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Living vicariously through my in-law’s.

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!”

我真的在某人身上实现梦想。

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…

IMG_9088

Photo credits: Douglas Lin. Thank you for capturing this delightful moment.

 

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Cafes in Singapore sorted by location.

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! (:

Cafe

A cuppa mocha for life’s 摩擦…

Holland Village/Buona Vista

  1. Jimmy Monkey Cafe @ 9 one-north Gateway #01-51 (one-north residences) | C/D/F/$6-$18/$5
  2. Revolution Coffee @ 21 Media Circle #01-03A | CD
  3. Artisan Boulangerie @ 9 North Buona Vista Drive #01-12 (The Metropolis)
  4. Jamaica Blue @ 1 Vista Exchange Green #01-32 (The Star Vista) | CDF
  5. 93°C Bean & Leaf @ 8 Lorong Mambong | CD
  6. MU Parlour @ 16A Lorong Mambong
  7. Craft Bakery & Cafe @ 24A Lorong Mambong | CDF
  8. Hatched @ 267 Holland Avenue | CDF
  9. d’ Good Cafe @ 273 Holland Avenue | CDF
  10. Foster English Rose Cafe @ 277 Holland Avenue | CDF
  11. Park Cafe Bar @ 281 Holland Avenue #01-01
  12. Shebrews Cafe @ 365 Commonwealth Avenue (Queenstown Community Centre)
  13. Artease @ 500 Dover Road (Singapore Polytechnic Teaching Block 19)

Dempsey/Tanglin

  1. Roadhouse @ 13 Dempsey Road #01-07
  2. Jones the Grocer @ 12 Dempsey Road | CDF
  3. PS Cafe @ 28B Harding Road
  4. The Dempsey Brasserie @ Blk 7 Dempsey Road #01-03
  5. The White Rabbit @ 39C Harding Road
  6. Barracks Cafe House Dempsey @ 8D Dempsey Road #01-01 to 06
  7. House Dempsey @ 8D Dempsey Road #01-01 to 06
  8. Food For Thought Cafe @ 1 Cluny Road #B1-00 (Singapore Botanic Gardens)
  9. Assembly Coffee @ 26 Evans Road (Evans Lodge)
  10. Hatched @ 26 Evans Road #01-06 (Evans Lodge)
  11. Nassim Hill Bakery & Bistro @ 56 Tanglin Road (Tanglin Post Office)
  12. Spruce @ 320 Tanglin Road (Phoenix Park)

Bukit Timah/Dunearn

  1. Relish @ 501 Bukit Timah Road #02-01 (Cluny Court)
  2. Simply Bread @ 501 Bukit Timah Road #02-01 (Cluny Court) | CF
  3. Choupinette @ 607 Bukit Timah Road #01-01
  4. The Missing Pan @ 619D Bukit Timah Road #01/02-01 (Coronation Plaza)
  5. The Living Cafe @ 779 Bukit Timah Road
  6. Little Diner @ 789 Bukit Timah Road
  7. Vicky’s Cakes & The Coffee Shack @ 833 Bukit Timah Road #01-07 (Royaville)
  8. Simply Bread @ 1 Fifth Avenue #01-03 (Guthrie House) | CF
  9. Baker & Cook @ 77 Hillcrest Road
  10. Dutch Colony Coffee Co @ 200 Turf Club Road Stall #67-68 (The Grandstand)
  11. Riders Cafe @ 51 Fairways Drive (Bukit Timah Saddle Club)
  12. Marmalade Pantry @ 55 Fairways Drive

Upper Bukit Timah/West

  1. Lynn’s Cake & Coffee @ 11 Eng Kong Terrace
  2. Necessary Provisions Cafe @ 21 Eng Kong Terrace
  3. Carpenter & Cook @ 19 Lorong Kilat #01-06
  4. Nook DIY House of Pancakes @ 21 Lorong Kilat #01-03
  5. Spruce @ 274 Upper Bukit Timah Road
  6. W.39 Bistro @ Jalan Mas Puteh
  7. Cupplets @ 535 Clementi Road (Ngee Ann Polytechnic Block 16)
  8. Paris Baguette Cafe @ 50 Jurong Gateway Road #02-20 (JEM)
  9. Humble Origins @ Kent Ridge Drive (NUS FASS, next to LT12)
  10. Artease @ 14 Nanyang Drive (NTU School of Humanities)
Tiong Bahru
  1. The Orange Thimble @ 56 Eng Hoon Street #01-68
  2. Caffe Pralet @ 17 Eng Hoon Street #01-03/04 (Eng Hoon Mansions)
  3. Drips Bakery Cafe @ 82 Tiong Poh Road #01-05
  4. Flock Cafe @ 78 Moh Guan Terrace #01-25
  5. Forty Hands @ 78 Yong Siak Street #01-12
  6. Open Door Policy @ 19 Yong Siak Street
  7. PoTeaTo @ 78 Yong Siak Street
  8. Tiong Bahru Bakery @ 56 Eng Hoon Street #01-70
  9. The Dispensary @ 69 Tiong Bahru Road
  10. The Providore Warehouse @ 315 Outram Road 05-03 (Tan Boon Liat Building)

