On 18 March 2014 just after 5pm, I received the greatest gift in the world — my precious baby girl. I’ll chronicle the epic labour process in another entry but today, I want to record a memoir of how my princess’ English and Chinese names came about.
Names mean a lot to me. A name carries identity, prophecy and destiny. And sometimes, it does feel like if you pick a good name, you’ve got half the battle won. You see, I selected “Asher” as my baptism name because it means “blessed, joyful and happy”, as well as “the most favoured one”.
As for our children, we’ve already shortlisted a number of English and Chinese names. The plan was to pick one that described the pregnancy journey. We’ve decided in the second trimester that our firstborn would be named “Eden”, because like her name suggests, she has brought us and others around us so much joy and delight. In Hebrew, it means “paradise” (she’s our utopia after all). And practically speaking, Eden is a simple, two-syllable, and easy-to-remember name.
Some years ago, I discovered the meaning of my surname, Chen (陈). While its most obvious meaning represents the sun (阳) that rises from the east (东), it’s actually also pronounced like a Hebrew word (חֵן) that means “loveliness, grace, and favour with God and men”. Not too shabby for one of the most common surnames in the world!
We’ve always wanted to name our offsprings after the fruit of the Spirit and since we had “love” and “joy” already working in Eden’s favour, we wanted to select a Chinese name that either described love or joy, or another of the remaining seven parts of the fruit of the Spirit.
As a typical ACS boy, I knew I needed some help with picking the right Chinese name for my daughter. So I approached a church friend, Charles, who’s studying for his PhD in Chinese history, who had very kindly agreed to help Huiyi and I pick a Chinese name for Eden. We met for coffee one afternoon and went through a few possibilities. I mentioned to him that I wanted Eden to have a single character (单名) in her Chinese name. So instead of the typical three characters, all my children’s Chinese names will only have two.
It’s not easy find a name that fits with the dialect and English “Tan” as well as the hanyupinyin “Chen” so we decided that Eden’s given name on her birth certificate will simply show “Eden Tan”, without her Chinese hanyupinyin name. After all, when you do introduce yourself, you don’t say, “My name is Joey Tan Chong Yi” or “你好, 我是Joey陈崇仪 but simply, “My name is Joey Tan” or, “我是陈晏”.
After an hour of tossing up possibilities of his initial suggestions and the Chinese names that I preferred, Charles and I went off topic and shared about the respective journeys we’ve each gone through watching our wives get pregnant. Many of which are very private so I’ll leave it that way. But as with several seasons of my life, God has always been teaching me about what it means to surrender… And everyone knows surrendering (to God) isn’t always the most pleasant or easy thing to do. I told Charles that through this process of surrendering, God has really taught me about His peace that surpasses all understanding — that assuring knowledge that He is with me and His presence is all I need.
That little sharing seemed to have ignited something in Charles’ eyes. He began sharing with me a little of his own journey into parenthood and how he’s learnt to trust God for all outcomes. Then he paused, and it was as if he rummaged through the virtual annuls of thousands of Chinese characters in his mind, then keyed one in on his cellphone. With aplomb, he made a suggestion…
“How about this character — 晏?”
Unsurprisingly, I did not recognise that Chinese character at all. And I’m confident that unless I’ve explained it to you before, or if you’re also studying for your Chinese history doctorate, chances are that this is the first time you’re seeing this character and you, like the rest of the modern world, have no idea how to pronounce “晏”.
“It’s pronounced as ‘yàn'”, he explained, “and it means ‘peace'”, he continued.
Upon seeing “晏” and perceiving its meaning, it became one of those moments for me. You know, those moments where you kind of know, this is it. I think Charles must have saw it in my eyes too. Like “Eden”, “晏” had a nice ring to it and immediately resonated with my heart. There was a certain sense of conviction about it. I knew there and then (barring consultation with my wife) that “晏” would be Eden’s (only) Chinese name. “Eden Tan” and “陈晏” — what a perfect combination of love, joy and peace.
