Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Foreign Creatures


Getting Back to Normal

2019-02-10 15.05.16.jpg

I want to make this short and simple so I can get back to my normal creative and adoption content. Since our misplaced adoption last year, it was hard for me to get back to “normal”. We planned our holidays around this baby and planned his homecoming party which was set to be January 5. We didn’t plan much of what would happen after this homecoming so that was our “deadline” on moving on…and it really did help me look ahead. So come January 6 and I was ready to move forward. We’re still hopeful that we will adopt and we’re still in this for the time being. God is good no matter what.


adoption, thoughtsJessica4 Comments
2018-10-31 23.19.19.jpg

On Tuesday we got a text from our agency that they haven’t been able to get in contact with the birthmom and that they’re hoping for a response by the end of the week. That moment I felt so heartbroken. I felt that that was it. Our son wouldn’t be coming home. Our would be son, the boy we called our son will now be an unknown, a stranger.

Yesterday our agency called to tell us that they still haven’t heard anything from the birthmom. Baby was due Oct. 26, we assumed she went to the hospital Nov. 2 because the hospital’s social worker said they couldn’t disclose anything. It was then up to the birthmom to let our agency know what has been happening - but she never called. There’s still no clear answer as to what happened. We assumed that she just changed her mind so we called it done yesterday. We were put back on the adoption waitlist. We were back to where we started.

For the past month, we’ve been saying everyday that this could be the day baby Lee will be born. As the days came closer and then past the due date, Aaron was more hopeful and I was less hopeful…but both feeling anxious. I didn’t want a baby shower and I didn’t want to tell people his name for the fear that this adoption plan would not go thru. I hate that I was right…that I needed to guard my heart in case it didn’t happen. These past 2 months have been so difficult. I never felt so many emotions in such a short amount of time. I would be so hopeful and joyous then an hour later, I would feel my heart aching in anticipation. My eyes have been bruised for crying so much this week. The only thing that stopped me from crying was knowing that crying would make my headache more severe. I was grieving over the loss of a child that was never truly ours.

I want to move on and to not feel sorrowful anymore. I believe a part of that process is to share my feelings into words. That my words and feelings will be out of my head. I also want to share our experience so I will not have to repeat our story for those who ask and who have questions. Because I know once I open my mouth about baby Lee, I will cry.

Much of the pain we’ve been feeling is thinking that we were going to have a child and preparing our hearts and house for him. Another part is because we wanted to let our family and friends be a part of our adoption journey. No matter how careful we were in guarding our hearts, we didn’t think we would feel this sense of sadness.

2018-10-26 09.57.19.jpg

Physically preparing for baby Lee

We prepared our work and church life. Aaron didn’t schedule himself to serve and I told the high school ministry that I wouldn’t be coming back until January. We came up with a work plan and a babysitting plan for the rest of the year. We got our paid family leave documents ready and had a hospital bag in our trunk.

Once we found out we were matched late August, we told ourselves we wouldn’t start buying things until October - just in case something happened. We prepared what we needed and started a registry for our family and close friends. I did a mass clean up of our library room, which would be the nursery. We bought everything we needed - crib, stroller, baby formula, carrier, and just everything. We set up all the furniture, made pillows, artwork, had our friends help us set up the crib, and I bought the cutest, hippest clothes from H&M and Zara…even though he wouldn’t fit in it until he was a year old. I’ve always wanted to buy baby clothes even before we were matched. And now that we were matched, I had the freedom to buy baby clothes. I researched cloth diapers, what detergent we needed for them, and washed and cleaned all the clothes and items that will be in contact with him. We finished the nursery room 2 weeks before the due date. We were so ready. All we needed was our son to come home.

Emotionally preparing for baby Lee

We didn’t want to get too excited too early, which was difficult for us. We were so excited to be parents after 2.5 years of waiting to be parents. I wrote a letter to the birthmom that I hoped to give her when the baby was born. I wrote that we’ve been praying for her, what his name is and how we came up with it, and that if she ever needs to reach out to us, we are here.

