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Milestones

Dearest Faith,
Thank you for always being the stronger; the one with more compassion, more gentleness, more fortitude and infinitely more grace. Thank you for always inspiring me to be a better man than I am, someday a worthy husband to the best wife there could ever be.
Blessed birthday.

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By My Side

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/annegirl/3183968168/" title="20090109-016 by Lucian Teo, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3355/3183968168_329be8d8f0_m.jpg" width="240" height="160" alt="20090109-016" class="img-right" /></a>Dearest Faith,
Life has an unfortunate way of sucking us in and spiraling us about. It seems only a wink of an eye when we went from teenagers madly infatuated with each other to parents of two children. Ok, I was the one madly infatuated; but two children, can you imagine?
Sometimes we sit there, transfixed and watching our two kids transform before our eyes. It is literally a matter of days that they learn to turn, sit, crawl, stand, talk, walk, and before we know it, they have become their own persons.
But I'd like to take this short moment to turn away from the spectacle of kids and tell you how beautiful you look tonight. It's been a while since I've written to you. It's much more expedient to express my appreciation during our nightly regrouping – you from having to put Caleb to bed and I from having to answer the new and novel questions Anne comes up with before setting her head down. I'd like to write all this down as it has more permanence. That maybe when all the hustle and bustle of child-rearing is done with, we can sit down and reminisce this period of our lives.
Thanks for being by my side. Thanks for being my comrade through the nights that seem endlessly saturated with crying children, agitated fevers and dastardly coughs. Thanks for being by my side when we wake in the morning to discover God's provision of a good 4 hour stretch of sleep. Those moments are every bit as awe-inspiring as a surreal sunrise and snow-capped mountains. In Singapore. Yes they are that rare.
You know what I'm most thankful for? More than your companionship, I feel most blessed to be a witness to your life – your journey from daughter, wife and mother.
You are beautiful.

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Reality

Dearest Faith,
The dreams of the young are not tainted with the bittersweet compromise of the real and tangible. Yet you've far surpassed the dreams, hopes and expectations of the 11 year old boy who fell in love with you on that Desaru beach so many moons ago.
The reality of being married to you could not possibly be any sweeter. Every day and every moment so rich, living the dreams of my youth.
Thank you so much for marrying me.

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Moved

Dearest Faith,
it has dawned on me that you are not the same woman I married almost 4 years ago, or the same girl I fell in love with when I was 11. Things have changed since then.
We have changed.
We're the parents of a precocious 2 year old girl whom we both love dearly. We have our own home, do our own laundry, pay our own bills, establish our own routines. You always beam the most wondrous smile whenever I come home – whether from work or a ball game. Over the last few years you've patiently loved me while I dealt with my hyper-thyroidism; you supported me while I tried my hand at starting and growing my own business and guided me gently as I took up the responsibilities of being a new father.
You're not the girl I fell in love with – you've far exceeded every romantic notion I've ever conjured of what married life with you would be like. You've blossomed into such a beautiful soul I often find myself overwhelmed by the privilege of being your husband and sharing your life.
Thank you for loving me.

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Fast Asleep

Dearest Faith,
I've been enamoured with you more than half my life. I spent the other half on the pursuit of chocolate, twirling the hair on my forehead into a curl, tying my blanket around my neck and jumping off elevated surfaces in hopes that I'd fly. Preferably to more chocolate.
I'm in love with everything about you. Your laughter at a joke I made. How your dimples appear when Anne does something utterly adorable. The way my heart feels when you come in the door; sharing space with you in the same room is oddly exciting and fuzzily heartwarming all at once. When I see you walk towards me from a distance, there's this strange magnetic pull that devours the physical space between us; and when I finally put my arm around you, I can almost hear a "gloop" – more a feeling than a sound. The feeling you get when two drops of mercury finally combine.
I love you so, so much, that I feel the very fabric of my being reach out and wrap around you such that we are inextricably bound – untouched by the passing of time and the world around us.
I don't write about these feelings as much as I used to because these days I have the luxury of walking over and telling you everything. Then there are times like these, when you are fast asleep, and Anne the subconscious motion detector lies beside you on our bed.

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Our 3rd Year

Dearest Faith,
it was exactly three years ago I saw you walk down the aisle to the loud squeals of your primary 6 class. Some of them were given the task of blowing bubbles from the balcony when you walked under them, but many started bubbling prematurely because they thought Ai was you. Three years ago we said "I do", but it was so much earlier in our youths when we committed our hearts to each other.
14 years ago we went out on our first date. It was to Buona Vista train station to get your concession pass replaced. Now that I work at Buona Vista, I alight at that station every day, reminded at how I saw a pelican (or what I thought was a pelican) along the giant canal. I saw a giant monitor lizard there the other day. My colleague Selwyn who lives in the area has named it Frank.
It was 18 years ago in June when we walked by the beach in Desaru. We picked seashells together. It was then I fell madly in love with you.
Throughout the years there have been so many memories which I never ever want to forget. The years we spent on the phone. The sound of you breathing on the other end of the line, and how close you felt. Even the silence was special, because it was your silence. I wanted to be near everything about you.
How I brought the same cookies to choir practice every Friday because you ate them and said you liked them. You stopped eating them after you found out that I was the one who brought them. And I brought them anyway hoping you'd give the cookies a chance, and that in some vicarious manner you'd give me a chance.
To be near you is a privilege I don't want to take for granted. I want the electricity of hearing your voice on the phone to last forever. I want to reflect at how blessed I am to wake up each morning to the smell of your hair.
It is easy to let reality kill the fantasy – that what is real does not compare with what was dreamt. But after 3 years of marriage, 14 years of courtship and 18 years of infatuation I discover daily that being with you is everything I thought it'd ever be.
Happy anniversary dear.

