An Empty Cup

I hold in my hands an empty cup
I hadn’t known it to be so
But it was empty it was such 
Though I thought it overflowed
But nay it was empty still 
I looked and there was nothing
I thought I had it filled
It had to at least with something

The cup was once not empty it was not
It was full and it was brimming
With stuff so good I always thought
I’d always have it coming 
But alas it’s all drained out now
I hold on my hands an empty cup
I have to do something but how
What should I do to fill it up

I now see I have filled it with stuff
I thought will amount to something
But these stuff are all but fluff
It goes into the cup and becomes nothing
I thought they’d be good
I thought they’d be fine
I was wrong I was so wrong
I was totally out of line

I really need to do something
I have in my hands an empty cup
I need it filled with good things
I need it to fill it up
I need to go back to the good things
The stuff that I love so much 
The mulling, the thinking, the reading
To go back to them now I must

I have in my hands an empty cup
I now need to fill it up

Copyright © 2018 Pearlie Ng

The beauty and mystery of languages we don’t understand

We are planning for a more elaborated worship service tomorrow and it’s going to be a contemplative one with singing and Scripture and sermon all rolled into one. 

Amongst the special feature of the service will be the usage of different languages to instill in us the reality that God is mysterious and he will remain mysterious to us in his own way. And as much as he reveals himself to us, we should be in wonder and awe that he is so immense and wonderful we will never know him in full. 

Just like the languages we don’t understand, we still love to listen to the beauty of what we can only recognise as different sounds, in the same way when we could not understand God fully, we can still know and experience him as a good and great God who loves us immensely. 

We will be singing a song in Tagalog, Halina’t Sama Sama...

...and hearing Deut 6:4-5 in six different languages. 

Our church is so blessed in that we do have members who speak these languages, both native and learned. We could even have French, Spanish and Mexican but they weren’t around this week. And I would also add in Tamil, Malayalam, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Teochew and more if I do not need to worry about timing. 

Maybe the next round, we shall do this again!


It’s not so much about the coffee anymore

It has been quite busy at work lately and it does feel like my plate is piled up high and overflowing. 

And so it feels and works well when we move out of the office area and have our meeting in Starbucks. 

If you think about it, cafes these days are not so much about the coffee anymore. 

It’s time and space. 

Work meetings. Friends catch-ups. Family gathering. 

We savor the time we spend together, catch up on each other, or settle issues and plan things as we sit together. 

The coffee’s just an add-on. 


Am I going through the five stages of grief?

It’s almost two months since my son has left for college. I’m managing it quite well though people I meet will almost always bring up the subject of me being in an empty nest and will start asking about him. 

With that, I find it a bit tough to move on. 

And today I think I am feeling a bit depressed about it and wonder if I’m experience any of the stages of the Kübler-Ross Model. 

Most people know the Kübler-Ross Model as the Five Stages of Grief and it was introduced by the author in her 1969 book On Death and Dying.

I am obviously not experiencing a death in this case but I think there is still some kind of grief I’m going through. 

The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They are not linear and they do not have a predictable progression. The different stages can come at any time in any sequence. 

I think I’m in the denial and depression stage. It’s not serious but I feel it. 


Let the beauty of what you love be what you do

I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process. 
~ Vincent Van Gogh

Success isn't always about greatness. It's about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come. 
~ Dwayne Johnson

Stay true to yourself, yet always be open to learn. Work hard, and never give up on your dreams, even when nobody else believes they can come true but you. These are not cliches but real tools you need no matter what you do in life to stay focused on your path. 
~ Phillip Sweet

It's all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family. 
~ Philip Green

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. 
~ Steve Jobs

Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. [23] Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
~ Colossians 3:22-25 (ESV)

Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work.
~ Colossians 3:22-25 (MSG)

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. 
~ Rumi


Work heartily as for the Lord

The sermon today was on Colossians 3:22-4:1, where servants or slaves (doulos) are to obey their masters and masters are to treat them justly and fairly. 

These verses were addressed to slaves of Paul’s time and in our application, the general commands of these verses would still apply, in that it is not enough to do just enough:
- work not only when our employers can see us but to put in work well worth our abilities and capabilities
- work heartily as for the Lord, not for men

This reminded me of a book I have read 4 years ago, which I need to read again. 