Charles went on to explain that 晏 in one character, carries the same meaning as 平安 (peace) in two characters. Not only that, but it’s “peace that comes with day” because it’s “日” (day) + “安” (peace). To help me understand this, he explained that we sing “Silent Night, Holy Night” because we are looking forward to the peace that comes in the morning, knowing that we have survived yet another unknown night; that’s why we chorus “All is calm, all is bright” in the following line. It was like a double Eureka moment for me — new understanding of that Christmas carol and new knowledge to appreciate the profound meaning of this Chinese character. Another way of looking at 晏 is that everyday (日) Eden will be filled with peace (安) — 每日平安.
Charles also explained that 晏 is one of those rare Chinese characters that has not simplified its strokes over the centuries; 晏 in written the same way in both traditional (繁体字) and simplified (简体字) Chinese. So that means that it’s meaning has not changed through time! In addition, what I also liked about this character is how feminine it looks — don’t you think it looks really pretty?
And finally, I also saw a pictograph in 晏 — it looks like the sun (日) is forming a protection (宀) over my little girl (女)! And if I may stretch it and “Christianise” its meaning, it kind of looks like the Son is watching over my daughter! In summary, looking at 晏 was like marvelling at Eden for the first time — love at first sight.
Through bringing our baby girl to full-term, God has indeed brought us joy and delight, allowed us to experience His grace and love, and taught us the precious lesson of knowing His peace that surpasses all understanding.
Eden Tan, Mummy and Papa love you very much — beyond what you can imagine. Thank you for teaching us love, joy and peace even before you’ve met us. You’re going to be an awesome, and very precious daughter. What a privilege it is for Huiyi and I to be your parents.
To facilitate my cafe-hunting adventures with the missus, I’ve consolidated the names and addresses of existing cafes in Singapore and created an easily-accessible directory of cafes in Singapore grouped by locality. So thanks to referencing excellent food websites like ladyironchef and burpple, I am able to share this categorised list with you. Do let me know if there are any cafes I should be including or excluding. Hope you find this helpful! (:
Holland Village/Buona Vista
- Jimmy Monkey Cafe @ 9 one-north Gateway #01-51 (one-north residences) | C/D/F/$6-$18/$5
- Revolution Coffee @ 21 Media Circle #01-03A | CD
- Artisan Boulangerie @ 9 North Buona Vista Drive #01-12 (The Metropolis)
- Jamaica Blue @ 1 Vista Exchange Green #01-32 (The Star Vista) | CDF
- 93°C Bean & Leaf @ 8 Lorong Mambong | CD
- MU Parlour @ 16A Lorong Mambong
- Craft Bakery & Cafe @ 24A Lorong Mambong | CDF
- Hatched @ 267 Holland Avenue | CDF
- d’ Good Cafe @ 273 Holland Avenue | CDF
- Foster English Rose Cafe @ 277 Holland Avenue | CDF
- Park Cafe Bar @ 281 Holland Avenue #01-01
- Shebrews Cafe @ 365 Commonwealth Avenue (Queenstown Community Centre)
- Artease @ 500 Dover Road (Singapore Polytechnic Teaching Block 19)
- Roadhouse @ 13 Dempsey Road #01-07
- Jones the Grocer @ 12 Dempsey Road | CDF