Bukit Merah

  1. Workshop @ 121 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-06
  2. Pan Delights @ 161 Bukit Merah Central, #01-3725
  3. The Bakery Chef @ 161 Bukit Merah Central #01-3711
  4. Butterscotch Cafe @ 164 Bukit Merah Central #01-3625
  5. Artisan Boulangerie @ 1 Kim Seng Promenade #01-23 (Great World City)

Everton Park/Kampong Bahru

  1. OKB @ 1 Kampong Bahru Rd
  2. Strangers’ Reunion @ 37 Kampong Bahru Road
  3. Highlander Coffee @ 49 Kampong Bahru Road
  4. Just Want Coffee @ 1 Everton Park
  5. Audacious Cakery @ 2 Everton Park #01-61
  6. Grin Affair @ 3 Everton Park #01-77A
  7. The Provision Shop @ 3 Everton Park #01-79
  8. Nylon Coffee Roasters @ 4 Everton Park #01-40
  9. Cozy Coffee Corner @ 4 Everton Park #01-50
  10. Mapleloft Cafe @ 101 Cantonment Road #01-02 (Tanjong Pagar Community Club)

Chinatown/Outram/Clarke Quay

  1. Oriole Coffee Roasters @ 10 Jiak Chuan Road
  2. The Reading Room @ 19 Bukit Pasoh Road
  3. Selfish Gene Cafe @ 40 Craig Road
  4. The Plain @ 50 Craig Road
  5. Department of Caffeine @ 15 Duxton Road
  6. Group Therapy Cafe @ 49 Duxton Road
  7. Flor Patisserie @ 2 Duxton Hill #01-01
  8. Bistro Soori @ 2 Teck Lim Road
  9. Glück Bistro Express @ 26 Teck Lim Road
  10. Antoniette @ 33 Erskine Road #01-02/03 (Scarlet Hotel)
  11. The Loft Cafe @ 268A South Bridge Road
  12. Coffee Tea & Company @ 133 New Bridge Road #B1-44 (Chinatown Point)
  13. RONIN @ 17 Hong Kong Street

Tanjong Pagar

  1. Cafe Gavroche @ 69 Tras Street
  2. Kiasu Espresso @ 100 Tras Street #01-03/04 (100 AM)
  3. Okada Coffee @ 100 Tras Street #03-23 (100 AM)
  4. Cake Spade @ 1 Tras Link #01-06 (Orchid Hotel)
  5. SPRMRKT @ 2 McCallum Street
  6. 6oz Espresso Bar @ 20 McCallum Street #01-K1 (Tokio Marine Centre)
  7. PS Cafe @ 45 Ann Siang Road #02-02
  8. Quarter to Three @ 88 Tanjong Pagar Road
  9. Drury Lane Cafe @ 94 Tanjong Pagar Road
  10. ReStore Cafe @ 124 Tanjong Pagar Road
  11. Artease @ 1 Tanjong Pagar Plaza #01-35

Raffles Place

  1. Jamaica Blue @ 1 Raffles Place #01-62 (One Raffles Place Tower 2)
  2. Club Street Social @ 5 Gemmill Lane
  3. Shots Cafe @ 90 Club Street
  4. The Muffinry @ 112 Telok Ayer Street
  5. Sarnies Cafe @ 136 Telok Ayer Street
  6. Sophie Bakery @ 167 Telok Ayer Street
  7. Coffeesmith @ 62 Collyer Quay #02-11
  8. Jewel Coffee @ 1 Shenton Way #01-07
  9. 8 Stanley Street @ 8 Stanley Street
  10. Bar Bar Black Sheep @ 55 Boat Quay
  11. Artisan Boulangerie @ 12 Marina View #01-02 (Asia Square Tower 2)
  12. Artease @ 3 Phillip Street #01-01
River Valley
  1. The Book Cafe @ 20 Martin Road #01-02 (Seng Kee Building)
  2. Baker & Cook @ 38A Martin Road #01-01
  3. Common Man Coffee Roasters @ 22 Martin Road #01-00
  4. Laurent’s Cafe & Chocolate Bar @ 80 Mohammad Sultan Road #01-11
  5. Kith Cafe @ 7 Rodyk Street #01-28
  6. Toby’s Estate @ 8 Rodyk Street #01-03/04
  7. eM by the River @ 1 Nanson Road #01-05 (The Gallery Hotel)
  8. Hummerstons @ 11 Unity Street #02-14 (Robertson Walk)
  9. The Fabulous Baker Boy @ 70 River Valley Road #01-15 (The Foothills)
  10. Five and Dime @ 297 River Valley Road
  11. Swirl Art Cafe @ 417 River Valley Road
  12. Croute @ 491 River Valley Road

