Author Archives: Joey Asher Tan
#1 Arsenal and Wenger are the biggest losers. Sold their leftback. Sold their right winger to a rival. Offering £95m for Lemar reeks of desperation. Retained their disillusioned talisman whose will to play is now questioned, and will be available for free next summer. Surely a scramble for his signature ensues in January. I wonder how Lacazette is feeling. Too bad Atletico’s ban was upheld if not he’ll be there and Griezmann would be at United.
#2 Financial Fair Play is a load of rubbish. Impossible for PSG to have enough income to support the acquisition of £198m Neymar and £166m Mbappe. Insane amount of money for just two players. And with Dembele costing Barca £95m, Pogba looks cheap now and Ronaldo felt like a bargain. So it’s good for United, because it means the world record transfer fees have been broken multiple times in one window.
#3 The past record monies paid for Ronaldo, Bale and Pogba took a long time for the clubs to negotiate and a long time for the fans to come to terms with. But these days and probably from this point on, we won’t even bat an eyelid or flinch when the numbers soar above £90m. But the craziest thing about it is that clubs have to pay upwards of £30-40m for average players! Really makes £34m Bailly, £38m Mhkitaryan, £34m Shaw and £32m Herrera look affordable.
#4 Liverpool is trying to do to Saints what Barca is doing to them. The £120m price quoted for Coutinho is good, so they are silly to retain a demoralised player. Could have reinvested that amount in other places. Salah is a shrewd signing but Ox is a strange one – where is he going to play? And honestly, Keita who? £48m for an unknown that can’t even play now? I’m also shocked they haven’t strengthened their leaky defence. With such figures floating around (like £70m for VVD), Pool fans have lost their moral high ground to criticise United’s spending, or Pogba’s price. Oh, and Klopp selling Sakho tells us that he rates him higher than Lovren and Matip. Wonder what Pool fans think of that.
#5 You can’t help but to feel bad for Chelsea (okay, not really). Got rejected by Lukaku, Oxlade, Llorente (and Matic), and now, even Barkley. Imagine that. It’s unimaginable how sad their allure is as reigning EPL champions. I truly wonder how “first priority” Rudiger, Drinkwater, Zappacosta, Morata and Bakayoko are.
#6 Everton did well in the transfer market, for United, that is. They signed “legend” Rooney who still sleeps in Toffee pajamas, Sigurdsson just before we played Swansea, and signed a former United youth player. With so many former United players already there, they feel like a United B team.
#7 Tottenham did well too, to hold on to their star players while managing to get £52m for Walker, £17m a-piece for Wimmer and Bentaleb, and sign £12m Llorente and £23m Aurier for prices that actually reflect their market value. Levy has always been impressive in that way. Annoying, but so effective. Can no longer bully Spurs to sell.
#8 City, managed by Fraudiola, has spent £160 m on a backline that doesn’t even look inspiring. £46m for Walker, £52 for EPL-unproven Mendy, £36m for EPL-unproven Eder, and £27m for EPL-unproven Danilo and selling their ONLY youth product from last year tell me that Pep has been severely overrated as a manager who is reputed to develop players. And him not getting Alexis while unsettling him means it’s a win-win for all of us.
#9 While this may sound like an ugly baby phenomenon, I honestly think United are the biggest winners of this window. First time in a while we are not panicking on Deadline Day. Unlike Moyes who has no clue, and LVG who has a scattergun approach, Jose looks like he knows what he’s doing. Got an established EPL champion to play the position we’ve been missing, releasing Pogba for rampage. Got an established EPL goalscorer to plunder against weaker sides, solving the unceasing home draws we had last season. Re-signed our charismatic talismanic top scorer as a supersub. And best of all, we kept De Gea for another season. I still think United has overpaid for all their players this window but in context of an insane market, the prices seem reasonable.
#10 I tried to be objective but I will admit that there’s a bit of bias and some trolling in this post. I’m expecting some backlash. Ha. Let’s talk football. International friendlies are a waste of time. Gonna be a quiet weekend. Peace out.
On 20 June 2017, just before 5pm, I received another incredible gift from God—my beloved son. Praise the Lord! We are thankful to Him for Huiyi’s relatively easy pregnancy and quick labour, but most of all we are grateful for another arrow added to our quiver. With him, I am well pleased, indeed.
Some of our friends might already know that my wife and I take selecting names for our children seriously; we are meticulous, intentional and prayerful about it. Click here to check out how we decided on our firstborn’s English and Chinese names. And in keeping with tradition, I will journal on how we came up with our son’s names.