- PS Cafe @ 28B Harding Road
- The Dempsey Brasserie @ Blk 7 Dempsey Road #01-03
- The White Rabbit @ 39C Harding Road
- Barracks Cafe House Dempsey @ 8D Dempsey Road #01-01 to 06
- House Dempsey @ 8D Dempsey Road #01-01 to 06
- Food For Thought Cafe @ 1 Cluny Road #B1-00 (Singapore Botanic Gardens)
- Assembly Coffee @ 26 Evans Road (Evans Lodge)
- Hatched @ 26 Evans Road #01-06 (Evans Lodge)
- Nassim Hill Bakery & Bistro @ 56 Tanglin Road (Tanglin Post Office)
- Spruce @ 320 Tanglin Road (Phoenix Park)
- Relish @ 501 Bukit Timah Road #02-01 (Cluny Court)
- Simply Bread @ 501 Bukit Timah Road #02-01 (Cluny Court) | CF
- Choupinette @ 607 Bukit Timah Road #01-01
- The Missing Pan @ 619D Bukit Timah Road #01/02-01 (Coronation Plaza)
- The Living Cafe @ 779 Bukit Timah Road
- Little Diner @ 789 Bukit Timah Road
- Vicky’s Cakes & The Coffee Shack @ 833 Bukit Timah Road #01-07 (Royaville)
- Simply Bread @ 1 Fifth Avenue #01-03 (Guthrie House) | CF
- Baker & Cook @ 77 Hillcrest Road
- Dutch Colony Coffee Co @ 200 Turf Club Road Stall #67-68 (The Grandstand)
- Riders Cafe @ 51 Fairways Drive (Bukit Timah Saddle Club)
- Marmalade Pantry @ 55 Fairways Drive
Upper Bukit Timah/West
- Lynn’s Cake & Coffee @ 11 Eng Kong Terrace
- Necessary Provisions Cafe @ 21 Eng Kong Terrace
- Carpenter & Cook @ 19 Lorong Kilat #01-06
- Nook DIY House of Pancakes @ 21 Lorong Kilat #01-03
- Spruce @ 274 Upper Bukit Timah Road
- W.39 Bistro @ Jalan Mas Puteh
- Cupplets @ 535 Clementi Road (Ngee Ann Polytechnic Block 16)
- Paris Baguette Cafe @ 50 Jurong Gateway Road #02-20 (JEM)
- Humble Origins @ Kent Ridge Drive (NUS FASS, next to LT12)
- Artease @ 14 Nanyang Drive (NTU School of Humanities)
- The Orange Thimble @ 56 Eng Hoon Street #01-68
- Caffe Pralet @ 17 Eng Hoon Street #01-03/04 (Eng Hoon Mansions)
- Drips Bakery Cafe @ 82 Tiong Poh Road #01-05
- Flock Cafe @ 78 Moh Guan Terrace #01-25
- Forty Hands @ 78 Yong Siak Street #01-12
- Open Door Policy @ 19 Yong Siak Street
- PoTeaTo @ 78 Yong Siak Street
- Tiong Bahru Bakery @ 56 Eng Hoon Street #01-70
- The Dispensary @ 69 Tiong Bahru Road
- The Providore Warehouse @ 315 Outram Road 05-03 (Tan Boon Liat Building)
- Workshop @ 121 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-06
- Pan Delights @ 161 Bukit Merah Central, #01-3725
- The Bakery Chef @ 161 Bukit Merah Central #01-3711
- Butterscotch Cafe @ 164 Bukit Merah Central #01-3625
- Artisan Boulangerie @ 1 Kim Seng Promenade #01-23 (Great World City)
Everton Park/Kampong Bahru
- OKB @ 1 Kampong Bahru Rd
- Strangers’ Reunion @ 37 Kampong Bahru Road
- Highlander Coffee @ 49 Kampong Bahru Road
- Just Want Coffee @ 1 Everton Park
- Audacious Cakery @ 2 Everton Park #01-61
- Grin Affair @ 3 Everton Park #01-77A
- The Provision Shop @ 3 Everton Park #01-79
- Nylon Coffee Roasters @ 4 Everton Park #01-40
- Cozy Coffee Corner @ 4 Everton Park #01-50
- Mapleloft Cafe @ 101 Cantonment Road #01-02 (Tanjong Pagar Community Club)
- Oriole Coffee Roasters @ 10 Jiak Chuan Road
- The Reading Room @ 19 Bukit Pasoh Road
- Selfish Gene Cafe @ 40 Craig Road
- The Plain @ 50 Craig Road
- Department of Caffeine @ 15 Duxton Road
- Group Therapy Cafe @ 49 Duxton Road
- Flor Patisserie @ 2 Duxton Hill #01-01
- Bistro Soori @ 2 Teck Lim Road
