Category Archives: Uncategorized


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:


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…


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.


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.


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.


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.

My Ladder Rung

I am shamefully afraid of heights. I mean, I am terrified of being elevated in the air by more than a couple of feet. Roller coasters are not entertainment but rather a torture device created by the cruelest of men. To put it into context, I get a little nervous just standing on top of a 6 foot ladder. Because of that, I’ve never been that adventurous of a person. I’d rather play it safe and am generally an overly cautious individual. I was always adverse to risk and confrontation.

Which brings this conversation I had nearly 10 years ago into great perspective. I was either filled by the Spirit or completely insane to do what I did. I sat down across the desk of a man that I had both respected and admired. He was a very spiritual man and a highly educated one too. It’s just not that often I get to sit across from men who helped found a seminary. Unfortunately for me, I had this meeting not to glean knowledge from him or to study under him. In fact, it was a “clearing of the air” meeting where I needed to bring up some ways where I felt he wasn’t entirely fair or kind regarding his assessment of me. I was deemed unworthy to be dating his daughter at the time, and his reasoning that I wasn’t “good enough” didn’t exactly register with me. How do you determine the value of someone that you’ve interacted with just twice in a group setting?

The conversation led to him drawing a diagram for me. It was a ladder. Each rung represented a level of leadership and responsibility that person could manage. The lowest rung represented the immediate community, the second lowest represented the local area and so forth with the highest two being one with a national and international capacity. I didn’t climb too high in his eyes and he saw my highest capacity about three to four rungs high. No further than a regional level. You can guess where he saw his daughter. (Hint: It was much higher than mine.)

The other thing that he told me was that I couldn’t become a spiritual leader because of my family of origin. My parents are not Christians and therefore he believed I wouldn’t have the capacity or the know how to lead a home as the spiritual leader. I mean, how could I possibly do what was never modeled for me? He saw me as being set up to fail and his daughter could not be a part of that sinking ship.

10 years later, now married and with a daughter of my own, I can sympathize with that man. If I saw some bum pursuing my daughter, I’d encourage her to not give him the time of day. Naturally, my hope is that I’ll have raised her well enough to differentiate between a quality man and an idiot so I won’t need to step in myself. Thankfully I still have a few years before I get to that point, but as I think about my future and my family’s future, I want to take stock of where exactly I came from.

Those of you who know my wife know that she is not ordinary by any means. At least not in the spiritual sense. Most of her insight doesn’t come from anything learned, read or trained. It’s mostly instinct and intuition. It is God-given and it is amazing. It is breathtaking to watch TJ in her element. I would much rather watch her in ministry than hop in a time machine to watch Pele in his prime. She is just that incredible. And this isn’t just me being her biased husband. Most of you have stopped me in my tracks just to tell me how amazing she is. It is something that’s just so evident and clear to the world around her. Which leads me to the obvious question, “Why in her right mind, would TJ marry someone like me?”

I carry with me that conversation with that man and a metaphorical ladder rung. I don’t carry it around as a chip on my shoulder and use it as a big “I told you so”. But rather I carry it around like a scar. It is healed, but you can still see the damage that was done. That conversation was absolutely brutal on me emotionally, as I would imagine for any other 20 year old. I want to remember how damaged I was so I’ll never inflict that kind of pain on anyone else, much less any suitors Eden has.

I’ve been very fortunate and blessed by the number of people who have commented on me and my marriage, on me as a husband and on me as a father. Every piece of affirmation in that area slowly tears away the wall of doubt in my heart and affirms that I am not nor will I ever be defined by that ladder rung. My spiritual legacy will not be defined by my heritage alone. I can have a godly marriage, be a godly husband and be a godly father, and even be a great spiritual leader despite my great fear in climbing high.

My Birthday Reflection


It wasn’t fancy. It was just round with a very classic black and white look. It was my favorite birthday present of my childhood and quite possibly the only memory I have of my birthday celebrations. I was eight and my parents had gotten me the best gift of all, a soccer ball.

