Two Month Mark…

I have been contemplating for quite a while whether to write this post.

Knowing that it could be controversial to some extent and also be met with mixed reactions. But I guess I feel somewhat compelled to write this. Knowing that out there, there will probably be mothers secretly grieving as they struggle to make enough milk, condemning themselves for doing things ‘the wrong way’ and comparing themselves to other mummies with truck-loads of milk (these oversupply mummies have woes of a different sort!). I’ve been there, so I know.

I’ve crossed the two month mark of breastfeeding Annaliese. Why the significance? I didn’t know initially if I could even do it successfully for a month. With David, I only nursed him for 2 months. Back then, I only had him to care for and yet I struggled with anxiety, postpartum depression and a very low milk supply. You name the milk boosters, and I have tried it. From different soup concoctions to herbal teas and medication even. I pumped rigorously on a strict schedule as though my life depended on it. Nothing seemed to help.

And as a new mother of two young ones under two years of age, I just wasn’t sure if I would be able to cope with nursing, pumping, the washing, sterilising and time taken away from household chores, errands and much needed rest.

Well, I’ve crossed the 2 month mark. I’m not sure how long more I will be able to do this, but for now, I am savouring every moment I have nursing Annaliese. I am also immensely grateful for the kind and generous mummy friends who have helped provide supplementary breast milk for Annaliese with whatever excess they have…

My utmost respect goes to every mother who has chosen to breastfeed their child, no matter how long or short their journey was. I know how challenging, tiring and painful it can be.

But my heart also goes out to mothers who like me, may have struggled to breastfeed for different reasons. You are not alone. And as what my doctor friends tell me – “Fed is best”. Many of the doctor friends I know attest to being fed formula milk (or worse, condensed milk) and look, they turned out well. Your child will be fine.

I guess I’ve learnt along the way to just do my best (every mother’s ‘best’ will vary widely according to the different giftings and capacities bestowed upon them), and trust the God who enables and provides through and despite my weaknesses and limitations.

I also am thankful for my extremely understanding and supportive husband who has walked with me through all these. You are our hero, papa. โค

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Annaliese Evangeline Chan

On the morning of the 10th of October, we welcomed Annaliese Evangeline Chan into our family.

Unlike David’s birth story, hers is less eventful, thankfully. God’s faithfulness continues to abound in our lives, even in this pregnancy and delivery.

Some things that I’m particularly thankful for

1. A smooth delivery via C-section. I was really nervous entering the operating theatre, but upon meeting my kindly Anaesthetist, my heart was put at rest.

Thankful that Nick could accompany me this time round throughout the entire procedure, and we got to worshipfully welcome Annaliese as she was delivered with beautiful worship songs playing in the background.

2. Thankful for God’s protection over baby Annaliese. When she was brought out of my tummy, our heart stopped for a while when we saw that her umbilical cord had already wrapped around her neck twice. We have heard so many sad stories about baby’s being strangulated by their own umbilical cords, we are grateful for Annaliese’s life which truly is a gift to us.

3. Grateful for my own recovery which was relatively quick. Discharged on the second day and almost back to normal by day 4 or 5 and coped without painkillers. Carried my toddler (for just less than a minute by day 6). Having another child makes you stronger I guess. Like it or not, you have to cope…

Day 4 after delivery… Gotta embrace the mummy look! ๐Ÿ˜„

Having said that, it was so much easier to cope because I had my mum with me for about two weeks, and subsequently my mother-in-law. Its just such a comfort and blessing to have that extra pair of hands around almost 24-7, and truly, when you become a mother, all you want is your mother around (apart from my devoted husband, of course).

4. Grateful that God has blessed us with a daughter with a beautiful spirit. She seems to be a rather calm and contented baby, we are so glad! It certainly helps, especially when you have an active, rambunctious toddler to handle ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thank you Lord, for Annaliese’s life.

By His grace, may you be consecrated to God as a bearer of Good News to the nations.

To My Son, David Elliot

Son, I pray that you will have a calling to missions. Not ’cause mama and papa are missionaries, and definitely not because pastors, theologians, or market-place ministers are anything less or needed.