Robertson Quay

  1. Epicurious Cafe @ 60 Robertson Quay #01-02
  2. Smitten Cafe @ 60 Robertson Quay #01-11
  3. Boomarang @ 60 Robertson Quay #01-15
  4. Anthesis @ 86 Robertson Quay #01-01
  5. The Merry Men @ 86 Robertson Quay #01-02
  6. Bar Bar Black Sheep @ 86 Robertson Quay #01-04
South
  1. Kith Cafe @ 31 Ocean Way Quayside Isle #01-08 (Sentosa Cove)
  2. Artisan Boulangerie @ 1 Harbourfront Walk #01-163/164 (Vivo City)
  3. Prive Bakery Cafe @ 2 Keppel Bay Vista Ground Floor (Keppel Bay Marina)
  4. The Marshmallow Tree @ 46 Telok Blangah Drive #01-85
  5. Eco Gourmet Cafe @ 30 Labrador Villa Road
  6. ROOM @ 460 Alexandra Road #01-18 (Alexandra Retail Centre)
Scotts/Orchard
  1. Wild Honey @ 6 Scotts Road Level 3 (Scotts Square)
  2. Antoniette @ 390 Orchard Road B1-08/09/10C (Palais Renaissance)
  3. PS Cafe @ 390 Orchard Road #02-09A (Palais Renaissance)
  4. Marmalade Pantry @ 2 Orchard Turn #03-22 (ION)
  5. Paris Baguette Cafe @ 435 Orchard Road #02-48/53 (Wisma Atria)
  6. Pique Nique @ 391A Orchard Road #B1-01 (Ngee Ann City)
  7. Marmalade Toast @ #02-11 391 Orchard Road (Ngee Ann City)
  8. The Providore @ 333A Orchard Road #02-05 (Mandarin Gallery)
  9. Antoniette @ 333A Orchard Road #02-33/34 (Mandarin Gallery)
  10. Wild Honey @ 333A Orchard Road #03-02 (Mandarin Gallery)
  11. Jones the Grocer @ 333A Orchard Road #04-21/23 (Mandarin Gallery)

Somerset/Dhoby Gaut

  1. Artease @ 8 Grange Road #01-03 (Cathay Cineleisure Orchard)
  2. Oriole Cafe & Bar @ 96 Somerset Road #01-01 (Pan Pacific Serviced Suites)
  3. KPO Cafe & Bar @ 1 Killiney Road (Killney Post Office)
  4. Freshly Baked by Le Bijoux @ 57 Killiney Road
  5. Artisan Boulangerie @ 118 Killiney Road #01-01
  6. Myartspace Cafe @ 31 Orchard Road (Istana Park)
  7. Nana’s Green Tea @ 68 Orchard Road #03-80/81/82 (Plaza Singapura)
  8. Hoshino Coffee @ 68 Orchard Road #03-84 (Plaza Singapura)
  9. Createaf Waffles @ 2 Handy Road #01-02 (The Cathay)
  10. Kith Cafe @ 9 Penang Road #01-01E (Park Mall)
  11. Wild Rocket at Mount Emily @ 10A Upper Wilkie Road GF (Hangout @ Mount Emily)

City Hall/Bras Basah

  1. Fine Palate Cafe @ 51 Waterloo Street #01-04/05
  2. Food For Thought @ 8 Queen Street
  3. The Basement Cafe @ 80 Stamford Road #B1-62 (Singapore Management University)
  4. Food For Thought @ 93 Stamford Road #01-04/05 (National Museum)
  5. Tiong Bahru Bakery @ 252 North Bridge Road #B1-11/12 (Raffles City Shopping Centre)
  6. Commune Cafe & Bistro @ 9 Raffles Boulevard #02-50 (Millennia Walk)
  7. Patisserie G @ 9 Raffles Boulevard #01-40 (Millennia Walk)
  8. Tart Blanc @ 9 Raffles Boulevard #01-102 (Millennia Walk)
  9. Cups N Canvas @ 139 Selegie Road
  10. Strictly Pancakes @ 44A Prinsep Street
  11. Hungry Chimps @ 64A Prinsep Street #02-01
  12. Lowercase @ 1 McNally Street Block D #01-01
  13. Temporium @ 72-74 Dunlop Street
Bugis/Arab Street