- Glück Bistro Express @ 26 Teck Lim Road
- Antoniette @ 33 Erskine Road #01-02/03 (Scarlet Hotel)
- The Loft Cafe @ 268A South Bridge Road
- Coffee Tea & Company @ 133 New Bridge Road #B1-44 (Chinatown Point)
- RONIN @ 17 Hong Kong Street
- Cafe Gavroche @ 69 Tras Street
- Kiasu Espresso @ 100 Tras Street #01-03/04 (100 AM)
- Okada Coffee @ 100 Tras Street #03-23 (100 AM)
- Cake Spade @ 1 Tras Link #01-06 (Orchid Hotel)
- SPRMRKT @ 2 McCallum Street
- 6oz Espresso Bar @ 20 McCallum Street #01-K1 (Tokio Marine Centre)
- PS Cafe @ 45 Ann Siang Road #02-02
- Quarter to Three @ 88 Tanjong Pagar Road
- Drury Lane Cafe @ 94 Tanjong Pagar Road
- ReStore Cafe @ 124 Tanjong Pagar Road
- Artease @ 1 Tanjong Pagar Plaza #01-35
- Jamaica Blue @ 1 Raffles Place #01-62 (One Raffles Place Tower 2)
- Club Street Social @ 5 Gemmill Lane
- Shots Cafe @ 90 Club Street
- The Muffinry @ 112 Telok Ayer Street
- Sarnies Cafe @ 136 Telok Ayer Street
- Sophie Bakery @ 167 Telok Ayer Street
- Coffeesmith @ 62 Collyer Quay #02-11
- Jewel Coffee @ 1 Shenton Way #01-07
- 8 Stanley Street @ 8 Stanley Street
- Bar Bar Black Sheep @ 55 Boat Quay
- Artisan Boulangerie @ 12 Marina View #01-02 (Asia Square Tower 2)
- Artease @ 3 Phillip Street #01-01
- The Book Cafe @ 20 Martin Road #01-02 (Seng Kee Building)
- Baker & Cook @ 38A Martin Road #01-01
- Common Man Coffee Roasters @ 22 Martin Road #01-00
- Laurent’s Cafe & Chocolate Bar @ 80 Mohammad Sultan Road #01-11
- Kith Cafe @ 7 Rodyk Street #01-28
- Toby’s Estate @ 8 Rodyk Street #01-03/04
- eM by the River @ 1 Nanson Road #01-05 (The Gallery Hotel)
- Hummerstons @ 11 Unity Street #02-14 (Robertson Walk)
- The Fabulous Baker Boy @ 70 River Valley Road #01-15 (The Foothills)
- Five and Dime @ 297 River Valley Road
- Swirl Art Cafe @ 417 River Valley Road
- Croute @ 491 River Valley Road
- Epicurious Cafe @ 60 Robertson Quay #01-02
- Smitten Cafe @ 60 Robertson Quay #01-11
- Boomarang @ 60 Robertson Quay #01-15
- Anthesis @ 86 Robertson Quay #01-01
- The Merry Men @ 86 Robertson Quay #01-02
- Bar Bar Black Sheep @ 86 Robertson Quay #01-04
- Kith Cafe @ 31 Ocean Way Quayside Isle #01-08 (Sentosa Cove)
- Artisan Boulangerie @ 1 Harbourfront Walk #01-163/164 (Vivo City)
- Prive Bakery Cafe @ 2 Keppel Bay Vista Ground Floor (Keppel Bay Marina)
- The Marshmallow Tree @ 46 Telok Blangah Drive #01-85
- Eco Gourmet Cafe @ 30 Labrador Villa Road
- ROOM @ 460 Alexandra Road #01-18 (Alexandra Retail Centre)
- Wild Honey @ 6 Scotts Road Level 3 (Scotts Square)
- Antoniette @ 390 Orchard Road B1-08/09/10C (Palais Renaissance)
- PS Cafe @ 390 Orchard Road #02-09A (Palais Renaissance)
- Marmalade Pantry @ 2 Orchard Turn #03-22 (ION)
- Paris Baguette Cafe @ 435 Orchard Road #02-48/53 (Wisma Atria)
- Pique Nique @ 391A Orchard Road #B1-01 (Ngee Ann City)
- Marmalade Toast @ #02-11 391 Orchard Road (Ngee Ann City)
- The Providore @ 333A Orchard Road #02-05 (Mandarin Gallery)
- Antoniette @ 333A Orchard Road #02-33/34 (Mandarin Gallery)
- Wild Honey @ 333A Orchard Road #03-02 (Mandarin Gallery)
- Jones the Grocer @ 333A Orchard Road #04-21/23 (Mandarin Gallery)
- Artease @ 8 Grange Road #01-03 (Cathay Cineleisure Orchard)
- Oriole Cafe & Bar @ 96 Somerset Road #01-01 (Pan Pacific Serviced Suites)
