Breast Engorgement and the Love of God

It’s a little weird writing about breasts in a Christian-themed blog, but I am a doctor so I can get away with it. Plus you can’t see me giggle and blush.

Throughout pregnancy, a woman’s breast can increase 1-2 cup sizes as the tissue changes in anticipation for milk production and breastfeeding. It’s quite remarkable really what the body is capable of to care for the new life on the way. Sometimes though, if breastfeeding does not go well, they can become painfully engorged.

While my breast tissue has remained the same (thank goodness), I feel like my heart has undergone an engorgement of sorts. I’m not talking about a cardiomyopathy of pregnancy (which could happen to moms), but it seems like in emotional capacity, and even ability, my heart has grown. It’s a change both in quantity and quality.

Quantitatively, there has been just a huge surge of emotions, especially after the delivery, but even in the months leading to the big day. A couple weeks ago I was reading a children’s book to Priscilla’s belly, and right in the middle I started to cry. And not a burning-behind-my-eyes manly cry, but tears actually broke free, sliding ever so tenderly down my cheeks. Where in the world did that come from? I can’t even remember the last time I had real tears. Just looking at Ansley doing nothing but sleep, I am sometimes overwhelmed by how much I love this little thing.

And this love is different. Qualitatively, it’s a different form– a purer form — of love than I have experienced. The love I have for my parents and for Priscilla comes close, but even that love has been influenced by their actions towards me. Of course I love my wife, but I didn’t love Priscilla the first time I laid my eyes on her. If I did, it would have been quite creepy since she was just a junior higher. For sure I love my parents, but much of that I think has to do with the care and love they have shown me. That’s conditional love.

But Ansley has existed for less than a week and has done nothing but eat, sleep, poop, and cry all night. Yet I know I love her and will love her no matter what (check back with me in her teenage years and I hope this is still true). It’s the closest thing I have come to experiencing pure, unconditional love.

They say that the love of a parent for his or her child is the closest thing we can get to understanding the unconditional love that God has for us. It’s no surprise, then, that one of the major pictures of God in the Bible is that of God the Father, and we as His children. Unfortunately, because of our fallenness, there are many broken families. As a consequence, there are many broken pictures of God.

Christian parents, we have the task of redeeming the picture of God’s unconditional love for us through our love for our children. A professor said in class once, “Our role as parents is to give our kids the most appropriate picture of God so that when ‘God comes around,’ they will recognize Him.”

By the way we love our kids, our kids will be introduced to their heavenly Father, and those around will catch a glimpse too. When they read about the amazing love of God, that love will seem familiar, inviting, because they have already felt it from you. John 3:16 would not just be a cliche, but an experience based in reality. Parenthood really is a high calling, your prayers are much appreciated.

To all my recently married Christian friends, do take some time to enjoy marriage and build up your relationship before the babies come. But don’t wait too long though. The world needs more examples of God’s unconditional love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

A Different Christmas Experience

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It is long overdue for a post, sorry. Life has been pretty crazy getting ready for the new year, and for the new addition to the family! Thanksgiving felt like just last week, how is it Christmas already??

This year, Priscilla and I wanted to do something different for Christmas. Since we already have so much, we decided not to give each other gifts. Not that we are against gifts, but we wanted to try to recapture at least a little bit of what Christmas is about by not making it all about us. After all, we are celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus, who, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phil 2:6-7).

For Jesus, Christmas is about emptying Himself for the sake of others, ultimately dying for our sins. Obviously there is nothing we can do that can come even remotely close to that, but we wanted to take the time to bless someone else as Christ has blessed us. There’s a homeless man that I drive by almost daily on my way to work that God had been prompting me on more than one occasion to talk to, but I never mustered up the courage to obey. We decided to make a simple care package and share breakfast with him.

It was a really cool time just chatting with him and learning a part of his story as we ate some Jack-in-the-Box breakfast. He has been on the streets for three years ever since the factory he was working at shut down. We didn’t spend a long time together, but enough for me to realize that it is much easier to ignore someone in need when you don’t know anything about him.

I write this not to say we did some amazing thing; it really wasn’t much. It took a major Christian holiday to get me to do something Christians really should be doing on a regular basis. But I write this as a reminder to myself of how much more I still need to grow to love others as Christ loves.

Charles Spurgeon writes, “Immanuel-God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our daily work, in our punishment, in our death, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendor” (Morning and Evening). Just as Christ left all the comforts of heaven and entered into our world to give us hope, we are called to step out of our comfort zones and enter into the lives of those around us to be God’s hands and feet to point to the living hope.

Merry Christ to all, and I pray this new year can challenge us and grow us to love as God loves.

Wrench in the Plans – Big announcement!

Since one year has passed since the book was published, I decided to read through the book again to see what my impression would be a little more removed from the initial writing.  Thankfully I still stand by what I have written.

Actually I was pleasantly surprised. Not to be prideful, but the book is pretty good! I’m surprised I wrote some of that, thank you Holy Spirit. Not that I thought what I wrote was trash before, but it’s hard not to be insecure about something that is out there for the world to read (albeit the size of that world that has actually read it is pretty small).

I came across this quote and I had to chuckle a bit.

“I am not sure what the future will look like, especially if little Jacks and Priscillas come into the picture. At the rate I’m taking classes, it will take me six years to finish this two-year seminary MA program. Maybe I’ll only be able to take one or two years of classes and have to call it quits. Perhaps I’ll love it so much I’ll take ten years and get the full Master of Divinity degree. Maybe God will grow our church and I’ll end up in full-time ministry. Or maybe the ministry will fizzle out and I’ll focus mostly on patient care, who knows. I’m not very used to living with such uncertainty, but there has been such an intimacy with God that I haven’t experienced in a long while” (Pg 14).

