One Month Mega Post

One Month Mega Post

So as I’m sure anyone reading this already knows, we welcomed Miss Evangeline Mikeina into the world on March 11, 2016 at 3:43am (6 pounds, 19 ounces)! I’ll have to document her birth story soon as I think I’ve already forgot a good number of the gruesome details for good reason (haha jk… sort of! But really it wasn’t THAT bad)!

April 11th marked one month of life with beautiful Miss Eva! I find myself loving this babe more and more every day. And yes, sometimes it’s hard, really hard, but overall this first month of motherhood has been a whirlwind of excitement, newness, awe… more than words can describe. I’m constantly finding myself in need of God and His grace, and also finding myself constantly marveling at His goodness in giving us this precious little life to shepherd for however long He would have us do so.

My constant prayers this month has been “Lord, help her know she can trust You and trust us” and “Lord, help me entrust her to you.”

I know I’ve posted a bunch of these a million places, but here’s my favorites of Eva from this past month:

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Things I love and want to treasure/remember:

  • Personality: Steph said Eva looks “spunky” and I think that’s the perfect word for her right now! She’s very active, a little feisty/bossy, and as she spends more and more time awake, so much fun! She loves moving her little arms and legs when she’s excited and hearing all her little noises melts my heart! I affectionately call her my baby bird because that’s what she reminds me of! I think the fact that her hair sticks up since we washed also helps add to the “spunk” haha.
  • Likes: sleeping, eating, stretching with either one arm or two especially when making a diaper :), having her arms free and putting them up next to her face when sleeping and awake, Kiki the elephant toy, being carried, Rock N Play, flashing a half smile during/after eating
  • Dislikes: sleeping without being carried (though I’m guessing this is all babies?), changing clothes or diapers, getting burped, and baths… those are the absolute worst (and so like the responsible parents we are, we’ve only been bathing her once a week…)
  • Size: Eva is the absolute perfect size for cuddling right now! If one of my biggest complaints is that she wants to be held all the time… then that’s not much of a complaint at all! God’s helping me re-frame the “hard” parts of motherhood and to realize the blessings in each of them
  • Paternity Leave: It was sooo nice to have Kenny home and off for 3 weeks with one week being Spring Break. Yay teacher life!! My husband is so thoughtful and sweet. While he was home he made poke bowls (on that note I LOOOOVE not being pregnant anymore!! Hello, sashimi!!), smoked salmon omelets, and kim bap among other things. Eva loves her silly Daddy and how he is always talking to her and playing with her.
  • Community: All the support from our family and friends. Especially loved having my mom here every day during Kenny’s first week back at work! For the longest time our silly girl would sleep whenever we had visitors and no joke would wake up often within minutes of our visitors leaving! I think all the commotion puts her to sleep. Also so thankful for our Seeds fam. Itching to go back to church and introduce Evangeline to everyone!

Anyway, not gonna lie it’s been hard spending time with God this month. Funny thing is every time it hits 4am though I take heart knowing that Ms. A is probably awake and praying… and often times I hope to God she’s praying for me haha. Those night watches aren’t easy!!

I think I’m operating at 50% brain capacity right now with the sleep deprivation, so a lot of times the most I can do is cling to a few verses the Lord’s given me:

And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

I think this verse was from the first week. The struggle is real at times, especially when not only are you taking care of the baby, but are also still recovering from labor and delivery. And on that note, we spend so much time talking about giving birth, but very little time talking about the recovery!! Birth was hard, but it’s only one day or less! Recovery was by far more difficult/painful/traumatizing in my opinion haha. Also I was so hormonal that first week. Definitely had a few middle of the night cries while feeling helpless, inadequate, and just plain tired!

This verse reminded me to call on God in each moment, knowing that He supplies all we need. Even if it’s just help to get a good latch or grace to be kind to your husband when kindness is something your tired heart is lacking in the moment, He supplies us richly.

Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I wanna say this verse was in weeks 2-3. I think I hit bottom at the start of week 3 and it got significantly better after that. This kept things simple.

