Author Archives: TJ Poon

Prototype: A Book Review

When I describe to friends how I know of Jonathan Martin I typically say, “He’s a pastor I follow on Twitter who’s not an ass.” While “not an ass” may not seem like much of a compliment, it is actually a rare distinction. Many Christian leaders, despite what they may intend, just come off as total jerks on social media. I find it to be so common that when I see a person who doesn’t fall into that category, I take notice.

As I saw that his tweets and blog posts were consistently theologically deep, critical of the status quo and yet gracious and gentle without fail, I knew that I was encountering something special. When he announced that he was working on a book, there was no question that it would go to the top of my list.

In Prototype, his voice is consistent with everything else I’ve read from him. The book packs a theological punch while remaining deeply personal. I read the entire book in just a couple of sittings – that’s how readable it is. However, as I have been away from it for a few days, I find myself wanting to go back and read more slowly, taking some extra time to digest the things that were especially meaningful for me.

One of those would have to be the chapter on sacrament and what he refers to as the “bodily gospel.” He gives us a glimpse into the scandalous nature of the way that Jesus interacted with the world, and then helps us to feel the significance of a God who cared to touch His creation. The experience of foot-washing brings that connection to life:

“When I feel the touch of human hands on my hairy toes and calloused soles, it is terrible in all the ways it must be for Christ Himself to touch my most unlovely places with His tenderness. Every time, the tears burn my eyes. And as my self-consciousness and self-confidence begin to crumble, it’s not just my feet that are being washed; it’s the love of God like a warm balm on a bruised and battered soul” (160-161)

This was just one of several pictures painted in this chapter that really spoke to deep places in my soul. If I’m being honest, I long for the touch of God and His people and have found that need to be mostly unmet. So when I hear him say that if we’re “going to get anything about Jesus, you can never graduate from the wonder of human touch” something inside me shouts to affirm that.

There is more that I could say, but I’m not going to ruin it for you 🙂 You can read more about the book, including the first chapter here.

(I received a copy of the book through Tyndale and agreed to post a review. I did not promise to review it favorably; the opinions above are entirely my own.)

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Thirty-One

Taken by Day7 Photography

Taken by Day7 Photography

Today is Mr. Poon’s 31st birthday! As you know, I always like to do something on our bloggy blog to celebrate Jason and his awesomeness. (Right now he’s teaching Eden to do a “hook-em”… see, awesome!)

This year has brought changes (hello, new baby in the house!) but one thing that hasn’t changed is Mr. Poon’s amazing service to his family. Every year, day after day, he does so many things that love and serve us well. In honor of thirty-one years, here are thirty-one ways that Jason faithfully serves his girls:

1. Picks out Eden’s outfits for school

2. Takes out the trash each Thursday

3. Learns about investments so we can be good stewards of what we have

4. Re-negotiates our insurance rates every year or so, so we can do more with our money

5. Makes my aeropress coffee each morning (I think he’s better at it)

6. Makes sure the diaper bag is properly “loaded” before we leave the house (Diapers, snacks, etc.)

7. Wipes table, countertops after dinner

8. Does the laundry often

9. Changes most of the diapers

10. Finds ways to earn Amazon credit so he can buy things for his girls!

11. Carries heavy stuff for me

12. Finds books and learning materials for Eden

13. Will do anything so I can go out with a friend or have some time for myself

14. Washes lots of dishes

15. Gets up early to exercise so he doesn’t have to take time away from the family for that

16. Handles our investments

17. Manages our automatic bills and makes sure everything is paid on time

18. Took up running because I liked it. Now he kicks my ass… So that backfired.

19. Mows our yard

20. Finds and plays music that Eden likes

21. Gets up early to work, so he can take a longer breakfast with the fam

22. Often cooks us breakfast!

23. Goes to get me things that I could get for myself when I’m too lazy to get up 🙂

24. Gives Eden baths

25. Prioritizes my contributions and re-arranges things so I can engage with my ministry team

26. Takes the car in for repairs when needed

27. Does stuff to make my computer run better

28. Researches gadget-y stuff and helps me decide what to buy

29. Does our ministry reimbursements each month

30. Suggests new shows for us to watch that he thinks I’ll like

31. Gives me some sweet lovin’ 😉

I could’ve probably listed many more things, because that husband of mine is a rock star! The only problem with making this list was it had me asking, “What do I do?” He does so much!
I love living life with Mr. Poon – he’s amazing and the perfect partner-in-life for me.

