Gamify your life? Yup, this is one way we can build good life habits

I am really not a disciplined person. I cannot keep a schedule and I am hopeless with to-do lists. 

But before you write me off, I don’t see it as a bad thing. Not at all. It’s just who I am and it is how I make things work that matters and how it gives me good experience and learning that makes me glad. 

It was about a week ago that I wanted to make sure I that I do the things I have to and need to do. For a start, I wanted to get back to a daily devotion time. I wanted to make sure I take my medication daily, I do miss it sometimes. I want to walk as much as I can. I want to be hydrated and drink enough water on a daily basis...and more. 

In order to do that, I thought it would be a good idea to find an app that will provide me a checklist that renews itself every day. 

I did find one called Process Street but it is a commercial app that cost $12.50 a month and it will burn me RM630 every year. No can do. 

And the other apps recommended that have free versions like Wunderlist, Google Keep, ToDoist and Microsoft To-Do do not automatically renew checklist on a daily basis. 

Until I found this: Habitica. And it is free. 



It’s is a task management app that was developed by Tyler Renelle when he needed help with his own habits having been inspired by two books: The Power of Habit and The Now Habit

It’s a gamified kind of to-do list and since I have already been in work discussions about gamifying stuff at work, I thought it will be cool to gamify my life to begin with. 

So I signed in. 

I am now on my 8th day and it’s really, really, very, very addictive and what more, for an absolutely good cause. I am finally regularly doing stuff I am suppose to do and I am more mindful about how I use my time, which is the only resource that we have no control over. 

How does it work?

It has three kinds of to-do lists. 

1. Dailies: this is to track habits that I want to complete on a daily basis—things I have to do everyday, no excuse. So unless you do the stuff daily, don’t place it here. It feels very satisfying to check them off as I complete them. And I earn coins too! Haha. It’s a game after all right? So read on to find out what I do with my coins. 




2. To-Dos: this is a list of stuff I need to do that I can check them off when completed. I don’t keep any lists for my personal stuff (and I keep forgetting them). I do it for work on a piece of paper. I have no idea why the Outlook To-Do list do not work for me; I have tried it many times. After 8 days with Habitica, it is working very well for me. The only trick is, the moment I think of something I need to do, I have to immediately add it in before I forget. The only challenge is when it happens when I’m driving. 



3. Habits: and finally, a list for the habits I want to inculcate in my life. Unlike the Dailies which I can only click once a day or the To-Dos that disappears when I click it, items here stay here all the time. And you can click it as many times in a day as you perform them. For example, I want to drink 2 liters of water a day and I break it into smaller chunks of 500ml per time. So in a day, it will be desirable for me to click it 4 times. There are bad habits to undo in my life too. For example, if I were to take any caffeinated drinks after 2pm, it’ll be a minus and I’d lose coins. I haven’t had any coffee or Coke after 2pm and I’ve been sleeping quite well over the past 8 days. Awesome!





Okay, what are these coins about? It’s not like I can use them in real life right? But that’s the beauty of gamification in Habitica. You actually can!

You would have read or seen in many places that come with the advice that we need to earn the things we want to enjoy in our lives. The things we want to buy, TV and movies we want to watch. With that then, you can allocate the number of coins to “buy” the right to do them. 

For example, if you want to eat some comfort food, you can allocate a cost of 60 coins to have a slice of brownie. My bad habit is that I love Korean dramas too much and so this is perfect. I can finally have a kind of a measure of how much I need to do in order to earn the right to watch TV. 




You’d notice that there are these other stuff that cost some coins. These are the equipment and clothes you can buy for your Avatar and there are games in Habitica you can play with the coins earned. But I am not into those stuff. TV and movies are what I like and maybe I’d add comfort food in the list too. (Yum...bacon baked brownies...)

If you do check it out, let you know what you think. You could also use it to get your kids to do some chores and collect enough coins to claim some rewards from you. 