As it came closer to his due date, we dreamt how we would have him for Thanksgiving and Christmas. That we would not be able to travel and take trips for the next couple of months…and that gave us so much joy. We wanted to be home with the baby and bond with him. We were looking forward to taking him to church and loving him. I would imagine holding him in my arms and joke with Aaron the different ways I would hold him with the new swaddle I bought. I would pretend to change him in our Noah’s basket. I would occasionally walk into the nursery, turn on our dimmer lights (that my dad helped us install for those late night feedings), open drawers to make sure we have all the items we needed, and leave the room to tell Aaron how that room will soon be occupied by a baby. My heart was ready and open in caring for a child who’s DNA was not ours. I feared I wouldn’t be able to bond with him but even thru that fear, I was excited to finally be a mom.

Rooting for us

We first told our immediate family that we were matched. We then slowly told our close friends and then to the people who knew we were adopting - my coworkers, my Sunday School co-teachers, and even the pastoral staff. We wanted people to know and to not be surprised one day when we show up to church with a baby. We wanted people to pray for us. We wanted people to know of God’s goodness to us. We wanted people to know that adoption is so special to us and we wanted to share the joys of it (and now the challenges and difficulties of it). I was excited that our baby will be born the same season our other friends were expecting. That we will be parents together and have our kids in the same grade.

Around the due date, our friends would ask us if we had any updates, if the baby is here yet…I loved knowing that they cared, that they wanted to be a part of this journey with us. I felt so loved…but as the days went by without hearing any updates ourselves, I’ve dreaded hearing their concerns and questions. We had a whole team praying and rooting for us. The difficulty now is knowing that we have to explain to our family and friends that there is in fact no baby. The baby that we have been joyfully priding over and ready to show the world, is in fact not here.

Loss of a child

I was never pregnant nor did we ever miscarry. I don’t understand the feeling of losing a child who was in me. But I do still feel a sense of loss. I shared that I felt some sense of loss the 2nd call we received from our agency. I cried that time from thinking that we could be parents in a 2 day span. But in this case, I felt like we were going to be parents for 2 months. Because we physically and emotionally prepared for this baby, and then he never came to us…I feel empty.

If we were to bring home the baby, the birthmom would have this sense of loss. There’s no win-win in this situation. We need to be hopeful to know that the child is where he’s suppose to be.

Now we rest

We’ve been spending the past couple of days sharing our sadness, eating out, going to Disneyland, and sharing our lessons from this. This weekend we plan to put away all the baby stuff away into the closet and to move the crib from our room to the nursery. We’re still not okay. But I’m hoping writing this will help me thru this process. I plan to take it easy, to take a break from work, and to create art. Maybe even take on a new project. Not sure. I’m heartbroken. But I’m trying to find hope in God. To remember that He is faithful. That I don’t need kids to be happy in life. That that’s not the end goal.

Aaron and I have each other. He tells me it’s okay to cry and to tell him that I’m sad. He told me he loves me more than ever. I am confident that thru this difficulty we will be fine and will love each other and God more. We knew this adoption journey will be tough. Not this tough, but tough. We know that some people won’t understand why we chose to adopt first. Even thru all this, we still want to adopt. We just don’t know what our next plan is.

An Ugly Waiting Mom

adoption, thoughtsJessicaComment

This post was written 2 months before being matched. It’s been in my drafts but I still think it’s very important to share. There’s the good and the bad and here you will see my downfalls.

It's been almost 28 months since we’ve been a waiting family. Though we have a strong desire to adopt, we have moments of wanting to stop the process and to try having biological children. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been pregnant for 28 months. Just waiting for the baby to come.

We've struggled a lot in this adoption process and a lot of the feelings I've had are sinful. And I want to share my struggles here while I live thru it rather than after I lived thru it. Get ready for the real raw mean Jess. I'm not saying I constantly hold this bitterness and cruel attitude but I do have bad days.

I want to note that these are MY feelings as a waiting mom. I know there are other waiting parents who have their own struggles and some other couples who wrestle with their own struggles of infertility and the like. I want to be real about an aspect of the adoption process and the challenges that goes with adopting EVEN BEFORE actually adopting.

I won't like Instagram photos of my pregnant friends or photos of their baby
I see it and sometimes I will like it and sometimes I will keep on scrolling. It’s difficult for me to be happy.

I won't go to your baby shower
Sometimes I go and sometimes I don't. I don't feel bad if I already have plans on the baby shower date. That would actually be a relief and would be easier for me to decline the invite and to not even allow myself to be jealous.