Business for the Common Good: A Christian Vision for the Marketplace
by Kenman L. Wong and Scott B. Rae


The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

The Magician’s Nephew
by C.S. Lewis

As a result of going back to reading C.S. Lewis recently, I 
bought the Kindle version of The Chronicles of Narnia Complete 7-Book Collection and read The Magician’s Nephew today. 

I know I read the book before when I read it to my son when he was small, but with me having a short memory and all, I couldn’t remember the story at all. 

What I do remember is that I wasn’t really captured by the story nor could I identify with it. 

But it’s different this time, very different. 

Louis Markos wrote in his book Lewis Agonistes that those “who read the Chronicles as a child solely for their stories, and then read them again as an adult [is] to be stunned into wonder by their deeper Christian message, a message made all the more real because it had already been experienced in childhood in a purely aesthetic way.”

Sadly, I have not read the Chronicles when I was young. I didn’t know about the books back then. 

But now that I am reading it, I am seeing the deeper meaning it holds. 

And whilst I am rarely moved to tears, this one did me. 

I don’t think I can put any quotes here. I will not do it justice. You will have to read it and experience it for yourself, truly. 


What to do when you get scolded for no reason

I sort of got scolded by someone for no reason today and I got quite frustrated with it. 

But I did these few things:
- I did react at first but stepped back after that to try understand it all
- I began to admit to myself that I am not very good in that area to begin with
- I evaluated the situation and realised (again) that I am looking at the wrong places for fulfilment

I then found this article How to Survive Being Scolded useful and I did do some of the steps suggested, but a few more I’d need to pick up and think about it more. 


Lost Cause: Managing Poor Performers

Managing the process and administration of employee performance is part of my portfolio at work. 

I have been looking for books on how to improve performance when I found this:

Lost Cause, Managing Poor Performers
by Xavier Zinn

This should be a good read to also look at the subject from the other side of performance, except that the Kindle book is not (yet) available for sale in Malaysia. 

I hope it will soon because I’d love to dig into it. 


Hiatuses can create new insights

I have been facilitating the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for three and a half years now, and after a break from it for about three months, I am teaching a class yesterday and today. 

And I realise that sometimes a long break is good.

I did think to myself that I have watched those videos so many times that I would have already milked them thoroughly for lessons and applications. 

I was wrong. 

As I was watching those videos again today, I am getting new insights. And I did use them quite well in my debriefs. 

Except that I can’t remember them anymore for me to include them here. What I need to do the next time I do it is to pen down my thoughts for I trust that I will get those insights again, or at least I hope I will. 

And that will be in the next month, in my next session. 


I Can Speak ★★★★★

I Can Speak (2017)

I found out about this movie quite awhile ago while it’s still in production and I have been looking forward to watching it for three reasons: the actress, the actor and the plot about one teaching the other the English language. 

The movie wasn’t available in the channels I subscribed to but I finally watched it today, not with English subtitles but Indonesian! It is indeed a blessing to know several languages and with the Malay language—that I grew up learning and using in school—being almost but not entirely similar to Indonesian, I was able to follow the plot quite easily until the end. 

It is a very good movie. 

It is placed under the comedy and drama genre. And as far as comedy is concerned, the actress Na Moon-Hee was just brilliant. I laughed so much there were two instances where I had to pause the movie so I can have a good laugh. 

And the drama is obviously good with the excellent acting, character and story. I was moved when Na Moon-Hee gave a heart rendering speech to seek the Japanese’s apology for the sake of the Comfort Women. 

I will watch it again when it comes with English subtitles. 

By the way, as it goes with the uniqueness of the Korean language, what you see in the poster above, other than 아이캔 스피크 (ai kaen seupikeu) for “I Can Speak”, you also see the words “하우 아유?” (ha u a yu) for “How are you?”, the key phrase in the movie from beginning to end.

That I find really amusing. 


The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear?

