Forced To Rest

Rest. Why is it so hard? I like to be active, doing things, checking things off my list. In fact, when I do something that wasn’t on my list, I usually add it to the list just so I can check it off. Despite the fact that I know prayer and reading the Bible are so important in life and vital to a growing walk with Christ, I feel like those things don’t count as “things I’ve done today.” If Jeff came home and asked what I did, and my response was “pray and read the Bible…” I’d feel like I hadn’t accomplished anything.

Imagine my surprise when I was forced to rest.

It was really cold in surgery so afterward they put warm towels and blankets on me.

It was really cold in surgery so afterward they put warm towels and blankets on me.

When I was 21 weeks pregnant with Jack, a routine doctor’s appointment revealed that my cervix had shortened and labor was imminent, unless I underwent an emergency surgery. A few short hours later I was in surgery getting a cerclage (a stitch around the cervix to keep it closed), followed by four months of bed rest. I waited in my hospital room to see my doctor and ask what “bed rest” really meant.

Can I do laundry or make dinner? The horrified look on my doctor’s face was my answer. “No. And you’re sitting up too much right now,” the doctor said as she lowered my hospital bed to nearly flat. Strict bed rest meant laying flat in bed. The success of the cerclage relied on gravity: the weight of the baby couldn’t rest on that stitch anymore than absolutely necessary.

I knew the baby’s life depended on my ability to lay flat for four months. I took bed rest very seriously, because I knew the outcome if I didn’t. Before Jack, we had our son Caleb, who was born prematurely, just halfway through the pregnancy. While some women take bed rest lightly and still manage to do normal every day things, I knew that wasn’t a risk I could take. I turned bed rest into my job.

DSCN8810Thankfully I was surrounded by family and friends who made sure our meals were taken care of and that I was entertained during the day while Jeff worked. I was (and still am) astounded at how many people volunteered to bring us dinner, or who came over just to hang out with me. Many people came over who had never been to our house before. Thanks to the garage remote that worked from our bed room, people Photo on 2012-01-23 at 15.47would call when they arrived, I’d push the remote button to let them in and they’d find their way up to the master bedroom where I spent most of the day. Then when they left they’d honk twice and I’d close the garage. Some school kids saw the honk & close garage and were amazed. Haha! Fun trick.

God seemed to use times of rest in the Bible to show people that they could Trust Him and that He would Provide. Since I wouldn’t be going to church or Bible study on bed rest, I knew I needed to fill my mind with God’s word and prayer in order to not succumb to fear. It’d be easy to fear the “what ifs” but I knew I needed to stand firm in faith. I read the Bible every day and did Beth Moore video Bible studies for “church.” One friend even came over one Sunday morning to do church with me. Through it all, God showed me I can trust Him. He hears my prayers and answers me. He will provide for my every need.

IMG_2362If you’ve followed this blog, you’ve probably heard me tell the story or read about how Jack shocked all the doctors by arriving LATE. The cerclage was removed at 37 weeks, I was off of bed rest and allowed to do whatever I wanted, and the doctors (and me) expected Jack to come any day. Almost 4 weeks later, at 40 weeks 5 days pregnant, I was INDUCED and Jack was born. What a miracle he is! What a reminder he is of God’s faithfulness and answered prayers. From the day after the cerclage, we prayed for a full-term baby and believed that God would give him to us, according to Mark 11:24 (“whatever you ask for in prayer, believe you have received it, and it will be yours.) God answered our prayers.

The idea of rest is so foreign to our culture today. There are few people or businesses who pause and take a break on the Sabbath. But we can be different. Together we can recognize God’s command and example to rest. We can trust God to provide for our needs while we set aside a day to stop working, to enjoy our families, to worship our Lord, to be grateful for the many blessings He has provided.

In the hospital

In the hospital

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” Genesis 2:2-3. 

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work” Exodus 20:8-10

Not Alone

photo 3Yesterday, on Caleb’s third birthday, I heard from many friends. A few texts and emails, many “likes” and comments on my facebook posts. Thank you. It was more than I expected. Waking up to a few emails from friends saying they were praying for me and remembering me was so comforting. I’m not alone.