- KPO Cafe & Bar @ 1 Killiney Road (Killney Post Office)
- Freshly Baked by Le Bijoux @ 57 Killiney Road
- Artisan Boulangerie @ 118 Killiney Road #01-01
- Myartspace Cafe @ 31 Orchard Road (Istana Park)
- Nana’s Green Tea @ 68 Orchard Road #03-80/81/82 (Plaza Singapura)
- Hoshino Coffee @ 68 Orchard Road #03-84 (Plaza Singapura)
- Createaf Waffles @ 2 Handy Road #01-02 (The Cathay)
- Kith Cafe @ 9 Penang Road #01-01E (Park Mall)
- Wild Rocket at Mount Emily @ 10A Upper Wilkie Road GF (Hangout @ Mount Emily)
City Hall/Bras Basah
- Fine Palate Cafe @ 51 Waterloo Street #01-04/05
- Food For Thought @ 8 Queen Street
- The Basement Cafe @ 80 Stamford Road #B1-62 (Singapore Management University)
- Food For Thought @ 93 Stamford Road #01-04/05 (National Museum)
- Tiong Bahru Bakery @ 252 North Bridge Road #B1-11/12 (Raffles City Shopping Centre)
- Commune Cafe & Bistro @ 9 Raffles Boulevard #02-50 (Millennia Walk)
- Patisserie G @ 9 Raffles Boulevard #01-40 (Millennia Walk)
- Tart Blanc @ 9 Raffles Boulevard #01-102 (Millennia Walk)
- Cups N Canvas @ 139 Selegie Road
- Strictly Pancakes @ 44A Prinsep Street
- Hungry Chimps @ 64A Prinsep Street #02-01
- Lowercase @ 1 McNally Street Block D #01-01
- Temporium @ 72-74 Dunlop Street
- Artichoke Cafe @ 161 Middle Road
- I Am @ 674 North Bridge Road #01-01
- Artistry @ 17 Jalan Pinang
- Espressolab @ 13 Bali Lane
- Maison Ikkoku @ 20 Kandahar Street (Heritage Centre)
- Dong Po Colonial Cafe @ 56 Kandahar Street
- Working Title @ 48 Arab Street
- CAD Cafe @ 23 Haji Lane
- Symmetry @ 9 Jalan Kubor #01-01
- La Marelle Cafe & Boutique @ 25A Baghdad Street
- A for Arbite @ 28 Aliwal Street #01-01 (Aliwal Arts Centre)
- EatPlayLove Cafe @ 28 Aliwal Street #01-07 (Aliwal Arts Centre)
- Tolido’s Espresso Nook @ 462 Crawford Lane
- The Coffee Shot @ 103 Lavender Street
- Butter Studio @ 147 Jalan Besar
- Suprette @ 383 Jalan Besar (Kam Leng Hotel)
- The Tiramisu Hero Cafe @ 121 Tyrwhitt Road
- Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar @ 150 Tyrwhitt Road
- Antoinette @ 30 Penhas Road
- The Bravery @ 66 Horne Road
- Windowsill in the Woods @ 78 Horne Road
- L’etoile Cafe @ 160 Owen Road
- Cakes Literally @ 138 Owen Road
- Jewel Cafe and Bar @ 129 Rangoon Road
- The Little Prince Cafe @ 62 Somme Road #01-03
- The Sweet Movement @ 62 Somme Road #01-01
- La Ristrettos @ 10 Sinaran Drive #08-37 (Novena Medical Centre)
- Wheeler’s Yard @ 28 Lorong Ampas
- Little Part 1 Cafe @ 15 Jasmine Road (Adelphi Park Estate)
- Wafflelicious @ 21 Upper Thomson Road
- Little Pancakes @ 200 Upper Thomson Road #01-04 (Thomson Imperial Court)
- Old School Delights @ 215M Upper Thompson Road
- Habitat Coffee @ 233 Upper Thomson Road
- Salted Caramel @ 246 Upper Thomson Road
- OZ Specialty Coffee @ 11 Sin Ming Road #01-13 (Thomson V Two)
- Fluffy White Cloud Dream Cafe @ 11 Sin Ming Road #01-19 (Thomson V Two)
- November 8 Cafe @ 11 Sin Ming Road #01-30 (Thomson V Two)
- Yahava Koffee @ 4 Jalan Gelenggang
- Cremier @ 128 Toa Payoh Lorong 1 #01-835
- GRUB @ 510 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 (Bishan Park)
- The Cornerstone @ 1380 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 (Bishan Park)