Mother's Day/Father's Day
These days are a reminder that I'm not yet a mom and Aaron is not yet a dad. This day was hard for me our first year of waiting. This year’s Mother's Day was better but I know I intentionally didn't wish mothers at our church Happy Mother's Day.

Don’t tell me “enjoy your life without kids now because soon you won’t have the time” or “you’ll understand when you’re a parent”
My friend who is also dealing with waiting to be a parent shared this with me and I can totally relate! I actually don’t want to have more time to sleep! I want those sleepless nights you guys talk about and I want my days to be centered on only the kids.

Looking at other waiting families
Our agency has a waiting family portal. When I’m really struggling with adoption, I would go to that website and see which families are “new” to our agency or who are still there. We’re all on the list and we all have a rank by how long we’ve been with the agency. Sometimes I see why a family isn’t up there or I see a family that was there when we started the adoption process and they’re on their 2nd adoption already! This is such a dangerous thing to do. Why do I do it?! Sometimes I need some confirmation from other families who are adopting. Sometimes I do it in hopes of seeing less people on the website, which may increase our chances of adopting.

I guess I should end this post on a happy note. This whole adoption process has given me a new perspective on parents who are waiting to adopt or can’t have a child that easily. I feel more sensitive to those who are also waiting. And when I do have a kid, I want to avoid these pitfalls and be sensitives to couples without kids or even singles who are not married but want to.

We got matched!

adoption, thoughtsJessica2 Comments
Us right before meeting the birthmom

Us right before meeting the birthmom

Our adoption timeline

God is faithful and takes care of us. And the best way I can tell our story is with a timeline.

January 2009 - Aaron and I started dating

January 2013 - Aaron and I get engaged

July 2013 - Aaron and I get married

November 2015 - Aaron and I attend our first adoption informational mtg.

January 2016 - Aaron and I start the adoption process/paperwork

March 2016 - Aaron and I are officially approved to adopt domestically and are a waiting family.

June 2016 - We get a call that there’s a 4 yo boy who needs a family (it didn’t go thru)

March 2018 - We get a call that there’s a newborn who needs a family (it didn’t go thru)

August 24 2018 - We get a call that a birthmom wants to meet us

August 29 2018 - We met with the birthmom and she chose us to parent

October 26 2018 - Expected due date of our baby boy

Even with this timeline, so much more has happened that showed us God’s power and will for us. And I would love to share it with you all! Somehow, someday. There’s so much to share about God’s love for us. And that’s a great thing.

Meeting the birthmom

We were so nervous meeting the birthmom. So many questions run thru my head like should I hug her when I meet her or shake her hand? Will this be THE ONE? Will she like us? Will she pick us? What will she look like? If we get matched, will this be the ONLY time I meet my future kids’ birthmom? How will I remember everything? How will she respond if I ask her why she chose adoption? Will she tell us anything about her history? It’s a floodgate of unanswered questions and so so so many emotional feelings before meeting her. Adoption is such a special journey and I cry thinking about it. It is so hard on so many levels.

We won’t be sharing much about the birthmom to respect her privacy and our family’s privacy. I’m still trying to figure out how to say this when our family and friends ask us about the history of our baby boy. What we will share is that he is a boy, it is a closed adoption, and you will find out about his ethnicity when he is born.

We’re matched, now what?

And now that we are matched I have many other questions! Will she change her mind? How much do I love my baby boy right now? If I pour my whole heart in this, in the end will I be devastated if it doesn’t happen? How invested should I be? Who should I tell? How do I handle the issues of his identity when he grows up? Will he be accepted in our community? How do I protect him? Will I be able to bond with him?

Why we’re not sharing his name and ethnicity

His name is special to us. The Sunday before we met with the birthmom, we decided on a name for our son. We previously came up with 5 names for our 5 future kids but we decided to explore other options. On that Sunday we came up with a name. We came up with a middle name the 2nd potential adoption plan call we received from our agency. A couple days after we came up with the first name, I called our agency to ask where we will be meeting the pregnancy counselor and the birthmom. She gave me an address, I looked it up, and the name of the place is the same name we chose for our son on that Sunday. And after we got matched, we decided to keep that name.

