Monday, February 26, 2007

Naughty or Nice? 15 observations about Erich

Time sure goes so fast when you are having fun. I am continually amazed at the rate by which infants and toddlers learn. The following is a sampling of observations I have made of Erich in the past two months - in no particular order:

  • He now has a spoken vocabulary of about a dozen words, and can readily understand simple sentences in English, German and Cantonese.
  • Among some of the more amusing facts - he has learned the art of scolding himself. More accurately, he has learned that the phrase "yie yie" (Cantonese for naughty) inevitably follows when he does something naughty. So now when he throws food on the floor, for instance, he proceeds to wag his finger and say "yie yie". This not knowing of course that he's the one who is supposed to be scolded not the one doing the scolding!
  • Hans has been very impressed at the amount of German he has been able to understand. The other day, he dropped his juice sippy cup on the ground, and Hans asked him, in German, to go over there, pick up the sippy cup and bring it back to Grandpa. Erich proceeded to do it without hesitation. Another time, Hans asked him to go around the slide instead of trying to climb up the slide backwards, and he again understood what he was saying and obeyed.
  • In English, he is able to regularly utter these words: "uh oh", "up", "down", "hi!", "hi daddy!", "ummm", "mum", "that", "bath time", "apple", and "done".
  • He has been able to switch on and off lights.
  • Much to our chagrin, he climbs just about anything and everything including the sofa, baby gates, his new shape sorter, desks, and chairs. (Obviously, some things are more suitable and appropriate than others.) Luckily for us, most of the time, Erich also knows how to climb back down from things. Occasionally, however, he'll fall and hurt himself.
  • He is also able to point to something and request it by saying "that".
  • He knows and loves to give mommy and daddy big hugs.
  • He is able to retrieve things when asked - for instance, if I say to him "Erich, why don't you play with your new shape sorter", he'll proceed to find it on the shelf, take it off the shelf, and play with it. Then, if I were to say later "Erich, can you please put the shape sorter back on the shelf?", he would take the sorter and place it back on the shelf.
  • Similarly, he is able to pick out most books by name. His favorite (green eggs and ham) is always a favorite.
  • He's started to learn how to use duplo/lego. I brought out my old duplo set for him to use, and with just a little help, he managed to build a tower.
  • He's also great at cleanup. The other day, mommy asked him to help cleanup some of his toys, and he managed to put things back in their respective places. This translates to service at church too - on Sundays he often helps out the A/V guys put away microphone cords!
  • He's done well with associating things to sounds. When he plays with his toy trucks or cars, he makes a very appropriate "vroom, vroom" sound with his lips. The other day, he saw a car commercial on TV. He proceeded to point at it and said "vroom, vroom"! (No wonder those Mazda commercials are so effective!)
  • Unfortunately, he's also learned the associations between a remote and a TV, and the mouse/keyboard and the computer. Sometimes, though, he gets it mixed up: The other day when grandma gave him a harmonica to try, he thought it was a remote and immediately pointed it at the TV and started pressing imaginary buttons. Well, at least you could say he picks up on UI metaphors quickly!
  • He loves to dance. I recently bought Karen a Michael Buble album for Valentines. Every time that album plays, Erich dances to the music.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Personal Quiet Time

I have noticed, particularly since having a family, that personal quiet time is both something that I long for and that is in increasingly short supply. So, when I was able to set aside some time explicitly for personal reflection, I was quite excited. Personal time not only refreshes my soul, it allows me time to gather my thoughts and gather what the Holy Spirit has been revealing to me over the past while.

This particular quiet time I had devoted to gathering my thoughts about what I had learned from the book "Generation Ex" and how it applies to my life. Since resolving to give this area of my life up to God, I felt the need to have an honest conversation to God about the subject - call it a first step in my action plan for my 2007 resolution.

Pastor Jerry and Nick Bansback, a friend from the Bridge, are both big proponents of using mind maps to organize thoughts for devotion. I had done many-a-mind-maps before, but had never attempted to put "my life" at the centre of the map. Doing so yielded some pretty interesting results!

At the root were four major branches: My New Roles, My Fears, My "Coping Mechanisms" and "Jesus". As I mapped each branch, I realized there was a pattern emerging. On one side was the circumstances of my life (roles and fears) and on the other were two common ways I deal with those circumstances: through coping mechanisms or by entrusting it to Jesus.