Rejoice always. There’s so much to rejoice over, but it can be easy to lose sight. All the difficulties are so minute when you remember they’re all due to the fact that you have this beautiful, wonderful baby!!

Pray without ceasing. Honestly it’s hard sometimes to rejoice, which is why prayer is essential because sometimes you just can’t find it in your heart to rejoice! Also even though it’s been hard to spend time with God in the ways I would before, I’ve been reminded that spending time with God is so much more than just doing a daily devo. I want to be in constant communion with God through prayer and truth is I really need it!

And lastly, give thanks in all circumstances. As I mentioned earlier, God is helping me re-frame every “difficulty” from a standpoint of thankfulness. Yes, there are sleepless nights. But how beautiful is it that this tiny human being is so dependent on me right now? And what a beautiful picture of how we need God and of all He does for us!? Yes, sometimes her cries stress me out. But what a wonderful chance to show her she can trust me and as much as I’m able I’m going to be there for her! (On that note, I swear we had a “moment” on night 3 when we looked into each others eyes and I could see her brain coming to a realization that hey maybe I can trust this lady!) Even engorgement, which oh my gosh SUCKS! I realized through it God was helping me in my attachment to Evangeline because you’re in so much pain, and it’s this tiny baby who’s going to help you not be in pain anymore. Isn’t God so brilliant in how He designed things!? Like how perfect that breastfeeding can suck (lol sorry bad pun) but He helps you learn to enjoy it by having it help relieve the engorgement pain!?

 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

This verse has been on my heart more recently, probably in week 4. The first part I understand, but I’ve been dwelling on the latter part of the verse. What does it mean that hope does not put us to shame? I think it means that as Christians we can always have hope and we will never be put to shame for having it, because our hope is enduring– it is based on the constant truth that God’s love is lavished upon us! We have so much hope because we have a God who loves us!!

So that’s what God has been putting on my heart lately.

The nice thing is, this week things have gotten substantially easier! Someone at work had told me after week 3 it gets better… and it did slightly. Then Kenny’s cousin told us after week 6 it gets better so I was trying to hold out until then. But the past few days have been vastly improving in terms of the difficulty level! And I’m actually feeling like getting out of the house, which tbh for the first 3-4 weeks I had very little desire to do (again, they should prepare you better in anticipating the difficulty of recovery!).

I am so in love with Miss Evangeline. I love her more and more every day. It’s interesting, I don’t know how much I attached to her right away. After labor and delivery, I think I was so tired (I didn’t sleep the previous night and she came into the world at 3:43am) I just had very little emotion in me and was a bit concerned when they put her on my chest and I didn’t feel like my world had just exploded and didn’t break down in ugly crying like I had anticipated. My thoughts were really just “Who does she look like?” “Why is she screaming her head off? It’s so loud!” and “Why don’t I feel utterly and completely in love with her like I should, or like Kenny so clearly is?”

But I think in those moments God was saying “It’s okay. There’s so much grace. Rely on me. I’ll teach you to love.”

And somehow it’s true! Maybe the first day or two and in the midst of those difficult nights I’d have to cry out “Lord, teach me to be selfless! Teach me to love!” but God has grown my love more and more and now I think I’m getting a clearer picture of that unconditional mother love and how I would do anything, anything!!, for this precious baby girl.

Lastly, I do want to capture though that it can be hard at times. I told Kenny yesterday it’s just tiring because there is almost always something she needs from you. And in the times when she is sleeping, you’re on call and just waiting for the next thing she needs.

And it’s funny. Steph asked me if I have a lot of free time. And the answer is yes and no. It’s complicated. You have all the time in the world. But also no time at all. I’ve been telling people that when you have down time, you get to choose one or maybe two of these things: eat/drink, sleep, personal hygiene, clean. You might get to do one of these and on a rare occasion two. But good luck with anything else! And the sad truth is a lot of times i waste my down time with Facebook or mindless internet browsing! And just when I’m settling in to nap/eat/go to the bathroom, BAM! 30 minutes are up. She’s crying. Pooping. Needs a feeding.