Jack has been sick for a few days with congestion and a cough. His deep scratchy voice is both cute and sad. But it made for a strange day. I didn’t have any plans for Caleb’s birthday, but I didn’t picture sitting in the doctor’s office with Jack and watching more Cat in the Hat episodes than I can count.

As I thought of Caleb throughout the day, I found myself often with tears streaming down my face. At one point in the morning Jack came over, put his arms up for me to hold him, then he patted my back. He saw my sadness and he was comforting me.

photoAfter a too-short-nap-from-coughing and a few more Cat in the Hats, I decided we’d drive out to the cemetery to visit Caleb’s grave and maybe Jack would nap in the car. He didn’t. I devised a headrest iPad holder from headbands so Jack could watch a show on the drive (it didn’t cross my mind until we were on the road that the headbands might not be “safe”… so far so good). At the cemetery I told Jack I was going to leave him in the car for a minute (it’s a small cemetery, folks. I’d be about 15 steps away from the car). But Jack said no and wanted to come with me.

I’ve told Jack here and there about Caleb but I never know how much he really understands. So I took this moment to explain: Mommy had a baby before you but he died and he lives in heaven. Jack was nodding and responding “oh, yeah, baby.” Mommy is sad because I wish Caleb was here too. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a brother to play with? “No, no, no” while shaking his head. Haha! If you could see Jack saying “no” which sounds more like “mo”, you’d appreciate the cuteness. The boy is smart. He knows having an older brother means he wouldn’t have all of Mommy & Daddy’s attention.

photo 2Despite the messages from so many friends, there was a loneliness I felt today. I’ve talked about it before… a loneliness that reminds me someone is missing. A loneliness that reminds me that Jesus is the only One who can give me peace and comfort. No matter the circumstances we are each walking through, only in Jesus can we find what we need.

“Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Saying Goodbye

20140224-164801.jpgI can’t count how many times I wanted to lay my sleeping bag next to Caleb’s grave and stay by his side. I know he’s not really there. I know he’s in heaven – no doubt in my mind. But since I can’t camp out in heaven, I guess this is the best I can do.

Caleb’s heart stopped beating just moments before he was born. He passed from the womb straight to heaven. I’m glad he didn’t have to suffer on this earth. Still we held Caleb and took pictures with him.

The day Jeff and I left the hospital and had to walk away from our little baby was one of the hardest days of my life. That switch from being pregnant to being a mom is immediate and automatic. I didn’t have to think about it. I just knew. Moms don’t leave their babies.

How do you say goodbye when you just said hello?

Caleb’s funeral was another difficult day. Laying him in the grave and then walking away… It just doesn’t feel right. It is so unnatural for a mother to leave her child. I guess that’s why I always picture myself camping out next to his grave.

So how do you say goodbye? I don’t think you do… I think you say hello to heaven. Hello to Jesus and please hold me close and mend my broken heart every day until I get to see my Caleb again.


When The Tears Stop

20120225-005645.jpgI never showed much emotion throughout my life. Probably only a few close friends ever saw me cry.

Then one day my world turned upside down.

Monday February 24 will mark three years since our first son Caleb was born. He was born prematurely, halfway through my pregnancy. Although I knew people who had lost infants or miscarried, I never expected to be in their shoes.

Nothing can prepare you for such heartbreak.

It was as if a switch flipped and the tears started flowing. It didn’t matter where I was or who was around me. I cried in the grocery store seeing a mom and her children. I cried at Bible study when I passed a kid’s bag that said “Caleb.” I cried when there was a reason and also when there seemed no reason at all.

This week, as I anticipate Caleb’s third birthday, I’ve been crying. But the days are so busy I end up not crying until I lay in bed, when I should be sleeping. And then I’m tired during the day because I didn’t sleep much at night.

It wasn’t until I finally told Jeff, and then my Bible study group about crying at night, that I was finally able to sleep. I’ve found peace when speaking about my feelings. Just breaking the silence has made a difference.

Caleb Chun - Feb 24, 2011

Caleb Chun – Feb 24, 2011

I’m not afraid of crying anymore. In fact I’m more afraid of the tears coming to an end. Sometimes it seems that if I stop crying then Caleb’s life will have stopped mattering. But I know that could never be. You never stop crying for your children. You never stop wanting the world to know about them.

