Is Your Marriage Alive and Thriving?

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“Raising kids is a piece of cake!”

No One Ever

There is so much advice out there, sometimes even contradictory, about how to raise a child. At the end of the day, as a Christian, raising children is really an exercise in faith. You can read all the books and articles you can get your hands on, attend parenting conferences, and seek advice from friends and relatives. It really comes down to trusting that God is sovereign and loving, and that He is faithful to provide for your family physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Another thing that I have realized over the past 3 months (yes…our little one is now 3 months old!) is the importance of prioritizing time with my wife. We have realized that since our baby came along, it has become more and more difficult to have time alone to ourselves, even just to have a deep conversation!

There are many reasons/excuses for this, some of which are as follows:

  • We are TIRED most of the time, and just can’t wait to catch some zzz’s.
  • Baby throws off our schedule. When we plan something for the evening (i.e. meal prep – more on this in a future post), many times the baby will start being fussy or become extra hungry, so plans change all the time.
  • There just aren’t enough hours in the day! When I come home from work, we eat, shower, and then it’s time to get baby ready for bed, and then we get ready for bed ourselves. An empty Saturday morning is GOLD because we can sleep in and then do chores and errands together.

The bottom line is, if you want your marriage to last after having a child together, you have to be INTENTIONAL.

We started learning this even before we were married. In any relationship, it is easy to get used to the status quo or just be so busy that you are just fighting to survive and get through the day. It takes both spouses to first desire to maintain their marriage and see it thrive, and secondly taking effort and steps to reach that goal.

Some things we have found helpful to keep our marriage vibrant and exciting are:

  • Asking good questions, such as What was your favorite part of today and why? or How can I be praying for you?
  • Purposely leaving certain evenings and days free of events/hangouts, so that you can spend time together without the stress of time constraints
  • A good hug
  • Fun/silly texts throughout the day
  • Putting God first (spending time reading the Bible together/separately and praying)
  • Taking short trips explore new places, even a new grocery store or market, or a cafe/restaurant
  • Keeping in contact with friends and family so you don’t feel isolated/stuck

All in all, I believe it is totally possible to keep your marriage alive and thriving, even after having a child! First, put God first in your marriage, and encourage each other to pursue the Lord first. Second, be intentional! With Christ as your foundation, and a strong vibrant marriage, raising a child is fun and totally doable!

What barriers do you face to a strong vibrant relationship/marriage? How do you keep your relationship/marriage alive and thriving (with or without a child)? Let me know in the comments below!

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You Are What You Eat!

Image by Engin_Akyurt on Pixabay

Growing up, I felt like a deprived child at times when it came to food.

My mom was the primary cook in my family, and unlike other Asian parents, she had quite the repertoire of cuisine in her recipe book. Not only would she cook Chinese food such as chow fun, fried rice, and bok jang gai (sp?) (chopped white meat chicken/rice), my mom would cook spaghetti, burgers, tacos, and many other non-Asian dishes.

Why did I feel deprived? Don’t get me wrong – my mom is an excellent cook! I still miss eating her home cooked meals often. But here’s what made her food different – she took extra care to make sure all her ingredients were healthy.

She would hardly use any salt. Butter was never found in our refrigerator. We weren’t allowed to buy any snacks that had hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils in them, or where sugar was in the top 3 ingredients. Soda was prohibited – we were used to drinking water, milk, or juice at each meal. We only ate whole wheat bread and jelly preserves (no jam). When my mom baked, she used honey or apple sauce instead of sugar (not found in our pantry). We avoided bacon and sausage like the plague!

You can imagine how I felt when my friends would have cookies, soda, and sandwiches made with white bread for lunch at school, and I had a turkey sandwich on wheat bread with an apple juice box and grapes. Oh boy.

Looking back. It’s funny though, how juvenile our mindsets seem when we look back on our younger years, and how wise our parents turn out to be after all! My parents were not perfect, but they definitely had something right with regards to our diet! My siblings and I turned out to be very healthy as adults, and we are all pretty fit to this day. I’d like to believe that my parents’ dietary restrictions on us growing played a big part of this.

Moving forward. Now that I’m married with a baby, I have truly learned to appreciate the benefits of healthy eating. Sure, I went through my period of indulgence, eating a regular diet of Jack-in-the-Box, Taco Bell, McDonalds, and instant ramen following my college years. (Thank God for the amazing and healthy choices in the cafeteria at Biola University!) But after marrying my wife and now with our newborn baby, we have definitely realized that we need to eat better.

But why? What’s wrong with the typical American diet?

After much dabbling in unhealthy eating habits and laziness when it came to meal planning, and increasing our knowledge about things like trans-fat, organic foods, and the evils of preservatives, my wife and I have had enough. We were especially convinced after one of our friends at church had a heart attack at a young age. We decided that enough was enough.

After all, we aren’t getting any younger! If there’s a time to start eating healthier, it is NOW!