  1. Artichoke Cafe @ 161 Middle Road
  2. I Am @ 674 North Bridge Road #01-01
  3. Artistry @ 17 Jalan Pinang
  4. Espressolab @ 13 Bali Lane
  5. Maison Ikkoku @ 20 Kandahar Street (Heritage Centre)
  6. Dong Po Colonial Cafe @ 56 Kandahar Street
  7. Working Title @ 48 Arab Street
  8. CAD Cafe @ 23 Haji Lane
  9. Symmetry @ 9 Jalan Kubor #01-01
  10. La Marelle Cafe & Boutique @ 25A Baghdad Street
  11. A for Arbite @ 28 Aliwal Street #01-01 (Aliwal Arts Centre)
  12. EatPlayLove Cafe @ 28 Aliwal Street #01-07 (Aliwal Arts Centre)

Lavender/Jalan Besar

  1. Tolido’s Espresso Nook @ 462 Crawford Lane
  2. The Coffee Shot @ 103 Lavender Street
  3. Butter Studio @ 147 Jalan Besar
  4. Suprette @ 383 Jalan Besar (Kam Leng Hotel)
  5. The Tiramisu Hero Cafe @ 121 Tyrwhitt Road
  6. Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar @ 150 Tyrwhitt Road
  7. Antoinette @ 30 Penhas Road
  8. The Bravery @ 66 Horne Road
  9. Windowsill in the Woods @ 78 Horne Road

Novena/Balestier

  1. L’etoile Cafe @ 160 Owen Road
  2. Cakes Literally @ 138 Owen Road
  3. Jewel Cafe and Bar @ 129 Rangoon Road
  4. The Little Prince Cafe @ 62 Somme Road #01-03
  5. The Sweet Movement @ 62 Somme Road #01-01
  6. La Ristrettos @ 10 Sinaran Drive #08-37 (Novena Medical Centre)
  7. Wheeler’s Yard @ 28 Lorong Ampas

Thomson

  1. Little Part 1 Cafe @ 15 Jasmine Road (Adelphi Park Estate)
  2. Wafflelicious @ 21 Upper Thomson Road
  3. Little Pancakes @ 200 Upper Thomson Road #01-04 (Thomson Imperial Court)
  4. Old School Delights @ 215M Upper Thompson Road
  5. Habitat Coffee @ 233 Upper Thomson Road
  6. Salted Caramel @ 246 Upper Thomson Road
  7. OZ Specialty Coffee @ 11 Sin Ming Road #01-13 (Thomson V Two)
  8. Fluffy White Cloud Dream Cafe @ 11 Sin Ming Road #01-19 (Thomson V Two)
  9. November 8 Cafe @ 11 Sin Ming Road #01-30 (Thomson V Two)
  10. Yahava Koffee @ 4 Jalan Gelenggang

Serangoon/North

  1. Cremier @ 128 Toa Payoh Lorong 1 #01-835
  2. GRUB @ 510 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 (Bishan Park)
  3. The Cornerstone @ 1380 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 (Bishan Park)
  4. Canopy Garden Dining & Bar @ 1382 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 (Bishan Park)
  5. Lola’s Cafe @ 5 Simon Road
  6. Arbite Cafe @ 66A Serangoon Garden Way
  7. Artease @ 261 Serangoon Central #01-29
  8. Ciel Patisserie @ 124 Hougang Avenue 1 #01-1444
  9. Chillax Massage Cafe @ 28 Maju Avenue Level 1
  10. Ice Edge Cafe @ 2 Kovan Road
  11. Hatter Street @ 212 Hougang Street 21 #01-333
  12. Rokeby Cafe @ 15-9 Jalan Riang
  13. Wimbly Lu @ 15-2 Jalan Riang
  14. The Coffee Daily @ 75 Brighton Crescent
  15. Sun Ray Cafe @ 79 Brighton Crescent

Kallang/Katong/East Coast

  1. Backstage Cafe @ 158 Kallang Way
  2. Maple & Market @ 34 Cassia Crescent #01-82
  3. Loysel’s Toy Cafe @ 66 Kampong Bugis #01-01 (Sam Tat Building)
  4. Brawn and Brains @ 100 Guillemard Road #01-07 (Singapore Badminton Hall)
  5. Cafe Melba @ 90 Goodman Road #01-56 (Block N @ Goodman Arts Centre)
  6. The Humble Loaf @ 865 Mountbatten Road #B1-92 (Katong Shopping Centre)
  7. Penny University @ 402 East Coast Road
  8. Oh Deli @ 421 East Coast Road
  9. British Hainan @ 75 Carpmael Road