The tears are less frequent after almost three years. But nothing could ever make Caleb’s little life insignificant. He changed my world, my faith, my life forever. And I am so thankful.

Never Early Never Late

If  you have ever tried to meet up with me for lunch, you would know the title of this post doesn’t describe me. I am often late… at least now I can blame Jack, right?

In the early days of our marriage, Jeff would yell to me “We’re leaving in five minutes for church!” Which was approximately five minutes after I woke up. Thankfully I’ve had lots of practice getting ready in a short amount of time (basically because I’ve done this my whole life). Then I’d get downstairs, Jeff would be standing at the back door, and I’d proceed to fill a water bottle, and/or make a chai, and grab a granola bar. Jeff still doesn’t understand why I always have at least one beverage with me. What can I say? I like to stay hydrated. And, I’d like to point out, that he often steals a sip from my water bottle.

While “never early, never late” doesn’t describe me, although I’m getting better, it does describe God. A lesson I learned most tangibly after having Caleb.

“All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before even one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

All of Caleb’s days – 19 weeks 3 days – were planned by God before Caleb was even conceived. It’s easy in our human nature to say Caleb was born too soon and died too soon. No matter how old our loved ones are, we would be likely to say they died too soon. Before our hearts were ready to say goodbye.

Knowing that Caleb’s days had been planned by God has always comforted me. There’s nothing I could have done to prolong his life. His premature birth wasn’t a surprise to God. It was His plan.

Your child, teenager, mother, grandpa didn’t die too soon. They had lived every day God has given them. Although we can question and wonder why God would allow children to die, we know that heaven is way better than earth. Our hearts may hurt and long for them, but they are experiencing more joy than we can imagine.

I wonder how many days God has planned for me. And for you. Every day really is a gift from Him. May you find peace, comfort, and joy knowing that the God who created you has planned your days and loves you more than you can imagine.

Caleb Chun - Feb 24, 2011

Caleb Chun – Feb 24, 2011

Leaning On God

Over the last two years I’ve stood at Caleb’s grave, leaning against this tree many times. I’ve cried because I miss him. I’ve prayed because God promises comfort and peace. I’ve smiled remembering how cute his little face was and how small his feet were. I’ve read the Bible to find hope and strength.

One month after Caleb was born I stood at his grave and read the story where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. I told God I believe He could do it, so please Lord raise Caleb from the dead? Then I stood there wondering how it would happen, looking for the ground to shake and Caleb to crawl out. But Caleb wasn’t raised that day.

Today, Caleb’s second birthday, I drove out to his grave. Jack was fighting taking a nap this afternoon but he is powerless against napping in the car. So I put Jack in the car and drove out to Caleb’s grave. As I drove I asked God to speak to me. Give me something insightful, comforting, peace-giving today.

I saw a flower and note from Grammy and Granddad. I had nothing to lay at his grave since I left with Jack in a bit of a hurry, so I wrote “we love you” in the snow. As I stood there leaning against my tree, I prayed, cried, and read Scripture. The last verse of Psalm 33 is on Caleb’s headstone so I read the Psalm.

“For the word of The Lord is right and true. He is faithful in all He does.” (v4)

“We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You.” (v20-22)

We wait in hope that one day we will see Caleb again in heaven. We rejoice in The Lord for giving us Caleb as our first precious boy. We trust The Lord. We look to Him as our help and shield to comfort us along this journey. As I wrote about yesterday, the sadness hasn’t really gone away. It comes and goes depending on the day. But there’s purpose in it.

Because of Caleb I have real faith. I’ve learned to depend on God to get me through each day. I’ve read the Bible not out of duty, but because it is life-giving. My worship is more true, understanding that God gives and takes away, but still I bless His name.

What God reminded me today is that He is all I need. I know God, but I’d really like to have Caleb here. I am all you need. Though I don’t always live it, I know it in my head. And for today, that’s enough.

Happy birthday Caleb! We love you always!


