Week 36 – Home stretch

Do you like how the bump is starting to hang below my pant line like a beer belly?
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It’s April, which means, in all likelihood, this is THE month that Baby will arrive. I’m due on the 29th so there is a slight chance of Baby being late. But coupled with the issues insulin dependent moms might face, I don’t know how likely it’ll be they’ll let me carry past the due date. We’ll see though. My sugars have been doing very well and fetal monitoring has shown Baby to be quite active and healthy. Praise God! The doctors are now saying it doesn’t look like they’ll need to induce me, but still caution that in this last month, anything can change. So, we keep trying to be healthy and praying for this last leg of the pregnancy to go well. (Thank you for all the prayers Baby and I have already received!!)

The hospital bag is pretty much packed. We still don’t have a nursery…but a bassinet will be arriving on Sunday. I told Skywalker I’d totally be okay if our baby slept in a cardboard box the first month. If the Finnish babies do it, so can we! =D We’ve been passed several bags of baby stuff, for which we are immensely thankful (my goal was to buy as little as possible), so I think we’ve got the minimum requirements for the next little while.

While the external preparations are coming together, Skywalker and my internal preparation doesn’t feel as ready. I know I know, you can never be totally ready to be parents. A girl friend reminded me that parenthood isn’t something you can study, take the exam and then pass. It’s a day by day, year by year journey of figuring things out and learning and making mistakes and trying again. We have questions like, “How do we develop good character in a child…even starting as an infant?” or “How do we keep being the best spouse we can be instead of making it all about the baby?” or “What reward/consequence model should we use to best prepare them for real life?” Another friend said while those were great questions, “How will I make it through the night with my sanity?” is probably more realistic for the next couple months. Wise friend. =)

A step at a time, a step at a time.

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“Be Good”

I recently read “Bringing Up Bébé” by Pamela Druckerman and found it a very enlightening and entertaining read. She’s an American woman bringing up babies in Paris and notes the differences between parenting styles as well as the resulting child’s behavior. Where North American children tend to behave like tyrannical kings and queens, the French children seem to be functionally integrated into the adult world around them. I love it.

One of the points she brought out was in the diverse vocabulary French parents use with their infants and children. Here, we hear a lot of “Be good!” spoken to our kiddies. Even the Chinese have the equivalent with asking the child to be “guai”. Or if they do something pleasant, we heap on the praises of “Oh you’re so good” or “You’re so guai”. And once you’ve praised them for “being good”….well, are they not apt to think that everything they do is “good”? We haven’t exactly addressed what was so praise worthy in the first place. What does “good” mean anyways? It’s so ambiguous.

The French on the other hand, tell or praise their children for being “sage” …which is like saying “being calm.” Think about it…there’s a whole lot more going on for a child to be calm. That’s asking the child to quiet down their hearts and minds. To deal with the inner frustration of not getting their way or their timing. To be master over their impulses instead of being mastered by it. And that they are PART of a bigger world, and not THE world.

Yes I think we under-estimate what our infants and children can understand. The more diversity in the words we use with them, the more tools they’re given to understand and choose behavior. With ALL children in my life, I’m trying, even now, to change my words to build up good character and good behavior and specifically address negative behavior. Saying “You’re a good girl/boy” or “that’s bad” really doesn’t say much at all. I would much rather my child hear “What you did was very kind” or “Thanks for being patient” or “That attitude is selfish” or “Don’t be rude“. Even from infancy.

So in four months…this social experiment will start. haha. I invite you to join in. =)

Naming Dilemma

(Image not mine)

There’s a saying in Chinese…translated roughly as…”It’s not that you were born with a bad life, you were just given a bad name.” And this saying weighs on my mind as we start to consider names for our future child. There’s also Biblical examples of how an individual’s name pretty much paints the picture of what their character or life will be like. The ever popular “Jacob” means “heel grabber” and there are many biblical stories of how he tricked his elder brother into giving him the first-born birthrights, or how he found ways to become richer than his scheming uncle, or how he wrestled with the angel of the Lord for a blessing and only let go after the angel touched his hip which wrenched it out of socket. His whole identity was in grabbing after blessing. And so….we’re trying to pick a name with a good meaning…a name our child can grow into character-wise. Not just something that has a nice ring to it when paired with our surname.

And it’s hard.

I have many mommy friends who have two to three kids each. That’s a lot of names that have already been taken. It’s kind of an unspoken rule that you can’t use the same name right? I actually grew up initially disliking my name because I didn’t know anyone else who had it, but then I came to like its uniqueness. So I would like to find a name that is unique but not a complete outlier. Bible names…as nice as they are…are a bit over-used. And the Top-10’s….also overused. Then we have to deal with names that remind us of ______. Skywalker and I are learning a lot about each other’s childhoods as we talk about the bullies or jocks or brats we encountered. Another time, Skywalker suggested Anastasia…which I immediately shut down as that’s Cinderella’s ugly step-sister!! And sounds a bit like an exotic dancer name.

I like strong sounding simple names compared to delicate sounding or complex names. For example, Ava over Ophelia…or Ethan over Maximilian. And Skywalker seems to like the names I don’t like. ha ha. Also influencing my choices are articles like this and this which suggest the name of your child could make or break their career….if not categorize WHAT career they’ll likely end up with. So that Chinese saying might actually be onto something…..

But we’re not….not with getting a shortlist of names we both like. I guess good thing we’ve still got five months (aaahh!!).

Question: Is intentional childlessness biblical?