But I know all this will change and it’s already getting better because hey look! I’m blogging! It’s only a season. And for now I want to savor the fact that she does so desperately need me. She loves to be close. She wants to be held all the time. She needs to know I’m always just a cry away.

And she’s already growing up! Yesterday when I realized her shoulders now are almost bare and no longer Wolverine-like and covered in hair it almost made me cry. And she used to always open one eye first to peek out at the world before deciding whether to wake up and she pretty much never does that anymore (sob!).

So anyway. There’s no good way to end this. But this first month has been fun, exhausting, amazing. Kenny and I discussed how there are SOOO many sermon illustrations you can pull from having a baby haha. I’ll have to list more of them out some time, but the biggest one I can see right now is just how much God does for us. We are like tiny little babies. We need Him for everything! Yet, how terrible is it that we act as though we can operate independently of Him? Or after He’s done so much for us, we choose to disobey Him, reject Him, not spend time with Him? We need God like this little baby needs her Mommy and Daddy. And the wonderful thing is sometimes Mommy and Daddy just don’t get it, we mistake the “I’m wet!” cry for “Feed me!” But God is the perfect parent. And He will always richly and perfectly supply everything we need.

DOH

DOH

It’s funny. Two days ago I wrote how I could totally continue working. As much as it’s partially true, I re-read a long, detailed email I sent to our COO yesterday, one that I went through at least 5 times before sending knowing that my brain’s been foggy, and to my horror I realized this morning that it was riddled with errors in grammar, punctuation, and clarity!

So yes. At least for the sake of my own work pride, it’s time for a maternity leave! Can’t believe there’s only one day left!!

Miraculously almost all of my projects are done. Only a few left and a few easy ones that I passed on to the girl covering me during my leave.

What I really wanted to write about though was the surprise baby shower work put on for me yesterday! I was almost completely surprised, but as I was walking into work, I ran into 3 of the gals from our DV site who happened to be carrying baby-themed gift bags haha. I was totally surprised and also horrified as 1) I hate being the center of attention and 2) I looked like a complete scrub with my Rainbows and lazy, old black Forever 21 shirt. I was also very thankful to God though that He gave me a little head’s up as I was able to slip into work quickly and try to freshen up in the bathroom (of course it was at this time that I noticed my lazy, old shirt not only looked lazy and old but also had two holes in it… ugh!).

After the “surprise,” which at this point everyone knew was actually not a surprise haha, we started with one of Ms. A’s famous breakfasts of Ethiopian-style eggs, bread, potatoes, and fruit. Then the staff shared touching and sometimes hilarious blessings, affirmations, and advice. After, to their glee, the guys were dismissed, and we played a game, opened presents, and finished with a time of prayer and blessing.

As much as I was very resistant to being the focal point of the morning and according to co-workers had a pained smile on my face for half of it (ha!), I must say I felt tremendously loved by the staff and by our Heavenly Father and greatly enjoyed celebrating what God has done in creating Baby Yee!

I know our org has shortcomings, and there is a lot to fix, but I would say the one thing DOH employees do is love one another well. Yes, there are still politics and there’s incredible dysfunction at times, and yes I tend to be very lazy when it comes to building close co-worker relationships, but at the end of the day, I think our staff truly embraces what it means to be the family of God. People always comment too on how diverse we are and that our staff is like the United Nations. I absolutely love that diversity and I think it shows what the Kingdom of God is like and what the Holy Spirit can do in bringing together vastly different people to love one another and work in unity for one common purpose.

I also just feel so grateful to be working at DOH. As I always say, I seriously prayed for this job for FOUR YEARS. I can’t imagine a position better suited to my strengths, skill set, and interests. I am always so proud when I tell people I work at DOH and so excited to share about our purpose and mission and the things God is allowing us to do.

On that note, a few years ago I would’ve thought my work preferences would have been a no-brainer post-baby, but it really might be hard for me to decide what it is that I want to do. Definitely something to start praying into during my leave. I’m going to need guidance and wisdom and I really do want to only pursue the plans of the Lord, whatever that means.