For starters, we avoided names that were too common, and we also wanted a name that appears in the Bible. We preferred a name that was derived from a biblical location, just like Eden. Thus, we thought of “Israel”, a nation that is special to God, but it didn’t go well with “Tan” and we didn’t want him to explain that he’s a Singaporean, and not an Israeli, for his entire lifetime. Haha.
But because we had considered Israel, we inevitably considered “Judah” as well.
In the Bible, Judah (pronounced as “joo-duh”, not “joo-dah”) made his debut as Jacob’s fourth son (Ge 29:35). It is a Hebrew expression that means “the praised one” and “thanksgiving”, for Judah’s biblical parents shared that sentiment when he was born. Judah then became one of the 12 tribes of Israel (Ge 49)—and the only tribe that remained loyal to King David’s family line (1Ki 12:20). When the Davidic kingdom split, the Northern kingdom was called Israel, and the Southern kingdom, Judah. What’s special about the Southern kingdom was that Jesus eventually descended from it (He 7:14).
Of course, Judah is not to be mistaken with “Judas” (Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus). I’ll teach my son to lovingly educate anyone who mistakens his name with Judas with, “Perhaps it’s time you read the Bible…” Hehe.
Well, we like Judah because of his actions in the Bible. In Ge 37:26, Judah intervened for Joseph’s life to be spared; that demonstrated leadership initiative. By being responsible for the family despite not being the eldest (Ge 43:1-18), Judah prevailed above circumstances and beyond limitations. I also love how courageous Judah was especially in Ge 43:9 and 44:18, as he took charge of the situation by boldly speaking his mind. And throughout the rest of Judah’s biblical narrative, he influenced the proceedings in his household and played a principal role in leading his family to redemption.
And of course, anyone who’s described as a “Lion” (of Judah, Re 5:5) gives the impression of an imposing figure. All in all, Judah just seemed like a young man who would lead the battle from the front. I love that imagery, which is probably influenced by my training as a tank officer. #oncearmouralwaysarmour
But perhaps the most significant thing about Judah was that he was the first to receive full blessings (from his father), without any curses (like some of his brothers). In Ge 49:8-10 (NLT), it reads,
“Judah, your brothers will praise you.
You will grasp your enemies by the neck.
All your relatives will bow before you.
Judah, my son, is a young lion
that has finished eating its prey.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down;
like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants,
until the coming of the one to whom it belongs,
the one whom all nations will honour.”
As for his Chinese name, it was slightly more difficult because of the criterions we had set. Firstly, we wanted it simple, so like his sister, Judah’s Chinese name would be a single character (单名). It had to be unchanged from traditional (繁体字) to simplified (简体字) Chinese, so that no meaning is lost. It had to be in the fourth sound (第四声), so that it would sound unyielding as well as pleasant with my surname (陈). But most of all, it had to carry the meaning of “faith”, or along the lines of it, like “persevering”, “enduring” or “steadfastness”. Finding a single character that encapsulated all that was a tall order because I’m an #ACS boy and my alma-mater is (in)famously #anglominuschineseschool.
So the first person we turned to was Charles, a friend who has a PhD (!) in Chinese history (!!). He is the same church friend who gave our firstborn her exceptional Chinese name (晏). His first recommendation was 信. We liked it because it fulfilled all our conditions, but we were also open to other options. (As an aside, it would have been pretty cool to call my son 阿信 too, considering how much I liked 五月天. Ha!)
But since we were considering alternatives, I decided to consult Ps Walter, my superbly bilingual colleague and interpreter extraordinaire, for more suggestions. And after looking through two to three of his choices, we found one that was (close to) perfect. This new suggestion received rave reviews from Charles too. It carried the meanings of “perseverance”, “insistence”, “resolute”, “decisive”, “staunch”, “strong”, “firm”, “brave”, “fearless”, “urgency”, “determination” and “fighting against evil”, which are just about all we would want in our son, as a man, and as a future leader. (Yes, I’ve clearly done my research on its etymology.)
So, Judah’s Chinese name is 陈毅 (pronounced as “Chén Yì”). It is also a clever wordplay on 诚意 (“sincerity”, “good faith” and “frankness”). Well, 毅 has a few more strokes than we would have preferred, but a future ACSian could do with a bit more practice in Chinese! Haha! Incidentally, the English and Chinese names have similar meanings.
For Huiyi and I, the English name we pick calls forth the child’s destiny and the Chinese name describes the pregnancy journey. The lesson that God had been teaching us (especially my wife) in the year leading up to his birth, is to have faith in Him. (We’ll leave the details for a private sharing…)
We’ve always wanted to name our offspring after the fruit of the Spirit. So now we’ve got love (חֵן, “Chen”, 陈), joy (Eden), peace (晏), and now goodness (Judah, well sorta…) and faithfulness (毅). So I guess there’s still space for more! Ha-HA!