A New Plan. So we’ve started to eat like my parents used to feed me and my siblings growing up. Looking for foods with no preservatives, less ingredients, and preferably organic. We would like to be around as long as we can for our son. And eating healthily just makes us feel better about ourselves too. We just feel cleaner after eating a meal, rather than feeling like our stomachs are coated with oil and our arteries are clogged with fat.

How ironic, huh? I guess my parents knew best after all! Thanks, Mom, for all the delicious and healthy meals you cooked me over all the years, and for instilling a healthy nutritional mindset in me. My mind and my body thank you heartily! So does your grandson 😀

What do you do to eat and live healthily? What changes have you made to your diet and/or lifestyle? What has been the hardest to eliminate? Let us know – we are always looking for tips!

Blessings,

Enduring Dad

Get Back to Work!

Hello! It’s been a while since my last post! Since then, we have moved back home from my wife’s parents’ house. It was such a blessing to stay there for a whole month after our son was born! I planned it so we would have a week at home to adjust to life on our own with baby before I had to go back to work.

Back to Work! Now, it’s been just over a week that I’ve returned to work. To tell the truth, I thought I would forget all my work processes and passwords! Thankfully, it was pretty easy to get back into the swing of things…however, that’s because the piles of work reappeared just as before! It’s all good, though…it’s a blessing to have a job I look forward to going to every day.

Meal Train. One of our good friends was gracious enough to set up a meal train for us since we returned home, so we have had plenty of delicious food to eat every day for dinner! Thank you to everyone who has contributed and dropped off food for us and spent time visiting us and the baby! We have really enjoyed seeing everyone, and all the yummy food too. We’ve had everything from tacos, to pho, to sushi, to ramen, to Chipotle! It’s amazing how little time you have left after a long day of work and taking care of baby to do normal things like cook, clean, and do laundry. The meal train has been a huge blessing!

Hopefully, as things settle down here and we get more used to life at home, I will be able to write more. I look forward to it because I have plenty to write about! I hope you are all having a blessed New Year so far! Be sure to comment or reach out if you would like, or if you have suggestions for topics I can write about!

-Enduring Dad

Embracing the Blessing of Community

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One of the biggest things my wife and I have learned on this new journey of parenthood has been the importance of community, especially in the days and weeks following the arrival of our little one.

What We Heard. It’s funny because while my wife was pregnant, we heard from friends and many others that it could be overwhelming to have people visit and contact us regularly. Based on what I heard, I knew it would be my job to be the “gatekeeper” so to speak – deciding who could visit and for how long. I was the one who needed to make sure we all got the rest we needed.

Was It True? While this did play out to be true, it wasn’t true to the extent that we anticipated. My wife’s parents invited us to stay at their home following the delivery, and we initially thought we would be fine on our own; I was taking time off from work and we would tag-team taking care of the baby. Boy, were we wrong! After some post-partum complications, we ended up going to my wife’s parents’ house after all, and have been here ever since!

The Blessing of Family. It’s amazing how God works things out for our good many times and we don’t even realize it until after the fact. Staying here has been the biggest blessing! My wife’s mom and sister have been especially helpful and gracious to help take care of our baby for short stints so that my wife and I can catch up on rest. We have gotten to take short breaks out of the house too, and have even been able to go out on a lunch date! Other things that have been invaluable have been not needing to cook, having a free washer and dryer handy, and having people to talk to/interact with on a daily basis. Praise God!

The Blessing of Friendships. That brings me to my next point: human interaction. We never expected that having my wife’s parents and other family members around so much would be such a blessing. Being introverts by nature, we expected to probably have short visits from family and friends and to just rest in between. However, we have found that we actually enjoy many visits and interactions from friends! Even friends just checking in on us has been great. We really appreciate those of you who have taken time out of your busy schedules to come visit us. For some reason, rather than tiring us out, these visits help invigorate us and break the monotony of feeding, burping, changing, and sleeping. Thank God for our friends!

The Blessing of STEMS. A third blessing that has been wonderful for us has been my wife’s STEMS group at church. STEMS stands for Serving, Training and Empowering Moms. It is a fellowship/ministry group through our church that is for pregnant mothers and those with with kids ages newborn through kindergarten. They provide fellowship, teaching, discussions, creative activities, and even a children’s program while the moms meet weekly. My wife joined last year while she was pregnant, upon the recommendation of a friend from church, and it has been such a blessing to her. She has made new friends, and her STEMS group has been so supportive and encouraging for her before and after all she has gone through. Even though the STEMS season actually completed before our baby was born, they still stay in close contact.

To Sum It Up. All in all, we are truly learning to embrace the blessing of our community through this experience of having a new baby. God has shown us that indeed:

9 Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.

-Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

What has been your experience with community following the birth of your child? Was it easy or difficult to fit friends and family into your schedule? In what ways has God blessed you in the midst of becoming/being parents? Please comment below with your thoughts!

-Enduring Dad

Using K-Dramas to Stay Sane

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Confession: We watch a LOT of Korean dramas.

It started when my wife and I were dating, and continued into our marriage. Now with a newborn baby waking us up multiple times nightly, we find ourselves glued to Viki in the dead of night just to stay awake while feeding and burping.

