Sunday, January 29, 2012

Us Hunting, God Leading

I am going to document here the adventure of searching for our current home, since it is quite the tale.

We moved to this house, this town five months ago due to a new job. A month or so before that, we journeyed here to find a place to live. We knew that we could not leave our new town until we had found and secured a home to move into because we needed the job and had to stay somewhere come a month's time. Thus, it begins...

Some of my relatives live about an hour away, so we set up our base there while we searched. One more note, we had to rent and could not own a place for several reasons.

On the trip to their home from our old town, I called 80 (eighty, 8-0) apartment complexes or places for rent within an hour of Ricky's new workplace to find accessibility and availability. Results, four. All struck out: one was gone when we called back (within hours), one did not allow children to live there (!), one we did not qualify for, and one accessible apartment had thick carpet and narrow doorways (yeah, not too accessible after all). We went to the county's chamber of commerce, emailed all the Realtors in the county TWICE, tried Craigslist and other sites... We browsed many houses. Some smelled, some would not lease, some were out of our price range, some had mold problems, some were too inaccessible, and some were just plain scary.

We grew desperate. Time was ticking away. Then, my relatives faced a dilemma where they thought that we would be gone by a certain date and had made other plans. So, we packed up our stuff and headed to our new town, confident that something would happen. We had no where to go that day and ended up just walking around town and exploring -- with a toddler who had been forced to miss her naps every day since we had left our old home. Anyway, we passed one cute, little hole-in-the-wall deli that was currently closed, but Ricky commented that we should eat there one day for lunch.

Now, this is a complicated part involving lots of church connections (and even a missionary in Romania), but we ended up being offered to stay with a family that had a wheelchair-accessible home while we continued to house-hunt for four more days. The worldwide body of Christ at work -- YES!

After more looking, we finally found a home for rent that was not what we wanted, but we were willing to settle for it out of desperation. We asked the owner to hold it (the 'settle') for us for two days; he agreed. We had seven places to view the next day. After a few disappointments, we ended finally getting to eat lunch at the hole-in-the-wall deli. While ordering at the counter, Ricky happened to mention our house-hunting predicament. We ate and emptied our bladders. On the way out the door, the cook mentioned how she passed a 'For Rent' sign every day on her way to work. She drew a map and made it sound like an apartment. Ricky and I looked at each other and mostly negated the possibility due to the fact that I had probably already called this place. However, our next meeting got moved to later in the day, and we had time. We shrugged and drove to the cook's suggested destination, as it was not far out of the way.

It was a duplex. Small in size, so probably affordable for us. One story. Flat entryway, no steps. New, so hopefully no old-house problems. Paved parking. I told Ricky to go peer in the window and check out the flooring -- hardwood throughout (carpet is hard for me to roll on and not a viable option). Too good to be true so far... But, were the doorways wide enough for a wheelchair? We called the phone numbers on the sign many times to be let in for a showing. Left messages. This place definitely looked the best -- by a long shot.

We went to the rest of our appointments -- no luck. We went to dinner with no more options and no callbacks. We had to call about the 'settle' the next morning. We only had the evening before we had to make a decision. Tension was our air. We tried the phone numbers one last time before heading to our hosts' home and got an answer! Yes, he could meet us in thirty minutes. It was 7pm. The sun was setting, and it was growing dark (literally and figuratively). No working electricity. But from what we could see inside, we knew this was it. Affordable, no yard work, wide doorways, no odor, ten minutes from Ricky's workplace, and other things of secret interest (like a back door that I could use as an exit should there be a fire blocking the front door entrance).

We were in disbelief. The last place we looked. Our last hope. The last minute. The LORD always comes through right on time, though, doesn't He?! And, this was the day Ricky had begun to cast whatever mountain of opposition was keeping us from finding the place God had for us into the sea (Matthew 21:21)! We signed the papers. We called the owner of the 'settle' to share the news and reject his offer only to discover that he did not keep his word but sold the 'settle' while waiting to hear from us! The rest of the story is wrap up. We went back to our old town the next day with great relief and peace. Phew!

