A Reflection on Our Year of Miracles // One Word for 2018

It’s ten days into 2018 and I’ve finally started to remember to write 2018 instead of 2017.  Which means 2018 must be here to stay, right? 🙂

We kicked off the New Year with a sick baby – full blown coughing, sneezing, snot drizzled everywhere, low-grade fever, no sleep…oh the joys of parenthood.

And just as the kiddo started to get better…the husband got sick.  And then just as he started to get better…yup, you guessed it…I got sick.

Which is why this is being written ten days into 2018, instead of on the 1st of January.

I digress.

A couple of years ago I learned about One Word 365 from my sweet blogger friend Sarah.  And heading into 2016, I just knew with a strange certainty that the word for that year would be “Immanuel” – God With Us.

At the time, I had no idea that my first-born son would be born in 2016, 10.5 weeks early.  There was no way to anticipate the up and down journey it would all be, and that my one word – Immanuel – would become such an anchor for us in that season.

Heading into 2017, I felt such conviction that it would be a year of miracles.  We had just witnessed our little 29 weeker thrive in the NICU, surprise the doctors despite all of his medical diagnoses, and come home before his expected due date.

But there I was, the last day of 2017, permanently situated on my glider as I tried to rock a very cranky, sniffly little boy to sleep. Read more…

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God’s Promises // An Update on Josiah

It has been almost six and a half months since the day that our lives changed forever.

It feels like yesterday and forever ago all at the same time.

There are days that I feel victorious.  Days when I am so confident in the mighty future the Lord has in store for our son…for miracles…for healing…for a radical testimony to come out of this little life.

And then there are days that I feel absolutely defeated.  Days when the doubts and worries and fears come rushing into the sink hole that has found its way into my soul.

Yet, woven throughout the new normal of our days, between diaper changes, bath time, nursing, playing, crying, and giggling, are the whispered reminders of God’s promises to us over our son.

See, right after Josiah was born, the Lord gave us two promises.  The first one came in the story of the meaning of his name – “Jehovah has healed” – which I wrote about here.

The second promise came through my dad the day after Josiah was born at 29 weeks.  For decades, my father has built a habit of starting out his day reading a few chapters from the Bible, not necessarily following a plan but just reading from Genesis to Revelation.  Time and time again, the Lord has spoken to him in the face of many difficult situations through the exact chapters he was to read for that day.

The Lord did not disappoint as my dad woke up on November 21, 2016, with a heavy heart, asking the Lord what had gone wrong.  How had this happened?  Not only was his first grandchild born prematurely, this little boy was also born with a birth defect.  He opened up the Word to the chapter that was next for that morning – John 9.

“As he passed by, he [Jesus] saw a man blind from birth.  And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’  Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him…'” (John 9:1-3; ESV)

It wasn’t an answer that made sense to our human minds.  But we knew it was a promise from the Lord.  That none of this was in vain.  That somehow, the works of God would be revealed through our little son’s body and life.

A few months ago, I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw that a friend of mine was creating art out of Scripture for thirty days.

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And in that moment, the Divine Voice broke through and silenced the busy traffic of my soul.  This…this is the truth over Josiah.  My ways are not your ways.  This is going to be good and this is going to be glorious.

My friend was kind enough to mail the original artwork to us, and it’s currently in Josiah’s room as a constant reminder of God’s promise.

No matter what happens the next few months, His Words are what we are going to hold on to.

This coming Wednesday morning, on June 7th, Josiah will have his second surgery (he had his first one the day after he was born) of four total surgeries to correct his imperforate anus.  Below are the specific prayer requests we desire to lift up before the Lord as we walk into this next step of healing for our son…

  1. That God’s mighty works would be displayed through Josiah.  We are contending for creative miracles, for the Lord to finish His perfect work of wonderfully and fearfully creating our son.  We want to see the look of shock and awe on the faces of Josiah’s surgeons and medical staff as they examine his development and progress.
  2. That all necessary medical intervention will be 100% successful.  We are believing for everything that his surgery team has planned for Josiah’s body to go even better than planned.  We are asking for His angels to guide the hands of all of the medical staff who will be a part of Josiah’s case.
  3. That recovery and healing will be quick and as painless as possible.  And also grace and mercy over my husband and me as we tend to Josiah post-op and work through next steps at home (e.g. continuing to change his colostomy bag, eventual daily anal dilation, etc.) to prepare Josiah for his last two surgeries.