East

  1. D’Zerts Cafe @ 30 Jalan Pari Burong (Simpang Bedok)
  2. To-gather Cafe @ 84 Bedok North Street 4 #01-27
  3. Milk and Honey Gelato @ 86 Bedok North Street 4 #01-179
  4. Sugarcraft Atelier @ 212 Changi Road
  5. Rice & Fries @ 484 Changi Road
  6. Doggiestyle Cafe @ 496 Changi Road 
  7. Lots Gourmet @ 965A Upper Changi Road North
  8. The Bark Cafe @ 1000 Upper Changi Road North
  9. The Garden Slug @ 55 Lorong L Telok Kurau #01-59/61 (Bright Centre)
  10. 1TwentySix @ 902 East Coast Parkway Blk E #01-26 (Playground @ Big Splash)
  11. Chock Full Of Beans @ 4 Changi Village Road #01-2090
  12. Eggs & Berries @ 5 Changi Business Park Central 1#01-37/38 (Changi City Point)
  13. Table Manners @ 5 Changi Business Park Central 1 #01-68/69 (Changi City Point)
  14. The Coastal Settlement @ 200 Netheravon Road

top ten ways to respond to haze.

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…

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. 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!
  7. 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!
  8. 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!
  9. 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!?
  10. 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!
Perfect skies at Lazarus Island, circa November 2012.

Perfect weather at Lazarus Island, circa November 2012.

have we forgotten how to wait?

We spend our entire lives waiting; waiting to grow up, waiting to finish school, waiting for our first paycheck, waiting to marry our soul mate, waiting for our next vacation, waiting for traffic lights to turn green, waiting for the summer blockbuster, waiting nine months for our baby to arrive, waiting for our kids to grow up, waiting to grow old, and ultimately, waiting to die.

And something we do everyday is to wait for public buses to arrive. In Singapore, IRIS (timing prediction technology) informs us of the time we would have to wait before the next bus arrives. If I could take you back to just a little over a decade ago, where none of these prediction technologies existed, you would have to wait patiently for your bus to arrive.

Naturally, we would have no idea if that wait would be three or 30 minutes long. In my childhood days, there weren’t as many bus shelters; I remember standing in the sun, squinting my eyes to look into the horizon, waiting patiently for my bus to arrive. It was uncomfortable to either read a book standing up because there were no seats in the bus shelter, or the sun would be blazing directly above you. Either way, you wouldn’t want to miss your bus because you weren’t paying attention.

In those days, only the more popular routes had double-decker air-conditioned buses (known then as a “Super Bus”) plying it. The service I took frequently was a Super Bus and it was easy to recognise one from a distance away. I’d spend the entire waiting duration anticipating a glimpse of a Super Bus. It would fill me with glee if that Super Bus was my Super Bus.

And despite the unpredictability and uncertainty of the bus arrivals, I’d still wait because the bus had ALWAYS shown up; I know it was not going to play me out suddenly or randomly. Even if the waiting time was longer than usual, I’d still wait because I know it will show up, just like it has the many previous times. And when the bus eventually shows up, it’ll make the wait worth the wait.

Today, fortunately (or unfortunately), we know exactly when our buses would arrive. Some apps can even trace the location of the oncoming bus! So we’d pop out our smartphones, books and magazines to kill the waiting time by reading an article, surfing the net or playing a game. In this age of multi-tasking, nobody likes to stand around, do nothing and just wait.

With all these seemingly helpful distractions around to occupy our time, it’s no wonder we have forgotten how to wait! Maybe that’s why we cannot relate to what Isaiah said:

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. — Isaiah 40:31

It was a question I asked God to answer when I first stumbled upon this verse… And here’s the paradign shift – waiting for the Lord renews our strength because the Lord WILL show up. We wait for the Lord because He is certainly consistent and consistently certain. For when we are waiting, we are reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness in our lives as well as in His Word.

This is the reason why we must not give up waiting – it takes our eyes off ourselves and fixes our eyes on God; we are freed from our anxieties when we focus our attention on Him. When we wait, we ought to recall the many times that the Lord has delivered in our lives.

So the next time you need to wait for a bus to arrive, an event to pass, a promise to be fulfilled, or for the Lord to show up, know that the wait in itself is part of the process; waiting isn’t just passivity but an intentional and purposeful decision. And the Lord WILL show up in your life. No wonder our strength would be renewed, we’d mount up with wings like eagles, run and not be weary, and walk and not be faint!

Wait for it with conviction… Wait for it with confidence!

a September stock-take and an October onslaught.

It’s always therapeutic to do a stock-take after an eventful week, which would have been impossible to pull off and not fall exhausted on my face, if not for the grace of God that saw me though. Warning: long post.