Bottom line: We knew and told everyone how confident we were that God had the exact place for us. But, discouragement kept trying to pull us down and steal our hope. Even with time running out (or so it seems) -- He is trustworthy! And, the obvious: we heard about this place from a cook after Ricky's random remark at this random restaurant that we would not have been at if it wasn't for that day of nothingness. Surely, He works through all circumstances and all things and all people!

Oh, and the church that helped us out -- that is the church God led us to join! Maybe that's why our house-hunting took such a long time, so that we could meet some of the members and make connections :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Reading and Ripping

  • My spiritual birthday was this past weekend, and I turned 12 :) My parents also visited:
  • Aolani says woohoo, rips keys off of laptop keyboards, reads books out loud to herself, and draws on the walls with anything that is painted.
  • And Micaiah can hold his head up!
  • Verses to memorize this week: 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ~ For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Free or Slave?

"Freedom is not the permission to do what we like, it is the power to do what we ought.” ~ Lord Acton, paraphrase

I read this quote this week, and it reminded me of something similar that I use to say to Ricky often, which is this -- Slavery is doing what you want; true freedom is not doing what you want.

What an unpopular subject in today's world! The world says we have "the freedom" to do what we want, but then we start doing what we want. Next thing you know, we are always doing what we want, calling the shots, making our own choices, and all the while yelling, "I'm free!" -- that's not freedom; that is being bound to self. Lo and behold, we have now become slaves -- to our desires. Yet, our desires are born of the flesh and will only lead to death (Romans 8:6). Freedom leads to life, not death.


  • It is no surprise that what the world tells us about freedom is actually leading us into slavery, the opposite of truth. [God's kingdom is the upside-down kingdom.]

  • Oughts and shoulds have a bad wrap for sometimes explainable reasons. We do not need to feel obligated to meet someone else's imposed standards, but instead we need to seek to please the LORD and aim for His standards.

  • This all comes down to the great endeavor of dying to self (Luke 9:23).

  • I am sure we all feel like we are definitely not doing what we want all the time. However, I am not talking about the professional life but the personal life. Also, we all do the daily grind musts that are not fun but do serve a greater goal of ours and/or God's purposes. I.e. Laundry provides clean clothes for us to be acceptable...

  • There are many times when what you want does not necessarily conflict with what God wants (i.e., how you relax or play)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hats Off to Placentas

  • At four weeks postpartum, I had my doctor's checkup appointment. All is well. "You are completely over this pregnancy."
  • Aolani's one nap has now been reduced to one hour (if that long) -- this is sad for us!
  • While I was pregnant, I came across placenta encapsulation, which boasts of amazing postpartum benefits. After having a difficult baby blues experience with Aolani, I knew I needed to do something different this time to speed up healing as Ricky did not have FMLA time off. All I know is that I have had a remarkable recovery period, comparatively. I will definitely be doing this again and recommend it!
  • I did not get last week's verse down pat, so I'm giving myself another week to memorize it ;) 2 Corinthians 6:9 ~[We are treated] as unknown and ignored [by the world], and [yet we are] well-known and recognized [by God and His people]; as dying, and yet here we are alive; as chastened by suffering and [yet] not killed;

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    As Unto the Lord

    Note: I have never reposted anything from my archives. Yet, after crying some today over this very thing, I thought I needed to read/hear this again.

    I do not like to think about this, needless talk about it.

    Aolani is a Daddy's girl, no surprise. She always prefers him over me. While Ricky is fun and goofy, a lot of her preferential treatment has to do with the fact that I am in a wheelchair. Ricky used to try and tell me that it's not true, but it's so obvious that he can no longer deny it. Aolani is such an active toddler. She doesn't want to sit on my lap; she wants off to either explore on her own or walk around in someone else's arms. She squirms and fusses on my lap, reaching out for someone, anyone, to come get her and set her free from the prison of Mommy's lap.

    It hurts. I know that neither she nor I am to blame, but it's still like constantly pulling a scab off of a wound.

