Author Archives: TJ Poon

2011 Family Highlights

Just like every year, 2011 has been a mixed bag. Plenty to celebrate and rejoice over, and much to mourn and work through. For all of these things, we give glory and praise to God for His obvious hand in our lives. We have found Jesus to be faithful in all things, and that alone has made it a good year.

But there were some definite highlights in the Poon family:

Seeing two of our best couple friends realize their hopes of becoming parents as they finalized adoptions. It remains a great honor in our lives that we get to walk through life with such amazing people, and their joy was our own as we saw their dreams come true. Here’s the story of one.

Spending much of the summer taking theology classes in Fort Collins, Colorado. Eden did great, and the weather was beee-yoootiful. Plus, the family atmosphere is top-notch. (The beer isn’t bad either.)

Going back to Colorado to minister to our new staff as stewardship trainers. It’s one of our favorite things that we do every year, helping our staff make a budget and honor God with their finances.

Eden’s first birthday party. Well, really just seeing her turn 1. The party was special, but even more so was being able to praise God for her first year of life. And celebrate that we survived it. Booyah!

My 30th and 31st birthdays. I actually turned 31 this year but I had two birthday parties – one for my 31st and one to make up for last year, when my 30th birthday was not really on my radar. Eden was three weeks old. At that point, my “dream” party consisted of a solid night’s sleep. We made up for it by throwing me a big ice cream party this year. Fun!

Seeing our nephew play in the State baseball tournament at the Dell Diamond. Jason and I kind of hate baseball, but we both got into it and were very excited to watch him play.

I got to hear one of my heroes, Dan Allender, speak in person for the second time. I may have been a little nuts about it; in the first thirty seconds, I shushed the people behind me because they were talking as he began. What can I say? His writing was instrumental in completely turning my life around seven years ago… so of course I couldn’t miss even one second of what he was saying. Obviously.

We got the bufferback. This is silly, and not really very important, but it did feel nice to put some pound-distance between myself and Jason again.

We both feel so blessed that recently our home and work life has just totally been awesome. We both feel like we have a partner in each other and we’re each doing work with Epic that is joyful, fulfilling and life-giving. Definitely a season to cherish.

And there’s so much more – falling more deeply in love with each other, watching our daughter truly become more and more delightful by the day, praying for and then seeing God’s provision, experiencing restored friendships, embracing the body of Christ around us as our family – there has definitely been a year’s worth of joy in the last twelve months.

Happy 2012, dear friends, and here’s to another year of receiving God’s goodness to us all!


Courage to Enter

Up until recently, I have not sought out information on the Penn State scandal. I have picked up more than bits and pieces, though, as I am almost constantly connected to social media, and my husband has followed the story with interest.

Quite honestly, I’m sure that this avoidance has been purposeful, if even on a somewhat sub-conscious level. The nightmare of sexual abuse is one that I know from personal experience and, though I have pursued and obtained much healing, powerful waves of emotion can easily overtake me when things like this come to light. It is a feeling that I deal with as it comes, but not one I often go looking for.

There is so much to be sad, angry and sickened over. Whether it is a coach, family member, clergyman, or a stranger, the effects of sexual abuse are immediate and catastrophic to the victim’s soul. There is no human punishment befitting of the one who commits such an awful crime against the body, soul and spirit of another. I have been in sadness as increasingly horrific details emerge from this specific case, and more than a little angry when I think about the silence of those who witnessed some of the abuses, but said nothing.

Apart from the particulars of this current and well-publicized scandal, I am once again rocked by the pervasiveness of sexual abuse. The statistics are horrifying: 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be abused before the age of 18. Those numbers are nauseating, and probably low. Dan Allender says here, “I know that everyone in America is relating directly and intimately with at least one person who has been sexually abused. And damn it, we don’t talk about it.” Once confronted with the reality of the proportion of the population who has been abused, the silence of our culture is deafening. If you haven’t already clicked through to the Allender post, please read it for his thoughts on this phenomenon.

What has been weighing especially heavily on my heart and what I keep coming back to that usually receives little-to-no airtime, is the home of the abused child. If the numbers above frighten you as much as me, these are equally troubling: the vast majority of survivors are abused by someone they know. (94% in one study.) The implications are enormous.