Monday: attended QC (Questions and Contributions) time and a monthly mentoring session with Ps Edmund Chan; ’til this day, I still thank God for the divine appointment in which He has connected me to Ps Ed; what a privilege and honour.

Tuesday AM: led worship at the Tuesday staff devotion with Ps Meng Cham; that’s how I will do it from now on – being accompanied by a seasoned musician makes it so much more enjoyable (because I won’t need to practice with my guitar!)

Tuesday PM: prepared for and sat through a staff meeting, which was a heart-wrenching experience and threw me off my momentum; I’m thankful for Ps Ronald who patiently listened to me rant and vent my frustrations. This forced me to come before the Lord that evening to seek His face. And I’m glad I did. The Lord spoke to me through Genesis 13 and Hebrews 6.

Wednesday AM: Caleb crashed at my place the night before and we watched Man Utd surrender a 2-0 lead to Basel and equalised in typical United fashion at the dying minutes. I struggled through the second half, to be honest. I’m really getting old…

Wednesday PM: led worship at the weekly Wednesday church prayer meeting (J333) with Rafael.; exposing youth musicians through my J333 duties gives me renewed purpose when I find my name on the worship leading roster. My next session is on 30 November and I’ll go over-the-top because I’ll be teaming up with Ps Ronald and the church will be praying for R-AGE.

Thursday: presented the 2012 R-AGE budget in front of the Head of Administration, accountant and finance manager of Grace AG on Thursday (my first time presenting with Excel spreadsheets); administration is really not my strength. Thank God for Ps Ronald who rescued me by answering on my behalf on a few occasions.

Friday AM: had a delectable dim-sum lunch at Royal China @ Raffles Hotel with Sheryl from Eagles, together with Daniel and Xavier too, and joined the Vantage Point magazine editorial team. (I just received my first email from them!)

Friday PM: sat through another staff meeting, and wondered what it would be like next year when I’m chairing it.

Friday EVE: spent time with some of my favouritest people on the planet at the GII Shepherds cell, and facilitated our Harmony of the Gospels lesson; Yixian said if we continued at this pace (in-depth but extremely slow), we’d take two years to finish the book.

Saturday AM: led the R-AGE 2012 manpower deployment discussion with Caleb, Keith, Kenneth and Rachael; yes, R-AGE leaders, we were deliberating over your fate next year! HAHAHA. I can’t wait to see youths lead youths!

Saturday PM: preached an apologetics cum evangelistic sermon (my first attempt) for the Same Same But Different evangelistic service at R-AGE@GII. I actually enjoyed my preparation more than my execution. It was intellectually stimulating to read in greater detail how atheism, pantheism and polytheism (among many other -isms) stood against theism.

Saturday EVE: chaired the Bare Bones 2012 coordination meeting with Nicole, Keith, David and Grace – who have proposed some spectacular ideas for the year-end conference. It’s gonna blow Grace AG away; everything is going to be significantly leveled-up! I’m delighted to be working with such exceptional youth leaders. Watching Man Utd defeat Norwich 2-0 capped my day.

Sunday: preached the same sermon at R-AGE@GI. I took the opportunity to clear up some personal administrative work while waiting to have lunch with Huiyi and Yixian. After a short nap to recharge my batteries, I resumed studying for my 60% News Studies paper (the next day), which I have burned midnight oil for in the past seven days. Little by little, I’ve conquered the paper.

Monday (today): praise God for a relatively easy exam paper! It’s different when you understand what you are reading and memorising instead of mugging just for the sake of. I managed to finished the paper with an hour to spare, so I brought forward my appointment with my hairstylist. It’s 4pm now (at the point of writing) and my head literally and metaphorically feels lighter.

I’m going to complete this blog post before I go ahead to prepare the slides for the R-AGE 2012 Ministry Action Plans (which I’m presenting to all pastoral staff tomorrow!) Then I’m going to head out to China Square to treat my family to a nice dinner of Crab Bee Hoon @ Don’s Pie Club. We’re celebrating my sister’s belated birthday (1 October), as well as my 8th 21st birthday in advance.

This week, I also managed to meet Caleb and Lucas for lunch and mentoring on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. I thoroughly enjoy investing time into young men who possess a desire to grow. Lucas’ huge appetite for growth reminds me of me, especially in the way that I pursue my mentors. I told him to never lose his hunger (okay, boy?).

After our  mentoring session over coffee in Starbucks@Tanglin Mall, he asked, “How do you do it, Bro Joey?” It being managing the many things on my plate. I couldn’t find an adequate way to answer him except to say, with all sincerity, that this capacity is a God-given gift; how could I take credit for the grace of God? I told him to ask God for it as well, because I think God will give it. (I didn’t tell him about the price of increased capacity though, but I’m sure he’ll figure that out himself.)

