Category Archives: Family

Birth of our Son this Week

The main update recently has been the birth of our son this week, Charles.

Praise God for this special gift! He was born March 30th around 2 am, weighing 4 lbs 10 ounces. A few days before then my wife’s water broke and she was put on bed rest at the hospital till the baby came, which ended up being a few days later. The name “Charles” is one that we liked the sound of it and I liked the name because of the connection to Charles Spurgeon.

Because Charles was born 7 weeks early, he needs to stay at the hospital in the NICU for another month or so before he can come home. They’re taking good care of him there & use an incubator or feeding tube if they need. Please pray the Lord may strengthen his body at this time and he’d be able to eat on his own & gain weight. My wife is feeling well & has come back home after a week in the hospital. She & I need prayer as we take many trips to the hospital throughout the week for Charles & feed him. My wife’s mom graciously drove here from Oklahoma earlier this week to help out in our time of need.

new article on China Source – ‘Language & Culture Learning — in Kindergarten’

Today I had an article on China Source titled ‘Language and Culture Learning — in Kindergarten’.

Here’s the link:

http://www.chinasource.org/resource-library/from-the-west-courtyard/language-and-culture-learning-in-kindergarten

 

 

Or you can view the article below:

Education is a major issue for cross-cultural workers who serve overseas with their families. Most families choose to put their kids in an international school, a local school, or to homeschool full-time at home. All of these have their pros and cons.

Last year we decided to put our daughter in a local Chinese school. Here are some of the benefits we see in this choice.

Families we respect who were living in other cities and had put their children in Chinese schools for a while talked highly about it. They told us that sending kids to the local school would help them learn the language quickly and to make many local friends. When our daughter was born, we planned to do the same.

For the past year our daughter has been attending a nearby Chinese kindergarten. She started going to the kindergarten shortly after her third birthday. Though most of the other kids, beginning at age three, go to school all day, we wanted our daughter to go only for half-days.

Our daughter’s overall experience in the Chinese school has been great. She absolutely loved the school at first, but after about a month the school started calling us to come pick her up and bring her home. This lasted for a few weeks, but when her teacher told us that she’d been throwing temper tantrums at school we disciplined her at home. She soon stopped throwing temper tantrums at school and started enjoying it again. Now going to school is one of her favorite things to do.

Because she’s so young, she’s been able to pick up Chinese rather quickly—even though she’s only at her school in the mornings and has been going for less than a year. Before she started kindergarten, I’d try to speak to her in Chinese at home. While she could understand a bit, she would hardly use Chinese to respond to me or to others. Now that she’s been at the Chinese kindergarten for almost a year—communicating only in Chinese with her teachers and classmates—she’s able to converse easily with people in Chinese.

In the Chinese culture, it’s important for children to show respect to the elderly by saying “hello grandma” or “hello grandpa” to them when walking by. Our daughter has seen this modeled at her school, so it’s now very natural for her to greet elderly people while walking down the street. Sometimes she will have lengthy conversations in Chinese with people of many ages who live in our neighborhood.

Our daughter has made many friends at her school. Her teacher said that she was able to learn all of her classmates’ names, even though all of them are Chinese names and our daughter was only at school in the mornings. As I look with her at a picture of her whole class, she can tell me all the kids’ names with minimal difficulty. Every day when we pick her up or are at home with her, she tells us stories about what happened to her classmates at school that day. With some of the kids she has built a particularly tight bond.

When our daughter interacts well with the people in our neighborhood, it opens up many doors for us to more easily gain the trust of the people in our community. And our daughter is happy as she walks around chatting with neighborhood kids, parents, and grandparents. Everyone is excited to see her acting like one of the neighborhood girls. Indeed, the reason our daughter feels so comfortable interacting with our neighbors is because she has been going to the local Chinese school. If she weren’t going every day to the kindergarten, I think it quite unlikely that she’d feel so at home with the people around us.

We are blessed because our daughter has done well at the Chinese school. However, all thanks must go to God for helping her daily to do well. The glory goes to him, not to us. And because of our daughter, we have been able to walk through doors opened more widely into our community to serve. When she interacts well within the local culture, people notice. As a result, they are more interested in our family, our parenting, and what is important for us. We can share with them about how God is the anchor and center in our lives.

My 2nd Desiring God Article – ‘The Day I Dug my Daughter’s Grave’

You can view my second Desiring God article published today: ‘The Day I Dug my Daughter’s Grave’.

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-day-i-dug-my-daughter-s-grave

 

View Below:

I never imagined digging the grave of my own daughter.

The day of her funeral was cold and rainy. It seemed appropriate for what we were doing.

My wife, daughter, and I were driven far up in a mountain by a friend and his family. The place was remote. We couldn’t see the horizon in any direction; all we could see was the top of the dirt road we drove up. And no one else was in sight.

With my friend’s shovel, we dug a grave, he and I taking turns.

The dig was solemn and silent, and the ground was soft from the rain. I couldn’t help but think about the missionary John G. Paton (1824–1907), who buried his wife and child with his own bare hands, both of his loved ones dying young.