Certainly, there are many cases of sexual abuse that are “random” acts of evil and not in any way brought on by a caretaker’s negligence. But often, a predator looks for a person whose soul is not nourished at home, leaving them vulnerable and unprotected to the perpetrator, and without a safe place to turn to after the damage has occurred. You can imagine the psyche of a child who undergoes consistent, lasting torment at the hands of another and doesn’t say anything: before the attack occurred, that child’s voice had already been lost.

There is nothing more unsettling for a child than the feeling of powerlessness that comes with the knowledge that those who are put on this Earth to protect them have either contributed to their abuse, turned a blind eye when they saw it, or given them no place to turn when they were violated. Facing the reality that those who are supposed to protect us have abdicated their role and left us to the wolves is profoundly damaging. In fact, it is more than some can bear. I have heard women talk about their families, how wonderful, loving and supportive they are, yet also admit that they have never spoken of their sexual abuse to their parents. There is a major cognitive “miss” here. The betrayal of the family is not acknowledged.

I am not just talking about a parent who sees abuse occurring and refuses to intervene. That indeed happens, but betrayal can come in a number of other ways, many insidious, that render the family incapable of providing the protection that God intended. Picture a child whose father tells him to “quit moping” when his countenance is fallen, because the family system doesn’t allow for pain to be experienced or acknowledged. The father is too uninvolved and selfish to look into the source of his child’s agony. Or a mother who is unstable and needy. Her ability to function depends on the apparent harmony and relative functioning of the family. Obviously, these are not places where a child can legitimately turn for protection, yet “Abuse victims rarely admit the near ‘impossibility’ of securing help from their family of origin; rather they blame themselves for not seeking help.”¹

When I first began to face my abuse and name it, this is where most of my reflection occurred and the source of my most profound pain. It was as if the scales fell off of my eyes, and I began to face for the first time that my family was not a place of safety, that my parents were committed to many things more deeply than my protection, and that the dynamics there had actually “set me up” to be abused. I need to be clear here in that absolutely no fault can be removed from the youth pastor who initiated a physical, sexual relationship with me. The responsibility of his actions belongs to him alone. I am not removing the blame from the abuser-proper. Rather, the unsafe family is a fertile breeding ground where the evil of sexual abuse can grow more easily and often unchecked.

If the numbers of children who have been abused is on the rise, and if the vast majority of those abuses are from a family member, friend or acquaintance (in other words, not a stranger), then it seems we are losing the family as a place of safety. We are losing parents who really parent, and therefore we are losing childhood, and children. I have no solutions, but I do know that fighting this darkness requires that we move toward it, rather than cowering in fear, discouragement or denial.

We must begin to name our abuse and that of our friends, spouses and children. In that naming we will begin to give a voice to those who have been silenced; we will refuse to further victimize ourselves and others through denial; we will enter the story that up to a quarter of Americans are living.

Having the courage to enter the story is where healing begins.

¹Taken from The Wounded Heart, by Dan Allender


First Birthday

Today we celebrated Eden’s first birthday. Though her actual birthday isn’t for a few more days, it was wonderful to celebrate and rejoice over her first year of life.

Honestly, I’ve always thought first birthday parties were pretty stupid. It seems silly to spend a lot of time and effort since she won’t even remember it.

But we made a big effort anyway. For one thing, I have creative friends and I’m a sucker for cute party themes. But, even more importantly, I realized that the party really wasn’t for Eden anyway.

It was for Jason, me and the community that we have around us which has played a huge role in her first year of life. They have become our family.

It was with these dear people in our lives that we both remembered her day of birth and also held a time where we officially and publicly dedicated ourselves to raising her in the Lord. Then we prayed over her life.

What a special time.

What made it even more meaningful was the sentiment that both Jason and I had going into this day. We have a hopeful anticipation of what the Lord is going to continue to do in our lives, and that starts with the close of this year.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of talking to someone I respect greatly in ministry. As I asked him questions about his life serving the Lord, he mentioned a four-year period in his life that was very low. I think he even used the word, “dark”.

A four-year dark period.

Four years is my entire marriage. It’s most of my time on staff with Cru. It’s a huge chunk of my adult life.

But for this man who has served the Lord for 30+ years, four years feels much different. I’m sure that time was significant to his life- of course it was. But it in no way defined him.

Because of the events of the last four years, I think there have been times when I have been tempted to think that this is my life. It ceased to be a season and just became… my life.