But because so few and so rare, are those willing to go to hard places and do hard things.

It would be our greatest joy to see you give your life fully to the Lord.

Love,

Mama

Humility in Parenthood

Just the other day, we met up with an older, godly couple for lunch. As lunch progressed, we had covered many topics such as our field work, updates on ministry and our life as young parents.

I was rather curious how this couple raised their children, having been missionaries before. Their close relationship with all their children, children’s spouses and grandchildren is something to note and admire. They travel on holidays as a big group, and are very close knitted as a family.

When I asked this dear lady how she did it, whether there were any tips or advice she could share in how she kept the family so close knitted, she simply and graciously remarked that it was by the grace of God.

I kinda sat there a little stunned. I was not really expecting that answer.

Typically, one would be tempted to draw attention to all the sacrifice and wise decisions he/she has made. But this dear aunty didn’t. She simply acknowledged God’s hand in keeping her family together all through these years.

I remember just sitting there, taking in her answer for a few moments.

Wow.

I’m sure a lot of the family’s successes also had to do with her wisdom, godliness and gentleness in parenting, but she simply looked beyond herself and looked to the Source from which she continues to draw forth from.

Wow. To me, it was truly beautiful. To not yakkity yak about what you did or what you know etc. But just to give the full glory to God.

There’s much to learn from those who speak little, but exemplify so much through their lives.

May we be such people.

Money Matters

We frequently get asked about how we have been able to walk in faith in our service to God as missionaries, and I often get asked how I have managed to adapt from a comfortable lifestyle & upbringing to a much simpler one.

And since money is such a big issue in many marriages and families, I thought it would be interesting to pen a few thoughts here, as well as the lessons I have learnt being a missionary and Nick’s wife. ๐Ÿ™‚

I remember the first few months being married to Nick. It was tough on the both of us! I was blessed to be raised in a well-to-do family, and my parents provided the best for us in every way. I never had to worry about paying any bills, and when I worked as a piano teacher for 10 years, the money I earned was the money I got to spend and save. While I believe I was not materialistic and extravagant in my spending, I still enjoyed eating out and buying meals for others, as well as shopping for nice clothes and items. I also loved buying and giving gifts. These were pleasurable ways for me to spend my money. Nick, on the other hand, is my five ringgit guy. Five ringgit on his haircut, five ringgit on his slippers. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ He does not buy new clothes unless they are really torn and beyond redemption, and ate very simply as a bachelor. He he. He’s been trained in the school of hard knocks, and his nett value really, is in his heart of gold. I love him so much for that.

But all these romantic thoughts aside, practically, it was a challenge for us at first as a married couple. I remember vividly the time we went shopping at a sleepy, old supermarket for some kitchenware. Nick forbade me from buying two bowls. He said one was enough ๐Ÿ˜‚ the bowls cost less than five ringgit each! He reasoned that he was used to having his noodle soups from plates and we just needed one bowl. But in Chinese cooking, we often prepare stews and dishes with gravy. I found this man so absurd and unreasonable! We ended up leaving the store without purchasing anything and having a tiff at home thereafter. ๐Ÿ˜…

But by God’s grace, we slowly learnt to accommodate one another. As Nick slowly became a little more domesticated because of the presence of a woman in the home, he began to recall again the comfort of having home-cooked meals and then slowly understood the need for different kitchen utensils. ๐Ÿคญ

Living by faith and being married to Nick has taught me to be more frugal and prudent. These words that he said to me at the early stages of our marriage will always stick with me – “Sometimes the people who give to our ministry are really regular people making a living; school teachers, university students and even widows. They are not necessarily rich people. This is their hard earned money and we must be accountable for every cent.”. That was quite a humbling thing for me to hear but truly that’s the honest reality. The people who have supported us thus far are ones who have given out of love and obedience to God. We believe that they have not been compelled or pressured in any way. It takes humility to learn to accept such gifts with a grateful heart, knowing that you will never be able to repay their kindness, but trusting the Lord that He blesses those who give out of obedience unto Him.

