Towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God, Baby.

Since your conception, this has all Mama and Papa

have ever wished for you, and our lives,

with all of our hearts.

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“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

I press on toward the goal to win the prize

for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
– Phil 13b-14

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
He will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

– Psalm 121

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I’m learning, that you can never “nail” parenthood.

You can score an ‘A’ on a test, master a skill, perfect a technique, but parenthood? It’s a learning curve that keeps you on your toes.

For life.

Just when you thought you “got it,” something changes, a new milestone is hit, and newly settled solutions, strategies and routines go out the window. What worked yesterday, no longer works for today.

Yet, every day also brings fresh surprises- a new smile, new sounds, an unexpected grasp.

Every day, requires a fresh dose of God’s wisdom and God’s grace, keeping one challenged and humbled, always.

One thing stays constant, though: that while strategies change, love does not- God’s love for us and our love for yours.

And these precious smiles, with your first at your fifth day of life, have made the climb up the learning curve worthwhile.

We thank God for answering our prayers, that you’ve been filled with His joy.

We can’t believe you’re now a month old, Sarah-Faith.

Keep smiling, from the bottom of your heart to the ends of the earth, even as we climb this learning curve together.

Love,
Mama

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Our world is getting crazier.

By the time you’re sixteen, I will have no idea what kind of world we’ll be living in: Who knows by then what values or morals will be mainstream, how safe our world will be depending on where we are and how wars and politics progress, what boundaries we’ll have to keep to in where we will serve, to stay wise and safe.

The truth is, neither Papa nor Mama know.

What Mama does know, however, is that while the earth may spin out of control and our world’s values, politics and morals spiral into a blur, you’ve got to remember one thing- that it should not limit the dreams you have, that God has for your life.

At some point, you might have an effervescent revelation, where your fiercest passion meets the world’s deepest need. It might come across as outrageous to others, and yikes, to us, even.

But remember that the sky’s your limit. And in spite of the unpredictability of our morphing world, a single-minded focus on God’s call will bring you very, very far in life.

At some point, you might face hurdles- geographical, financial and even emotional ones. They were the same ones Mama faced before and when she had you- Mama dreamed of pursuing public health in the world’s top university and for years it never materialized.

It was too far, too expensive, too impossible.

And then through prayer, through Papa’s undying faith in Mama’s dream, through God, He made it all possible.

We’ve only had you for a just barely a month in a new country, and Mama has to look for our next home to prepare for our next move to school. Mama already feels like she’s going to miss you when she’s in class. It’s not going to be easy, Baby.

But remember, wherever God calls you to, will be where His grace will be sufficient.

So remember to reach for the dreams God will place in your heart, in spite of the hurdles and seeming impossibilities. Remember to reach for them, in spite of the challenges ahead.

In fact, I think those dreams are already there, right inside you, Baby.

Love,
Mama

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Thirty has been vilified.

It’s said to rob the sheen of the twenties, while unwrapping the dull gift of responsibilities. The unlucky, are said to be cursed with vacuous purpose, wrinkles without wisdom and (gasp), mid-life crises.

The defamation of Thirty truly knows no end.

Truth be told, this birthday has been vastly different- Instead of multiple celebrations with several groups of friends as before, I find myself in my new cosy family of three, giving thanks for the simple things- our newborn, being able to take her out to run household errands over 5 locations and enjoy a meal outdoors, without her fussing one bit; instead of cake, we had popcorn over a home movie; instead of elaborate presents, I received a treasure of a different kind:

Truly, I’m thankful for this much-awaited birthday, my first as a mother to marvel at this priceless gift of a new life.

I am thankful for an exemplary husband who never fails to surprise me with his loving antics and servant leadership; for a baby with incandescent smiles; and to God, for giving us the gift of family, a shared vision, and life itself.

While some might mourn the passing of an age which knew more drive for achievements, more time for excitement, more zest for adventures, I thank God that Thirty for us brings the unfolding of yet another grand adventure- the opportunity to pursue further studies on a global platform, working with the underprivileged, and the greatest privilege of stewarding a new life, who is, I’m told, one of the smiley-est newborns the world has seen!

For all the achievements and awards the world has had to offer in my twenties, the gift of motherhood as I turn thirty has been by far the greatest honor I’ve received, something I could not earn, but was gifted with graciously.

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To all of you who have been journeying with us through time, space and distance,

thank you for your well wishes, and for celebrating our sunshine newborn,

whose smiles and giggles in her sleep

light up our lives every day.

Thank you.

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Gratitude, also the meaning of part of yr Chinese name (En), is what has colored our last two weeks of parenting.