In conclusion, and on a serious note, my prayer and aspiration for my son is taken from 2Ti 2:1-2 (NASB),
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Hence, it becomes our prayer that our little lion will grow up to become a humble but bold individual who will lead others to praise God and give thanks to Him through his persevering character.
1. #ZlatanTime. Lion on the pitch. Raises his teammates’ game. Last one who did it – Keane. Rooney’s the skipper but Zlatan’s the leader
2. Let’s be honest. Mata’s goal, lucky. Rooney’s – cheap. But we dominated the game. Great to be top of the table from day one. Here to stay.
3. Fellaini’s first touch is as good as Rooney’s. Playing possession football can’t see them fielded together – many unforced errors.
4. Should switch Ibrahimovic to play as #10 and Rooney as #9 since the former has technique while the latter has pace. Budding partnership?
5. To appreciate Fellaini, we should see him as a ball-winning destroyer and disrupter. Don’t create play but pass to someone who can.
6. Our midfield pairing, though decent, show why we need Pogba – a box-to-box player who’ll drive and dictate play, with presence.
7. Mourinho plays with more directness and aggression, and decisiveness to close shop with Schneiderlin. And no more side passing!
8. Bailly – colossal defender. Can’t wait for him and Smalling to form a partnership. Plus Pogba and Zlatan, the spine of the team is imposing.
9. Mata has played well every time he’s on the pitch. Good luck to Myitaryan and Memphis. And United’s squad depth is incredible. Wow.
10. Let’s get real. Bournemouth isn’t formidable so expect a sterner test against Southampton. But what a start – there are goals in this team!
#BOUMUN #GGMU #MUFC #UnitedtilIDie
Family members and friends have enquired so perhaps it is helpful to explain what I understand about my medical condition.
I have an unusual and excessive growth of lipomas. These are fatty deposits. I think my body doesn’t know where to channel or how to process fatty acids so it gets dumped in random parts of my body. Some people have one or two lumps but I have a lot more. Having multiple lipomas is called Dercum’s Disease. According to NORD, “Dercum’s disease is an extremely rare disorder characterized by multiple, painful growths consisting of fatty tissue (lipomas). These growths mainly occur on the trunk, the upper arms and upper legs and are found just below the skin (subcutaneously).”
This is an uncommon condition, so rare that there is no known cause and no known cure. I am just thankful there is also no known danger. Apparently, these folks are most prone to Dercum’s Disease: older obese menopausal women. I fit none of the above four categories. None in my bloodline have it too. So I trust God for having a purpose in my pain.
Well, I need to remove these thorns in my flesh because they cause pain and discomfort. Some lipomas grow over nerves so it is painful when pressure is applied — like when Eden steps on me, or I get tackled during football, etc. Some lipomas grow in inconvenient places so it becomes uncomfortable — like on my wrist so it affects typing/writing, and on my back so I can’t lean against a hard surface (like a chair) for too long.
Yesterday’s surgery was my third. The first in 2007 was under LA, removed three lipomas. The second in 2010 under GA removed 25. This time, also under GA, another 20+ were removed. It is obvious that the lumps have increased with my weight gain; I’ve put on about 10 kilograms in the last decade. Most of the lipomas are on my arms, trunk, thighs and groin. I’m thankful that it’s not on my face, neck, palms, feet or on any joints. By God’s grace all these lumps are benign. The truth is, because this is not a life-threatening condition, it doesn’t scare me into a drastic change of lifestyle.
Unfortunately, I only bought my insurance after my first surgery so I can’t make claims for this treating pre-existing condition (the proper name treatment is called excision and biopsy of multiple lipomas). But God is good. He’s always provided for every operation and I trust him to continue to provide for my needs. For example, this time, the Lord’s providence came in the form of the surgeon, who is my church friend, and he has helped me defray the surgery costs and ensured that I have good care. I am grateful to God for him. Pray along with me that the group hospitalisation plan that the church purchased for pastors would be able to pay for this surgery.
The two to three-week recovery phase is always the most challenging because my mobility is significantly affected. Simple activities like sleeping and sitting (where I put weight on the wounds) and showering (potentially wetting it) or even using the bathroom can become troublesome. But the most arduous task is changing the dressing. Each dressing costs $2.50 (sigh) and I may have to change some wounds twice a day. There are also some wounds (on my back) that are beyond my reach so I need others to help me change it. So sometimes changing dressing and applying scar-reducing cream can take up to an hour.