As a couple, we have also agreed to have only joint bank accounts and ‘one wallet’. There is no ‘my money’ , or ‘your money’. Each large purchase (above a certain amount, say above rm 100) is made together. I believe this contributes greatly to the oneness and unity we have as a couple. It takes trust and courage, at first. But I believe it is the biblical way of approaching finances in marriage. Two becoming one.

I have learned to live simpler and it is actually so enjoyable and rewarding to save every cent we can. Previously, I would not have cared if items were priced a few ringgit differently, but now every cent counts. We compare prices at every supermarket and know which is cheap where. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have also been trained to remember and note how much I’ve spent on groceries, parking, snacks and the like. This helps us keep our spending in check.

Lastly, I must say that Nick has been very kind to me all these years. He makes a lot of personal sacrifices and does not spend much on himself, but encourages me to get pretty clothes and offers to take me out for a treat every so often. I’m really blessed with a husband who really tries to give his best. Love you darling!

Hope this short sharing can be somewhat an encouragement for couples who are about to get married or whom are newly married. ๐Ÿ˜Š

It Should Not Have Been Me

It should not have been me.

I have all the reasons why:

– a 6.5 month postpartum body isn’t the ideal home for a new seed to grow.

– I’ve just recovered from a Caesarean section, postpartum depression and postpartum weight! ๐Ÿ˜…

– my now 8 month old son is at a stage where he’s eager to learn, active and isn’t keen on staying still or taking regular or long naps during the day. It’s hard to care for him while having morning sickness, dizziness, nausea and vomitting and oh, those tummy aches! Na-ah!

– we are just at the end of our somewhat furlough and transitional period, and pow-pow, suddenly we are thrown aback by this surprise. We didn’t have this in our equation or plan.

– I’ve been warned by the doctors to not be pregnant for at least 2 years because I have SLE.

All my reasons could go on, and on and on…

You know them all.

And yet You still chose me.

There are so many women wanting to be in my position. They seem to be so much more ready, qualified, and so much more adequate than I. It almost feels like a cruel joke, when one gift is denied to a person who desperately longs for it and instead, lavished on someone else who did not ask for it nor is grateful about it.

And yet…

Deep in my heart…

I know You are weaving a beautiful, sacred gift and You have honoured me to be the vessel to bring forth this precious one into the world.

I can’t imagine the plans the Lord has for you, and how you will be such a wonderful addition to our family of three.

Little One, you are given by God.

You are loved, you are precious, and you are God’s blessing to mummy, daddy and your koko David.

Love you, little one. โค

Parenting Little Imitatorsย 

I’ve read and heard of accounts of children at the tender ages of less than a year or so, who show ‘spiritual aptitude’, especially in actions that reflect worship (eyes closing, swaying of the body, hand-raising and clapping during worship sessions). Their parents are obviously and understandably  proud and happy that their children are demonstrating signs of godly influence upon their lives. 

The responsibility of raising a child in the ways of God is no flighty matter. We are often more  careful with our language and actions once we become parents (well, I certainly hope so!). For example, I’ve always loved junk food (crisps especially!), and I’ve already had a plan to keep my unhealthy habit under wraps now that David is beginning to start on solids. Hah! We also avoid cursing, rude language and other unhealthy habits in front of our children. But really, the main motivation most of the time in doing so is for the preservation of our image and our dignity as parents. It wouldn’t really reflect well on us, would it, if our year old baby’s first words were @#%#! Rather than papa or mama ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Also, when a child grows up in a Christian environment (yes, praise the Lord, that we have all the resources from above and from the church to raise him/her up to be Bible-reading, Scripture – memorising and Sunday-schooled kids), we often take their salvation for granted because they have shown outward signs of Christianity (the Christianese of amen, God bless you, praise the Lord etc, the hand raising, they know the Bible stories at the tip of their fingers). We assume almost quite readily that they know God and are known by Him. 