A couple of weeks after the surgery this Wednesday, Josiah will have one more procedure (that will still require general anesthesia).  The information his surgery team collects from that procedure will determine the final plans for Josiah’s major surgery in August.  After that, as long as the dilation process is going well at home, Josiah will have his final redirect surgery sometime in the fall (we are hoping everything is done by his first birthday/Thanksgiving).

To all of our prayer warriors who are fighting alongside us…thank you.  Truly.  I wish I could reach out and give you each a virtual hug.  Your declarations of truth before His throne of grace strengthen us in ways you cannot even imagine.

The road ahead looks long and it’s definitely not going to be easy.  But this I know.  It’s going to be good.  And it’s going to be glorious.

Reflecting on Immanuel

The last couple of days, it’s been harder to answer the question, “How are you really doing?”  The truth is, I’m okay, I really am.  And I know one day, this will all be part of the story.

But at the same time, I’m wrestling.  I’m struggling to contain the whirlwind of emotions and I’m not sure what to do when I find an unexpected leak here and there.

When we started calling and texting all of our family to tell them that Josiah had come early, my aunt shared with me something I didn’t know I needed to hear until I had heard it…and it’s been echoing in the recesses of my soul ever since…

It’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to ask God, “Why??”  It’s okay to face the wave of emotions that will continue to come.  Your tears and your questions are not coming out of a place of unbelief.  You need to ask.  You need to wrestle.  You need to process.  Because when you do all of that before the God who is full of grace and mercy, you will begin to hear His voice.  

I have declared the truth and I will continue to declare it all the days of my life – the promise of God is that He will heal Josiah.  And something immeasurably glorious is going to come out of all of this.

But some days it’s still hard.

The day before Christmas Eve, the NICU organized a toy shoppe event at the hospital where parents could come and receive toys and gifts for their child.  We browsed through the vast selection of donated items, imagining the day when Josiah will one day play with mega blocks and toy trucks.

We got back to his room to find the monitors beeping and Josiah crying in his incubator.

My heart broke.

How many other times has our little boy been crying in his incubator because his diaper is wet or his tummy is hungry and there is no mommy or daddy to meet his basic needs?

On Christmas day, we were making the hour long drive after church to the NICU when I started to replay that scene in my head again, asking myself that same question once more.

God…why?  I asked.  He’s alone right now in his incubator.  What if he’s hungry?  What if he knows that mommy and daddy aren’t there?  How is it okay that my child is 34 weeks gestation, should have been in my womb for 6 more weeks, yet he already knows what it is like to be lonely?

And that’s when I heard Him.  It was a whisper, but it was clear.

I AM with him, child.

The tears started to flow.

Immanuel.  God with us.  It was the word that I had chosen for my One Word for 2016.  It was the word that I had claimed for this year, not fully realizing just how perfectly it would come to pass.

This journey has only just begun.  Our first steps into parenthood have brought us into uncharted territory.  I know there will be more days that break my heart, but also more moments that will take my breath away and cause me to wonder how I ever could have lived any other way.  There is a whole future unfolding before us that we are only beginning to grasp.

But this I know.  Immanuel.  He is with us.  Today, tomorrow, and the next.  He will never leave us.  Through our treasured days and our dark nights of the soul, we are never alone.

Josiah

People always ask the same two questions to a pregnant woman – (1) Is your baby a boy or a girl? and (2) What is his/her name?

The first one was easy for us to answer because a little boy ultrasound is hard to get wrong.  But the second one, we were stuck on for quite a while.  I think we were both waiting for some giant neon sign from God telling us our son’s name.

A name holds so much meaning for a little one.  It’s the start of his identity.  It’s what he will be called for the rest of his days, and in some ways, it’s the beginning of his destiny.

Months before I got pregnant, I was driving down a really beautiful scenic road near our neighborhood when I just suddenly, out of nowhere, got this thought into my head, “I think our first child is going to be a boy.”  Yeah, I know…random.  But I knew that I knew that I knew that this was not just a passing thought.