    This used to make me cry a lot - pouring my life out for her just to have her shun me. But I remind myself that I am not doing this for her to receive back from her - a hug, a kiss, a smile, a cuddle, or other affection that leads to me feeling good (although affection is very nice). I do all that I do for her as if I were serving Jesus. As unto the LORD. He is my #1. He is the only One worthy of my love, devotion, and service. He is the One Who sees all of my effort. My reward will come from Him.

    When I used to tell myself this, I would grasp this truth in my head and keep on wailing. Yet, I would keep reminding myself of this day in and day out, and now it truly helps! I guess repetition got this from my head to my heart ;) Thank You LORD for this eventual breakthrough!

    So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. ~ Galatians 6:9

    Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do... ~ Ephesians 6:7-8

    Keeping first things first,

    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    Marks, Mishaps, and Means

    • Sorry this week has flown by with MUCH activity and next-to-no internet time! But, the grandparents took Aolani to the park, which leaves me with a sleeping baby and the freedom to type.
    • I have read that most babes can generally be classified as active (12 hrs sleep, 5 hrs cry in a day), average (15 hrs sleep, 3 hrs cry), and quiet (18 hrs sleep, 1 hr cry). Micaiah is between an average and quiet baby (Aolani was active). We are constantly amazed at what an easy baby he is! He sleeps a lot, is calm, fusses when he is uncomfortable or getting hungry, and only cries/wails if he is really hungry. He is such a joy!
    • I wear Micaiah in the sling when he is awake (but he quickly falls asleep). I put him on the Boppy to nurse/sleep on me while I work on the computer at night. He naps in the crib in the main room during the day. He sleeps at night mostly in a playard/bassinet by our bed, or we'll leave him in our bed. We put in a bouncer while we eat dinner and when we shower at night (bring him into the bathroom with us).
    • Micaiah definitely has the dark hair and eyes like Aolani (and Ricky). They, also, share the same mouth and toes :) Otherwise, they have very different features -- head shape and body parts. Micaiah has a beautiful birthmark by his right eye (see below), which we love and hope it does not fade!
    • Aolani's antics: is constantly repeating what she hears -- walk, oh no, hot dog, happy..., loves to burp her bunny, lays her doll on top of a burp cloth in the bouncer, microwaves and cooks in the oven her stuffed animals (in her play kitchen), feeds me, loves to bring me books to read to her on my lap (the day I longer for), rubbishes through trash cans, throws her dirty diaper repeatedly at me after stripping herself while I nurse the baby (what fun), climbs into the tub to grab and lick the poopy plunger, locks us out of rooms... just a wild toddler!
    • Micaiah is one month old today! He has gained over two pounds and has outgrown his newborn clothes. He had a bad diaper rash that went away after using olive oil on it when we changed him -- cheap and healthy alternative that worked on him. He sees our family doctor, who is an elder in our church with nine kids :) We are incredulous because this past week, he has begun to roll over -- no lie! Aolani didn't roll over until four months, but I saw him go from his belly to back before he was even four weeks old. And, he holds his head up a lot. He might be a big, strong fella... We are staying home for most of the winter, in order to keep him away from the germs.
    • Nursing: Tandem nursing is happening -- meaning I nurse two kids, but I do not nurse them both at the same time normally because it is a lot of trouble for us. I had decided to designate each child their own side (mainly as a way for my milk supply to regulate to the supply and demand and avoid oversupply like before). I was engorged for the first few days once my milk arrived, and I had a plugged duct that first week home. Aolani - She finally has a name for nursing/milk, and it is mee-mee. She knows her side and calls the other side "baby's mee-mee." She likes all the milk and does ask for mee-mee more often, but she usually only drinks milk around her nap and sleep. Aolani giggles and gets a kick out of watching the baby nurse. She is beginning to demand my attention once I start nursing Micaiah though. Micaiah - He is a great nurser. He likes to eat frequently throughout the day, cluster feeds in the evening, and lasts in three-hour intervals at night. He spit up a lot when I was engorged but just the normal now, although he has gas and needs to burp frequently.
    • Sleeping: Yes, we room-share, so we all four of us are in the same room. And, it works, so far! Aolani woke up whenever the baby did for the first week, but then, she started to sleep through the wakings and feedings. She only wakes if he cries very loudly. Even so, Aolani goes right back to sleep without our help or interaction. We gave her a soft, pink blanket to have in her crib, and she loves being tucked in at night ;) We had Micaiah in our bed with us all the time for the first week, but he would sleep longer stretches in the bassinet by the bed. He would want to nurse continuously throughout the night by me, and it was challenging for me in other ways, too. Hence, he is normally in the playard's bassinet and in our bed sometimes. Our pattern: Micaiah stirs, I wake and attempt to wake Ricky, Ricky changes his diaper, I nurse him in bed, and Ricky burps him before placing him back down to sleep. And, yes, Ricky is back to his old ways -- delusional and sleep-talking (about Narnia, lawyers, Tebow, soldiers...). Sometimes, we "argue" (although he is not in his right mind) for an hour before he gets up! I have tried yelling, crying, cold water via a spray bottle, praying, threats, physical force... oh my! It usually takes a little of it all to get him out of bed.
    • Verse to memorize this week: 2 Corinthians 6:9 ~ [We are treated] as unknown and ignored [by the world], and [yet we are] well-known and recognized [by God and His people]; as dying, and yet here we are alive; as chastened by suffering and [yet] not killed;