I thought that stories of digging graves for loved ones were only for missionaries from centuries ago. Things like that didn’t happen anymore. But I was wrong. That very thing was happening to me.

With the grave dug, and struggling through tears, I said some words about our small daughter, giving thanks to God for her life. Then we had some prayer time together. We lowered her casket into the grave. I filled her grave with dirt. We put a flower and rock on top of the gravesite. It’s a gravesite we could never find again, even if we wanted to.

My repeated thought was, “Is this really happening to us?”

Ann Mei

Ann Mei is her name.

It was around this time last year that my wife Lynne was five months pregnant. Up to that point her pregnancy was going well. Three years earlier she had a healthy pregnancy and delivery with our daughter Joy. We planned to deliver our second child in a local Chinese hospital with only Chinese-speaking doctors and nurses, just as we had done with our first daughter.

But the Lord had other things in store for us.

At five months pregnant, my wife, one night as we were getting ready for bed, told me that something strange and alarming seemed to be happening with the baby in her belly. We took a late night trip to the emergency room at the local women’s hospital. They did an ultrasound and concluded it looked like a miscarriage was imminent for us.

We were stunned.

Emergency Surgery

So we waited at the hospital. We prayed that the Lord would save the baby’s life. Our close friend came from a nearby city and told us about a Swiss doctor she knew in the neighboring city. This doctor wanted to help our family. She’d heard about our situation, jumped into an old beat-up ambulance and rode it four hours to arrive at our hospital around midnight. We all loaded into the ambulance with the Swiss doctor. We arrived in her hospital around four o’clock in the morning, none of us having slept a wink on the cold, bumpy, and brutal ride.

Later that morning, the Swiss doctor performed a surgery to try to save the baby’s life. The surgery seemed to work the first couple of days. We sent messages all around the world for people to pray for us. And we know that they did, probably many of them praying with tears.

But it was not the Lord’s will to save our baby’s life.

My wife’s fever showed she had an infection from the surgery, and the doctor said it would be harmful to my wife to try to keep the baby any longer.

Ann Mei was born shortly after. She was very undeveloped, and only managed a few shallow breaths before she passed into eternity. Certainly not how we’d planned her life, but the Lord took her away according to his perfect timing.

We named her Ann after the first wife of Adoniram Judson (1788–1850), missionary to Burma. Ann Judson had also died at a young age. And we gave our daughter the middle name Mei, pronounced like May, which in Chinese means “beautiful.” She was a precious child made by God’s hands. So we wanted to honor her life by giving her a name and taking pictures with her. Our dear friends made a nice casket for her, and a couple days later I was digging the grave of my own daughter on the remote mountainside in northwest China.

Gratitude

Looking back at all of this, I’m so thankful for Ann Mei’s life, and that God had us honor her life by giving her a name, taking pictures with her, and having a proper funeral service and burial for her. So his mercy was on us in our great time of distress to properly honor and remember Ann Mei as a precious child made by him.

I thought about the psalmist’s words, “You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13–14). God had been stitching her together perfectly cell-by-cell deep in the womb. Her life was not a waste. Her life wasn’t a pregnancy in vain. No, her life was exactly as long as God wanted it to be. It was an honor for my wife to be pregnant with Ann Mei for five months. And it was an honor that we could witness the few seconds of Ann Mei’s life outside the womb.

Some may think that Ann Mei didn’t live long enough to qualify as a real life, a real person worthy of a name and a casket and a funeral — but that would be wrong. The duration of my life, and your life, and the life of my daughter are all roughly the same — a few short breaths in comparison to the eternity ahead.

O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! (Psalm 39:4–5)

 

Chinese Kindergarten – 1st day

Our 3 year old daughter Joy had her first day of Chinese kindergarten today.

For many months we had been talking about this day & trying to prepare her for it, telling her how great it would be.

And sure enough, when we dropped her off this morning & many of the other kids were crying out for their parents, Joy just told us that we didn’t need to pick her up until ‘about 10 weeks’ later.

And not surprisingly, when I picked her up at noon to go home, she looked at me as though she was surprised to see me & didn’t know why I was cutting her fun short. She was upset when I told her she’d have to wait until tomorrow to go back to the school again.

Miscarriage – post 2 of 2

Written June 5th

The last month my wife Lynne has slowly been recovering. Now she’s nearly fully recovered physically. Especially earlier on there were some bad days for both of us as we’d feel particularly angry or bitter or sad about things with baby Ann. Thankfully the Lord has comforted us & sustained us through those times. Recently such moments are not so frequent.

As I mentioned in my last email, we ended up burying baby Ann on May 5th in the mountains right outside our neighboring city in NW China. It was a rainy day. Our close friends Chase & Marissa helped us in huge ways, as they made a coffin for baby Ann & scouted out a good place to bury her. They borrowed a car & Chase drove us into the mountains. They helped us bury baby Ann, as well as taking care of Joy for the ten days Lynne & I were at the Xining hospital. The rest of our team in both cities helped us by bringing us meals, taking care of Joy, or just praying for us. Needless to say, after the ten days in the neighboring city we were excited to get back to our city.