Coping mechanisms are sub-optimal habits we develop to cope with circumstance apart from God. Much like how I know I ought to exercise my legs to deal with my knee injury, but often find it much "easier" just to take pain medication, the same holds true for coping with emotional pain.

Entrusting it to Jesus often involves giving up sense of control over the situation. Intellectually, I know that giving it up to God is the better solution, but pride takes over and I subconciously conclude better the devil I know (pardon the pun) and live with the coping mechanism instead. Yet how often is this so utterly unhealthy for us? God after all did create us, and knows us more intimately than anyone else. If there were anybody who ought to know what "normal" is supposed to look like, it would be Jesus. Yet somehow in our twisted minds, we think our circumstances coupled with our "coping mechanisms" is more normal than entrusting the circumstance with Jesus.

Because much of what I reflected on is personal in nature (and this is after all a public forum), I will not go into the details of my nitty-gritty circumstances and coping mechanisms and how it relates specifically to me as a child of divorce. But suffice it to say that when I boiled my coping mechanisms down to their leaf nodes, it revealed cleverly concealed sin. Isn't "just coping" with something without fully giving it up to God just another form of pride?

In meditating on this, God highlighted one particular story in the Bible: that of the bleeding woman of 12 years being healed by touching Jesus' cloak (c.f. Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:22-43, Luke 8:40-56). For years, this passage had boggled me - exactly what is the faith that Jesus refers to in these passages (Luke 8:48, Matthew 9:22)? Is it simply faith that Jesus can heal, or is it more than that? I believe it is more: the woman knew and believed in her heart implicitly who Jesus really was - the Son of Man, and recognized this at a time when it was not widely known. Because she knew this, she implicitly knew that by touching "perfectness", Jesus' "perfectness" would impart on her, and the imperfect would disappear (c.f. 1 Corinthians 13:10). The faith had more to do with the woman recognizing who Jesus is more so than in his "healing powers". Healing was simply a logical result of her faith.

Applying it back to my own life, I draw this conclusion: If I am letting the coping mechanisms help me around the circumstances of life, I am really diminishing who I believe God to be.

Father in Heaven, You are the one who created us, and because of this, you know me more intimately than anyone else. Thank You for giving me this quiet time and directing my thoughts. Thank You for giving me the strength to start dealing with this area in my life that needs work. Help me to understand and recognize You for who You really are. Reveal areas in my life where I am just coping and not fully giving up to You. I confess these areas to you now. I also confess any areas where I have diminished who You are. I pray now that as you help me to take away each of these coping mechanisms you would remind me that You are so much greater than any one of those circumstances. Remind me that because Jesus died and rose again, You have already conquered our fears and we can face tomorrow. Amen.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Eager to go sliding!

We took Erich and Elias to the park on Saturday and watched them play in the playground. Erich really enjoyed the slide. His grandparents have a play slide in their living room that they have set up for the boys and I guess Erich has been practicing. He was only too happy to see a real one on a real playground, 3 times as big! He must have gone down the slide a good two dozen times.

Seriously, I have no idea where he gets his sense of adventure. As I recall, I was dreadfully afraid of the slide when I was that young. Elias' reaction to the slide (shown in the picture) is a little more at par with what I thought of the slide!

More pictures of "Fun in the park" here.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Erich's New Shape Sorter

Erich has started playing with his new shape sorter. This one was given to us at Erich’s baby shower before Erich was even born. Every time he correctly puts in a proper shape, the entire toy lights up with lights and music. He gets it right most of the time. Occasionally though, he’ll just put the pieces in via the “back door”. :-)

On the back side of the shape sorter is also a portable telephone! The funny thing is that this telephone emits the same sounds as another phone I bought him a few months ago.... hrmm - same factory, different brand?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Jonathan's Personal Reflection - Follow up

A few of you have contacted me (re: my 2007 Personal Reflection) either in person or via email to encourage me or to let me know that you'll be praying for me. I really appreciate this. Those that know me well know that it is a part of my life that is close to my heart.

I wanted to leave a quick note here to let you know that I have set aside some time next week to do some journaling. Part of healing emotional wounds is just having an honest conversation with God about it. I covet your prayers in this area.