Psalm 27:1-14 (ESV)
The LORD is my light and my salvation; 
whom shall I fear? 
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; 
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, 
my adversaries and foes, 
it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, 
my heart shall not fear; 
though war arise against me, 
yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after: 
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, 
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; 
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; 
he will lift me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, 
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; 
be gracious to me and answer me! 
You have said, "Seek my face." 
My heart says to you, 
"Your face, LORD, do I seek."
Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger, 
O you who have been my help. 
Cast me not off; 
forsake me not, O God of my salvation! 
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, 
but the LORD will take me in. 

Teach me your way, O LORD, 
and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. 
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; 
for false witnesses have risen against me, 
and they breathe out violence. 
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! 

Wait for the LORD; 
be strong, and let your heart take courage; 
wait for the LORD!


Attaining Life Fulfilment

I've accepted that we've all got crap to deal with and problems that we're fighting not to be defined by. At the end of the day, we all want the same stuff: fulfillment, love, support, comfort, and a hot-air balloon with laser guns attached to it. The most important thing is that we appreciate the crazy ride we're on. 
~ Zach Anner

It's easy to look at the things of this world to solve our challenges and obstacles in life, but when we submit our lives to Christ, His grace, mercy, peace and love will bring true fulfillment to our lives. 
~ Bethany Hamilton

If you so choose, even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities. If you so choose, you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance. 
~ Ralph Marston

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
~ Philippians 1:21 (ESV)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
~ Matthew 6:33-34 (ESV)


Food and thoughts: crowd out, don’t cut out

I found out about the diet advise of “crowd out, don’t cut out,” where it will not work to cut out food that taste good but may not be good for you. So instead of cutting it off completely, crowd it out with good food, and you can still savor some of the tasty stuff in small quantities. 

I realize I have been doing that. For one, I drink a lot of water and I feel quite full as a result. And recently, to stop me from opening up tins of CNY goodies at work, I would pop a Fisherman’s Friend lozenge and that worked fabulously in helping me stay away from cookies and snacks. 

But I’m also crowding out this other one thing. There are some thoughts and worries that I cannot cut out. But it does not help to think or worry about it either. 

So I’m practicing crowding out by replacing my thoughts with better things. I did not crowd it out with serious stuff today but with something simple and easy enough to fill my mind for the time being. 

It worked perfectly.

Philippians 4:6-9 (MSG)
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.


I’m finally back to reading C.S. Lewis

In my attempt to get back into a more extensive reading regime, I found myself to be gravitating towards C.S. Lewis’s books and books about him. 

C.S Lewis still remains after all this time my most favourite author and I happen to remember this saying that I found most apt in describing him. 

I usually forget what I read, and so it’s interesting I actually remember it but I am even more amazed that I actually remember which book it’s found in. 

It’s in Lewis’s God in the Dock where Walter Hooper said this in his preface - C.S. Lewis is one writer of this century of whom the Greek epigram about Plato seems eminently exact: “In whatever direction we go, we meet him on the way back.”

And if you have read C.S. Lewis, you will totally agree with Hooper. 

The book which I have just finished reading explores Lewis’s thoughts in modern and post-modern thinking. 

Lewis Agonistes: How C.S. Lewis can Train Us to Wrestle with the Modern and Post-Modern World
by Louis Markos

I must say that books by C.S. Lewis and books about C.S. Lewis are tough reads, including this one but I found it is one of the best and most interesting book I have read in awhile. 

The topics that Markos brought up to be argued alongside with Lewis include:
- The War of Reason and Intuition
- Wrestling with Science
- Wrestling with the New Age
- Wrestling with Evil and Suffering
- Wrestling with the Arts
- Wrestling with Heaven and Hell

The chapters on science and on evil and suffering are good but not new to me. 

The chapter on new age was interesting. Markos says, “The pendulum has indeed swung far in the direction of science, empiricism, and objectivity, and it was only a matter of time before this relentless swing towards secularizarion set off a counter-swing back toward the sacred...This reaction has surfaced in various different forms, but it has come (since the 1980s) to be referred to under a single all-inclusive heading: the New Age...the reaction was to be expected, the unchecked, headlong progress of Enlightenment thought could not help but breed its own antithesis.”

