Happy Lunar New Year! Last week my family celebrated Chinese New Year with a family dinner and red envelopes filled with money from my parents. My mom gave clear instructions to place the red envelopes under our pillows on Monday evening. If we didn’t the money would not be lucky.
I looked forward to this year for many reasons, including being born in the year of Pig along with my firstborn daughter. If you can do simple math you can figure out how old I am (there are 12 years in the Chinese zodiac) and how old my daughter is. Someone wrongly said that I was twelve when I had my daughter (umm, add another cycle of the zodiac please).
It’s a year of milestones for the Chang family.
Four Decades with Psoriasis
Forty years with psoriasis. I’m trying to let that sink in for a minute. I know it’s not a world record for longevity with this autoimmune condition. Yet, the weight of almost 15,000 days with itchy, scaly skin feels heavy on my mind and heart. So many of those days I felt depressed, beaten, and lost. Some days felt extremely long, like a week or month in itself.
I’m grateful today, though, for much better treatments and control. I’m glad for opportunities to write and advocate for others living with psoriasis for just a few days or years, to those who endured more decades than one can count on a hand.
I also see that life marched on with psoriasis. I graduated from high school 30 years ago. I got married 25 years ago, and began pastoring churches 20 years ago. My youngest turns 18 in a few weeks, while my oldest turns 24 in a few months. These round numbers represent the passage of a significant amount of time and markers that beg notice as the days whiz by.
Most of all, I survived. At times I even achieved goals and thrived. Through it all my faith sustained me. I’m not an overly demonstrative person, but this year it’s time to celebrate making it this far and all that is to come.
Calendar of Milestones
In looking forward to this year, 2019 and the Year of the Boar, here are some upcoming events we are all excited about.
March: Youngest Daughter Aleta’s 18th Birthday
When Aleta arrived I thought about the day when she would turn eighteen and graduate from high school. That day would mark the day my three children entered adulthood. It also would mean Lori and I could fully embrace the “second half” of our lives. That day comes on March 5th!
April: Lori’s 50th Birthday
My wife Lori celebrates the biggest birthday of the family, her fiftieth. She doesn’t like to dwell on this much, but I do hope she can fully tell her story one day of these fifty years. She’s a remarkable person who endured the effects of spina bifida at birth and later depression and anxiety. Her next fifty years will be a triumph of God’s grace.
June: Aleta’s High School Graduation
By mid-June Aleta should know which college she will attend in the fall. But first, there is the matter of graduating from Davis Senior High School with the class of 2019. For her graduation trip the family plans to visit Oregon, including the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon.
Howard’s 30th High School Reunion and 48th Birthday
I received a message from a high school friend about the upcoming reunion for Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord, California. I haven’t replied yet. Don’t know if I’ll be able to attend, but nonetheless the thought of high school brings back all flurry of memories.
Lydia’s Year of the Pig Birthday
Lydia transferred to UC Davis this school year, a dream realized after five years of community college and the same number of hospitalizations. I’m proud of her perseverance living with bipolar disorder and all the challenges that brings to her daily life. She started a research internship at the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis and has a bright future ahead. You can read her inspiring blog here.
August: 20th Year as a Pastor
Lori can attest to the fact that I wanted to quit ministering in churches many times. But I started out on August 1, 1999 with a mission to help churches be places of healing, community, and spiritual nurture centered around prayer and the Bible. Although lots of hardships come with church work, I think back on weddings, memorial services, baptisms, newborn visits, caring for the sick, and the many friendships I developed. It’s all worth it.
If you’re interested in learning more about me as a pastor click here.
On a hot summer day, August 13, 1994, in San Jose, California I married the love of my life, Lori Croup. We met at UC Davis in a college fellowship and became acquainted through leading a small group in my off campus appointment. We’ve parented, ministered, struggled, and grown together from our twenties until now. Looking forward to another 25 years of marriage, God willing.
September: Teddy the Terrier’s 10th Birthday
Teddy is our first dog after many cats. He’s a great companion (especially to Lori) with a sensitive heart. He seems to know who is feeling down and instinctively goes to them. We’re blessed to have to him.
November: Son Tim’s 20th Birthday
This birthday will be an emotional one. Tim almost died of HLH a few years ago. If you haven’t read his story, you can find it on my column at Everyday Health titled “My Son’s Week-Long Fever Turned Into a Rare Disease.” Now he’s doing great in college and helping out at church.