Having that conversation gave me so much hope. I’m sure that my dear friend never thought he was being encouraging by mentioning a four year dark period in my life.

But I latched onto his words, and I was encouraged.

I pictured being four years away from now – in a completely different place in my life – and being able to look back over the past few years as the dark time.

It has become my prayer.

It would be foolish to say that pain and tragedy will never have a place in my life again. It will – that’s just life.

But we are hopeful, and tonight my dearest friends and family joined with us in praying that this might mark the end of the dark period.

There will certainly be more to process and more that God will want to reveal to us through what we have experienced, but we are praying in faith that we may, in a significant way, close the door on this part of our lives and move forward in joyful expectation of the next chapter that God is bringing.


Pants Appreciation Day

Tomorrow (July 10th) is my mother’s birthday.

Pants Appreciation Day.

We called my mom “Pants”. And although we appreciate her every day, tomorrow is the day that we’ll set aside to do a few things that Pants really loved.

For one, we have to wear pants. Obviously.

(Please, God, don’t let it be a THOUSAND degrees!)

We’ll also go out for Mexican food. Pants ate some sort of Mexican food nearly every day of her life for the last few years. That is no exaggeration. The woman loved her jalapenos!! Even though Jason and I are not able to be with my family tomorrow, we’ll gather with some friends and celebrate my Mom’s life through some enchiladas or tacos.

Those are the basic requirements. Pants + Mexican food.

But since it happens to be the Women’s World Cup, we’ll also start our day watching the USA v Brazil game. Pants LOVED watching pretty much any kind of sport, so we know she’ll approve.

I mean, it won’t be as good as her Cowboys, but that’s ok.

Another thing Pants liked was cheap beer. Cheap in two senses of the word – inexpensive and baaaaaad. (Sorry Schaefer Light drinkers!) Since we happen to currently be in a place where the local beer is both inexpensive and AWESOME, I’m thinking that if we partake in that particular Pants-ism, we’ll at least upgrade 😉

If there’s time left in the day, we may attempt a puzzle. Especially when I was younger, that was an activity that she and I loved to do together. We almost always had a puzzle going.

So…

That’s what our Sunday will look like – we’ll be participating in the first annual Pants Appreciation Day, and we invite any of our friends and family to join us!


Four Years

Today Mr. P and I celebrate four years of marriage! Hurray!

Last year on this day, we each wrote about our three favorite aspects of marriage. That was such great fun that we decided to do another anniversary-themed post.

(We all know this blog needs all the love it can get…)

So in honor of year four, here are four ways that being married to Mr. P has changed me:

1. I apologize much, much more quickly.

Before dating and marrying Jason, I was a bit of a stubborn b. *Gasps of feigned shock from everyone who knew me beforehand.*

No, really. I kinda was.

The Lord has used the last few years of my life, since STINT, to really change and grow me in this area. When Jason and I started dating, I really only cared about being right and “winning.”

Lovely, right?

Even at the beginning of our marriage, our fights were much dirtier than they are now. A few months ago I was pondering how, even when we are fighting and I’m extremely angry, I no longer desire to hurt Jason with my words.

I feel like that should go without saying in marriage, but it really doesn’t. Early on, I remember seeking to wound with whatever verbal venom I could spit at him. Now, because of the Lord’s grace, hurting Jason is never the goal of a fight.

2. I can laugh at myself and life more easily.

Marriage has a way of lightening people up, particularly women.

(If you want to hear the “real” way I usually express that sentiment, ask me in person.)

Living everyday life with another person is gross and funny. I realized I could either be easily offended, easily embarrassed and uptight, or I could roll with it and learn to laugh. Plus, I do ridiculous and stupid things about 100 times a day.

Like bust my lip with my own toothbrush… or cut my tongue licking the top of a sweetened condensed milk can… or cut up jalapenos and rub my eyes. Sadly, all real life examples.

With a track record like that, if I couldn’t laugh at myself or let others laugh with/at me, I’d be in serious trouble.

3. I’m more considerate.

Jason gave me this one, although I’m sure it’s true. Mostly because it couldn’t not be true. (I wasn’t all that considerate before… see above.)

A working marriage is a constant exercise in servanthood. It simply won’t work well if each party is only concerned with himself or herself. Unfortunately, as long as I’m alive, this will be a work-in-progress. There isn’t a time when I will ever be perfectly considerate, nor will Jason.