Why are we not telling people his name? 1. it’s nice to have some secrets kept between us and 2. I’m still guarding my heart for this adoption. I feel like sharing the name makes it more real that this is OUR SON. But in reality, nothing is confirmed. Only a verbal agreement. Once the baby is born, the birthmom will have to sign a paper that relinquishes her rights. Then that paper will be sent to Sacramento then we will officially be parents. I just don’t feel ready to say his name to people thinking that he is OUR BABY. I know I said it several times in this post but that’s the struggle I’m dealing with. How much investment should I be having? And if this does happen, I wouldn’t want to rob our boy of the love he could’ve gotten from me. I would want him to know that I loved him even if he ends up not being my son. That I tried my best.

What about his ethnicity? The simple answer is that it’s not important that you know. If I tell you his ethnicity, am I just filling your curiousity? Does it matter what ethnicity he is? In our application, we put that we are open to any ethnicity. It would be great if we did have a diverse family. But if God doesn’t will it then we’ll be happy with that too - because it doesn’t matter what our family looks like. But whether he’s asian, black, white, hispanic, indian, or whatever he is…he’s going to be a part of our family. He will first be known as our son. Not our adopted son. Not labeled by his ethnicity of being a white (or whatever ethnicity) son in a Chinese family.

I’m also saying it’s not not important though. His culture and identity is a part of him and it’s not something I want to take away from him. I want to expose him to his roots. I want to learn about his history and I want him to embrace his history and roots.

Our journey

These are the most common questions we’ve been getting and my general feelings. This journey isn’t over yet. And when we bring our baby home, the journey continues. When we share our story to our family and friends, I don’t want to forget the 2.5 years of journey we went thru. Yes, the end is happy but the journey to get here was so telling.

In the end, all these questions I have will not matter. All these fears that has built up will be none if I trust God and lean on Him. I know that God will take care of my family whether or not this happens. But I share all this with you to share of God’s provision for our family.

A New Perspective on Our Adoption Journey

adoption, thoughtsJessica6 Comments
2018-07-15 16.33.33.jpg

Just recently did I see our adoption journey in a new light. For the past month there has been a lot of events, commitment, and changes going on in our life. I started a new part-time job as a Visual Communications and Designer at our church (which I love), styled 2 birthday parties, interior designing a friends' house, and serving at another church doing children's music. And this has been only 1 month! I am so grateful for these blessings and the time and opportunity to do these things. The best thing is that I LOVE doing all of this. We are so busy and our calendar has no empty time slots but even so, I'm not stressed, our marriage is going well, and we're constantly looking for new opportunities to host events and do more. God is definitely providing for us and giving us the energy and heart to serve.

I use to see us doing things as an in between before we have a child - "while we wait, let's own a poke and boba shop", "before we have a kid, let's host more parties and invite people over". There was this time to "kill" while we waited to be parents. My mentality was that we needed to stay busy to help us with the waiting period - we just need to ride it out. BUT now there's a new perspective - we get to do all these things BECAUSE we are adopting. It took me over 2 years to figure out all these blessings in life is because we want to adopt.

Instruments we prepared for for the children's church retreat we served at.

Instruments we prepared for for the children's church retreat we served at.

If we didn't go on this adoption journey and tried to have kids biologically, maybe we wouldn't have gotten all these opportunities. Our time would have been much more limited. Maybe I wouldn't have gotten to be a staff at church. I would probably be too busy planning my own kids' birthday parties to help plan other kids' birthday parties. Even helping my friend design her house...I was the one who asked her because I thought it was fun. I'm so happy she said yes and that she trusts me! Interior designing is just a hobby of mine and when I saw this opportunity to JUST DO IT FOR FUN, I jumped on it. I have time so why not do things I won't normally be able to do.

God knows the plans He has for us. He knew our desire and passion for arts, to stay creative, and to do things we love while we waited to adopt. He knows our longing to be parents but these past 2 years have been so incredible without a kid too!

When God calls us to have a kid (and I hope it's thru adoption), I know that these past 2+ years of these blessings in life is BECAUSE of this baby. We have a lot to be thankful for for this one baby we have been waiting for. Adoption isn't easy but sometimes God reveals and grants us peace and patience in no other way.

Snociety's Goodbye Party and the Unexpected Call

restaurant, adoptionJessicaComment
Video by Terrence.