- Canopy Garden Dining & Bar @ 1382 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 (Bishan Park)
- Lola’s Cafe @ 5 Simon Road
- Arbite Cafe @ 66A Serangoon Garden Way
- Artease @ 261 Serangoon Central #01-29
- Ciel Patisserie @ 124 Hougang Avenue 1 #01-1444
- Chillax Massage Cafe @ 28 Maju Avenue Level 1
- Ice Edge Cafe @ 2 Kovan Road
- Hatter Street @ 212 Hougang Street 21 #01-333
- Rokeby Cafe @ 15-9 Jalan Riang
- Wimbly Lu @ 15-2 Jalan Riang
- The Coffee Daily @ 75 Brighton Crescent
- Sun Ray Cafe @ 79 Brighton Crescent
- Backstage Cafe @ 158 Kallang Way
- Maple & Market @ 34 Cassia Crescent #01-82
- Loysel’s Toy Cafe @ 66 Kampong Bugis #01-01 (Sam Tat Building)
- Brawn and Brains @ 100 Guillemard Road #01-07 (Singapore Badminton Hall)
- Cafe Melba @ 90 Goodman Road #01-56 (Block N @ Goodman Arts Centre)
- The Humble Loaf @ 865 Mountbatten Road #B1-92 (Katong Shopping Centre)
- Penny University @ 402 East Coast Road
- Oh Deli @ 421 East Coast Road
- British Hainan @ 75 Carpmael Road
- D’Zerts Cafe @ 30 Jalan Pari Burong (Simpang Bedok)
- To-gather Cafe @ 84 Bedok North Street 4 #01-27
- Milk and Honey Gelato @ 86 Bedok North Street 4 #01-179
- Sugarcraft Atelier @ 212 Changi Road
- Rice & Fries @ 484 Changi Road
- Doggiestyle Cafe @ 496 Changi Road
- Lots Gourmet @ 965A Upper Changi Road North
- The Bark Cafe @ 1000 Upper Changi Road North
- The Garden Slug @ 55 Lorong L Telok Kurau #01-59/61 (Bright Centre)
- 1TwentySix @ 902 East Coast Parkway Blk E #01-26 (Playground @ Big Splash)
- Chock Full Of Beans @ 4 Changi Village Road #01-2090
- Eggs & Berries @ 5 Changi Business Park Central 1#01-37/38 (Changi City Point)
- Table Manners @ 5 Changi Business Park Central 1 #01-68/69 (Changi City Point)
- The Coastal Settlement @ 200 Netheravon Road
As I work in a church, my opportunities to meet non-believers are limited. I asked God to show me new ways to evangelise and I was inspired to redeem telemarketing for His glory. So I told myself that instead of rudely and curtly putting down the phone whenever I get a sales call, I will ask if I could pray for the person on the line with me instead. After all, this idea had been on my mind for a while now.
My maiden attempt took place a couple of weeks ago. I was on the way to pick up my wife from work and I got a call from a dude wanting to sell me insurance. I told the Lord that morning that I’d definitely step out in faith to do it. So I put him on speaker, listened to him make that sales pitch then I asked him for his name, and went for it.
“Hi Sam, could I ask you if I could do something crazy? Can I pray for you?” I tried to sound as natural as I could.
“Oh… Sure…”, he said politely, probably not wanting to offend a potential client.
I went ahead and prayed a generic, unscripted and spontaneous prayer of blessing over Sam. And that one day, he would come to know God for himself. When we put down the phone, he actually signed off with, “God bless you, Sir”. To which I said, “God loves you, Sam!”
I was so fired up by that random four-minute conversation that I decided to pen down different types of prayers for different types of phone calls. So I composed word-for-word prayers for insurance, recruitment and credit cards sales calls. And boy was I excited to use it!