I had zero coordination and my best attempts at anything resembling a soccer move would be a painful toe punch towards nothing, but nobody cared. Certainly not me. All I knew was that I had a chance to kick a ball around with my Dad and my friends and that was plenty of celebration for me.

Which brings us to today which is my 30th birthday. Every year I try my best to play down this birthday hoopla. TJ’s been extraordinary in her efforts to celebrate me, my birth and my existence but I’ve always put up a stern resistance to the notion that my life needs to be celebrated. I disguise it as a misguided belief that it’s just a “normal day” like every other day and I’m uncomfortable with all the attention.

While there is a certainly some truth to it, what lies beneath that nonsense is that I never really felt that anybody would really care. What makes the post below from my wife and friends so meaningful is that I have rarely sensed that people know me or thought anything of me. The words of affirmation below are a strong “in your face” statement against my inner insecurities that if people really knew me, they would despise me.

I miss that eight year old version of me. Armed with nothing but a ball and no discernible talent, people still celebrated and played with me. Somewhere in the past 22 years I’ve taught myself that I needed to be more than just me for anyone to care. Some of it was from parties where very few people showed up. Some of it was from forgotten birthdays. Whatever it was, the message was always loud and clear, “You are a nobody and nobody cares.”

In the end, it was just easier to tell myself that I didn’t care, so that when my community didn’t care, I wouldn’t feel the pain. I’ve learned many things in my marriage to TJ and one of those is being truthful and honest about my feelings and to apply the proper weight to them. I’ve also learned to face my fears and insecurities with strength that is more befitting of a man, husband and father.

To my friends and family who took the time to write something encouraging to me, you haven’t the slightest clue as to how liberating those words mean to me. I am humbled that is how you experience me and that I mean something to you. Over the weekend I’ve started accumulating gifts from flowers to checks, from an aeropress coffee maker to an electric razor, and while everything is exactly what I would want, the little space below that occupies this blog is by far the most meaningful, significant and important gift to me of all. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for remembering and celebrating me.


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!

Language of “Apology”

Last night I read this article on CNN.

Quick recap if you haven’t read the article: 20,000 Californians were forcibly sterilized by the state from 1909 to 1963, in order to rid society of people thought to be undesirable: people labeled “feeble-minded” or “defectives.”

Today, some of those people are seeking justice, and not finding much support. One person says, “I hate to sound so cynical, but I think they’re just waiting for the victims to die and forget this whole thing ever happened.”

The most telling part of the article states:

CNN’s attempts to contact politicians have been unsuccessful.

The governor’s office referred CNN to the state Department of Developmental Services, which sent a two-sentence statement: “The State of California deeply regrets the harm caused to victims of involuntary sterilization that occurred through the first half of the 1900s. This was a sad and painful period in California’s history, one that should never be repeated.”

When CNN asked Brown for his stance on reparations for sterilization victims, press secretary Gil Duran sent an e-mail referring to the statement. “There’s nothing more to add,” he wrote.

In contrast, the governor of North Carolina, where a similar agenda was carried out, has sought out victims of forced-sterilizations and “held hearings where she apologized personally and heard their stories. She also set up a task force to help the victims and recommended that each receive $50,000 in reparations.”

I have to say, the contrast moved me. I immediately tweeted, “After reading this, I can’t help but think: true apologies honor the wronged by being willing to hear their stories.”

I was deeply grieved when I read the unwillingness of California politicians to engage this matter or to enter the stories of those who suffered injustice and victimization at the hands of the “system” – a system whose proponents included, by the way, the President of Stanford and the publisher of the LA Times, as well as “the country’s intellectual elite such as doctors, geneticists and Supreme Court justices”.

“There’s nothing more to add”

These words stirred up something deep within me. How often is this our response?

As individuals or organizationally, we may have created or perpetuated systems that marginalized, abused and victimized a group of people. Perhaps this was brought to our attention, and a sincere and concerted effort was made to change. For many of us, the responsibility stops there. If someone approaches us about the past harm inflicted or its lingering effects, our response is “there’s nothing more to add.” Perhaps, if we are Christian, we even chastise them for not forgiving and we encourage them to show us a little more grace next time.