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Micaiah's Birth Story

    While my first birth had clearly defined stages, no complications, and went according to my plans, this birth was drastically different in every way, except one: I was able to have another natural childbirth with no medical intervention — for the labor and delivery, anyway. (Here was my birth plan.)

    I guess it started back on Saturday, December 10th, two days before my due date. I was having minor, constant contractions all day long, just like I did the day before my first was born. Thinking that this could be a similar birth (as I was told to expect), I called my parents and doula to share this bit. Sunday morning I awoke early with harder contractions. After 45 minutes, I alerted my doula, my parents, and Aolani’s sitter to journey to our place. Ricky checked my cervix: 5 cm dilated. So far, this was turning into a repeat birth experience.

    But then the contractions slowed as I moved around. I lied back down in bed to sleep while Ricky entertained “the help” (sitter and doula). And sleep I did. The help left. I felt so discouraged and embarrassed.

    My parents eventually arrived that afternoon and were not going to turn back and drive the five hours back home when it seemed labor could come any time.

    So there we all were, waiting. Contractions came Sunday and Monday, but they were not consistent or close together. Just random. Then, on Tuesday… nothing.

    Oh and by now, I am very frustrated. As if I can do anything to make labor happen.

    Wednesday showed (the birth day!), and I slept in until my normal, which is when Aolani wakes between 7:15-7:30 am. Expecting to start labor in the wee morning hours (like I did before), I already felt disappointed. However, I did start having some tougher contractions as I got going that morning. Ricky even went in to work for a short time (my mom was with me). Finally, I rested in the recliner and began timing the contractions. Although they were consistent, they were still not close enough together to take action. Plus, after what happened on Sunday, I wanted to be absolutely positive before making a move. I called my doula just to give her a heads-up and keep her notified. She recommended that I lie down and try to nap. Instead, I lied down on our couch to watch a movie, While You Were Sleeping.

    During the movie the contractions spaced to ten minutes apart, but they were consistent, long, and hard. I made it to the end of the movie, and then, I got up. The contractions came rushing one on top of another. After a mere four minutes, I declared that we needed to head to the hospital. We finished our last-minute packing, told the doula to meet us at the hospital, notified my doctor, and left. Aolani ended up going with us because my dad would be there to watch her, and I felt that this delivery would be quick.

    We drove to the hospital, which took 50 minutes due to traffic. When we were five minutes away, I started to feel pressure and told Ricky that he better get there fast. [Now, I am not one to cry wolf, so we all knew what that meant: birth in the car might be a possibility.] My mom started praying loudly from the back of the van.

    We made it there. I thought that the baby would fall out if I moved and got up, though.