Two weeks passed and I, surprisingly, didn’t get any calls. For the first time, I was actually disappointed nobody wanted to sell me anything or recruit me to join their company!
Until this evening.
I received a sales call from a telemarketer called Catherine. She wanted me to buy a savings plan from her bank. When I politely refused her offer and asked if I could pray for her, she was surprised. She said she wasn’t a Christian but I said I could still pray for her to bless her.
She must have been surprised when I began to pray out loud. “Heavenly Father, I may not have purchased a savings plan from Catherine but I pray one day she will come to see that You’re the only savings plan she needs. May you give her success in her next sales call and help her to know the only one who can save her. In Jesus’ name, amen!”
It was almost as if I had caught her off-guard!
Then I told her that since she has my number, she could call me anytime if she ever wanted to know my kind of savings plan.
Now, I’m looking forward to the next call I receive. I am praying that these small acts of randomness will open the large doors of redemption. Since they’re stuck on the phone with me, I might as well stick something in their minds for them to remember. I’m believing by faith that these two to four minute conversations will one day change destinies. Join me as I redeem telemarketers one by one!
Instead of lamenting over the Singapore haze situation and pouring out my woes on social media (which adds zero value to this pseudo national crisis IMHO), I found ten ways to be thankful for the wind beneath my wings…
- The last time Singapore had such unhealthy PSI readings was in October 2006 (I think). Let’s be thankful that we’ve enjoyed clear skies for nearly seven years!
- In moments like these, you should be pleased that you’re not in Sumatra or any of the northern Indonesian islands – it could be been far worse!
- Isn’t it good that at least Singapore has a tropical climate where rain could come anytime to wash the haze away? Places in summer now (especially desert places) won’t even smell precipitation for weeks!
- Let’s rejoice that that Singapore’s transportation system is nearly 100% air-conditioned; when I was a teenager, buses were ventilated by natural wind! And if you’re a car owner, be contented for your own set of wheels and instead of contending with the smoke while commuting – imagine those who are cycling!
- It’s a good sign that lesser people (especially teenagers) are on the streets because they’d rather be indoors, whether at home, in the office or in malls – out of the streets, out of trouble!
- Let’s be relieved that at least everyone in Singapore is united by the same public enemy – instead of population, politics or (gender) preference issues!
- Believe it or not, I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness to us in the way that He led the Israelites through the wilderness in a pillar of cloud and fire – sounds like concentrated haze in a column to me!
- For all you photographers out there, let’s get trigger happy for this is the only time where you can capture pictures with a natural “smoke out” effect without using any filter!
- For those who aspire to be ninjas, this is your time to bring out your face masks and actually look socially acceptable – when else would you get away with it!?
- And finally, if this situations worsens, the government might start ordering people to stay indoors to avoid the haze – I can hear students and national servicemen cheering already!
Reading all the tributes about Sir Alex made me realise that the man is more than just a manager… He’s a leader, teacher, father, coach, friend, mentor and even a “pastor” of sorts (among countless other roles) to not just the football players but the entire football club. He’s built not just a few football teams but an entire football club.
When you have a “manager” attending youth training sessions, attending employees’ bereavements and sending personal letters to grieving fans, texting former players and calling up fellow managers to support them, you know that he’s so much more than just a salaried man. If only I had the chance to have coffee with him…
The dedication to the job, the desire to win and the demand for excellence… We are not replacing any other man. We are replacing a football institution. And how is it even possible? I cannot imagine anyone else in the dugout because truth is, no one else has been in there except him!
Fans of rival clubs and haters will never understand how we feel (and it’s even harder for non-football people to get it). He’s been around before I started supporting United in 1994 and he’s the only manager I’ve known since. Only United fans can say something like that. He’s brought United from nothing to something, so that’s why he’s everything to United and all of us.
United is a machine – his machine – and this club will move on. But it will never be the same again. Sir Alex has always said that nobody is bigger than the club. But I think maybe… Just maybe… Ferguson is as big as the club because he IS the club. His retirement feels like something is being ripped out from my heart. It was hard when Cantona retired; Ferguson retiring is the same gut-wrenching feeling magnified multiple times over. Supporting United will never feel the same again.