I’ll stop speaking in generalities and be a little more blunt: I think this ties in so well to what my ethnic minority friends experience, as well as potential default reactions in myself. I’m well-aware that the CNN article deals with eugenics and not racism, but I think what these stories illustrate about apology, restitution and reconciliation has much to teach me, if I’m willing to learn.

I’m young in my service with Cru so by sheer “luck” of my birth year, I have avoided being part of some hairy, icky things that have happened in our organization regarding ethnicity and ministry and yet, being also young in my own cultural journey, I’ve also contributed to the marginalization that others have felt. Maybe I’ve apologized for those things; maybe the people who were more involved in the “ickier” parts have also apologized for the role that they played.

But after reading this, I am even more resolved: if someone has the courage to approach me and tell me how I’ve harmed them in the past then, whether I feel I’ve apologized for that before or not, I’m going to apologize again. I’m going to ask them about their hurt. I am going to be willing to enter their pain, whether or not I feel it’s “legitimate”.

And then I’m going to apologize again if I need to.

And maybe again.

As long as it takes for them to feel heard and honored.

Our goal is to bestow honor and to restore dignity to those who have been harmfully treated at our hands, and that will require that we humbly put aside our embarrassment at being called out yet again, and our potential frustration at having to address an issue yet again, and we will do what it takes to show love to other sons and daughters of Adam. Perhaps we will even need to follow in the footsteps of Bev Perdue, governor of North Carolina, and set up venues for these voices to be heard, and then we will need to actually listen.

An apology without conversation and without story is a self-serving tool which can be effective at making us feel better, but has no real power to touch the heart of the wounded or to move us forward in authentic reconciliation.

Because true apologies honor the wronged by being willing to hear their stories.

Related, here’s another story of yet another frustrating non-apology:

A Hard Look

Two days ago, my husband posted something that was painfully honest, and beautiful. I read and re-read his post and each time became more emotional over it. I am brought to tears by the pain that he has experienced, yet I’m so impressed with his resilience. That Jason desires not to shield our daughter, but to raise her to see injustice and to fight against apathy puts an appreciation in my heart that I cannot describe.

It also shames me.

Just five days ago, ESPN came under fire for a seemingly-racist headline on its mobile site. The outcry against them was swift, and it was strong. When I woke up on Saturday morning and came down to join Jason and Eden in the kitchen, he caught me up on what had happened and I viewed it for myself.

“Maybe he didn’t mean it that way.”


“Well, it seems like a pretty commonly used expression. It does have a literal meaning. Maybe he wasn’t actually referring to Jeremy Lin as the ‘chink’… maybe it just describes the Knicks.”

There’s a picture of Jeremy Lin right above the headline.

“Yeah, but who knows if the same person even chooses that. I mean, the author of the article could’ve written about the Knicks having a chink in their armor, meaning they lost, and then someone else could’ve chosen the picture without realizing it.”

*long pause*… Why are you so determined to defend this?

I wish I could say that I stopped there, but I was actually pretty annoyed. It seemed like maybe he was jumping to conclusions, and that maybe there was nothing to it after all. I tried to soothe my husband by insisting that I believed it was horrible either way, and that even if it was two different people who wrote the article and chose the picture, the editor certainly should have caught it. I wasn’t saying it shouldn’t mean anything, but I wasn’t sure it should mean everything.

I’m so embarrassed by my response.

I didn’t get it.

It took me a few hours, actually, until Jason’s words lodged themselves firmly in my conscience: why are you so determined to defend this?

For my personal life, the intentions of the people at ESPN are completely irrelevant. Rather, the incident served to show me what is true about me, and this is what I saw:

I wanted it to be unintentional.

I assumed it to be unintentional.

I am quick to defend other Caucasians, and to explain away their seemingly-racist actions as innocuous.

And now that I see it, I am horrified by this.

Yes, I believe that we should, as a general rule, assume the best in people. But we should also take a close, hard look at why and when and especially who we are most inclined to believe the best about.