Have fun! Gamify your life!

pearlie

How big is your God?

I was saying that I had a really good week and that it all began when I decided to fast TV for one week. 

Let me admit that I have recently gotten addicted to Korean dramas real bad though that’s another story for another day. It’s just that I have been spending so much time on them that I knew that if I didn’t do anything about it, I’d soon be buried in them with no chance of reprieve. 

Hence the 1-week fast, which began 8 days ago on Saturday. I wanted to read and started checking out on my Kindle what I have bought, and this stood out. 

Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems
by JD Greear

This is a gem of a book. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to be serious about God. 

The book began with a quotation by Evelyn Underhill, “A god small enough to be understood is not big enough to be worshipped.” And that practically summed it all up. 

Greear says that “those who understand their forgiveness tremble more, not less, in God’s presence.” 

I can see that we now live in a world where we think we are relatively quite good. We go to church and we listen to the Gospel preached and we go through the confession prayer, but we don’t really feel or acknowledge very much our depravity. We know it, but we don’t feel it. 

We fail to see how big and holy God is and, how small and bad we are in comparison.

I like this section where he tries to help us understand just how bigger than big God is. 

He says, “We prefer a God who is small and domesticated, who thinks like we think, likes what we like, and whom we can manage, predict, and control. We only have to glance upwards at the night sky to see how ridiculous that is.”

He used the universe to explain how distorted our view is of God. Do you know the size of the universe? To cut it short, we can only see 9,096 stars with the naked eye and that is only about 1/100,000,000,000,000,000,000 of what’s actually out there. Scientists have estimated the number of stars to be about 3 septillion and the number is constantly expanding. That’s a three with 24 zeros after it. 

Greear then makes it even clearer. He says, one million seconds ago takes us back about 11 days. A billion seconds ago takes us back 31 years and eight months. A trillion seconds? It will brings us to 29,672 BC! He doesn’t even continue on to septillion and these are in seconds!

Imagine that about the universe and know what? God measures off the heavens with his fingers! (Isaiah 40:12)

He is more than huge. And we are but a tiny drop of a septillion. And we think we are on the same playing field. Think again.

So the next time we think we so great, remember he is bigger than big. 

How about the fact that we always think we are not so bad, that we are pretty good?

Greear says it well: suppose you are getting a blood transfusion and you find out that 1 percent of it was contaminated with HIV. Would it help if the nurse said, “Don’t worry; it’s only 1 percent”? “No!” we’d shout back, “There is no such think as only 1 percent! One speck contaminates the whole lot.”

We are that one speck and we cannot survive the holiness of God. 

I was soon reading another book about the Islamic Sharia law. To the Muslims, they are taught to see themselves as the most perfect people, the perfect race. And the writer said this one thing that really strikes me. 

When she heard Christian pastors saying “We are all sinners”, she said that it was “one of the most comforting, liberating, uniting, and humbling expressions” she has heard. 

I never had the concept that being called a sinner is most comforting and liberating but the contrary. 

But she has a point. If we think we are so good and perfect, then living a life in this broken world will bring us into a reality we will never survive in. Being called a sinnner and being forgiven by God would then be the most comforting and liberating thing of all. 

Our God is bigger than big. We are but a speck of a septillion and a sinful bad speck at that and yet he loves us to death on a cross. 

How can we even understand that. Find him out and find out why. 

pearlie

I am back!

Wow. It has been a six and a half month hiatus since I last posted anything here. Am I back?

Maybe. 

It has been an awesome week for me and with that I thought it’s timely for me to revive my blog. Well, I haven’t been away for that long, thankfully and isn’t it a good time to be back? 

Like I said it has been a really good week. It all began with this:



I have been so addicted to the TV that I wasn’t thinking straight and the stack of books that I wanted to read keeps on growing. 

So I decided to fast TV for one week. 

The week has ended yesterday but it has been such a good week that I haven’t broken the fast yet. And so many good things have happened that there is so much to share. 