There is an incredible amount of international dramatic content available online nowadays. My wife and her sister are thoroughly addicted, and I will admit that I love me some family dramas, action/suspense flicks, and even the occasional romantic comedy 😱

Why K-Dramas?

But what is it about these shows that keep us glued to the telly every waking moment? Upon further pondering, here’s what I came up with:

  1. Cultural differences. As Asian Americans, we recognize that Asians in America have different cultural norms and expectations than those in Asian countries like China, Korea, Japan, etc. So we can’t help but be fascinated by watching shows that present a different culture of people that also identify as Asian, but on the other side of the world. Who knows, maybe Asians who live in Asia think our Fresh Off The Boat is equally fascinating!
  2. Character development/flaws. In many of the dramas we watch, we get attached to the characters because of some noble trait we find, or even a character flaw that we the viewers see, but other characters don’t (yet!). It is riveting to see deep secrets, loyalty and betrayal, and unrequited love all unfold within a single series.
  3. Likable cast. Many of the actors and actresses in the dramas we follow are fan favorites and have appeared in multiple series. Some have even been in the business for years and years and are now playing more mature characters, when they used to play adolescents. It is fun to see a familiar-looking actor and feverishly rack our brains, thinking Which drama have we seen this guy in before?!
  4. There’s an ending. It’s interesting to compare American TV shows/dramas to Korean ones. Whereas American shows tend to go on and have season after season with no end in sight, Korean dramas have a definitive beginning, middle, and end. Don’t get me wrong, I was just as addicted to Smallville and House M.D. back in the day as the rest of you, but there is just something oddly satisfying about finishing a Korean drama and searching for the next one to get hooked on for anywhere from 12-60 episodes.

The bottom line. At the end of the day, it’s really just something we do to pass the time. Sure, we get hooked on the characters and the relationships and the suspense, but it’s all just fictional TV after all. But hey, it definitely does help us get through the night when baby decides he wants to cluster feed and poop 3 times in a matter of 3 hours.

How about you? Do any of you watch K-dramas, either casually or religiously? If so, what are some of your favorites? (We just finished Coffee, Do Me A Favor and Ms. Ma, Nemesis). Also, what are some things you do to help you get through a long night of caring for your baby?

OK, our baby is finally asleep…time for us to try to get some sleep too. Oh wait, he’s clustering again! 😭 Time to switch on the next episode of My Only One!

-Enduring Dad

Counting Sheep…

Photo credit: pixabay.com

Being a new parent is tough! Ever since our son was born 20 days ago, my wife and I have marveled at how single parents even survive! We have a new respect for all new parents because once our baby was born, our lives now revolve around our baby’s schedule.

Adjustments: The biggest adjustment we have had to make since becoming parents has been learning to function off very little sleep. Newborns need a lot of nutrition so their little bodies can grow and develop, so they are constantly feeding. Since we are breastfeeding our baby, it is especially hard on my wife.

Enduring Dad Tip: Support your wife and be there for her as much as possible. Whether it’s changing diapers, burping the baby, bringing her snacks, washing baby bottles, or even just a blanket, she will be eternally grateful for your help and presence.

Feeding Schedule: The hospital recommended that we feed the baby every 2-3 hours. Even if he was asleep, especially for the first few days, we were told to wake him to offer him milk. In addition, oftentimes our baby does this thing known as “cluster feeding.” Basically, he will feed, then we will burp him, then change his diaper, and put him down to sleep. Then an hour after his feeding, he will wake up again and want to be fed. Just yesterday, he did this 5 times in a row!

Sleep Is a Luxury: You can imagine how difficult it is to fit in meaningful sleep when all this is going on! Yet somehow we manage, by God’s grace! Even a 30 minute nap is refreshing and welcomed. In our situation, we are also blessed to have the help of my wife’s mom and sister, who give us respite by feeding the baby with pumped breastmilk and changing him at times, giving us some extra precious zzz’s.

We are learning to fit in sleep when we can, and are starting to understand our son’s sometimes erratic feeding schedule, although he loves to throw us for a loop at 2:00am sometimes!

Ok, looks like the baby is finally asleep…for now. I should probably get some shut-eye as well. Goodnight all!

-Enduring Dad

What has been your experience with catching sleep while caring for a newborn? What has worked and what hasn’t? I am curious (and a little desperate) to hear from you!

In the beginning…

You’re probably thinking to yourself, great, another random guy starting a blog about nothing in particular.

In some respects, you are right. I am a “normal” guy living in California who decided to write about his life and random musings. However, I believe that everyone has their own unique story and oftentimes, we can learn from each other as we go through this life.

I don’t claim to know more than any of you or to have mastered any particular subject – all I can offer is my own life experiences and my take on it. Take it or disregard it as you will.

I also believe that God often allows things for reasons we do not realize until sometimes much later on. And when we share our experiences and the lessons we have learned, God can use it to help others grow, even much later on.

So these are the mostly random thoughts of a new father, Christian, happily married husband…and other topics of interest…to me, and maybe to you too.

Blessings,

Enduring Dad