Why was I more determined to defend a stranger than I was willing to put myself in my husband’s shoes and try to see the situation through his lens? More importantly, how does my “default” setting to defend perpetuate the marginalization and silencing of ethnic minority voices, despite what my intentions are?

I am slow to interpret things as “racist” because, as a white person, I can be. This is sobering realization. Once again, I see how easy it is for myself, as a Caucasian person, to remain oblivious to the bias of my perceptions. Without the mirror of Jason and other friends, I would never have to call into question my motives or assumptions, and I most likely would never be able to see the prejudices therein.

This showed me that, while I have made much progress in my own journey of understanding cultural identity (most because of my involvement with Epic Movement), I still have much further to go. I am only beginning to understand the story of my Asian-American brothers and sisters, and to be able to enter it in a way that brings understanding and healing, instead of further damage.

I am so saddened when I think of how my assumptions and reactions have caused further pain to my husband. (The above incident, sadly, is not the first time something like this has happened.) Yet, Jason is a gracious person, as are all my ethnic minority friends, and they are patient with me and show me undeserved grace and compassion even when I blow it. As I reflect upon it, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness toward the people in my life who have invited me into their stories, even when I haven’t made a very good visitor there.

Eden is beyond blessed to be surrounded by people who will be able to mentor and guide her in her “unique opportunity in bridging two worlds together bringing forth healing, reconciliation and understanding.

Maybe she can teach her mother, too.

My Ethnical Dilemma

Before Eden was born, I looked TJ in the eyes and told her in all seriousness that I hoped our daughter would look white because her life would be easier. Her response will always be with me. There was no shock. No laughter. Just sadness in her eyes because she knew. She knew I was serious and she knew that my comment came from a place of suffering and past experience.

Fast forward a year and wouldn’t you know it, my daughter is indeed very white looking. I am both amused and shocked by how much she resembles me and that she reflects a completely different ethnicity too. But despite her appearance fulfilling a wish of mine, I’m not oblivious to the fact that she’ll still face some hardships over her ethnicity.

Back in college, when I was dating my former girlfriend, her father directed a comment about me that I’ll never forget. We were both 20, still a few years off from graduating and marriage wasn’t even a remote possibility. He sat his daughter down and told her his concerns about any future children we might have. How they’ll be half. How they’ll grow up with identity issues because of it. When we broke up, she relayed that information to me but I was too young and naive to realize what had really happened.

When my friends heard about it, they were immediately outraged, horrified and even stunned by what he had said about me for they saw what I couldn’t see. I cannot even imagine how my parents felt when I told them what happened and their sense of confusion when I wasn’t angry about it.

My parents met in England, spending over a decade of their lives away from Hong Kong, trying to make a better living out there. I recently learned that they moved back to Hong Kong before I was born because my father’s career as a doctor had reached a dead end. He had been passed over for several jobs. Jobs which he was well qualified for, but wasn’t even considered because he was Chinese. The jobs all went to Caucasians, most of them didn’t even have the proper credentials. The final straw was when he was filling in for a friend and a patient refused his service because of his “black hair”.

Being a parent myself, I can imagine the horrible feeling of hearing my child face a racist situation. The recent Jeremy Lin and “Chink in the Armor” incident has surfaced for me all the times I had been called a “Chink”. I can recall the many times I had someone reference my “squinty” eyes, even though my eyes are actually pretty round. The one that hurt the most was when someone in a mocking accent tried to converse with me with “Ching Chong Ling Long Ting Tong”. The act of making fun of my language wasn’t entirely that hurtful, but that it mostly happened in the company of people and nobody would come to my defense. Nobody would say anything. The most recent episode occurred when I had dinner at a friend’s house. Even after conversing with his family for over two hours at this point, my friend’s step elementary age brother blurted out “Wait, what’s your name again? Ching Chong Wong Wang?” My friend stepped in as much as he could, but his parents just sat there, silent and slowly kept eating.

The message from these stories is clear to me: it’s better to be white. You get the job even if you didn’t work for it. You are marriage material. You don’t get called names. So when I told TJ my hope for our daughter’s appearance, I was wishing she wouldn’t experience the same pains I did growing up.