Happy birthday, Jason!


Ariella’s Birth Day

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Ariella Wai Ying Poon
8lb 6oz., 22in long

This is the story of Ariella’s labor and delivery. It’s not graphic but, still, it’s a story about birth. You’ve been warned 🙂

For about a week, I had been having contractions every night around the same time. Every time, I tried to simply go to sleep so that I would be rested in case it was the “real” thing. But until the night of the 29th, they never progressed in intensity or proximity. Then on Tuesday night, I texted my doula (Ashre) to let her know I was having contractions. I tried to keep it pretty nonchalant, just in case, but I suspected that this was the beginning. The next morning, I called her to let her know that this was indeed the real thing, although I knew it was pretty early on.

For the rest of the day, I just tried to relax and have a normal day. I finished up a few things and emailed some friends with some last-minute labor prayer requests. That afternoon, I was even able to sit in on my weekly virtual team meeting. Throughout the meeting, I sat on my birthing ball and would just breathe through the sporadic contractions I was having.

Two hours after that meeting, I started crying for no discernible reason. Then, I really knew we were getting somewhere. I immediately called Ashre and told her I was ready for her to come. My mother-in-law had also just arrived, and Ashre had warned me that my labor would probably progress quickly once I knew she was here and that Eden would be taken care of for the night. It’s crazy how our bodies just know! Sure enough, pretty much right when my mother-in-law walked in the door things “got real.” Jason had been casually putting things together and getting ready to go. When he told me he would put the carseat in after dinner I said, “No. Do it now please.” I knew there would be no dinner that night.

I was incredibly emotional at this point, and feeling very sentimental about it being the last bedtime routine that we’d be a family of three. So I tried to make it through the books and songs of our nightly routine with Eden. When that was over, Ashre arrived and we grabbed our things and left for the birthing center. It was harder to stay on top of the contractions and I knew progress was being made. On the way to the center, I told Jason how happy I was with the way that labor was going. I knew I’d hired the doula I needed, and I felt like many of my prayers were already being answered. In addition, I just felt very in tune with what was happening. Although we weren’t timing contractions, I knew when it was time to call Ashre, and I knew when it was time to leave for the center. Later, I would tell Ariella “it’s almost time, sweet one.” No clocks needed!

When we arrived, we were put into the room they had open (which was the room I wanted) and it turned out that the midwife I wanted to attend my labor and delivery was the one that was on-call. More answered prayers! I was checked pretty immediately, and was dilated to a 5 or a 6. Not bad for just a couple of hours of “real” work! (It was around 7pm when we arrived.) I had already cried tears of gratitude, and I would do that several more times. Everything just felt so perfect. I felt so loved and the birthing room was so calm and peaceful – just Jason, Ashre and me along with the midwife’s watchful presence. Between contractions, I was given water, encouraged and kissed. I saw my amazing husband “studying” the letter I had written him filled with tips and words he could say to encourage me. I wanted to tell him how much I loved him for doing that, but I was past speaking at this point. Still, it filled my heart and gave me strength. Ashre said, “there’s a lot of love in this room.” And I felt it. It was overwhelming.

A little before 10pm, my water still hadn’t broken and things were getting really really hard. I was crying a little from the pain, was vocalizing more and felt a bit more out of control. I looked at Jason and said, “I feel like I’m failing.” He assured me that I wasn’t and it was during a contraction very soon after this that I let out a vocalization that sounded close to a growl. My midwife immediately got up, knowing that things had changed.