I am grateful for family members and friends who have uplifted me in their prayers — thank you for raising your shield of faith for me. Every prayer counts. I am also believing that God my healer will one day heal me completely of this condition. Perhaps there’s a miracle waiting to happen with my body and I look forward to it. I have faith in God and I trust in His plans. For now, I shall look forward to my two weeks of rest and recovery, and I believe by faith that this surgery will be the last of my lipoma-related condition. Amen. God is good!
And yes, I’m going to make some lifestyle changes…
These observations are a little backdated (three months late), but these lessons are timeless and will be relevant in almost every season of my life.
In no order of importance, here are 20 (albeit cryptic) reflections from Eden’s five-day stay in Gleneagles Hospital in September 2014…
1. Family trumps everybody and is my greatest priority.
It was a no-brainer forfeiting my mission trip to be with Huiyi and Eden.
2. Don’t expect sheep to show concern for shepherds.
Pastoral care is freely dispensed by the pastor, but will hardly be reciprocated in equal measure.
3. Only my immediate family and I will be there for my immediate family and I.
Every hospitalised person can rely on only two groups of people — parents and grandparents.
4. The way I shepherd in a crisis is a reflection of the way I was shepherded in a crisis.
Where is my reference point? What is my yardstick? To lead by example, I must first be led by example.
5. Being wise is more important than being loving or sacrificial.
It is better for the main caregivers to take turns to get quality rest instead of staying vigil all the time.
6. The lesser I expect, the lesser I will be disappointed.
I realised that I have unspoken expectations and it’s toxic for me to hold on to these.
7. My single presence is more important than the sum total of my prayers.
Support is meant to be felt. Prayers are meant to be answered. Both require action.
8. Be kind and courteous to everyone because nobody knows what I am going through.
Nobody owes me a living so I learnt to be polite to everyone even when I was highly strung.
9. Don’t bother updating those who don’t bother to update themselves.
Those who really want to know will naturally contact me and that’s all the people I need to update.
10. My wife and baby’s comfort outweighs showing courtesy to visitors.
If Eden or Huiyi was resting when visitors came and wanted to say hello, too bad for my visitors.
11. I am not obligated to explain or respond to everything to and from everyone.
Strange and uncalled-for comments should be ignored and deemed as insensitive or immature.
12. Guard my emotions: the devil will exploit my vulnerability.
My security is found in who I am to God and not who I am to people.
13. People care more for my work than for my worth and my family’s welfare.
Well, I honestly didn’t really care about anything else regardless of how pressing they were.
14. Strangers and acquaintances can be more supportive than relatives and friends.
We experienced unexpected favour through our paediatrician, nurses and even security guards.
15. In distress, do not miss out on walking into divine appointments.
I took the opportunity to demonstrate God’s to the seven-year-old boy warded beside Eden.
16. No point asking for prayer if I don’t even pray myself.
Believing in God becomes authentic when I do much more than what I ask others to do on my behalf.
17. Always be patient with my wife and overlook any wrong choice of expression.
Huiyi is way more stressed and affected than me and the last thing on her mind is to offend me.
18. The only person I must practically serve and verbally encourage is my wife.
Tell Huiyi she’s doing a good job and prove that I’m right behind her in everything.
19. If I can’t take care of myself, I won’t be able to take care of anyone else.
Either I treat my splitting headache by going home to rest or I become Huiyi’s extra burden.
20. Considering others better than myself is viewing my contributions less than theirs.
Becoming the logistics guy was nothing compared to being a breastfeeding mother to a sick baby.
I have decided to take a mental break from preparing 14 messages (pray for me!) for this weekend’s Redeem Conference, next week’s youth camp at Elim Church and next weekend’s R-AGE Leaders Advance to record some fresh thoughts. Let’s see where this verbiage takes me…
A few times throughout the day, Huiyi will send me picture updates of Eden’s daily activities. She receives these pictures from her mother, who is Eden’s main caregiver from Tuesdays to Fridays.
And I have observed that more often than not, my typical replies to these lovely photos are, “I miss my family!” and “Love you so much!”, and not so much of responding to what Eden is actually doing in the photos.
Today, Eden’s 公公 and 嬷嬷 brought her to Jurong Bird Park. Eden looks so adorable in the photos and Huiyi commented that our baby girl “has such an awesome life”.
I wholeheartedly agreed with my wife. But there was a tinge of melancholy in my “Indeed!” reply.
As I thanked God for how blessed Eden is, a part of me yearns to be playing with her at the Bird Park instead of writing sermons in front of my laptop.
I found myself living vicariously through these daily photos.