The Lord has brought circumstances into our lives that have made it crucial for us to support and care for one another, even if it has been difficult and something we had to work for.  But I can tell that we are growing in this area, and that’s encouraging.

4. I appreciate different things.

Growing up, I didn’t listen to classical music.

Sidenote: I really don’t understand how Jason and I are so similar, because our upbringings could NOT be more different.

Anyway, being married to Jason has given me the chance to develop a genuine interest in many things I probably wouldn’t have pursued otherwise. (Like classical music.) I know that I’ve also exposed him to new things, as well, and some of these things we’ve shared with each other have become our own family traditions.

One of these is our love for soccer. Though neither of us introduced the sport to the other – we both played before we ever met – it is not something we probably would’ve picked back up if we weren’t doing it together. Except for a few month break when I was gestating and birthing our daughter, we have played soccer together on a co-ed team ever since we got married.

It’s been something that we have enjoyed doing together and hope to continue for at least several more years.

I guess until Eden starts playing and Jason transitions to coaching her team 🙂

It is a wonderful feeling to be celebrating year number four with my best friend. I am thankful for the ways that we have grown and changed, and for the ways the Lord is going to continue to stretch us for however many years we have together.

Mr. Poon, you are truly the greatest!


The Big 2-9

Today, my husband and best friend turns 29.

STINT 2004

Eden and I get the pleasure of being with him and celebrating him all day. We are so blessed to have him in our lives.

I shamelessly copied this from my sister-in-law, but in honor of his birthday, here are 29 reasons why I love Mr. P:

1.  He is really, really attractive. Really.
2.  He protects me and Eden.
3.  When we got married, I was against him having a gaming system because I’d seen so many guys neglect relationships to play video games. Jason then assured me that wouldn’t happen and told me his specific plan to ensure that it wouldn’t happen. I love both his commitment to our relationship and his foresight and planning. (Is that three reasons?)
4.  He is a really great father. He enjoys every minute with our baby girl.
5.  He is a partner with me in childcare. He sees caring for Eden as much his responsibility as mine.
6.  He is teachable. He responds extraordinarily well to godly correction.
7.  He’s no slouch in bed.
8.  He supports and encourages me.
9.  He is committed to helping me nurture my gifts and strengths in ministry; he does not see me as his sidekick.
10.  He is brave.
11.  He is financially generous.
12.  He puts the well-being of our family above his own personal desires.
13.  He is a very loyal friend.
14.  He has muscles. Nice ones.
15.  He is willing to follow the Lord anywhere.
16.  He has stayed connected to his Chinese culture.
17.  He is quick to apologize.
18.  He strives to honor his parents even while maintaining his adulthood.
19.  I feel more womanly around him 🙂
20.  He is physically active and pays attention to his health.
21.  He is not passive!
22.  He is disciplined.
23.  His calves are ginormous. And hot. Seriously. Have you seen them?
24.  He’s funny.
25.  He takes out the trash. I never even think about it, but he does it faithfully every week.
26.  He is thrifty in most areas so that he can splurge on dates or things for wifey.
27.  When I have been in my lowest points emotionally or physically, Jason has stepped up in a big way and I have been lavishly loved and completely taken care of. (See posts here and here for examples.)
28.  He doesn’t have nasty boy feet. They are actually quite nice.
29.  He’s my best friend. With benefits 🙂

Hong Kong 2009


Random Poon Moments

Life is funny when you’re pregnant.

It’s like the baby bump is a magnetic awkward-orb, sucking you into all kinds of weird and socially uncomfortable situations.

It’s pretty great, really.

But the orb of awkwardness is gone, meaning the section of our blog chronicling all those funny moments is sadly dead. (Never fear, if I’m ever pregnant again it will certainly be resurrected!)

All is not lost, however. Life is pretty funny with a baby, too.  Actually, life is really funny with just a husband.

You may not know this, but Mr. P is hilarious. I know he seems pretty grumpy… and he is… but he’s also extremely funny.

Often at my expense which… come on, just makes it even funnier.

Thus, a new series on the bloggy-blog is born, in which I let you into the moments in our house that give me a major case of the haha’s.

First one:

Last week sometime, I went to hubs, lifted up my shirt a little and said “Hey, check out my six-pack!”