Which comes to my final point… 

I still do believe that we should and ought to teach our children the ways of God through His word, through the church and through our example. Scripture has placed this severe responsibility on our shoulders, and we must be faithful to doing that. We should keep up with the Bible reading, the praying, the singing and the service we extend unto others in love.

But let not all these outwardly signs be a guarantee that we become lax in our parenting, leaving the preaching of the gospel to the church. We must, again and again, show by example and preach the gospel to our children. Do they see repentance lived out daily in your life? Do they see you striving to live a life of purity and holiness? Or have they caught you doing something that you have taught them not to do? 

What a weight. Lord help us. 

Mummy Reflectionsย 

Was just chatting with my mother this evening about how depressed I was in the first two months of motherhood. It felt like my life was over for real! I couldn’t eat, bathe, sleep or go out for errands in peace! ๐Ÿ˜‚

I didn’t feel good – I was tired all the time, I was struggling to produce sufficient milk for my baby and I had tremendous aches and pains in my body. I often struggled with panic attacks in the middle of the night which would lead to breathlessness, nausea and gastritis. 

I didn’t look good – I still looked pregnant even after 3 months postpartum. Even now at 5 months postpartum, I still have a slight pooch. But it was tough then, to be reminded by some people that I was fat.  ๐Ÿคฃ nevertheless, it gave me some perspective to how overweight people might feel about themselves since I’ve been scrawny all my life.

I feel so much more settled and at peace as a mother now. I’m so thankful that David is growing well overall though we still do have hiccups along the way. 

Talking to a friend who just gave birth less than a month ago made me recollect back my earlier months as a newbie mummy and I  realise again how important it is to be there for your friend, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law etc when they have just had a baby. With hormones going out of whack and the tremendous emotional and physical upheaval that pregnancy and childbirth brings to a woman, she just needs encouragement, love and support.

For me, I’m so thankful when I recall the different women who have encouraged me by their words of assurance. They humbly shared with me their challenges and struggles in the past too, and that made me feel less of a failure while comforting me that baby, daddy and I would get through that phase. 

Some things I especially appreciated during those moments

1. Food delivery by my mother and mother-in-law –  that helped tremendously since we did not employ a confinement lady or help with the baby. 

2. Text messages from mums near n far to check on me, while offering advice when necessary. ๐Ÿ˜†

3. A very very supportive, loving husband who assured me when I felt fat, ugly, hormonal…  (you get my drift). He was my anchor during the lonely nights when baby was difficult or when I was unwell. For this, I will always be grateful.

4. An aunty who would always drop by with whatever I needed. You name it, she had it. ๐Ÿ˜€ just having that person whom you feel comfortable enough to ask for help means a lot. 

5. Kind nurses from the Klinik Kesihatan who came to check on me the first month post delivery.

6. People who went out of their way to be a blessing to us, special shout out to my brother Sam who was our runner boy for the time he was here in penang โค also friends and relatives who went through the trouble of helping us get used/new clothing, baby paraphernalia, etc… 

It truly does take a village to raise a child! 

Looking back, I am grateful I went through the challenges I did, so that I can be hopefully, a more understanding person to all the women in my life who have become mothers. It also makes me respect and love my mother more deeply for all the sacrifices she has made for me and for my family. (she had 4 Csecs okay, don’t play play) 

So go show the new mummies and daddies you know some love – I am sure it will be appreciated and remembered. 

Tang Yuenย 

I never really cared for tang yuen/Winter Solstice since it was not a tradition my family practiced back home. But in the first year of my life as a missionary, I came across tons of pics of it on Facebook. It made me miss home, and suddenly I just wanted that bowl of tang yuen that everyone seemed to have, except I.

We went visiting that evening to our mama angkat’s house and lo, to my surprise and joy, I found a pot of Tang yuen in her kitchen! She, though dayak, had learnt to prepare it from her Chinese mother-in-law. So, I got my tang yuen cravings fixed that night, and that’s how I eventually learnt how to make my own tang yuen too.

It’s winter solstice again today & we are once again far away from home. But we have had two dear people make this for us today; once again reminding us that God loves His people through His people.