So with that, I am back!

pearlie

This is becoming a typical Saturday morning

I would usually laze away my Saturday mornings at home but recently I have been frequenting the morning market almost every Saturday morning. 

I didn’t feel like it this morning but I made myself and I’m glad I did. 



And I wouldn’t miss having brunch in Yang Kee with a bowl of beef noodles and a glass of hot barley. 



pearlie

A Sandwich from God. Bread/Epilogue: I surrender

This is the final portion of the sandwich God gave me when I asked him for a word. 

In my last account, this final song that God gave me was so unexpected that I had to pay close attention to the third song. 

The final song is last portion of the chiastic playlist God gave me. It began with Mighty to Save and it closes with Mighty to Save. 

This playlist of mine has 60 songs and I do not have duplicates except for Mighty to Save, one by Hillsong and one by a female vocalist. 

What are the odds that the only song duplicated, is both played? I don’t know how to calculate the probability to it, but I believe it is very slim. 

Mighty to Save - Laura Story

Everyone needs compassion 
A love that's never failing 
But let mercy fall on me 
Well, everyone needs forgiveness 
The kindness of a Savior 
The hope of nations 

My Savior He can move the mountains 
My God is Mighty to save 
He is Mighty to save 
Forever Author of salvation 
He rose and conquered the grave 
Jesus conquered the grave 

So take me as You find me 
All my fears and failures 
And fill my life again 
I give my life to follow 
Everything I believe in 
And now I surrender (I surrender) 

Shine your light and let the whole world see 
We're singing for the glory of the risen King 
Jesus, Shine your light and let the whole world see 
We're singing for the glory of the risen King 

Songwriters: Ben Fielding / Reuben Morgan Mighty to Save lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

All to you I surrender Lord. I surrender. 

pearlie

A Sandwich from God. Filling/Part 2: I firmly stand in the power of Christ

When I received the second song to the sandwich, I thought that was it. But l let my phone continue to play and this was the next song. 

In Christ Alone


In Christ alone my hope is found 
He is my light, my strength, my song 
This cornerstone, this solid ground, 
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm. 
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease! 
My comforter, my all in all 
Here in the love of Christ I stand. 

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh, 
Fullness of God in helpless babe! 
This gift of love and righteousness, 
Scorned by the ones He came to save. 
'Til on that cross as Jesus died, 
The wrath of God was satisfied 
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid 
Here in the death of Christ I live. 

There in the ground His body lay, 
Light of the world by darkness slain 
Then bursting forth in glorious day, 
Up from the grave He rose again! 
And as He stands in victory, 
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me 
For I am His and He is mine 
Bought with the precious blood of Christ. 

No guilt in life, no fear in death 
This is the pow'r of Christ in me 
From life's first cry to final breath, 
Jesus commands my destiny. 
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man, 
Can ever pluck me from His hand 
'Til He returns or calls me home 
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand. 

Songwriters: Andrew Shawn Craig / Donald A. Koch In Christ Alone lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group 

I wasn’t really listening to it and when the song finished, I let it continue playing. But what was next played surprised me so much that I have to now pay attention now. I need to look into the words of In Christ Alone. 

I know you are curious about the next song but I will only talk about it tomorrow. I am still on the central message of what God wants to tell me. 

In my life, I do rely and depend on a lot of things for meaning and purpose of life but they are nothing in the presence of God. 

It is only in Christ that my hope is found. And no power of hell nor schemes of man can ever pluck me from his hand. 

It is in the power of Christ that I stand, every minute, every hour, every moment of my life. 

Amen. 

pearlie

A Sandwich from God. Filling/Part 1: You hem me in behind and before

I was talking about how God gave me a sandwich yesterday when I asked for a word from him. 

As the first song—the bread—was about to come to an end, I tapped on repeat. But I felt an urging to let it play on. And so I did. 

And this song was played. 

Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)


You hear me when I call 
You are my morning song 
Though darkness fills the night 
It cannot hide the light 
Whom shall I fear 

You crush the enemy 
Underneath my feet 
You are my sword and shield 
Though troubles linger still 
Whom shall I fear 

I know who goes before me 
I know who stands behind 
The God of angel armies 
Is always by my side 
The one who reigns forever 
He is a friend of mine 
The God of angel armies 
Is always by my side

My strength is in your name 
For you alone can save 
You will deliver me 
Yours is the victory 
Whom shall I fear 
Whom shall I fear 

And nothing formed against me shall stand 
You hold the whole world in your hands 
I'm holding on to your promises 
You are faithful 
You are faithful 

Songwriters: Chris Tomlin / Ed Cash / Scott Cash Whom Shall I Fear lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group, Music Services, Inc

Even though I have this in my playlist, I was not familiar with it. But as I listened to it, I was strengthened. 

I was taught and ministered by Sunday’s sermon on Psalm 139 and the words in this song reaffirms that he hems me in behind and before. 

O God, nothing formed against me will stand. You hold the whole world in your hands. I will hold on to your promises. You are faithful. 

My story will continue tomorrow. 

pearlie

A Sandwich from God. Bread/Prologue: All My Fears and Failures

I asked the Lord for a word from him today. I really needed it: his presence, his faithfulness, his strength, his assurance. 

He gave me more than a word. 

He gave me a sandwich. 

I have always loved the chiasm literary device. A chiastic structure is one where the central message is in the middle sandwiched by passages before and after. 

I have a playlist of gospel songs and in asking for a word from him, I hit Shuffle and my phone plays Hillsong’s Mighty to Save

I felt this is not a coincidence but really a song God is giving me because I have been ministered by it a couple of days ago. It’s like him reminding me, “didn’t I tell you already.”

Mighty to Save 


Well, everyone needs compassion 
A love that's never failing 
But let mercy fall on me 
Well, everyone needs forgiveness 
The kindness of a Savior 
The hope of nations 

My Savior He can move the mountains 
My God is Mighty to save 
He is Mighty to save 
Forever Author of salvation 
He rose and conquered the grave 
Jesus conquered the grave 

So take me as You find me 
All my fears and failures 
And fill my life again 
I give my life to follow 
Everything I believe in 
And now I surrender (I surrender) 

Shine your light and let the whole world see 
We're singing for the glory of the risen King 
Jesus, Shine your light and let the whole world see 
We're singing for the glory of the risen King 

Songwriters: Ben Fielding / Reuben Morgan Mighty to Save lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

My prayer is that O Lord, in all my fears and failures, please fill my life with you, you are mighty to save and deliver me. You have and you will. 

This is the bread of the sandwich. Tune in as I write about the filling tomorrow. 

pearlie

Keep blogging Pearlie. Don’t give up



I have not caught up with my blog for one whole week, from last Monday till today Monday. 

And I almost gave it up. 

I thought I’d take a week off and not write anything but knowing myself, it would then spell the end of my blog. 

I will never come back. 

So I without another thought, I just started writing and writing and writing. I just kept writing. 

And now I am all caught up. 

It’s a good thing I keep short notes for each of the days, so that I have an idea what to write about and what’s so special about the day that I want to remember. 

So the thing is to just write even if you don’t feel like writing. 

One decision I am going to make however, is to keep away from Facebook for awhile, if not for ever. 

I find Facebook isn’t good for me, in many counts and in many ways. 

I do get updates about people I don’t meet anymore and even updates on news and deals, but it comes far and between. I think I will lay it off for a month and see if my life will improve as a result. 

I don’t use that much time on Facebook but it’s still quite substantial by my standards. I’d find better things to fill that time with. 

And I’d like to reiterate why I blog—it’s so I can mull and think things through, about life’s lessons for the day and stuff that God would want me to take note. It’s so I can remember important stuff that happens to me. It’s also so that I can see when I am really dry and need watering. 