Legend, legacy, longevity. He’s not just a football manager. He is Sir Alex Ferguson – the greatest EVER football manager in all of history.
I’m forcing myself to do this before I sleep so that I don’t sink into an unexplainable post-sermon depression; yes, once again I feel like I’ve preached the worst sermon of my life. And this is one of the lowest moments in my short journey as a preacher.
1. 322: our highest attendance for a combined youth service in a very long time. The GII Sanctuary was packed and buzzing with energy indeed.
2. 29: the highest number of newcomers for a youth service – proud of our youths who brought their friends and those who had the courage to invite.
3. 6: first-time salvations. And countless rededications. Without a doubt everything that happened tonight must be credited to God. All honour to Him alone.
4. Stella and Caleb: respectively, the brain behind the creative concept (we took a risk with this format of Easter) and the hands that helped the brain bring the plan come to life.
5. Swift: reading their praise reports on whatsapp and rejoicing with them for the success they experienced tonight with their region – something they really needed for all the hard work they’ve out in.
6. Worship: I could really sense the comforting presence of the Lord tonight and that the R-AGErs were so sincere in their response to God. Nell did a good job too – this young lady has a real anointing. One of those evenings where you wished you could linger a little longer.
7. Performers and crew: they just get younger and younger, don’t they? The average age of the youths serving and making a contribution across the board has lowered and their potential excites me. This X team was so committed and dedicated to their roles; they really pulled off something massive.
8. Soon Huat, his team of cleaners and the youths’ parents: for being so patient and understanding although we ended so late. My sincere apologies for that. I hope it doesn’t happen again.
9. Huiyi: who patiently and painstakingly encouraged, counselled and assured me from the moment I left the stage all the way until now. I cannot imagine sinking into this pit without her by my side. Thank you for praying for me and embracing me in my moment of weakness.
10. God: that He would even use a wretched, broken and untalented pastor like me to preach His Word, and was gracious enough to even send Yixian to encourage and pray for me – I didn’t deserve that. Father, I’m sorry for tonight. I’ll do better next time. Thank You for Your faithfulness and for showing up tonight – it would have been disastrous if You didn’t. All glory belongs to You.
It has been a humbling and forgettable night. In Jesus’ name, please take these negative thoughts and feelings away from me.
Okay, I need to sleep now.
I was disappointed with myself for not being able to subdue my anger during a meeting yesterday.
No, I didn’t flare up at a particular person or used words that I wasn’t supposed to, but I produced an unusually strong reaction to a decision that was made. I was the only one with a bad reaction even though that decision impacted all of us; there was another colleague who raised her eyebrow to that decision but she was gentle. Somehow, that decision triggered something in me.
The first few questions I asked myself were,
- How can a person who tries to be a man of God react in this unacceptable way?
- Is a pastor even allowed to show such emotion or is he supposed to be even-tempered all the time?
- Have I stumbled any of my colleagues with my display of emotions?
- What does it mean to respond, and not react, in that situation?
- How would I respond instead, if I was given another chance?
I excused myself, headed to the bathroom and attempted to sort out my emotions before I returned to the meeting. My colleague who went out with me encouraged me to speak to the decision-maker so that I can get it off my chest. I told her that I wouldn’t, until I sort out what’s in my heart, otherwise I’d get myself into more trouble.
I realised that over the years, a part of me gets especially annoyed whenever I feel that there is inconsistency in decision-making or in example-setting. I realised that I like things to be in black and white, yes and no, true and false. I operate in dichotomy and struggle to deal with ambiguity and ambivalence. I also have a low threshold for injustice.
Until I succeed in managing this tension, I’ve always asked the Lord to keep my head straight and stick to my convictions, but never at the expense of being self-righteous. I asked God to make me flexible leader with wisdom to know when to compromise and when to stay firm; there are some battles that are just not worth fighting. I asked the Lord for a greater threshold of grey areas.
Then the Lord reminded me to wear my Double-L plate; except that this time, a leader and a learner must also be ready to be a loser and lover. I want to learn to lose my rights and love others. I want to grow from this setback. I want to mature. I want to be godly.
I am thankful for the grace of God and how He would still use me despite my multiple flaws. I will do better next time.