Well, it’s been about two years since I first wrote that, and the uncertainty continues! I just started the third year of my six year plan at seminary, but looks like a little wrench has been thrown into my plans. A cute one I’m sure and hopefully she looks more like Priscilla than me. Introducing the next big uncertainty!

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photo and design by Tanya Liu. Thanks!

If you pray, please keep us in your prayers! And if you have any good tips on raising girls, send those my way too.

My Baby is 1 Year Old!

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Ok not a real baby, but it’s been 1 year since the book release! Gosh they grow up so fast.

It really has been an incredible year. I’m so thankful to God for the people who encouraged me to write the book, and those that have encouraged me since its publishing. I’m still insecure about my writing so I am grateful for the affirmation.

I want to do a special shout-out to Dr. Dina Brent, a pediatrician who works for the Los Angeles Christian Health Centers. Next to my dad, she has purchased the most books and has been my biggest promoter even though we have never met! It was great to finally meet you and your husband recently. Thank you so much for your support! By the way, if any of you are interested in underserved care in a Christian context, LACHC has great shadowing opportunities.

My prayer for this book is that it can just be helpful for those on the medical path. Please pray that God can continue to use this the way He wants, and that I can still be open and willing to go through doors that He opens, even if the path isn’t what I envisioned.

Thanks again to all who have bought a book. Please continue to share the word to others you think might benefit. Check out the Facebook page for a chance to win a free book for a friend!

Speaking of babies, stayed tuned for some updates…

 

 

Beat my Swing Coptors score?

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Ok it’s not that high but I am pretty darn proud of it. It took many bathroom sessions to accomplish this.

Sorry I haven’t posted for quite a while. It is kind of sad that the first post on return is about an app game, but I think I just need something to get the creative juices flowing again.

From the maker of Flappy Birds comes another instrument of torture, Swing Coptors! I must say that this is quite the infuriating game. I haven’t gotten this worked up over losing since Mario Kart and Street Fighter 2 Turbo on the SNES. I usually don’t get into these app crazes, but this game is strangely addictive.

If you haven’t played, you control this little guy wearing a beanie coptor hat, and with each tap he switches directions. It sounds and looks easy, but it gets tricky because the further he goes in one direction, his momemtum makes it harder to get him to straighten out. Those swinging hammer things don’t help either. The game was so hard that an update was created to make it easier.

Given how much time I have already wasted on this game, I should try to redeem that by drawing out some spiritual insights. The most frustrating part of the game is trying to get the guy to go the direction you want. Once he gets going towards one direction, if you are too slow, then it’s almost impossible to get him to switch back without crashing into the wall.

Trying to fly this guy through these little openings brought to my mind Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:13: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”

This verse is a reminder that the Christian walk isn’t easy, that yes salvation is found through faith and grace alone, but after one enters into faith, there’s a lifestyle of godliness that accompanies genuine faith that we are to grow into as the Holy Spirit gradually sanctifies us.

Even with a regenerate heart, our sinful tendencies still pull us to one side and the other, and to make things worse, Satan throws in those swinging hammers from time to time to knock us down. But praise be to God that we don’t have to do life on our own power, that there is the Holy Spirit that lives in us to call us back to the straight and narrow.

Just as it got easier to control the little guy the more I played, the more we practice walking in step with the Spirit, the easier it will be to turn quickly from sin and remain on the right path. And for those who stray and get knocked down, my prayer is that you (and me) will get back up and start again, each and every time.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateveryou want… Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16-25

By the way, I think the maker got the idea for this game from me. I’ve been drawing “Beanie Man” since Junior High.

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The Hardest Thing About Medicine

     If you ever wonder about a patient’s prognosis, you can make use of the “Niceness” test. Is your patient a really sweet lady with a breast lump who has young kids and volunteers in her free time? It probably is a malignant cancer. Is your patient a selfish jerk who has made poor decisions resulting in a decline of his health? He’ll probably be fine for awhile. It seems like more often than not, the nicer your patient is, the poorer his or her outcome will be.
     Obviously I’m being facetious, but there’s an element of truth in that jest that hits a little too close to home. You don’t have to go to medical school to be hit with the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” You’ll just get it a lot during your training. Sure residency is physically challenging with the ungodly work hours, but I actually think the hardest thing about being a doctor is the emotional toll of seeing suffering firsthand day after day.
     And if you believe in God, nothing shakes your faith more than struggling personally with suffering. Sadly, many have walked away from their faith because they are not able to reconcile the idea of a loving God with the existence of evil. It’s hard to tell someone that God loves them when they just found out they had cancer, or when their loved one passed away. But God does love us, and His existence actually gives meaning to suffering. If God doesn’t exist, the reality is that suffering still does, and hardships that come would then just be a matter of bad luck. [1]
     I don’t know why some people get better, but some people die from their illness. I don’t know why kids are born with disabilities, or why some don’t make it at all. But I do know that if God did not exist, that all the suffering I see from day to day is the result of random chance, then I wouldn’t want to be a doctor.
     The promise of the resurrection is that there is more to this life than random chance and bad luck. There is a God who is sovereign over all evil and even uses it ultimately for the good of those who love Him. There is a God who entered into our suffering in order to restore our relationship with Him so that one day we can enjoy life as it was intended, without tears, pain, shame, sin, and death. Happy Easter everyone!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5


[1] For a great treatment of the problem of evil, see this article by Stand to Reason.