Gratitude that parenthood is not all about spit-up and poop and diaper changes and having nipples of steel, but about all the memories in between- your daily smiles, brightening eyes and having you fall asleep, milk-drunk, on what you know to be the safest place on earth- Papa and Mama’s chest.

Gratitude for how much of a joy and adventure you make parenting to be, that people ask whether we truly are the parents of a newborn, since you give us sleep and let us bring you outdoors wherever we go (you hardly made a squeak when Papa brought Mama out on Valentine’s Day when you were hardly two weeks old!); Gratitude that after Mama and Papa were stressed out and heartbroken by that day of your unusual and incessant crying, that we finally figured out what it was that was bothering you, that it wasn’t as apocalyptic as your lungs made them out to be and that it ended as swiftly as it started; Gratitude that after Mama was feeling sore all over from a week of breastfeeding on uncomfortable chairs (she didn’t tell anyone about it), that an unexpected angel came by to deliver a lifesaver-an amazing glider chair, specially meant for breastfeeding, whose rocking motion you absolutely love and Papa loves sleeping on too.

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I guess it did give us a laugh when our neighbors looked at us incredulously in the elevator and asked, “Is this.. YOUR baby? You don’t even look like you’ve just been in labor!” And it gave us a kick to see their faces when we replied, “Yes indeed, we had her upstairs!”

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Spending our first walk in the park as a family on a warm winter’s day!

Gratitude, for the outpouring of love and generosity from people who hardly know us.

Gratitude, that you have been the answer to our prayers, that you are so happy to join us in ministry from a young age, as part of Team Tam.

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You joining us at our first speaking invite on Day 20, as snug as a bug in Mama’s sling, as part of your early “missions exposure” as Cliff and I shared on missions, relationships and hitting the mark.

Gratitude, that Papa seeing Mama slinging you in one hand and cooking in the other, and Mama seeing Papa bathing you and rocking you to sleep, and having all three of us slathered with poop on some part of ourselves, laughing and crying at the same time, has strengthened the meaning of what we know to be Family.

Gratitude that while you think the best thing on earth is seeing Mama and Papa’s face, you don’t even have a fraction of an idea of how amazing it is to see you from the other side.

God, Papa and Mama love you more than you will ever know, our little hungry caterpillar.

Love,
Us

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When we named you Xin En in Chinese, it was because we wanted you to always be filled with compassion and gratitude (En) in your heart (Xin), however simple our lives might be.

Before you were born, Papa and Mama also prayed every day, that you would be exceedingly joyful, no matter what our circumstances, wherever in the world we might live in or have to travel to. True enough, you’ve proven to be a resilient newborn, travelling with us to church and meetings and grocery shopping, as early as your 3rd day of life, with many smiley moments in between.

One of the reasons I’m filled with thanksgiving for the privilege of nursing you through the night, is that I can always awaken to this every morning, your smile of utter contentment and in my interpretation, deep gratitude (En) for the simple joys of life.

For giving us the only gift that you have as a newborn, with all that you have from within, we hope that you’ll continue to give of yourself radically and generously to all around you, as God has given to you.

Love,
Mama

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The joys of early parenthood are rich and many, caught in priceless moments that would only flit away on the wings of time, should one fail to pause to marvel at His bundled miracle:

A scoopful of pure bliss, milk-drunk, and a smile worth a thousand smiles, every day.

I often wonder, what you’re dreaming of when you break into that signature smile deep in your sleep whenever I call your name, that reaches to the ends of the earth, just like Papa’s.

I thought I would struggle with the transition to early parenthood and postpartum blues, what with the hormonal changes, our first time parenting, and transition to a new place.

But you make Mama smile from the inside, like a sun that never goes dark, as you, like a sunflower, reaches for to magnify her light. You make loving you so easy and joyful.

We can’t thank God enough for you, our happy baby.

We love you, Sarah-Faith.

Love,
Papa and Mama

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No one told us how much joy and fun there would be in caring for a newborn.

So grateful to have Baby join us at church on her 4th day of life, as all 3 of us gave our testimony of God’s goodness at our home birth.

The most common comment we received?

“Look at that hair!”

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In Cliff’s words, “My wife just finished the race and look at the prize she won!”

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We are so grateful to God for this miraculous experience of a natural home birth, and the gift of a beautiful child to love and to steward for the rest of our lives.

Thankful for an amazing husband, who presented a medal to me at the end, “as a symbol of your courage and strength for finishing this race, and for embarking on this new and sacred beginning of parenthood with me.” 

unnamed (4)Thank you Cliff, for journeying with me.

And thank you God, for making all of this possible.