It's been 1.5 months since we closed Snociety and MAN OH MAN has it been a great 1.5 months. We had our Snociety Goodbye party on March 31st and it was great to see so many of our family and friends who came out to support us and to celebrate this part of our journey. Aaron and I discussed how it felt like our wedding. I love parties and I really enjoyed the day with everyone.

But there's a story that I want to share that happened at the end of that party.

At 6pm that night (after the party was over), I got a text from our adoption agency asking us if she can call us within the hour to discuss a potential baby who's ready to be adopted. My initial thought was "are you serious? We literally just ended Snociety and we MIGHT have a baby". I was in shock and in awe in God's timing for even the possibility of adopting that night.

Our social worker called us to tell us about the situation of the baby. He was a newborn and was ready to be discharged from the hospital on Sunday (the next day). There were 2 circumstances we needed to be aware of regarding this baby. After the call we told her we'd pray about it and let her know in the morning if we are open in adopting this baby. The birthparents chose 3 families out of all the family portfolios that were shown to them so now it was up to the social worker to let those families know about the case to see if they were open to adopting this baby.

The next morning we called back our agency and said yes we are open to adopting the baby. We were told that we'd receive another call that night if the baby will be coming home with us that night or if they decided to choose another family. Our lives has already changed in anticipation for this baby boy. Last April we almost adopted a 4 year old but the guardians decided not to choose adoption in the end. We knew that we had to guard our hearts since there were 2 other families that the birthparents could end up choosing. We also had to prepare ourselves in the case that the birthparents did choose us as the adopted family. We packed our car with a carseat on Sunday and decided on a middle name for the baby. We have the first name chosen but still needed a middle name for our first child.

We were at church on Sunday and ended up skipping the worship service because we were so nervous and anxious. We went to McDonald's for lunch then went to Aaron's parents house to chill there while we waited for the call from our agency. I didn't want to talk to anyone that day. I was just so nervous and played so many different scenarios in my head. I took a nap that afternoon and felt my eyes fluttering as I slept. That night we also celebrated my brother and my birthday with my family. They knew our situation and was hoping we'd be chosen as well. We got the call in the middle of our dinner at 7pm and was told that the birthparents chose another family.

I was okay. A part of me didn't want to get chosen because I knew I had a Chicago and Florida trip planned in the month of April. I also wanted a 2 month sabbatical to take care of our home, myself, and to focus on our marriage. So a part of me felt relieved that I would still get to vacation and take on my personal projects. The other part of me was wondering how amazing it would be to become a parent that night (it wouldn't be finalized and there are other things attached to taking a baby home but basically we'd be parenting). I knew it could be many more months or years until we adopt a child. We just really don't know.

It wasn't until 6 days later I felt the weight of it and cried at home while cleaning. I was so sad. I wanted that baby to be ours and wish they'd chosen us. I tried to distract myself by keeping busy and watching tv. But even thru it all I cried the whole time. I couldn't even go to Aaron to tell him of my struggles. It was only until he came downstairs when he saw me crying that I told him how sad I was. Even though I knew this baby wasn't in God's plan for us, there's still a loss and sadness that comes with the possibility of adopting. That was the last day I cried about this case.

We know what we're getting ourselves into in this adoption journey. It's not easy and there are so many unknowns. And if you know me, I don't work well with unknowns. I need a plan and I need to see what our future looks like in a year or in five. We're going to continue to trust in God's plan. This really showed us how God's timing is perfect and that only He knows what's best for us. I think God is preparing our hearts to be ready for our baby and I want to be as ready as I can be. Aaron and I can't help to think why God would lead us through the adoption journey, owning Snociety, being part-time at my job, and just being where we are at this moment.

Snociety: Ending this Project of Ours

restaurant, adoptionJessicaComment

March 30 will be our last day of owning a restaurant. Aaron and I are so grateful for this opportunity and for the support from our family and friends. And we are very very happy with this decision! It's almost bittersweet but more sweet. It's like 75% sweet (that's a boba joke).

There are so many things I still want to share and that will just have to be saved for later even after Snociety no longer exists. Our shop had a lease of 3 years, we have been here for a year and a half. We had to make a decision to renew the lease or just stop Snociety late last year since our lease ends this March. Here are 2 reasons (in very short explanation even though it's really not) why we have decided to close shop. In all of this, we don't regret owning a restaurant at all.