Miscarriage – post 1 of 2

Written May 3rd

On Friday May 1st Dr. Claudia told us that there was too much infection going on & it would be a threat for Lynne & the baby. My wife had been five months pregnant & had no previous complications in her pregnancy.

So Claudia opened up everything & said we needed to wait for baby to come out naturally.

So on Friday around 3 pm our baby daughter Ann Mei was born. She was breathing for a few minutes, then she passed away.

Our friends made a box to put her in. We were thankful for the short time the Lord gave us with baby Ann. Tomorrow we plan to go to the mountains here in our neighboring city & have a short service for baby Ann and bury her.

A huge blessing has been having our teammates helping us immensely these last 9 days. Our organization’s retreat happened to be this weekend in the neighboring city, so many of our teammates  were there to help take care of my wife & encourage us & pray for us.

Certainly we can trust these words [even in great trials]: “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28)

“These trials have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and my result in praise, glory & honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Pet. 1:7)

To the Dads Among Us

Here is a helpful blog post about family worship [family devotionals].

http://www.sbts.edu/blogs/2015/03/02/too-busy-to-lead-family-worship/

It’s by Dr. Don Whitney, who writes a lot on the subject.

His suggested model is the one we use [Read-Pray-Sing], which means read briefly the Scripture [or children’s Bible], then pray for something/someone, then sing a worship song. Doesn’t need to take more than 5-10 mins total.

Try to do it nearly nightly with the whole family. Can even do it even when kid is still very small [less than 1 yr old]. Dad should do the reading & facilitate discussion & everything else [My wife & I rotate each night who chooses what song to sing].

Not too complicated.

Doing this nightly has been a huge blessing for us the last 1 yr 1 month, but before that during our daughter’s first 1.5 yrs we weren’t doing any of these things at all.

So hope this encourages you guys.

Talks about following the example of preaching great Charles Spurgeon.

Family Vacation to Beach

The Lord taught me at this time last year the importance of having a somewhat regular family vacation. Last April, Lynne, Joy & I took a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. It was an amazing 6-day trip for just the 3 of us to enjoy time together.

This month we took another trip for our month-long winter vacation, this time traveling for 15 days total, with the last 10 days being in sunny Sanya, China. It was terrific to leave our cold February NW China climate to go to the tropical south for a spell. Lynne, Joy & I again had a wonderful time together as a family, & it was incredibly refreshing. It was fun to swim in the ocean together & play on the beach. Also there’s something about on occasion just leaving the city & getting some time to step back & rest from the Work in the city, to help freshen the spirit.

At least an annual trip like this can be very helpful for a family.

It can be better to save a specific trip that is not to go visit family or friends, but to just have our small family together for a time, with no other obligations or meetings.

I praise the Lord for teaching me these things!

Thanksgiving to God

I want to give thanks to the Lord for blessing our family immensely in the last year. It was nearly exactly a year ago [02/01/14] that multiple things were tugging at my heart about Family. So on that day I fasted & prayed for Family, particularly how I could spiritually lead Lynne & Joy.

Very near that time [01/30/14] the Lord’s mercy was on us to finally begin nightly Family Worship. A couple weeks later [02/15/14] we had our first of many Family Days. I stopped all studying on Saturdays, & eventually on Sundays. Saturday was devoted to Family. No schoolwork, Skyping, emailing or other work. Just family time. That adjustment has been a huge blessing for us.

Soon enough I also started not studying on weeknights too. After Family Worship, I’d help Lynne put Joy to sleep. Lynne & I also again started having nightly 10-15 minutes of prayer time together right before bed. We also got on the same Bible reading plan. The Lord has sustained us in these things over the last year. Huge PTL! Because in Joy’s first 1.5 years, we didn’t do any of the above with any regularity.

Prayer of thanks to God: “When you have eaten & are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you” [Dt. 8:10]

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord. I will remember your miracles from long ago. I will meditate on all your works & consider all your mighty deeds” (Ps. 77:10-12)

Husband as Discipler of Wife & Children

[Originally from my Feb. 2, 2014 Journal entry]

I was thinking a lot about Family Worship, & for me as the husband to facilitate that time. One main purpose in this is that father may be the main discipler of his wife & children. Family Worship is just one means of discipleship within the family. It’s easy for men to not fulfill this role because they feel oppressed by the world, misunderstood, bogged down by ‘important’ matters like finances, work/school, ministry, etc. The men are thus passive in the home & let the wife facilitate all spiritual things with the kids. Since our daughter was born 1.5 years ago, I’ve been very passive in the home, just ‘focusing on my studies’, & letting Lynne & Janet do everything, whether it’s doing chores or reading the Bible with Joy & singing worship songs with her. So I’ve become the passive man that I listed above, who feels oppressed by the world. This is not how God wants it to be! He desires for men to step up & lead their families spiritually. This is not only through leading Family Worship, but recognizing his role as main discipler of his wife & children.

I praise the Lord for convicting me on how I’ve fallen short in these things & how passive I’ve been in the home. My current state of busyness is no excuse for my behavior. Meg & Eva say to me, as the Israelites said to Ezra, ‘Rise up! This matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage & do it’ (Ezra 7:10)

[Originally from my Feb. 2, 2014 Journal entry]