Saturday, 4 February 2017

It's true.

Last night over drinks one of Melody’s co-workers remarked “Your daughter is amazing.” I replied, “She’s got an amazing mother.” I knew in saying that there was a conflict of interest. It was the charming thing to say, after all, and it’s good press. I uttered it in half-truth. But as soon as I said it, to my surprise, my eyes misted over. I choked back a tear. I realized it really was true. She is amazing. She isn’t perfect, but she’s perfect for our family. She’s both a cheerleader and a disciplinarian to our child (she dotes, but she will not be played). She’s impeccably organized, a master of itineraries. By the time you think of it, she has handled it. She gave fierce competition this year for Wittiest Leong (see: Insta captions). She is incredibly driven in her career, she gives until there is nothing left to give. She continually shows me my sin, and is quick to forgive. A beautiful woman, inside and out (see: photo). Marriage isn’t just a partnership, it’s a grafting. It is by her willingness to walk alongside me that she is making me a better man. Happy 30th Birthday to the Love of My Life, the Delight of My Eyes, my dear Melody!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

With a Single Tear.

Note the passage of time: when asked if she wanted to watch “Elmo or Tayo,” Evangeline replied “No.”
“Elmo?” I asked more carefully.
“No,” she answered.
“Tayo then?” I said.
“No,” she answered again.
“...George?” I asked reluctantly.
“No,” she quickly dismissed as she had for months.
I was confounded. I landed the cursor incredulously on “Bella and the Bulldogs,” (because one of the creators is a good friend of my sister). She said yes. Surely she’d lose interest a minute in, I thought, it’s not a cartoon at all! What transpired left me in knots. Most progressions are systematic and largely unnoticed until you think to yourself “Hm, she’s not doing that anymore.” But on the eve of her birthday, I watched her as she sat totally engaged by a “big kid’s show,” unable to deny that she had grown. Today she is a goofy ham of a toddler, loaded with party tricks, a bit sassy and very inclusive. With a single tear in my eye I proudly proclaim that my daughter is TWO!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Unbearable Beauty of Her Face.

In C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, a man is guided through a trip to heaven. As soon as I learned of my aunt's passing, I knew that she was the woman whom Lewis was talking about here:

“First came bright Spirits, not the Spirits of men, who danced and scattered flowers. Then, on the left and right, at each side of the forest avenue, came youthful shapes, boys upon one hand, and girls upon the other. If I could remember their singing and write down the notes, no man who read that score would ever grow sick or old. Between them went musicians: and after these a lady in whose honour all this was being done.

I cannot now remember whether she was naked or clothed. If she were naked, then it must have been the almost visible penumbra of her courtesy and joy which produces in my memory the illusion of a great and shining train that followed her across the happy grass. If she were clothed, then the illusion of nakedness is doubtless due to the clarity with which her inmost spirit shone through the clothes. For clothes in that country are not a disguise: the spiritual body lives along each thread and turns them into living organs. A robe or a crown is there as much one of the wearer's features as a lip or an eye.

But I have forgotten. And only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face.

“Is it? it?” I whispered to my guide.
“Not at all,” said he. “It's someone ye'll never have heard of. Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.”
“She seems to be...well, a person of particular importance?”
“Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.”
“And who are these gigantic people...look! They're like emeralds...who are dancing and throwing flowers before here?”
“Haven't ye read your Milton? A thousand liveried angels lackey her.”
“And who are all these young men and women on each side?”
“They are her sons and daughters.”
“She must have had a very large family, Sir.”
“Every young man or boy that met her became her son – even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.”
“Isn't that a bit hard on their own parents?”
“No. There are those that steal other people's children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives.”
“And how...but hullo! What are all these animals? A cat-two cats-dozens of cats. And all those dogs...why, I can't count them. And the birds. And the horses.”
“They are her beasts.”
“Did she keep a sort of zoo? I mean, this is a bit too much.”
“Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them.”
I looked at my Teacher in amazement.
“Yes,” he said. “It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.”


Friday, 22 January 2016

So Must the Heart.

What Melody didn’t mention is that, along with the indiscriminate gushing, the journal also served as a place to air out our gut fears and the frustrations we felt during our long distance engagement. At those too we can laugh. Some reckon we married young because we were just "marriage people,” but the truth is that we didn’t know what we were doing. There are entries in the journal where one of us (mostly me) is agonizing over an argument that we had, unsure of what it meant for our future, arriving nowhere by the end. Someone once said, “The problem with seeking counsel with yourself is that he thinks like you!” Self-reflection can only speculate about experiences that are new.

So we sought wisdom. The advice we got from a number of stalwart marriages we were blessed to know amounted to something that was at once commonsensical and counterintuitive: love each other. In other words, do your duty, which over the years was grueling, perhaps gut-wrenching, some moments at odds with every fiber of our being; but like the body ought to be trained so must the heart--and in the same way after years of proper training, you can look back at the obstacles that used to seem insurmountable to you, and laugh.

  “[Love] is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God…It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.” - C.S. Lewis

- J

Thursday, 21 January 2016

For years.

Last week, Julian rediscovered a journal where he and I wrote letters to each other while we were dating and engaged.  It included the usual mushy words of infatuation and excitement to which we rolled our eyes and laughed.  Over the years, our love letters have been replaced with endless to do lists and I can barely recognize those wide-eyed young lovers!

While it is nice to reminisce about how wildly in love we were then, it's even more fulfilling to know how our love transforms into something  deeper with each passing year.  You drive me crazy sometimes and challenge me daily, but as cliche as it is, I am so glad God chose you for me.  You've seen firsthand what a mess I am-- my flaws, my weaknesses, my anxieties, my pride-- and yet still commit yourself to our marriage and family.  This way you seek to love like Jesus is the reason why marriage is bearable and beautiful and why I love you so much (it also doesn't hurt that you're a great father and excellent chef).  Here's to four years and for years to come.  


Monday, 14 September 2015

My Favorite 1st-year moment: Julian.

Melody and I agreed to share our favorite memory from Evie's first year...

I always wondered how much you can really know a person at six months. Watching her motor skills develop and personality bud, that’s not what surprised me. I've observed these before in other children, albeit seeing them this closely was especially curious, it’s not what surprised me. I entered the room, plainly as ever. She noticed me come in, and smiled. She recognized me. I don't mean she recognized me in the way she might recognize her, say, bottle, it wasn't that she simply identified me, she remembered me. It was more the way you might recognize an old friend in the supermarket. It was a smile, not just delight (again, the way she recognizes her bottle), but relief and amusement and nostalgia. You… I almost whispered to myself, astonished…remember me? I always wondered how much you can know a person a six months, I had never even considered how much a person at six months can know you. And that’s love, isn’t it? To be known.
- J

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

1st Birthday Wish.

As you may or may not know, during a recent family trip to CA, we found out the unexpected news that my sister's son, my handsome 3-year-old nephew, Dylan Joe (DJ), was diagnosed with B-cell leukemia. After finding out that Thursday, DJ was admitted to the the Children's Hospital of Orange County and promptly began chemo the following day. We thank God that his body has been responding well to the treatments so far, but there is still much to do both for him and others fighting against various cancers.

With that said, Julian and I (with Evie in tow) will be participating in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night 5K Walk on Saturday, October 3 in NYC. It looks like a very special event that helps to raise funds for research, treatments and resources for patients and families of those affected with blood cancers. We've created the team GO GO DYLAN JOE in honor of DJ! 

In lieu of gifts for Evie's 1st birthday, we are asking for donations to support this important cause.

Here is a link for info about Light the Night Walk:

Here is a link to the team page:

Thank you so much.

- M