Eden is unique. She comes from two cultures and two worlds. It has started to become more and more evident as I begin to show pictures of her deceased grandparents and teach her how to address them in Cantonese. Eden is not half. She is fully Chinese and she is fully American. But despite her outward appearance, she will not have that “easy” life that I wish for, partly because I won’t allow it.

Eden cannot grow up in this world turning a cold shoulder to my, no… her story. To the best of my abilities, I will raise her to know her Chinese heritage and her American heritage too. She will know of the plight towards her people as immigrants in this country. As TJ put it, we cannot allow her to grow up with apathy. Because she is both Chinese and American, she has a unique opportunity in bridging two worlds together bringing forth healing, reconciliation and understanding. But to do that she needs to have empathy for both cultures and that cannot happen without some pain and suffering in her life.

It pains me to say that, and while my role as her father is to protect her, I cannot shelter her from certain experiences in life even if it means it’ll hurt her. My natural instinct is to keep her from harm, but I would rob her of far more if I did.

My Investment to Give

In the past three to four years, I cannot remember how many times I’ve read something along the lines of, “If you stopped buying a latte every morning and invested that $5 for the next 30 years,  it will be worth $149,035.94… assuming an 8% return”. Generally I believe that to be good advice. But have found it to be rather impractical in execution. Seriously, how many of us have actually read the same thing, curbed our coffee addiction and actually invested the difference? My guess is very, very, very few.

I’ve been reading more investment books recently. Part of it is because I find them to be a “fun and light” read, but also because I’m feeling a sense of conviction of how I am stewarding God’s resources and want to make sure I give Him the best return on investment through me.

I don’t think I’m actually wasteful at all. I brew my own coffee. I take 1 minute showers to save water. I have TJ cut my hair. I keep my home’s thermostat warm during the summer and cold during the winter. We don’t have cable TV (except for that one month during the summer of 2010 for the World Cup). I work out from home to save on a gym membership. I still have a pair of shoes that I wear regularly from seven years ago. But while I’m not spending much, and our giving has increased every year, I do believe that I can do more to give more.

I am eternally grateful for the people behind Sound Mind Investing for forever changing my financial family tree. They taught me how to save, how to invest and more importantly how to be generous and to give abundantly. TJ and I walked into our marriage debt free, had a fully funded emergency savings within a few months, started saving for “retirement” and started giving where our hearts were led. They taught me the value of a financial plan and how to honor the Lord and His works with careful planning and a “loose” checkbook to give.

As I mentioned before, TJ and I don’t have cable TV. The difference of having cable or not is about $50/month for us (internet bundle) and so I did the math. Just like the hypothetical latte above and arrived at: $50/month for 40 years (by the time I “retire”) at 8% will be $174,550.39. But rather than just say to myself, “Wow that’s a lot of money”, I decided to start investing it, for real.

I get play money to spend on clothes, gadgets, shoes or whatever I want every month. If I were to get cable or something else purely for me, it would come from my “allowance”. So starting today, rather than spend that $50/month for cable TV, I am investing it. As I’m writing this, my first investment went through my brokerage firm and I am on my way to “Wow that’s a lot of money” sometime in the future.

My plan for this money is simple: use it to advance God’s Kingdom. I realize that rather than investing it, I could be giving it right now instead and I firmly believe that’s a good option too. I’m choosing not for several reasons: 1.  I believe God is not asking me to do that right now. 2. I know a thing or two about investing to grow it modestly and 3. I am inspired by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

I will not have their resources by the time I reach their age. My level of impact in terms of giving back will not be at that capacity. But I love what they’re doing and their attempts to do good in this world by creating sustainable systems. It’s the very same thing that our good friend Kirby Trapolino is doing with Peace Gospel International, and we are utterly delighted to be a part of what he’s doing. I believe that I should invest carefully and prudently so that when the time comes, I can with the stroke of a pen, write a big fat check (will checks still be around then?) and create some kind of system for the betterment of mankind and as a testimony of God’s love.

