Sunday, March 25, 2007

Stanley Park Train!

Erich got to ride on the Stanley Park Train twice on Sunday. We went with the Bartletts (associate pastor at the Bridge, and parents of three kids Caleb, Jesse and Emily). Lots of fun riding the train and at the park afterwards. Check out the slideshow video I made.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Happy Birthday Jonathan!

Another year wiser.

We had a few friends and family over for potluck dinner on Saturday to celebrate my (Jonathan's) 31st birthday. Thanks to all who came, and all who made this day so special. I appreciate you all! Your company was the best gift of all. It was great catching up with all of you - particularly all those parents to be. :-)

Of particular note was Karen's contribution. She went to great effort to make me a homemade raspberry cheesecake. It was yummy! Eddie Wong, a friend from the Bridge and IT professional turned pastry chef helped to come up with the recipe. He also made an entire centerpiece out of sugar to help decorate the table. Check out the photo. Thanks Eddie!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

26 incredible qualities I appreciate about my wife

These past few weeks have been quite interesting. First, I have been following with great anticipation the ongoing adventure between Jen Abbas (author of Generation Ex) and her now fiance Niels. They both took a trip to Holland (Niels birthplace) to meet her dad, and his parents. After having obtained permission from her dad for her hand in marriage, he proposed to her in Paris right in front of the Eiffel Tower. Even I, a 'grown man' (sic :)) thought it was so incredibly romantic and a fitting postscript to her testimony. God is indeed amazing.

Karen and I also made the mistake of renting the film "Break Up" (Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston). What had possessed me to rent this film is beyond me. We had been wanting to rent a movie for a while; I thought this was a romantic comedy (it isn't). With Erich running around so much these days, it is hard to watch an entire feature length movie without stopping, so we tend to watch movies piecemeal. Note to all new parents out there - this is NOT a good film to rent and watch piece meal. We watched half of it the first night stopping right at the climax where the argument was at its most heated moment. We didn't go to bed particularly happy with each other that night. The following night, we finished watching the movie. The lousy ending just made matters worse.

So, to make up for the bad movie and partly to redeem myself for having been negligent in the romance area lately, I have spent the last couple of nights coming up with an A-Z list of qualities I most appreciate about my wife. Married people - you should try this sometime - it isn't that easy to come up with one for each letter! :)

Able - By this I mean that she sure has physical strength for a petite person! I still remember the look on my mum's face when Karen was helping us move into our family home a few years ago. Karen wheeled two very heavy suitcases from the moving truck to the back door, proceeded to lift them, one in each hand into the house and carried them to their final destination. Nowadays, I see her strength displayed in her creative ways to somehow carry six bags of groceries, the diaper bag, her purse, the stroller and Erich in one go!

Beautiful - Karen is beautiful. She is my beautiful wife. Although I still admire her youthful looks, she is also incredibly beautiful inside. She has a very giving heart that is evident in almost every aspect of her life.

Caring - Karen used to have the nick name - "kare bear". The rest is self explanatory. :)

Determined - When Karen sets her heart on doing something, she sees it through to the end. (See entry for 'organized'...)

Encouraging - As you probably know from some of my other posts, there are things in my life that I still have to deal with and digest. Sometimes, she'll write me an email just to say that she has prayed for my day. It always makes my day.

Forgiving - This is one that I appreciate every time I act foolishly. Even when she is mad at me, she always finds it in her heart to forgive me and because of this I can appreciate the fact she doesn't hold grudges against me. :)

Genuine - One of the many qualities I admire about Karen is that she does not hide the truth. She tells you how she really feels at that moment so you are never left second guessing intended meanings.

Heart - Karen has a real heart for others and shows it in some of the most unorthodox of ways. Sometimes she can be so generous about it that people are often taken aback by it. Other times she can be so subtle that often times people don't appreciate her enough.

Invests in my spiritual growth - Every Monday night, Karen tirelessly looks after Erich while she lets me attend an evening men's Bible study (BSF). Every time I attend a BSF class and learn something significant, I am reminded of the sacrifice Karen makes each week in order that I might experience spiritual growth. God has been doing amazing things this year because of it and I am grateful both to God and to her.

Jesus loves her! ...this I know, for the Bible tells me so!

Keen - see wise.

Laundry! OK, this started as a joke, but then as I thought about it some more, I decided to leave it in. She does laundry for me more often than I do laundry for her, and she puts up with the fact that I, on occasion, leave a sock or two lying around on the floor... :-) Now that is love!