Fast forward six months later and as I’m staring at the positive pregnancy test, I remembered.  “This baby is a boy…” was the first thing that came to mind.  And lo and behold, 15 weeks later, we found out that we were having a son.

One of the earliest names that popped into my mind was Josiah.  So I looked it up on my Baby Center app and saw that Josiah meant “fire of the Lord.”  “That’s pretty cool,” I thought, “A good, strong name for a son.

We took some time to mull on it, pray about it, and wait on whether or not Josiah was the name.  We tossed around some other ideas, but nothing really stuck.  “Oh well…we have plenty of time until next year when the baby comes,” we kept saying to one another.

The week before I gave birth, the name Josiah kept coming to mind.  Finally, I told my husband that we should really pray about the name.

The night before I went into early labor, I couldn’t sleep.  I Googled the meaning of Josiah and to my surprise, I realized that the original Hebrew meaning of the name was different.  Josiah means “Jehovah (God) has healed.” Read more…

Our Miracle Son

On Sunday, November 20th, our precious son – Josiah Jisung Lee – was born at 4:20AM, at 29 weeks and 4 days, weighing in at 2 lbs. 6 oz. and 15 1/4 inches long.  His expected due date was February 1st, so he arrived into our world about 10.5 weeks early.

Josiah is currently in the NICU at the children’s hospital and is recovering well from his first surgery (which took place on Monday).  The picture above was taken on Monday before he went into surgery.

There is so much to share with so many at this point (and many questions to answer) – prayer requests, how Josiah is progressing, how we’re doing right now, what our life looks like, etc.  And we will do our best to share what we can, when we can, and this blog may just become the perfect place to do that with you all.

But above all else, there are two resounding truths that are permeating every hour of every moment these last five days – (1) we are just so grateful that Josiah is alive, that the Lord is ever so present and near to us, and that there are so many who are reaching out to help and support us on this long journey and (2) God’s Word is the final authority, He is the Great Physician, and He is not done with Josiah yet.

In the hours after I got discharged and we saw Josiah for the first time at the NICU…when we had to come home without our son for the first time…when we lay in bed praying and crying together for the first time as parents…when I felt the void in my womb…there was a clear answer that rang across the vast unknown of our souls.

This son will be a miracle…a testimony of the greatness of our God and that He is alive and able to do the impossible.  All for His glory and for His namesake.

So, we hold onto that truth today.  We cannot wait to see how our God will cause His Word to come to pass in our lives.

One Word for 2016

I’ve been pondering on my resolutions / goals / hopes / dreams / (whatever you call it) for 2016 for a while now.

Towards the latter half of 2015, I wrestled with the reality of “letting my ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and my ‘no’ be ‘no’” in my own personal life, thinking about the importance of speaking the truth in every possible way on a daily basis.  I am all for making goals, lists, plans of actions, etc.  But there is something sacred about committing to one thing, even a small thing, and carrying out that commitment with grace.

I was reading my friend’s blog today (she writes with such honesty, grace, and beauty…you need to read it for yourself) when I ran across the concept of One Word 365 (or I suppose it’s 366 this year since it’s a leap year!).

It is utterly brilliant.  Instead of having all of these resolutions, you pick one word that sums up your various goals, dreams, and hopes for the year, and you live with that one word in mind every day.

The funny thing is, I had already had one word floating through my thoughts and popping into my head at random times throughout the last couple of months.  I suppose this is best evidenced in my last blog post.

So here it is, 2016… Read more…

God With Us // Reflections on New Year’s Day

It was just short of a year ago, on January 10, 2015.  We had finished a week of honeymooning in Cabo San Lucas and it was on the plane ride home that this then two-weeks-a-bride wrote these words with a bit of fear and trembling in her journal – “Lord, as we are on our way home, starting this new season of life…please, please…be with us.”

It wasn’t until this afternoon, finally winding down from the joy and celebrations around our first anniversary, Christmas, conferences, and the New Year, that I finally read through my journal from 2015.

Sometimes weeks had gone by without a single word.  Other days, there were pages and pages of thoughts, wrestlings, tears, and fears.  But the common theme that kept reoccurring through my weak words was that despite our track record or our circumstances, somehow, we would love Him more.  That we would know His presence in our daily lives.  That we would trust in Him.  That we would know that He was present with us.   Read more…