    I got to a room a few minutes later. All the nurses were taking their sweet time — wanting a fetal heart monitor and a hep-lock. A nurse checked my cervix: 8 cm dilated and not completely effaced yet. I told them that it didn’t matter how my progress seemed because they were not going to have time for any of what they wanted. This baby was coming! (A woman knows her body.) They ignored me and tried anyway. The doctor came and checked me and left. Not even a minute passed when I shouted that I had to push, NOW! They scrambled to get the doctor back. I rolled onto my side and cried out for my doula. In an instant, my water burst on its own, and I became fully dilated and effaced. I pushed for 20 minutes before baby Micaiah arrived. [I was at the hospital 35 minutes before Micaiah came — talk about cutting it close (not recommended).]

    Micaiah went to my chest. Ricky got to cut the umbilical cord. Micaiah was crying but no noise was heard. Apparently, he had swallowed some fluid on his way out of the womb. So, they took him to the warmer (some call it an “isolette”) to help clear his lungs and passageways. Then, they felt that he needed to go to the Special Care Nursery and receive some oxygen until he could breathe perfectly on his own and his lungs cleared.

    That took two hours. However, they also were concerned that he may have received an infection or pneumonia from the aspirated fluid and they would need to run tons of tests and give him antibiotics. [Insert a very long, nasty story that we do not want to post publicly on the Web.]

    Anyway, I do not want to get into all this messiness, but we complied with everything the neonatologist wanted to do (and racked up a huge bill). Thus, we had to stay at the hospital three days and nights until Micaiah was discharged. Aolani was permitted to stay in our room at night as I am still nursing her :) I did get to breastfeed Micaiah throughout our stay at the hospital, too. Most importantly, Micaiah is perfect. All of the tests came back normal and negative. We were all so glad to leave there and go home!

    Other notes: I tore very little, which has been grand for recovery’s sake (even though the pushing time was less than with Aolani, I think I stretched more). My foot is not twitching this time! I did not focus on the intensity of labor and delivery in this post, but it is hard work! Remember: giving birth is comparable to a marathon, they say. Total time in labor: I don’t know when to say it officially began, but maybe 5-7 hours. I have no idea what Aolani was thinking during all my moaning..

    Here is Aolani’s birth story

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Filling Out

    • Today is my first day taking care of the kiddos by myself as Ricky returned to work. There have been a few tears from me brought about by a wild toddler, but we're all alive ;)
    • Aolani is saying a few more words, which I do not remember what they are. Her new thing, though, is to strip and run around naked! Not fun for me (but cute still). She is a GREAT big sister! She loves baby Micaiah -- tries to pick him up, holds him, kisses him, pats him, and is gentle and kind towards him... She always wants to play with the baby. What a gift from God this is!
    • Micaiah is healthy, gaining weight (almost nine pounds), happy, cries little, spews milk from his nose, lost his umbilical cord on day 15, is filling out in the face (awww -- so adorable), and is still sorting out when to sleep and when to be awake.
    • Birth story will hopefully come in the next week or so...
    • Verse to memorize this week: Revelation 12:11 ~ They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    My {small} Resolve

    Well, I have only one tiny resolution that I thought I would share for accountability's sake.

    It mostly pertains to my marriage, as that is the most important and consuming human relationship I have.

    I often (even though it feels like more than often!) repeat myself many, many times when speaking to my spouse. Eventually, when he asks me what it is that I need, I end up exhaling loudly and stammering out a I have already told you four times! before repeating the directive or thought. Now, I will say that I used to think there was a point to letting him know how many times I have repeated something, so that he would feel guilty about not listening to me that well and want to improve his listening skills.

    However, not only has every wife I have ever encountered mentioned this exact same problem (it must be in the male DNA), we have been united almost five years, and I am still saying this. Basically, now I am just wasting my breath.

    So, I am going to conserve my energy and spare Ricky the nagging by striking the I have already told you four times! sentence from our conversation.

    I cannot help but think of my relationship with God here. How are my listening skills? And when I do ask Him what He said, I wonder what He could say -- Aidan, I have already told you ten thousand times! Yikes!

    Hopefully, my small resolution will reap big (maybe even eternal?) dividends.

    "For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." ~ Romans 8:13b

    And here is a GREAT post written by our friends who are missionaries in Haiti regarding newness.