I believe God gave me a serious interest in investments for a reason. I believe that I should wisely invest the money so my Master will have a decent return for his resources. I believe that will be one way I can contribute to His story of redemption. I believe I can make a difference. I believe that difference starts now with my “cable TV” money.


Happy New Year!

There are few meals that stir up as many images of God’s bounty for me as hotpot. Especially how the Poons do it.

(You know how we roll.)

The table overflows with meat, veggies, noodles, dumplings along with many things my white friends have never heard of and that I wouldn’t begin to know how to successfully describe in English. But they are all absolutely delicious. One table is usually not enough room to contain all the food; we need a separate side-table just for more food!

Over the Christmas break, Jason and I shared this meal with my family (read: southern white people) and were oh-so-delighted when they received it enthusiastically. For Jason and I were not just introducing them to one of our family’s favorite meals and traditions – we were sharing with them our very hearts and selves.

There are times to eat simple meals, and there are times to feast. On this day, we do the latter. We feast to celebrate that a new year has come, God has enabled us to see it and He has given us sweet friends and family with whom we can share it.

Tonight we will have another hotpot in honor of the New Year. It will be a little shorter on people but totally equal in love and, of course, delicious food. As we eat and talk together, I want to allow my heart to bask in the glow of God’s abundant generosity to us revealed in a feast and being able to share it with friends who are our family.

Happy New Year!

My Unsettled Heart

“Deal with it.”

That’s actually one of my favorite lines and running joke from a canceled sitcom called “Better Off Ted”. Two characters on the show start making bold choices in their personal and professional lives and their response to the controversial decisions is to simply utter the phrase, “deal with it”.

Comedy aside, I have found it be a rather profound statement in my current life. As you know, I’ve been losing my hair (literally) in recent months and random bald spots are appearing over my scalp. (See below) On good days, I am confident and unaffected by my odd looking appearance, but like most people, I also have bad days and am extremely self conscious about it.

I’m learning that dealing with Alopecia Areata is quite tricky because of the nature of the disease. It is a complete unknown factor. Medical reports are unsure of a cause or what triggers it. There is also no known cure. This hair falling episode can last for months to years. My hair may grow back in 12 months, or it may be permanently gone. More hair could fall out and I may go totally bald. The uncertainty has made this very difficult to cope with. If I knew my hair would regrow again, I would have fewer bad days dealing with it. If I knew my hair would all fall out, I could at least start processing that reality. But nothing is certain with this, and I’m just left in the dark, not knowing what’s to come and deeply unsettled.

So how then, am I supposed to “deal with it” when “it” is completely unknown? My first step was to refuse to hide it. I contemplated growing my hair out to cover up the bald spots, but decided against it. I like my hair short. Always have. Hiding our problems may make us look better to the world, but it doesn’t address the issue. I’m not advocating that sunlight exposure on my scalp will generate hair regrowth, but I don’t want to live in hiding. I don’t want to always be thinking about my hair, if it’s hiding the bald spots and if anyone notices. That is too exhausting of  a life to live. So here you are world, I have bald spots on my head! Deal with it!

My second step was to come to grips that no matter how much I try, I am not in control of my life. Once I was diagnosed, I’ve been trying multiple treatment options to both slow the hair loss process and the regrowth. None of them are a guarantee and none of them have worked so far. I attempted them knowing that, but was hopeful that just one of them might help. I don’t think that’s necessarily unusual to try treatment options, but deep down I knew that I was trying everything because I desperately wanted control back in my life again. But each day is met with more strands of hair falling out, with no sign of any regrowth and the reminder once again that I am not in control.

What’s comical about the situation is that I’ve never been in control of my own life to begin with. God orchestrated when I was born, where I would live, how I would look and every other facet of my life. Intellectually, I’ve always acknowledged that. Yes, I know that God is in control of everything but that hasn’t seemed to have made the necessary emotional connection to my heart until now. Intellectually I can acknowledge that having God in control of my life is the best thing for me and everyone. But emotionally, it’s very unsettling to fully realize that my life is entirely in the hands of someone else… but I am dealing with it. 😉