  1. Difficulty in the Future
    1. We've had to learn how to run a business in every aspect - financial, payroll, inventory, operations, management, marketing, and like everything else you would do in a company but just in a smaller scale. I enjoyed being the hr and being the boss but can I keep doing this for another year or 3 (per agreement based on lease)? Probably not considering our current lifestyle and future dreams.
    2. Increase in food/labor - fish prices are increasing and minimum wage is increasing ($15/hour by 2020). It's already hard enough to sustain what we have currently. I never raised the price on the food or drinks since we took over. As a consumer, I didn't like that move. So I tried my best to offset the cost elsewhere. Aaron and I were putting in over 80 hours a weeks combined at the shop while still having our other jobs. God has really given us strength to endure the labor. We needed to be there physically for financial reasons as explained in point 3.
    3. Fees everywhere - besides labor, food, and rent costs, there are so many costs that keep popping up everywhere! Workmen's comp, merchant costs, CC fees, LADWP, internet, business renewal tax, equipments, insurance, like how is this possible. The only way we make money is if people buy food/drinks. So a percentage of what you pay is divided among all the things I just listed and more. As a business owner, please consider that when you pay for your next meal. It's tough. Also, cash is everyone's best friend. Those CC fees kill.
    4. People - I've been hiding so many feelings inside. When a customer gets mad, I have to accept it. When an employee gets mad, I can't just say what I want to say. There are so many labor laws to follow and the "right" thing to say and do to not get in trouble. The government is on the employees side. I don't feel supported as an employer in California. That's right! Unsupported and no slack. Little Tokyo can be great at times but we've also had homeless people problems in our area. We didn't want to deal with that anymore.
  2. Time to Move On
    1. Owning a restaurant or shop is and was one of our dreams. Not necessarily poke but boba all the way. We feel grateful that we got to say we owned a restaurant in our lifetime. But this was never our dream. We took over the restaurant from someone else. We feel like we were continuing the previous owners' dream. We still got to live part of our dream but we would love to be able to have a shop more east, with a clean slate, with a better drink menu, and designed to how we want it to be. We were constricted by that here because of cost and time. We were already trying to learn how to run a business that we didn't feel like it was the right time to make it completely ours. I'm happy with our decision because it was the best thing we could do for ourselves.
    2. Family - we're still waiting on adoption and we hope we can have a child this year or the next. It's hard to say when, but it would be extremely difficult for us to have a child and own a restaurant at the same time. One of the main reasons why we wanted Snociety was to distract us while we waited to be matched with a baby. It certainly worked and we were very distracted. But our main goal is still to have a family and focus on that. Family is our main dream. A restaurant is not.

I've been counting down the days and I am thrilled to have done this project and to move on to something new. We've been asked what we are going to do after Snociety ends. We still have our normal jobs and we want to start a new project. But in the month of April and June we are going to rest, refocus, and do fun stuff! More on that to come.

Waiting for a Year

thoughts, adoptionJessicaComment

Last March we were officially a waiting family for adopting. It feels so long that we've been waiting and I can't believe it's been a year. We just completed our recertification and we had our social worker come to our home to inspect and to talk to us about how things are going.

We're still unsure how long we are willing to wait until we try to have kids biologically. It's difficult to be patient especially when our friends around us are pregnant and have kids. We're trying to trust in God's timing and plan for us. I say try because we struggle with the wait and I tend to lean on what I think our future plans look like. I would like to think we'd have 5 kids before Aaron is 40. I would like to believe that we would adopt domestically and internationally for as long as we can and if the funds are there. I would like to believe that God has adoption in our future plans. But we really don't know. There's a burden in my heart for adoption so I wonder why God would allow me to feel this tug if in the end, He doesn't even allow us to adopt. So I try to trust in God's plan for us.

I think why would God give us a family if it's still difficult to bring two sinners together. Or why would God give us a family when we have so much going on. Bringing a child into our lives right now just doesn't seem like the right time. Aaron and I decided to buy a restaurant to focus our efforts and desire on something besides adoption. But now that we have it and understand how much work is put into it, it seems impossible to have a child right now while we're running a restaurant. So is God waiting for us to have this restaurant thing established and consistent? Or is God building our patience? Maybe God wanted us to go thru adoption just so we can own this shop. Or maybe God's plan for us isn't even about the shop or adoption. So what will He do with our lives?