Because of a risk factor I had, I was praying that my water wouldn’t break until very late in labor. It still hadn’t broken at this late stage and after my semi-growl, my midwife checked and I was completely dilated. My water broke right as she checked me, then it was time to push! I got into the bed and began to push my sweet Ariella into the world. As her head was coming, I held back and we took things slowly to minimize the trauma to my lady-parts 🙂 Her head emerged and I reached down to feel and hold her as we waited for the next good contraction. When it came, I pushed, reached down and delivered my baby into the world and into my arms. She was so beautiful! So tiny and perfect and beautiful!

Just 15min after my water broke, it was over. I just kept saying, “My beautiful Ariella! My perfect baby!” and let the tears of joy flow freely. All of my prayers had been answered. Not only was she healthy and safe (the most important thing!), but the birth was exactly what I wanted and, as I would tell some friends later, far more than I deserved. I will never forget those moments.

She was born at 10:15pm, and she never left my arms until it was time to do some footprints quite a bit later. Until then, we just rested and enjoyed our new family member. By 6am the next morning, we were packed up and leaving the birthing center to go rest in our own beds. It was such a difference from the unplanned hospital birth we had the first time around!

Of course, Eden’s birth was wonderful too and definitely what I needed at that time in my life. It was during that process that I gained so much confidence in myself, God and a woman’s body. I emerged from that experience absolutely convinced that there was nothing I could not do. For Ariella’s birth, though, I knew I wanted and needed something different. The Lord granted me that, and I had the beautiful, connected birth that I had prayed and prepared for.

And now I’m watching my perfect girl sleep. She looks so much like her sister, but not! She has different eyes, but the same hairline, nose and mouth. And though she is tiny because she’s a baby, she was 8lb 6oz and 22in long at birth. Another big girl! I don’t know what it is but, despite our relative size, I guess Jason and I grow big babies.

Thank you for praying for us. Please keep praying for Ariella to stay healthy and for our family as we transition. We feel so loved and we’re thankful for you!

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Baby Poon Update (She’s Not Here Yet!)

I don’t think I’ve written a single thing about this pregnancy. If baby Poon had arrived closer to her due-date, that would still be the case. But since I’m a few days “over-due” I will break the silence. I guess.

Just a warning, though: this will be mostly a stream-of-conscious update followed by a few prayer requests.

Now that I’ve done this whole being-pregnant thing twice, can I just say that it’s cuh-razy to have a total life-altering change coming AND YOU HAVE ZERO IDEA OF WHEN IT MIGHT HAPPEN?? I’m not sure that it struck me the same way last time. Maybe it did and the sleeplessness of the next few weeks overshadowed those late-in-pregnancy thoughts. But this time, I feel like I go to bed every night and wake up every morning thinking, “this may be the day/night that changes my life completely.” It’s strange. And wonderful. And annoying.

For the vast majority of the time, I’ve enjoyed pregnancy this time around. It’s been less stressful and I’ve Googled far less than the first time 😉 There have been some bumps, of course, and it’s not over yet (apparently) but I’ve felt mostly at peace and thankful for this time where we’ve just enjoyed being a family of three.

A family of three that sleeps.

I’m going to the birthing center again. Some of you may remember that was my plan with Eden and, somewhere after the 36th hour of labor or so, she just wasn’t descending so I transferred to the hospital. After all that, we didn’t do anything special at the hospital – she just decided to come. I was still able to give birth naturally which was my desire, and I was so thankful! However, lesson learned: next time I will just get in the car and drive around 🙂

I think I have prepared myself well for birth and done everything that I can do to have an experience that I think is safe, happy and healthy so now it is simply up to the baby and God to determine how it all plays out. I believe in birth and the power of a woman’s body to do what it’s been designed to do, but I also believe we should have open hands. I have accepted (or tried!) that I’m not in control and will simply receive whatever happens as from His hand.

But I am hoping and praying for a few things! Here’s where you can help!