Mother, Nurturing: This is a quality that is a relatively new discovery (since Erich was born...) I really appreciate the way she takes care of Erich and particularly when Erich looks up at Karen with a look of absolute admiration.

Organized, Practical, Quick (or efficient), Reliable - When Karen puts her heart into something, she can be very efficient at getting things done. For instance, she recently walked a friend of ours (who was getting married) into a bridal shop to find her a wedding dress. It wasn't long before she came back out wedding dress in hand!

Smiles Contagiously - One of the often heard comments I hear about Karen is that she never stops smiling. Well, this is *almost* always true. Even when she doesn't smile though or isn't around to smile, a quick glance at her photograph always makes me smile. :-)

Turophile - Great word isn't it? It means "lover of cheese" (turos + phileo). One of Karen's great food passions. Cheddar, Brie, Havarti, Edam, Mozzarella, Blue, name it, she probably likes it!

Unselfish - A day in the life of Karen generally involves getting up, getting Erich ready to go to Grandma's, putting Erich in auntie's car, getting ready for work, work, meet Jonathan at my work, go to grandma's, pick up Erich, cook dinner, get Erich's bath ready, bathe Erich, feed Erich, then finally some time to herself. But usually she's too tired. Of course I help too (or try to anyway) but I still admire her unequivocal dedication and wonder in amazement how she still manages to do all that and do things for others.

Veracious - Karen is not one to hide her feelings. She will generally make them known - and the benefit of this is that you never have to second guess how she feels about something. She is known to speak the truth anything - positive or negative.

Wise - There's a reason why I will, whenever possible, bounce ideas off Karen. She has a keen mind and an incredible knack of seeing things from a different perspective and giving me ideas and angles I have not thought about yet.

Xenial - Romans 12:13 gives us some pretty practical tips about practicing God's love through hospitality. Karen most certainly takes this to heart!

Young-at-heart - when she isn't preoccupied with chasing Erich down (although that in itself could be a definition of young at heart!) Just the other day, she brought home a chocolate easter bunny. (Yes, you know the type that is 80% sugar, 15% other junk, and 5% chocolate; the type one would give to your 10 year old kid to make him smile at "Easter"...) I was just about to say that I think it's a bit early to be giving Erich chocolate, when I realized she had already bitten off the bunny's head. It wasn't for Erich, it was for a still young-at-heart Karen. :)

Zeal - Otherwise known as passion, and Karen has lots of it. When she sets her mind to something (such as helping someone plan their wedding!), she is full of zeal!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Photographic Composition

Over the last couple of years, I have really been working on improving my photography skills. I enjoy capturing people's emotions through portraits and I have learned a lot about the skill and technical aspects of photography. I am still ever trying to improve on some of the more subjective aspects - the composition.

I am convinced that merely immersing myself in well-composed photographs will help me to improve - after all, that is how one improves one's language skills, so why could it not work for the 'language' of art and photography?

Immersing does help tremendously. I can spend countless hours looking at and critiquing pictures on or But so does this recently discovered site on compositional patterns. Coming from a computing science background, I appreciate how they have distilled them down to identifiable patterns. Looking back on many of the photographs I have taken, I can identify which pattern I unknowingly chose.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Serendipity: |serəndipitē| n. Seeing God's providence in something unexpected.

Look up the word serendipity, and you are bound to find some pretty interesting definitions. The Oxford English dictionary describes it as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. The Merriam Webster defines it as the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for. For me, I see it more as God's sovereign hand at work, so serendipity is simply us getting a glimpse of His glory, work and Divine providence at a given point in time.

I experienced this very recently. As you know, God has been doing some significant things in my life since having read Generation Ex. Some of these things, I have written about in posts on this blog. I recently commented on Jen Abbas' blog (the author of Generation Ex) thanking her for the encouragement her book has brought me. Apparently, the fact that God was still using her book to bring about encouragement really encouraged her that week. Check out her post on the subject and my subsequent comment.

This week, at BSF, we studied Paul's doxology at the end of Romans 11. Paul breaks forth in praise to God after revealing to his audience the wonders of God's salvation plan. Verse 33 stood out for me:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!

This significant thought came about:
We may never know the full impact of what our obedience to God will bring about for others. Paul reminds us that God's paths are beyond tracing out. But sometimes, perhaps in mercy, God gives us a glimpse - call it moments of serendipity. In a great twist of irony, God, in His grace uses even divorce, an act that brings about so much consequence and pain, and works it for His good and purpose.