(No, I don’t have a six-pack. I gave birth six months ago… don’t be absurd. But I’m working on it.)

Mr. P: (drawing a circle around my whole abdomen)”One…” (draws another circle) “Two…”

Me: (with feigned indignation) “You’re making fun of my abs?!?!?”

Mr. P: “You mean your ab?”

I tried to pretend to be mad, but I was laughing too hard. That’s ok, I’ll use my rock-hard abs (plural, ok??) to get my revenge.

You know, someday…

 


These Are the Days

Yesterday morning, I begged Eden not to grow up.

I even enlisted the help of her Dad. “Jason, pleeeeease tell your daughter to stop growing!”

I can’t help it. These are some of the sweetest days of my life and I know they are fleeting.

I fully expect to blink and find myself watching Jason walk her down the aisle.

Not cool, Time… not cool.

After a rough-ish start to parenthood, we have entered my favorite stage of Eden’s life so far. Yesterday, she and I spent 45 minutes lying on the couch, snuggling and playing. It was late in the day and we were spending the last few minutes before her bedtime routine just hanging out. Even one week ago, she never would’ve stayed calm and interested through such a low-key activity.

It was precious beyond words.

It seems weird to blog about how life is good. But it truly is.

Jason is getting to do work that he loves with Epic, and he gets to do it at home.  It’s so sweet to be home with our little family all together, even if he is working. And I’m getting back into ministry as well, as I’m able to meet with students. My time with the Epic women is more infrequent than it was before Eden, but it is extremely encouraging and (I hope) impacting.

Even though there is a sweetness to life currently, it is never perfect. In the midst of joyous days, my heart has truly been in anguish as some of our dear friends have been suffering, and there has been pain in our families. It seems that even in times of joy, it’s impossible to escape the pain of living in a fallen world.

But redemption is coming.

I see its shadows when I nuzzle my baby, enjoy my husband, or when sudden good news gives hope to an impossible situation.

I am thankful for that reminder, and for the ability to enjoy a season of life that seems especially sweet.


Am I Prettier?

Recently I was gazing into Eden’s sweet face… perhaps the most beautiful, searching eyes I have ever seen… and I just kept telling her over and over how perfectly lovely she is.

Then it occurred to me that all mothers must think their daughters are beautiful.

And then I chuckled to myself.

I remembered a story involving my mother and me, when I was probably in Kindergarten. It went something like this:

ME: Mommy, am I prettier than Amy? (names have been changed to protect the innocent)

MOM: Yes, you are prettier than Amy.

ME: Mommy, am I prettier than Sarah?

MOM: Yes, TJ, you are much prettier than Sarah.

ME: Mommy, am I prettier than Melissa?

MOM: (pause) Well, Melissa is a very pretty girl.

Ahh, my mother… apparently she was very committed to honesty  🙂

I wonder what I would do in a similar situation. I respect her for not lying to me, and she definitely did not have any warning that I would ask such a thing, so no time to prepare.

Now, having thought about it, I think I know what I’ll say if ever my daughter asks me a question like this. How do you think you would answer?


The Best Time of My Day

Currently, I have two favorite times of the day.

The first one happens somewhere between 6-7:30 when Eden wakes up for her first feeding.  Daddy sleeps and I go to her room, sit in the glider and give her breakfast #1.  Afterward, we have what I have dubbed “kissy time”.  Basically, for the better part of an hour, I simply hold her in the crook of my arm and snuggle with her.  She coos and “talks” to me.  We hold hands.  I give her a ridiculous amount of kisses.  We play with her feet.  It’s the time of day where she is the least squirmy and the most cooperative with my unending displays of affection. Whatever lingering anger I have from her lack of sleep the night before melts away as I gaze into her precious face.  (Well, most of the anger anyway…)

Sweet, sweet memories.

The other favorite is almost exactly 12 hrs later and completely different, when at 7pm Jason and I put the baby to bed for the evening.  We eat dinner. Maybe have a glass of wine.  We talk.  Sometimes it’s the first time we really talk all day.  We watch TV.  We relax and unwind.  We look at each other and say, “This is the best part of the day.”  We don’t miss the baby at all.  Ahhh…  I look forward to it every day.

I’m so thankful that my day is book-ended by such sweet times.  I know these will be moments I remember for many, many years.