I’m praying for:

1. Most obviously and most importantly, Baby to be healthy and safe!
2. The ability to stay connected to my body, to labor and to baby. That may sound hippy-ish, but with Eden’s birth process being so long, I was worn-out a little out-of-it by the end. It was still a wonderful experience and I’m so thankful for it, but I would love the ability to be more alert and connected throughout the process.
3. Her to schedule her arrival in the next week or so! I have 2wks past my due-date before I have to be transferred to the care of a hospital. While that’s clearly not the end of the world, it’s also not my preference. (Plus, I’m a little afraid of pitocin-induced super-contractions! Eek! They were hard enough the first time!)
3. My water not to break until very late in labor, if at all.
4. Eden to be taken care of well while we’re away and for her transition from being an only child to a big sister! She knows a lot about the baby coming and seems to be excited about it, but it’s hard to tell what a 2yr-old is really thinking or processing.
5. No sickies in the first 2wks! Fever in infants under 2wks old automatically grab a 2 night hospital stay, while they do all kinds of testing. We had to do this with Eden and, short-story, it sucked. It was scary, expensive, scary and scary!

Thanks so much for reading and for joining us in prayer! I truly am looking forward to meeting this person I have carried in my body for these months, and looking forward to introducing her to the community of love we live in.

Come join us, little one!

 


A Wedding “Dance”

I recently attended a wedding and was seated at a table with many of my good friends. It just so happened that I was the only Caucasian person at the table – all of my friends were Asian-American. Working with Epic and being married to a Chinese-American man, this is not an uncommon occurrence. I may not have even noticed, except that something quite extraordinary happened that brought it to my full attention.

It came time for the wedding attendees to toast the bride and groom. All the tables began to prepare by distributing the sparkling cider that had been placed squarely in the center of each one. At some point, it dawned on me that the bottle was not within my reach and I had just started to wonder how I should go about getting my glass filled.

At that moment, I looked up and realized that a dance was already happening around me. A dance in which everyone knew the steps and their part without a word being spoken. I watched as glasses were being passed seamlessly around, including mine, until everyone’s was filled and placed before them. Before I had even fully processed that I had a need, it was already being met.

Beautiful.

In Epic, we talk about how every culture reflects part of God and how, if we only experience one, we are missing out on experiencing different aspects of God that are reflected in cultures other than our own. At this wedding, I received a visible representation of this truth and instantly saw the Lord’s character reflected in the mindset of my friends.

I was thinking about my own glass. Everyone else was conscious of the needs of the group and was working together to make sure that those needs were met. I am quite sure that, if Jesus had been at my table, he would’ve been participating in the dance of glasses happening around me. How like the Lord, to anticipate our needs and be arranging to meet them even before we are aware that we have them!

I’m not sure anyone else at the table processed this. In fact, I’m certain they didn’t – to them, it was just normal and routine. I noticed it because it is different from me and stood in contrast to my Anglo, individual way of thinking and living.

I love this, and I need this. I need to be in places where I can see and receive His love through my interactions with people that are different from me. Otherwise, I would miss out on the beauty of a culture that sees the needs of the people around them and works to silently meet them. I would miss out on seeing a visible representation of the God who is working to meet our needs even before we know we have them.


Five

Photo courtesy of Day 7 Photography

On Friday, Mr. Poon and I celebrated five years of marriage. I can’t honestly remember what I pictured for our future as I walked toward someone I only partly knew and trusted that God would be faithful. During the last five years, I have found that person to be much more than I ever could have imagined. Here are five people Jason has become to me since we exchanged vows in May of 2007:

Partner

Jason is my partner in parenting, in ministry, in managing the household – everything. Of course there are areas in life where we divide-and-conquer but our preferred mode is collaboration. I have often told friends how blessed I feel in this regard, since I didn’t even know to look for this in a husband. I didn’t know myself or the future well enough to fully grasp how important it is to feel like you are a true partner with your spouse.

Being Jason’s partner in life has been amazing and so much fun! Feeling like we’re in it together, whatever “it” is, has become more and more important and every day I am thankful for how wonderful it is. Which leads to number two…

Teammate

Jason is always on my side. Period. I am always on his. Period. There is no earthly relationship that ever takes precedence over ours and our unflinching commitment is to each other, in any situation. When my mother was alive, I had a rule that she would never hear me say anything negative about Jason, nor would I listen to any criticism of him if it were ever offered. (Which it wasn’t, thankfully.)