September has been an exceptional month in ministry. Besides starting R-AGE on the Spiritual Disciplines: Training in Holiness sermon series, I’ve also been planning for R-AGE in 2012 and meeting up with lots of youth leaders who might be serving alongside me next year. I am convinced that it’s my time with the Lord everyday that’s keeping me afloat.

I’ve also been reading non-stop throughout the week (and at an aggressive pace too). Besides the Bible during my daily devotions, sermon preparation materials and academic texts, I’ve also been feasting into Edmund Chan’s Cultivating Your Inner Life, Philippe Auclair’s Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King and Larry Crabb’s 66 Love Letters. I think I’m concurrently reading eight books – and I love the variety! This is effective for someone like me who gets bored easily.

On a more personal note, I’ve also been spending lots of time with Huiyi with our wedding preparation; we’ve reserved Sunday afternoons to visit bridal studios and photographers, as well as to plan for our big day. The highlight of these trips is to catch a sneak preview of my wife-to-be when she emerges from the changing room in glorious, gorgeous white; she’s gonna be the most stunning bride in all of Singapore next August – you have no idea how much we are looking forward to be married to each other!

I’d probably be packing my luggage midway when this post is published; Jetstar is going to take me to Perth at 5:45pm (Tuesday). I look forward to hanging out with Chin Seng, Ervina and Liang Zhi, but the highlight of my trip is to spend time with Ps Edmund and Ps Ann. I’ve been looking forward to this trip ever since I purchased the air tickets (super cheap!) a few months ago.

When I began my mentoring journey with Ps Edmund around this time last year, he emailed me his traveling itinerary and invited me to follow him on one of his countless trips; so here I am, excited and still starstruck, counting down the hours before I get to spend quality, uninterrupted and extended time with a God-given mentor, whom I’m sure will sharpen, challenge and inspire me!

October, I am ready for your onslaught!

Quenching my spiritual thirst with living water! (@ The Pinnacles, Perth, Australia)

baring my soul after baring my sole.

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For our integrated marketing communications assignment, my schoolmates and I examined how TOMS Shoes employed cause marketing as their main vehicle of publicity, and how this eventually led to sales.

There was no better way than to actually practise what the company preaches as one of their key annual activities – to go one day without shoes. At least, that’s what it challenges all its existing and potential consumers. TOMS’ business strategy is simple – you buy a pair of shoes from them and they will give another away to an underprivileged child in a third-world country. A remarkable and novel idea, really.

In our detailed analysis of this tactic, we’ve discovered that there are brilliant brains behind TOMS, from its founder Blake Mycoskie, to its sales staff, and to its interns (better known as Agents of Change – ostentatious but unique no doubt). And we’ve observed that they’ve left no stone unturned – everything that can be used has been used and their marketing strategy is one of the best we’ve seen of any footwear company, by far. It’s almost fool-proof and fail-proof; it’s so comprehensive that we’ve struggled to make recommendations to improve it. We take our hats off to TOMS Shoes.

That was until two of us (Melodie Lee and I) actually decided to go barefoot in Singapore for a day. And so it was, our very own one day without shoes. It was then we discovered the few weaknesses of such a tactic. I will share bits of it as I record my thoughts of this radical experience.

Attempting an against-the-norm feat is always easier when you do it with someone else. Melodie and I felt somewhat comforted and empowered by each other’s participation; knowing that we weren’t going to do this alone provided an impetus for the actual deed. I left home excitedly and I was curious to see the different reactions I’d receive from strangers and bystanders alike.

Coincidentally, I left home with my sister and met my mother en-route to the bus terminal; both thought that I was crazy and had my safety at the forefront of their minds. And as expected, my sister wasn’t too keen on walking beside me simply because it was weird. “So paiseh”, she stated. Funnily enough, that actually affirmed my decision more than deterred it.

I tried to behave as normally as I could. Of course I would avoid tough, dirty or wet terrain but I did not walk awkwardly or in embarrassment. I like doing radical things once in a while anyway, as my youths and peers would know, so standing out from the crowd wasn’t something that was all together foreign to me.

I arrived at our meeting point in Forum, drank a small serving of Caramel Latte from Coffeebean and discussed how we were going to capture people’s responses on film. And on my own, I intentionally recorded as many of these steps as I could through Twitter. After all, it was through social media that this campaign spread like a virus. As expected, I received a flurry of responses almost immediately on both Facebook and Twitter, from both friends and acquaintances. And just as I had expected, the attention waned as dramatically as it had built up as the day progressed, despite my regular pictorial updates.