We’ve been coming across a few articles on the hot topic of “intentional childlessness” (for married couples)…and whether that is biblical or not.

http://community.focusonthefamily.com/b/jim-daly/archive/2013/08/19/is-intentional-childlessness-biblical.aspx
http://www.boundless.org/adulthood/2004/motherhood-on-trial
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/why-i-decided-not-have-kids

Skywalker and I do want children, though perhaps for slightly different reasons. Part of my reasoning is to live in obedience to God’s design for marriage. I believe that marriage is for intimacy AND procreation; and we can’t choose only the parts we want. A lot of the comments we read in response to the articles seem to agree that not all have the gift of parenthood, nor have the desire to be parents, so they should be able to opt out of parenthood. Or that every child should be “wanted”. One commenter replied that “Mary probably didn’t want to be pregnant with Jesus as an unwed, impoverished teen, but she submitted in obedience.”

Certainly God does not promise marriage and children to all. Nor should anyone expect it. But I do believe that if God has blessed you with a marriage partner, then you should be open to receiving children from God out of that marriage. If God does not provide children within the marriage, then perhaps that too is His “gift”…for the couple to build into spiritual children or to adopt or be foster parents etc. I believe it kind of boils down to submitting to what God would give or withhold (and I’m not saying it’s easy either way) as opposed to intentionally choosing not to. I should add that people should also be intentional about why they want to have children too.

We posed this question to @RevTedNg and this was his reply (published with permission):

In a word, the answer is: no.

The Bible at no point provides license to take up this position for theological, cultural and historical/technological (they had no reliable contraceptive options) reasons.  Even in principle no support can be found in the text.  In fact it would suggest the opposite.

I read the articles you sent  along and the first two are rather reflective while the third one was  well, fluff.  One must indeed take into account the age, life-stage, experience and expertise of the authors.

There are two ways to see having children – blessing and  curse.  There really is not legitimate in-between.  As a blessing, children are a natural form of spiritual and life challenge – contributors to character formation as well as joy.  They are also a huge  responsibility.  Responsibility, however, in certain cultures (our own in particular which is still shifting but in this direction) can be seen as negative, even detrimental.   In this perspective, children are a burden, they are inefficient and inconvenient.  Having a child is likened to having a 20 year prison sentence.  And frankly, this is a first-world problem (to use that  hipster phrase).  Our culture also tries to impose that value and our solutions on the rest of the world, whether it be in the form of contraception or abortion.

It is also the choice of an urban developed world issue because of expense. Having children can mean a reduction of living standard and an increase in cost of living.  The argument of “no unwanted child” can be an excuse for a cold pragmatism or even personal comfort. It verges on the reprehensible when we pretend that it is actually for the  sake of the unborn that we do this “good.”  I am also aware that in other cultures, children may have some economic value a workers (especially in agrarian settings) but this is also not ideal as they are reduced to commodities which is incompatible with Biblical values of people.

A case in point is China’s one child law.  So what do we get in this society?  Abortion, infanticide and abandonment not only of girl babies but also those who have disabilities an challenges.  They are treated as burdens, as flesh and not as people.  In the Christian faith, life is supposed to be a miracle and sacred.  Every person bears the image of God.  This is a Biblical value applying to human life whether young or old.

Of note, the Catholic church upholds its ban on contraception based on the theology of sovereignty of God and the sacred mystery of life and therefore speaks against intervening in God’s natural order.  Non-Catholics (and unofficially, a number of Catholics) allow for contraception based on arguing stewardship effectively enough to challenge the Catholic position while maintaining the sacredness of life argument.  It is something still worthy of exploration and openness if not dialogue.

What one might ask of intentionally childless couples, however, is self-reflection regarding why they chose to be so.   Short of medical issues (which include a host of things including the risks of age) more comes to light about one’s thoughts and condition.   This may ultimately be a matter of discipleship.  We treat those who have this perspective with kindness and understanding, inviting them to share their perspective so that we can come alongside to understand and explore the issue with sensitivity.  Of course, time, in itself will make the issue moot.

So while it is impossible to argue for intentional childlessness from the Bible, it does not necessarily fall into the category of intentional sin.

I have known people who have been traumatized by their upbringing to the degree that they are adverse to having children.  Perhaps, in time, God  will be able to heal their emotional wounds where they can move beyond  that perspective.  At the same time, I have listened to friends  who took this position but after some time (with much listening to God) they changed their minds.

One book that I think is very significant to anyone considering (or not considering) parenthood is Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas.  A friend who said they would never have kids reversed their position after reading this book.  Now he is the happy father of two.  I do not assume that this is the norm but I do wonder.

Anyways, I hope this provides some framework for considering how we respond to this issue with truth and grace in hand.

Poll: What do you think happened??

(Image not mine)

I’ve been discussing various family history stories with people and are speculating about what could’ve gone down in a particular scenario. If the following facts were all you had, what story would you put together about what happened? (All the facts must be used)

  • This was during wartimes when Japan invaded China
  • Man has a Wife (W1) in China whom he was officially married to, they have one son
  • Man met another woman (W2) in HK/Kowloon before 1950
  • Man produces seven children in total, six born in HK
  • The children were born to W1 and W2 in this order: W1, W2, W2, W1, W2, W1, W2
  • At one point, a judge in HK invalidated the “marriage” between Man and W2
  • Man was not charged with bigamy nor was he granted a double marriage
  • W2 and her children later lived separately from Man, W1 and their children
And these were the marriage laws of the day:
  • Having more than one official “wife” was illegal in China…but you could have concubines…this practice of keeping concubines was banned in 1950
  • You didn’t have to register your marriage in HK until after 1950
  • Having more than one legal wife in HK wasn’t banned until 1971
  • Bigamy was illegal in China, the second “marriage” would be nullified if the first wife was still alive

Feel free to add your interpretation of the facts to the poll! I do believe there’s usually more than two sides to a story. Also, please share why you’d pick one story over the other(s) as being more plausible.