Ms. A shared a while ago that she got Isaiah 55 for DOH during her Christmas break and has been encouraging us to spend time pressing into it. In her words, when God gives her a passage she refuses to let it go. To be honest, the first couple times I read it probably over a month ago, I wasn’t that enthused haha. I mean it was good and there’s many great truths in there, but I was like hmm this isn’t really life-altering or anything. But it’s been interesting as I’ve noticed the verses from the passage coming up at random times, and as I’ve continued to read, in the past week or so, this is the verse that has been sticking out to me:

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.

Isaiah 55:2

What a shame it would be to live life without the Lord. To labor without Him for that which does not satisfy. To follow my own plans, what I think is best for me/my family, but neglect what God has for me, to miss out on what is good and rich and will bring true delight.

I want to be careful to really follow God’s lead as I determine my next steps career-wise. I had a plan years ago of stay at home mom-ing and more recently my plan has been seeing if I can swing something part-time (something I haven’t even explicitly discussed with my employer yet), however what is it that God really wants for me? Will I turn over control and invite Him to show me His plans for me?

And His plans might not even seem logical or delightful in the moment. I truly believe that prior to DOH, the 4 years spent at Zii were exactly where God wanted me to be career-wise, but oh my goodness they were often excruciating! Yet as I struggled to find purpose, struggled with feeling like I wasn’t living out my dreams, struggled with discontentment and co-workers (or mostly a co-worker) I couldn’t stand, God taught me so many things. He truly gave me (in the wording of the verse) food that was good for me.

He grew in me so many ways. He showed me the power of prayer: what it was like to ask Him daily for help in loving that co-worker I couldn’t stand, and that He really did have the power to change me when my heart was so callous. He showed me that it wasn’t my job that was causing heart problems, but it was me. I thought “when I get my perfect job, a job in ministry, a job in social services, then I’ll live for Him.” But God showed me that if I couldn’t live for Him in this job, it really meant my heart wasn’t right and I really wasn’t that into living for Him at all. I learned contentment and how to trust even when I felt forgotten and that my passions were for nothing. In the 4 years at Zii, God also gave me time to truly figure out what I was good at and enjoyed doing, which were actually very different than the things I thought I wanted to pursue when I first finished college and even in my first year of working.

Anyway, I had no idea when I started writing that this was the direction this post would take!

All this to say, I am truly thankful for my work and for God’s goodness and how He’s guided me thus far in my career. I know He has great plans for me regardless of what my future work life will look like, and I choose to trust in Him.

Lastly, I wish I had taken a picture of our staff at my work shower. If you want to see a picture, apparently I’m on DOH’s Snapchat. I won’t be checking though as I know I’ll probably be horrified and as the Marketing/PR Director said yesterday, “This is like your worst nightmare!” to which I responded, “Yes, this is.” Haha.

So thankful for my time so far at DOH. Excited for my last day tomorrow, but also very unexpectedly, but understandably, quite sad.

35 Weeks

35 Weeks

How do I feel?

Last week of work!!!!! Oh my gosh I can’t wait. I am so excited to sleep, clean, cook, get the baby room ready, spend time with the Lord (sad, I didn’t immediately write that one and had to add it in later… will talk about this in latter portion of post, but thankful that there’s grace!), and hang out with family/friends! I have been so tired this week (I know, I know, I sound like a broken record) and struggling to function in life and at work. Of course this weekend was packed so that’s probably part of it too.

Weird thing is like I mentioned in the last post, I don’t feel “disabled” at all and definitely think I could keep working. But after learning SDI covers 4 weeks before your due date, even though it’s not going to cover my entire salary, it’s kind of like why not? This is my last hurrah before a lifetime of child-rearing haha.

Other than tired and irritable, I feel relatively good though. I did have a bad stomach ache last night, but I realized since we’ve been so busy (seriously we’ve had something almost every single night this entire month… but of course now’s the time to do it!) I haven’t cooked anything in the last week, thus I’ve been eating very few vegetables. PTL though for good digestive movements today! No joke, I am sooo relieved/happy/thankful to the Lord haha.

Regarding the baby, I’m definitely still  excited to meet her, but I guess this past week there’s been this realization that things will never be the same again once she’s born, and honestly that is a little frightening. Of course there’s no turning back now and of course I wouldn’t want to(!!!), but I do feel a bit anxious thinking about how much everything is going to change for our little family!