The author’s opinion for us Christians is “if we are to accept the New Age not as an all-out threat to the church but as an opportunity to reach a multitude of souls hungry for spiritual truth, then we must learn to identify, understand and sympathize with the desires and yearnings that drive these passionate neopagans.”

And I really like the chapter on Wrestling with the Arts where the author focused on language, poetry, metaphors and parallelisms. The post-modernists have reduced language from being inherently meaningful—that behind the words used was something real, words like love and justice and beauty meant something—to something that is arbitrary in that words are subjective in meaning. They have “killed the ‘illusion’ that words can point back to an absolute, eternal meaning.”

But language is centered on meaning and truth, and the “language of Scripture and of poetry at its most sublime is not singular or linear but polysemous (Greek for ‘many signs’)...[it’s] the slippery nature of poetry and of those images, metaphors, and symbols on which all of the arts finally rest is what enables it to hold in tension a supernatural meaning that could not be expressed in a closed, mathematical system...the Lord’s Supper is the most perfect of symbols, the great reservoir of polysemous meaning. The communion wine remains wine, and yet it is also simultaneously the blood of Christ...language is more meaningful precisely because it is slippery.”

The author then spent considerable time referring to the fiction that Lewis wrote based on mythologies, sagas, legends and medieval romances. 

With that, I promise myself that I must fully read the Chronicles of Narnia. I have read it but not completely. 

The Magician’s Nephew is now my next read. I just bought the Kindle version of The Chronicles of Narnia Complete 7-Book Collection and I am looking forward to digging in. 


I’m loving it—my Kindle Paperwhite

I started to pick up read again extensively back in 2011 when I found that I could buy e-books from 

And since then I have always wanted an e-ink reader. I tried to get a Kobo one but they will not deliver to Malaysia. 

It was only in 2016 that Amazon began to sell e-books to Malaysia. But till today, they still do not deliver their Kindle e-readers here. 

And so when I was in the US last month, I went to Target on the very day I arrived and bought the Kindle Paperwhite. 

But I did feel the pinch. It cost me more than RM500 but now after a month of using it, I have no regrets. 

It’s because I am reading again. 

2016 wasn’t a good year in reading for me. I only managed to read 20 books. I got caught up with too much television. 

So I’m happy. It’s only February and I’ve just finished my fifth book today. 

I am not very ambitious but I hope to read at least 25 books this year. 


EdX’s Introduction to Big Data by Microsoft

After hearing so much about big data this and big data that, I thought it is high time for me to dig a bit deeper into what it is all about and that’s when I found edX’s Introduction to Big Data

I started on it couple of weeks ago and it’s only at the final week 4 that it goes into what big data is. 

The first three weeks is spent on the fundamental concepts of data i.e. data formats, encoding, storing, types of databases, database warehouse, data stores. 

And with that, Big Data is after all just a form of data, just that there is a lot of it, it would come in many different formats and varieties, and it may come in a high velocity—the threes Vs: volume, variety and velocity of data. 

It’s just a taste of what big data is and it doesn’t get too technical though there are sections which I chose to just scan through, but it does give me a very good introduction as to what it is all about.  

At least now I have a fair bit of understanding when people talk about big data. 


What’s your favourite word today?

I keep this daily diary app Askt that asks me the same question for each of the year. It’s interesting I’m still at it after 4 years and it’s interesting to see how my answers have evolved, and even more interesting how my answers can be exactly the same year on year. 

The question today is an interesting one: what’s your favourite word right now?

The first word that came my mind was “think”. 

I shared it with a couple of my friends and their responses were interesting too.

One ask why am I so into thinking? Looks like this may not be the first time I talked to him about my propensity to think all the time. But it’s something I can’t stop doing. I probably think too much for my own good to begin with.

The other friend commented that it’s a very interesting word in that it’s both cold and rational, and warm and emotional. Now isn’t that an interesting observation. I never thought of it that way before. I know it can be either intellectual, I am thinking about something or emotional, I am thinking about you. But I never thought about it being warm and cold. 

Yes, I am thinking I have very interesting thinking friends too. 

So, what’s your favourite word for today?