I imagined myself taking those pictures and getting Eden to smile for the camera; I pictured myself pushing Eden in her stroller through the midday heat; I envisioned myself cradling Eden in my right arm, kissing her all over and littering her ears with, “Darling, Daddy loves you so much!”
Yes, I was truly experiencing life with Eden in my imagination through the actions of my in-laws.
And it got me thinking about the irony of parenting in Singapore; it is as if we bring our children into this world to have them being cared for by other people, and for them to spend time away from us.
When we are younger and more energetic, we have to work to earn money for our livelihood, and be away from our children. But when we are older and less spritely, we have enough money and all the time in the world, but our children have also all grown up! Surely there’s a way around this tension that I haven’t yet discovered?
My mother-in-law commented a few months ago that she is so much more active in Eden’s life than in her own children’s stage of infancy. She also said that that statement holds true for my father-in-law.
Both Huiyi and I were cared for by our grandmothers; I believe many of us in Singapore were taken care of by our grandparents and that (good) tradition seems to pass on from generation to generation.
As much as Huiyi and I are grateful for the tremendous support that we receive from our parents, we desire so much more to be Eden’s main caregivers instead. We are, after all, her parents — I mean, who wants to spend time with her more than us?
But the reality is, I have a day job (which I am most thankful for, because I enjoy what I do for a living) and by keeping it, I am fulfilling the other part of being a father by providing for my family.
On weekdays, Huiyi and I will only have about five hours with Eden — two in the morning and three in the evening. That is why, as working parents, we cherish weekends so much.
And that is why I treasure my off days that much more now because that’s the exclusive time I get to spend with my beloved princess and create memories for the both of us. On Mondays, I do not have to live vicariously through images on a mobile phone.
Every precious moment with my daughter is locked into my heart forever. I will never give up anything for time with her.
Oh man, I am getting emotional writing this…
Last weekend, in my excitement to leave the house for a Christmas party, I clumsily knocked over the bottle of wine I was going to bring out. Well, my living room ended up looking like a homicide scene.
Thankfully, Eden was on her high chair and Huiyi was in the kitchen when the bottle shattered. I, on the other hand (HA), was left to pick up the pieces (HAHA) of my broken
heart Montes Merlot 2010.
As I closed the lid of the rubbish chute, I carelessly sliced my thumb against a glass shard that protruded from the plastic bag. It literally became a bloody mess, and my sink ended up resembling an amateur suicide scene.
Yes, my well-documented fears — odynophobia (pain) and haemophobia (blood) — went into overdrive; Sheryl Crow said the first cut is the deepest and baby I know she’s right about that. It was painful and I bled a lot, but I wasn’t sure if my lips turned pale from the loss of blood or the amalgamation of phobias.
I was grateful for my cool-as-a-cucumber wife who took command of the situation; she cleaned up my mess (as always), attended to me with the issue of blood (phrase credits: DL) and even fed our bemused baby while we waited for my blood to clot and composure to return.
It’s been more than 24 hours since I’ve been deprived of my right thumb (now bandaged) and I’ve learnt how essential this small part of my body is, not just in function, but also in presence.
Functionally speaking, losing (the use of) my thumb was obviously and extremely inconvenient. I’ve come to realise how I probably need my thumb for just about everything I do: using the toilet, taking a shower, driving the car, eating my meals, carrying my baby, feeding her porridge, peeling her blueberries, washing the dishes, using my iPhone, locking my door, shaking someone’s hand, typing this post, patting Eden to sleep and even sleeping itself (fearing I might squash and injure it further)!
Percentage-wise, a thumb is a fraction of my body weight but its significance is unquestionable.
But what was more interesting for me was how I perceived the presence of my thumb, or better phrased, the impact of its absence; it was, after all, impossible for others to miss my bandaged thumb.
The owner of the convenience store I visited today didn’t, and made small talk with me about my injury; my friends at the party, with every handshake, asked me what happened; even my baby girl couldn’t stop touching my bandaged thumb — she’s either wondering how daddy hurt himself or thinking if that white thing is edible.
It got me thinking about the body of Christ (the Church), or applicable in this instance, any group of friends. Often, we instinctively miss people because of what they could do and have done for us (function), but there are times we will also miss people simply because of who they are innately and who they are to us (presence).
Perhaps as we approach Christmas, it makes for a good opportunity to remember the ones who have gone missing in our lives. Go ahead — give her a call and tell her how much you miss her, or text him and let him how much you miss having him around.
You have nothing to lose, except the friend you already lost.
In the meantime, I shall read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 and enjoy sticking out like a sore thumb for the next few days.