Other Updates

Baby’s looking good! Movements are still frequent and strong! Yesterday she was relentless when I had my stomachache and wouldn’t stop kicking me right where it hurt! Doctors appointment went well this morning and she said Baby’s growth is on target and she should be around 6 lbs., 1 oz. right now give or take 15%.

As for this weekend, it was quite full. Highlight would be our 30th Anniversary Gala on Saturday night at Noor. It was a bit of a roller coaster and quite chaotic with very few staff there, but I thank God for His grace and help– I think my attitude could have been far far worse than it was and by the end of the night I realized I did have an enjoyable time, and the chaos, well, it was actually quite comical.

The biggest praise is that we raised over $150K, which was absolutely a miracle! And ultimately, the hope is that God received glory and praise for all that He has done to sustain our ministry over the past 30 years, despite our many mishaps and shortcomings (even the ones that very night!).

Not really a part of the weekend, but another highlight would be Staff Development on Monday. In my 1.5 years at DOH, it was seriously the best Staff Development I’ve attended. The workers from our DV site shared and it was eye-opening to learn more about victims of domestic violence, how to minister to them, and how the Gospel can bring tremendous hope in the face of devastating circumstances.

Startling facts about DV:

  • An average of 3 women are murdered every day by an intimate partner.
  • Nearly 1/3 of American women report being abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
  • In California alone, domestic violence occurs in 436,000 households per year, exposing nearly 916,000 children to violence in the home per year.
  • When a battered woman leaves her abuser, there is a 50% chance her standard of living will drop below the poverty line.

Such mind-boggling and heartbreaking statistics. So proud to be a part of DOH and to support the ministry of these amazing ladies who work so hard to bring the hope and love of Christ to the broken-hearted.

What has God been saying?

Honestly it’s been another hard week and I’ve struggled to spend time with the Lord and press into Him. I think this is the first week I haven’t finished all of my BSF lesson before the day of class. It’s crazy because just one year ago I would do the back half of my lesson the day of class (meaning by Tuesday I’d have 50% done) and a year before that and all the prior years of BSF I would do almost all of my lesson the day of class. (As a side note, I can’t believe this is my SIXTH year of BSF. Say whaat!?)

To me, this is so indicative of God’s grace. For whatever reason, He has been giving me tremendous grace and help to spend time with Him this year and I can absolutely see how it’s been helping me in my walk and in life.

It’s not easy to spend time with the Lord. And I know I mentioned it before, but even our middle school youth girls say things like “I don’t have time for devo’s” or “It’s just so hard” or “I don’t get anything out of reading the Bible/praying” and my heart aches for them because I know it’s not going to get any easier, but oh how I hope and pray God gives them grace to start spending time with Him NOW. I’m not sure it will ever be easy. And though it makes me laugh when they say “I don’t have time to spend with God,” it reveals the human heart, for isn’t this the excuse we use in almost every season of life? I don’t have time. I’m too busy. Too tired. Even MIDDLE SCHOOLERS feel too busy to make time for God in their lives.

So I try to encourage them. It’s worth it. We’ll always feel too busy and guess what, in the next season you’ll be even busier no matter what age you are! We will always find excuses to not spend time with God and say “in the next season of life, then I’ll really pursue You.”

But the time is NOW. The time is now and it is worth it. Like I wrote earlier, I think by God’s grace this past year or so I’ve been able to see how spending time with Him daily, though it might not seem like it makes a significant impact immediately, really does help and fills me with more peace, more wisdom, more significance, and lends itself to growth.

So I guess this is an encouragement to myself to not give up. To keep pressing in. To know that it’s worth it. Especially as I head into what many consider the craziest season of life. (As so many people have said, the first year of having a baby is just a blur.)

Reminds me of these two verses:

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:14

& this one, which of course also reminds me of my dear friend Sung haha:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

1 Corinthians 9:24

Lastly, I’ll end with this:

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

Philippians 3:8

Lord, help me!!!!