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Alone Time

Dearest Faith and Anne,
during this time I have come to learn some things about myself.
Somewhere, somehow I have come to envy the glamourous jet-setting, high-flying executive lifestyle promoted by the world around us. And tonight, sitting here miles and miles away I realise that I do not seem to fit the mould I admire.
I had initially planned to visit Yosemite National Park with Serene and Min tomorrow, but we're not going due to unforseen circumstances. Maybe it is because it might have snowed at Yosemite today and we are unaccustomed to driving in those conditions. Or that the time we have here in California is too short to give Yosemite the kind of attention she deserves. But to be perfectly honest, my enthusiasm wanes because the two of you are not with me. It is impossible for me to fathom seeing something beautiful and not being able to turn around to share it with you guys.
But I now know that there is nothing in nature more comforting and right than the simple act of smelling my daughter's hair or putting my arm around my wife. No gradeur of the mountains or the lure of creating the most beautiful photographs can compare to the pure joy being with family brings. It is a feeling I can scarcely describe, and one I definitely cannot capture in the limited vocabulary of a single photograph.
Beloved Faith, thank you for giving me space to be by myself and mull things over. After the mulling I have discovered that I want no space to exist between the three of us; that if it were at all possible I'd hug us so tight we'd all become one. I cannot wait to come home to you both.
May God watch over you till we meet.
your husband, and your father.

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My Reminder

"will love you, cherish you, keep you honour you, obey you…<strong>obey you</strong>?"
This part of the traditional Christian wedding vow never fails to elicit little semi-silent squeals of protests among the female portion of the congregation. It makes women feel "second class", or lower than their male counterparts.
Faith spoke those words. Rather than feeling a self-satisfying lordship over her, like most female protestants (not speaking of the denomination here) among the congregation would imagine, at that point I felt the greatest responsibility placed upon my shoulders to protect the woman before me; my wife, the most beautiful and fragile of flowers, yet in whose heart held the most resilient sincerity.<blockquote>"They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting." – Exodus 38:8</blockquote>
The bronze basin that stood before the tabernacle of the people of Israel back in the days of Moses was made out of the bronze mirrors which belonged to the women who served at the entrance. Women weren't allowed to serve in the temple, but these women gave up their mirrors for the making of the basin.
Everytime a priest came to serve at the temple, he had to wash his hands and his feet at this bronze basin. And everytime he approached the basin, he would see his own reflection upon it and see how dirty his hands and feet were. On a deeper level, he would be reminded of how these women gave up their love of themselves to serve God in whatever way they could, and his holiness would be judged against their sincerity.
Dearest Faith, I know that I'm far from being the perfect godly husband. Thank you for being patient with me, being kind when I fail and always reminding me that what is important lies in the eternal and not only in the present.
<img alt="Faith, Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia" src="http://tribolum.com/archives/2006/03/08/faith-bali.jpg" width="400" height="600" class="img-center" />
Happy birthday, most beautiful girl in all of the world. God watch over you till we meet again.

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More Missing

Dearest Faith and Anne,
the sun sets on another day, and it is oddly painful to know that we share the same golden sunset, but apart. I'm listening to Tanya Chua's "I'll Remember You" on whatever juice I have left on the iPod. I use to reminisce over this song while I was in the US.
Everyone tells me how great it is that we made it through the long distance relationship, but I never felt distant even back then. Being with you, however long or brief a time has filled my days and nights with enough laughter and happy memories to sustain me till we meet again, be it weeks or years.
Thank you for making my life so, for lack of a better word, melodious.

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By the Temptations

Dearest Faith and Anne,
it is the nights I miss you both the most.
It might have been stupid of me to have forgotten to bring my mobile phone, but somehow the inavailability of instant communication has made clearer to me the things I take for granted daily.
It has been a long time since I've had an entire night of uninterrupted sleep, but I know that my place is with the both of you.
My girls. The girls of my life. God has really blessed me with a life of protecting, caring, loving and being loved.
I miss you all. The <acronym title="Youth Fellowship">YF</acronym> comm especially. I'm reminding myself to cherish serving God alongside such beautiful people, each and every one.
I don't know if I have the heart to leave Singapore anymore.