Near To Me

“The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Tomorrow, February 24, marks two years since Caleb was born. A day that instantly changed my life. Instead of welcoming a son into our arms, we ushered him to heaven.

I wanted to do something special tomorrow to set aside the day remembering Caleb. But I wasn’t sure what to do. I thought maybe a birthday party, like I know many people do, and invite all of you. There’s certainly plenty to celebrate and thank God for what He has done in my life, and many others, over the last two years because of Caleb. But the truth is I’m still sad. Deep down inside me I know Caleb is in a better place, but selfishly, most of me would rather he be here with me.

I’ve realized the sadness doesn’t go away. It’s not always prevalent, but its always there. The loneliness, feeling like someone is missing. But I don’t want it any other way. Someone is missing. It’s right to feel like that.

I wondered if having Jack would make losing Caleb easier. In some ways, yes. Jack makes me an “official” mom, allowing me the role of mothering. But in many ways its harder. Everything I have with Jack are things I missed with Caleb. Hearing him laugh, discovering new sounds he can make, cuddling him to sleep, watching him outgrow clothes faster than I can buy them, seeing him smile.

In my sadness I am comforted that God is close to me. He is near to the brokenhearted. He understands the hurt and sadness, and He reminds me that I will see Caleb laugh and smile. In heaven. Until then I will be near to The Lord who is near to me. I will look to Him for strength when I’m weak. I will depend on His mercies being new every morning. I trust that He will continually turn my mourning into dancing and my weeping into rejoicing. He has been faithful to do this over the last two years. I can count on Him to always be faithful. Thank You Lord!


Tis So Sweet

Almost two years ago I stood in the church I grew up in. The church where I played Mary in the Christmas pageant. Where I taught Sunday school to children. Where I played guitar. But this day I stood in the front row with a small shoebox-size coffin in front of me. It was my son’s funeral.

Caleb passed from my womb to heaven. I held his body in my arms, but his soul was already with Jesus.

Now in the church we stand to sing the hymns I have chosen: Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus and Great Is Thy Faithfulness.

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus / Just to take Him at His word. My heart sings but my lips are silent as my tears pour forth. Oh for grace to trust You more. Even as the words are sung I know this will be my anthem. My prayer.

Today, how things have changed… or have they? I stand, not in church, but in the baby’s room, holding my second son Jack, singing him to sleep. Jesus, Jesus how I trust You, how I’ve proved You o’er and o’er. My heart sings, my lips sing. Sometimes my eyes water as I remember. It’s not an easy journey to trust God. But it’s a journey of blessings with a faithful, loving God. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, oh for grace to trust You more.


Praying In Faith

This is the true story I shared at Bended Knee Ministries’ Women’s Retreat

One day I had some special news to share with my husband, Jeff. I was trying to think of a creative way to tell him, so I made a special dinner. Jeff came home and I began to tell him the menu for dinner.

“Tonight we’re having BABY back ribs, with Sweet BABY Ray’s BBQ sauce, and BABY carrots.”

“Sounds good,” Jeff said.

“Umm… did you notice a theme,” I asked.

“Yeah they all have ‘baby’ in them… OH! Are you pregnant??”

As we ate dinner, the excitement of the new life inside me began to grow. We wondered if it was a boy or girl? Will it look like me or you? We were very excited and knew our families would be excited too.

Unfortunately the excitement turned to sadness. At 19 weeks pregnant, we had some complications and found ourselves in the hospital. I had gone into labor prematurely. I would have to deliver the baby that day. But he wouldn’t survive.

A few hours later, on February 24, 2011, I delivered a precious little baby boy who we named Caleb. In the Bible, Caleb was one of the men Moses sent in to spy on the promised land. Ten of the men came back saying the land is great, but there are giants who live there and we could never beat them. But Joshua and Caleb disagreed. Yes the land is great, it’s all that God promised, but the giants aren’t too much for us. God has given us the land. Let’s go and take possession of it. But the people were afraid and didn’t trust God to give them the land. Because of their disobedience, God said the entire generation would pass away and not see the promised land – except Joshua and Caleb.

Caleb was described as “whole-heartedly following the Lord.” Jeff and I chose to name the baby Caleb to remind ourselves to whole-heartedly follow the Lord. We knew there would be “giants” in front of us – fears that would be easy to succumb to. But instead of fearing or running from God, we needed to trust Him.