It is particularly painful to realize that your spouse is more committed to his/her parents/siblings/friends/whomever than to you. While we are not perfect, we reaffirm often that our number one priority is the family God has built with us. Particularly in the times that it has really mattered or where I felt especially vulnerable, Jason has always made it known that I come first. There is no security like it, and I praise God for its sweetness.

Advocate

I don’t think anyone believes in me more than Jason. Whether as a mom, a minister, a wife or a friend, he is always looking for ways to help me live out who God has created me to be. If I went through life being anything less than the fullness of who I was meant to be, Jason would see it as a deep loss; thus, he is committed to helping me have whatever I need in resources, time, opportunities to make my best contribution in each season of life.

Healer

Marriage is unavoidably wounding, yet profoundly healing as well. A great source of sadness for us is acknowledging how we’ve managed to wound one another in our short five years of marriage. It sometimes comes out in the way that we fight, or maybe our lack of confidence in approaching our spouse with a grievance.

Despite this fallen reality, our marriage has been extremely healing, even more than I expected. I have celebrated Jason in ways that he never believed he was worthy of. He has given me a security of love that I didn’t think existed outside of perfect performance. In this, our lives have spoken the Gospel over one another: “You are loved. You are accepted. You are cherished.” This is a piece of God’s kingdom come to earth and we treasure the gift.

Mirror

Being in intimate relationship with another is having a mirror put up in front of you. There are so many things about myself that I could never have seen without first seeing how someone else is both like and unlike me. Culturally, I take so many things for granted because they are simply how I have always seen the world; I am blind to my own lenses. This changes when I live with and rub up against someone who has entirely different lenses, and who has his own way of viewing the world.

This is sometimes a painful process, though I can also say without a doubt it is one of the most striking strengths of intimate relationship. We are better together, as we each reflect God and His story in different but complementary ways. This is not true just of marriages; it is true of all of my deep relationships.

Five years: all hard in their own way, but each sweeter than the last. Jesus, may it always be.


30th

For the past couple of years, it has been our custom to commemorate significant days in our lives with special blog posts. Aside from being ultra-romantic (right?), it is fun to publicly appreciate one another and have the chance to reflect on our blessings. Last year, for Mr. Poon’s 29th birthday, I took a cue from my sister-in-law and wrote 29 reasons why I love Jason. Since I dig upping the ante when possible, this year I wanted to do 30 reasons to love Mr. Poon, but I decided that they should come from 30 different people.

In no particular order, here are (many more than) 30 things to love about Jason:

1. He has always been gracious to me even when I do something that pisses him off. — Jake

2. He’s a great soccer coach! He taught me soccer and that takes a considerable amount of patience, so I really appreciate it! — Kathy

3. I like that Jason is interested in and takes ownership of the family’s personal finances and investments. — Drew

4. I appreciate Jason for his blunt, yet genuine and caring, honesty. — Matt

5. His ability, when necessary, to transition smoothly from humor and smacktalk to seriousness and caring — Jan

6. What I really like about Jason is how he taught me how to be a godly man. It was not through words, but through how he loved his wife, his responsible attitude regarding money, and his outlook on life when hard times come around. — Andrew

7. I love that Jason is both 1) courageously vulnerable to reveal the parts of his heart that are tender because of the pain he’s grieved well and 2) honest and witty about the parts of his heart that still have a shell because there are healing journeys God has yet to call him on. — Amy

8.  I appreciate Jason’s kindness and all that Jason does for the soccer team-which is a lot of work! — Kyla

9. Jason, I appreciate your honest love for the Lord, for your family, and for beer! Thanks for being you! — Ti

10. Jason is passionate and easy to see how he is feeling through his facial emotions. You know you can feel safe with Jason  — David M.