Hence it leaves me to conclude that a wholesale dependence on social media has its own limitations. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a celebrity with an enormous reputation, but isn’t viral marketing all about the word-of-mouth from the man on the ground? It’s short-lived at best; my network’s interest in my adventure sustained for a couple of hours and my own interest was roused for a day at most. My mini-campaign was as current and newsworthy as the next 160-character tweet by a teenager about where he was or what she was doing. How effective could this method be for the long-run then?

I hereby propose that social media is only good for initial awareness but not prolonged interest.

One talking point in my day without shoes was when I nearly lost my right big toe. I am so used to everyday-walking that it slipped my mind the importance of literally watching my next step. It was a near-death experience (haha pardon the drama-mama) and my odynophobia caused me to visualise a severed foot. I still cringe at the thought of that near-mishap and I understood why Crocs encountered a safety issue with their footwear – people are negligent because they take things for granted and when they think they can depend on what they are used to (can’t help but to think of Psalm 119:105).

There are only two retailers in Singapore that sell TOMS Shoes and we had to visit one of course. It was a disappointing experience to say the least. We all thought that this could be one of the greatest flaw in this otherwise great company. A retail shop is quite possibly the most appropriate touch point for a fashion product (to see and touch the actual shoe and try it for sizing) and interacting with the sales staff left a horrible taste in our mouths; they were apathetic, ignorant, uninvolved, not helpful and unnecessarily rude.

While this reflects more badly on the reputation of the shop, it indirectly impacts a consumer’s attitude towards TOMS; you cannot help but think that TOMS did not conduct a meticulous screening of their franchisees or provide them with sufficient product training. Their unacceptable service became a fundamental failure in representing the goodwill that TOMS have existed to create all this while. After all, we’ve observed that intimate interaction with consumers is one of the keys to their outstanding business model.

We started our barefoot adventure at 3pm but by 6pm the novelty of this activity had already worn thin on us. We were no longer amused by people’s stares or consciously thought about what we were doing. I asked Melodie, “Are you even thinking about the children in Africa without shoes to wear?” Our answers to that question was synonymously negative. Perhaps we were inadequately prepared for this activity, throwing ourselves in without much fanfare (like posters or tee shirts) or perhaps we didn’t do it with an entourage. But honestly, the thought of doing this for the less-fortunate and under-privileged probably crossed our minds only once, and for a fleeting moment.

While those kids suffered from inevitable abrasions, we sampled invited attention; while those kids struggled to go to school, we savoured what it felt like to do something cool; while those kids survived on a single pair of shoes for years, we stepped into shops that sold enough shoes to last a village for years. How effective then, is this campaign to actually help those kids?

I began to question the integrity of this apparently fantastic movement and I couldn’t help but to conclude that cause marketing should only be employed for the short-term and not to be exploited for the long-term.

I’ve written these thoughts on my way to school and during lecture itself. Honestly, while going without shoes was fun while it lasted, I cannot be bothered anymore about how this makes me feel or what message it sends out because the only entity that benefits from this seemingly out-of-this-world initiative is the company itself. Based on my experience today, I scribbled down five recommendations that may make TOMS Shoes a tad bit more successful and perhaps, less suspect. We will propose them at our presentation next week.

As with many things in life that the world offers us as a tradeoff for satisfaction, it can feel good at the start but it is still hugely inadequate and empty eventually. “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity”, as King Solomon famously philosophised. The words of the Psalmist Asaph resonates in my head: “You’re all I want in heaven! You’re all I want on earth!” (Psalm 73:25, The Message Bible.)

Oh, the temporal happiness of earthly pursuits and the heavenly void that we all need God to help us fill!

perth day 7: it doesn’t matter where we go or what we do.

Top: Fremantle, 2007 and Bottom: Fremantle, 2011

Incidentally, I intentionally and instinctively posed the same way at the same place!

At around this time 48 hours later, I’ll be onboard the plane back to Singapore. It’s been a great holiday. I shall make the most of it and try to get some rest tonight. I’ve enjoyed attending Ps Benny Ho’s church (Faith Community Church) this morning, heading to the Love Birds’ church (Christian City Church International), eating at Little Creatures Brewery, walking around Fremantle, visiting the Easter Markets, having dinner at Nishi Japanese Restaurant and hanging out at home… It typifies the kind of holiday I’ve enjoyed – agenda-less and without programme or structure. I absolutely needed something like this.

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Amidst all the sights and sounds I took in today, I also made three observations:

  1. It doesn’t matter where you are located; as long as you’re beside the one you love.
  2. It doesn’t matter how funny you are; the one who loves you will laugh with you.
  3. It doesn’t matter what you say; the one whom you love hears what’s in your heart.
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