Instead of picking out baby furniture for the nursery, we were picking out cemetary plots and planning a funeral. As we mourned our son we mourned our dreams. Would we ever have a baby to watch grow? What would it even be like to be pregnant again? How would I be pregnant and not be afraid about something going wrong?

Over the next few months we felt God’s peace and strength as He was healing our broken hearts. About six months after Caleb died we found out I was pregnant again. Instead of the fear I anticipated, I truly felt joyful. I had new doctors. I would be seeing a specialist. I would have ultrasounds every two weeks and shots that were supposed to prevent premature labor. But on top of that, I really felt a confidence from God that everything was going to be fine.

And everything was going really well until a routine ultrasound appointment at 21 weeks showed that my cervix has shortened. A normal cervix in pregnancy is at least 2.5 centimeters. Every ultrasound I had, my cervix measured 3.5 centimeters, which is really good! But at that appointment, as soon as the image came on the screen, I knew something was wrong. Instead of 3.5cm, my cervix measured only 0.4cm. In order to prevent labor, I would need an emergency cerclage, which is a stitch to keep the cervix closed. I underwent the surgery that afternoon.

Even with the cerclage, the risk of going into labor prematurely was high. I would have to be on strict bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy which was 3 ½ months.

In the beginning when I had that confidence that everything was going to be fine, I thought everything was going to be fine. I wasn’t expecting emergency surgery, or that the life of the baby depended on my ability to stay laying down for three months. My confidence was a little shaken. So just like after Caleb died, I turned to the Bible. As I was reading I found this verse in Mark where Jesus is talking to the disciples about faith. Jesus is telling them if they have faith they can move mountains. In Mark 11:24 Jesus says, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

I thought ok… whatever I ask for, believe I have received it, and God will give it to me. So I prayed, “Lord please give me a full-term healthy baby. I believe you’re going to do it and I trust You.”

I had prayed for a full-term baby, I believed God was going to give him to me, so I needed to act on my belief. I would go to doctors appointments and they would tell me my goal was to get to 28 weeks. I said, no, we’re going full-term. We’d make it to 28 and they would say, now the goal is 30 or 32. And I would tell them, I’ve prayed for a full-term baby and I believe that is what God is going to give us. My goal is full-term.

Bed rest meant laying down. I was allowed to get up to go to the bathroom and i could drive myself to doctors appointments every week. After going to the doctors appointments I figured a quick stop through the Starbucks drive thru would be ok. I became very familiar with all my drive thru options on bed rest. But bed rest also meant not going to church and not going to bible study. I knew I needed to be intentional about having spiritual lessons in my life. I would watch sermons on video, do video bible studies. One Sunday morning a friend even came over in her sweat pants and laid in bed with me so we could watch church together. At times it was hard not having spiritual fellowship with others. So I started a blog to write about my faith and what was happening in the pregnancy.

Through the blog and email and facebook, I asked friends and family to pray with us for a full-term baby and believe that God will answer our prayers. There were hundreds of people praying with us. Many of you in this room were praying for us.

Acting in faith for my prayer wasn’t always easy. My sisters wanted to throw me a baby shower, which was very nice. I was hesitant as we started to make plans. I knew I would need to register for baby things, which I could do online while on bed rest, but I was nervous. What if I get all these baby clothes and toys and furniture, but end up not having a baby to bring home? I would catch myself thinking like this, and be reminded – I’ve prayed for a full-term baby, I believe God is going to answer my prayer, I need to live like there’s going to be a baby at the end of this pregnancy. I finally started to register for baby things and as soon as I did I felt more confident. The more I acted in faith on my prayer, the more my faith grew.

When you have a story like mine, you get connected with other people who have similar stories. A friend of a friend mentioned they know a girl in Idaho who was also on bed rest and the doctors thought the baby was going to be born prematurely. So I found her on facebook and wrote her a message. I didn’t know if she was a Christian or Buddist or Atheist or anything. But I wanted to share with her my verse. I wanted her to know that whatever she asks for in prayer, if she believes that she will receive it, then it will be hers. As I started to write it though I was scared again. What if God doesn’t answer her prayer? What if it doesn’t work for her? But I realized I don’t have to defend God. This is what He says in the Bible. If I believe it to be true for me, then it would be true for her or for anyone else who prays in faith. I shared the verse with her and she began praying for a full-term baby also.