11. Mr. Poonicles, I appreciate two things about you: your humor and your sensitivity. I saw more of the humor when we first started working together. But as I have gotten to know you better as a friend, and as I have witnessed your interactions with your wifey and your adorable little baby, it is evident to me that you have a side that is sensitive to those around. Ultimately, it demonstrates the greatness of your love and care for others. Happy birthday Poonicles!
P.S. You have a freakin hot wife. – Sarah

12. Jason – the more I find out about you, the more of an extraordinary person I find you to be – as a husband, father, son, friend, and really, in every way.  Happy 30th Birthday! — Scott

13. Long list of talents, numerous skills and strengths, a variety of interests, athletic, intelligent, witty, passionate, hard worker, reliable, dependable, “go-to guy”, a good friend, good husband and father.  How does someone become a “Renaissance Man” at the age of 30?  Really! — Hudd

14. Happy Birthday, Jason!  Your incredible love for your wife and daughter and the way you are so committed to serving your family and others well is something I truly respect and admire about you.  Your family (and friends) are lucky to have you in their lives! — Carita

15. Jason is a man of few words but he makes them count. When he speaks, it’s usually something profound…or hilarious. He is empathetically willing to share in others’ pain with them – huge for a dude to do. When those he cares about are suffering, Jason will hurt for them AND with them. — Jen S.

16. Jason is an incredibly loyal friend.  I can always count on his ear, his support, and his godly wisdom.  — Jeff W.

17. I appreciate that Jason shoots straight with me. I know his word is trustworthy and yet he still conveys it with a good balance of truth and grace. I think this comes from his genuine love and care for others. — Josh

18. I appreciate the husband he has been for my best friend, and the friendship that he has freely given to me. — Chris B.

19. He’s just the sweetest husband and father. I respect him greatly and I’m so glad God put him in TJ’s life which also put him in mine 🙂 I wish him all the best on this birthday and every single one following 🙂 — Corrie

20. I LOVE how Jason engages with our boys!  I have pictures from when he was swinging Nate around while he was on STINT.  Great with kids! — Trisha

21. Jason, I appreciate your acceptance of me as your younger brother. You’ve taught and encouraged me from your life-experience, and you have given generously to me. In many ways, I try to be like you. I love you, big brother! — Jonathan

22. Jason, I have appreciated a lot about you the past several years I’ve known you.  What really has stuck out to me is your ability to encourage and affirm.  I think of several times where you have been very intentional in this way and I have felt very built up in how God has created me and what He’s created me to do.  Thank you for that, I’m better for it! — Joe

23. I really appreciate how encouraging Jason is. I have experienced Jason as a leader and coach and he refines through encouragement and positive feedback. He has a unique ability to be incredible honest in a gentle and loving way. He also does a great job of reminding me of the truth that’s found in Christ. He has truly made my journey through developing partners and soccer an enjoyable experience! Also, I appreciate his intentionality and generosity! — Emily

24. Some things I appreciate about Jason: easy going, focused, ambitious, adaptable, and of course good looking (with or without all his hair) — Rocky

25. I appreciate Jason’s love and passion for the important things in life- Jesus, family, financial stewardship, meat, and soccer 🙂  — Jill

26. Jason is awesome because what you see is NOT what you get… there’s so much more to him than first meets the eye. — Stephen S.

27. To Jason: For your 30th birthday, I want to share with all of Internet land that having encountered many hardships and cumbersome decisions since graduating from college, I’ve learned from you to step up to the plate and just “nut up/man up” to God’s calling in my life, which is to simply bring Him praise in what I do. — Paul

28. I appreciate that Jason is patient, encouraging, and willing to share his knowledge with us, but he’s not an overbearing jerk when we forget or don’t get it. He’s just a good guy! — Jeff H.

29. Your integrity and humility continue to be the traits I appreciate the most about you, and further see as evidence of a genuine follower of Christ. In eight years of knowing each other, you continue to remind me of what true perseverance in Christ looks like. — BMart
30. I’ve come to truly respect you. You are a man who seeks to know and understand yourself and those around you. You are a man who takes responsibility and leads well, especially in the family. — Truman

I had to edit a few for length, and there are more people I heard from so those are included in the comments. If you have something to say about how awesome he is, please join in there!