Well the weeks of bed rest went on and I was receiving mostly positive reports from my doctors. My cervix had increased back to 3.5cm which was really good. One week, though, the measurement decreased to 2cm. This wasn’t surprising to my doctors. But it surprised me. It was easy to keep believing that a full-term baby was going to happen as long as everything was going well. But when I had not-so-positive reports at the doctor I was forced to re-examine my faith and trust in God. It also gave me great opportunities to share my faith with the doctors. When I went for my next appointment my cervix measured 3.5cm again! My doctor said she had no medical reason for how that happened. I told her God was teaching me to trust Him and choose faith instead of fear. I never was able to get into much detail about my faith with the doctors, but I would tell them every week that a lot of people were praying for us and God was responsible for how well things were going.

Babies are actually considered full-term at 37 weeks, so at 37 weeks the cerclage was removed. Some women go into labor immediately and some it takes a few days. I figured at this point my prayer had been answered – I had made it to the full-term mark, so the baby could come anytime. But it crossed my mind that the baby might come late – proof that it wasn’t the shots, or the cerclage, or the bed rest, or the doctors that kept the baby inside me. But that God was the One responsible!

At 40 weeks and 5 days, I was INDUCED! It is rare for anyone with an emergency cerclage to even make it to their due date let alone be induced. 4 weeks past the latest the doctors thought I’d make it. 4 weeks without a cerclage. 4 weeks not on bed rest, but sitting up and walking around! 4 weeks that showed God is in control!

On June 1, 2012 I gave birth to a beautiful little boy, Jackson Archer Chun. Jack was Full-term and healthy. All of our prayers had been answered. The doctors were amazed that I went full-term and that labor had to be induced. I told them, you’ve done a great job and I’m very thankful for all your medical expertise, but God gets all the glory for this one. He has heard our prayers and He has answered.

Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

Anxiety in Anticipation

Are you ever anxious or worried about an upcoming day, but the day ends up being fine? My friends who have lost children have agreed that usually anticipating the holidays or anniversaries is worse than the actual day itself. Mothers Day was like that for me.

The season of Mothers Day is challenging, as I wrote about last. I don’t even like picking out cards because inevitably I’ll start crying thinking of what could’ve been with Caleb. I’m not a stranger to crying in public… It’s still kind of normal for me even though it doesn’t happen often.

I went to Jewel on Saturday before Mothers Day. I hadn’t been grocery shopping in months, but I only needed to pick up a few things. However I forgot what a bad decision it is to go to the grocery store before holidays. I’m used to people moving out of my way since I’m pregnant, but people at Jewel could have cared less if they were in my way. One nice lady who works at Jewel said “happy Mothers Day” to me and another woman. I was on the phone and barely acknowledged her, mainly because I thought I’d start crying again. So to the woman at Jewel, thank you. Your simple words meant a lot.

At church they asked all the moms to stand but I didn’t stand. We had just been standing to sing, then sat down, and then they asked moms to stand… it was more movement than I was interested in. But I felt like I was not standing intentionally, in support of all the “moms” whose children aren’t by their side. On the way out they handed roses to some women. I didn’t try to get one, but another woman saw me and handed me her rose. “You need this more than I do,” she said. “Happy Mothers Day,” she added. I don’t know if she saw the tears in my eyes. I didn’t say much to her, though I wonder if she had a story. She looked like she was in her 40s and walked out of church with her husband, but no kids. I think I mumbled “thank you” but I wish I had taken a moment to tell her how much that meant to be recognized as a mom.

On Mothers Day, we had lunch with my family, then dinner with Jeff’s family, and then Jeff and I watched the season finale of Survivor. It was a good day. I don’t know why anticipating the day is always worse than the day itself. Maybe it’s good to have time beforehand to think, appreciate what I have, understand the stories of others.

“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Psalm 118:23