Keep blogging Pearlie. Don’t give up. 

pearlie

Praying the Psalm: Psalm 139



Psalm 139:1-24 ESV
O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; 
you discern my thoughts from afar. 
You search out my path and my lying down 
and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before a word is on my tongue, 
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before, 
and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; 
it is high; I cannot attain it. 

Where shall I go from your Spirit? 
Or where shall I flee from your presence? 
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! 
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 
If I take the wings of the morning 
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me, 
and your right hand shall hold me. 
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, 
and the light about me be night," 
even the darkness is not dark to you; 
the night is bright as the day, 
for darkness is as light with you. 

For you formed my inward parts; 
you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Wonderful are your works; 
my soul knows it very well. 
My frame was not hidden from you, 
when I was being made in secret, 
intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; 
in your book were written, every one of them, 
the days that were formed for me, 
when as yet there was none of them. 

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! 
How vast is the sum of them! 
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. 
I awake, and I am still with you. 

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! 
O men of blood, depart from me! 
They speak against you with malicious intent; 
your enemies take your name in vain. 
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? 
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 
I hate them with complete hatred; 
I count them my enemies. 

Search me, O God, and know my heart! 
Try me and know my thoughts! 
And see if there be any grievous way in me, 
and lead me in the way everlasting!

Amen.

pearlie 

How Christianity Changed the World


How Christianity Change the World
by Alvin J. Schmidt

I bought this book not long ago and decided to read it, as part of an initiative not to watch any TV today. 

And the book is good.

The book “is a survey of the vast, pervasive influence that Christianity has had for two thousand years on much of the world, especially in the West.”

The author quoted three reasons why he wrote the book and I quote:

1. There is a pronounced paucity of information extant and available regarding the influence and impact that Jesus Christ has had on the world for two thousand years. Yet, in a rather nebulous manner many of us “know” that much of our culture, especially in the Western world, bears prominent imprints of Christ’s influence. Much of that influence is still with us even in the ever-growing secular and religiously pluralistic milieu of today.

2. To provide a one-volume resource by which the average reader could learn about the magnanimous influences that Jesus Christ, through his followers, has had for centuries on billions of people and social institutions to this very day. This educational objective is especially important today because Christianity is not only poorly understood, but also maligned, especially by many in the mass media.

3. On the basis of the historical evidence, the author is fully persuaded that had Jesus Christ never walked the dusty paths of ancient Palestine, suffered, died, and risen from the dead, and never assembled around him a small group of disciples who spread out into the pagan world, the West would not have attained its high level of civilization, giving it the many human benefits it enjoys today. One only needs to look to sectors of the world where Christianity has had little or no presence to see the remarkable differences. 

There are so many areas of life in the world that was transformed because of Jesus: “In the ancient world, his teachings elevated brutish standards of morality, halted infanticide, enhanced human life, emancipated women, abolished slavery, inspired charities and relief organizations, created hospitals, established orphanages, and founded schools.”

The author explores the transformation in the following chapters:
1. People Transformed by Jesus Christ
2. The Sanctification of Human Life
3. Christianity Elevates Sexual Morality
4. Women Receives Freedom and Dignity
5. Charity and Compassion: Their Christian Connection
6. Hospitals and Health Care: Their Christian Roots
7. Christianity’s Imprint on Education
8. Labor and Economic Freedom Dignified
9. Science: Its Christian Connection
10. Liberty and Justice for All
11. Slavery Abolished: A Christian Achievement
12. Christianity’s Stamp on Art and Architecture
13. The Sound of Music: Its Christian Resonance
14. Hallmark of Literature: Their Christian Imprint
15. Additional Influence: Holidays, Words, Symbols, and Expressions

I have only read five chapters today but I can see how we have forgotten or not realized how life had been before and if not for the changes that Jesus brought into our world, it would have so different and life would not be so good as we have it now. 

pearlie

When a friend is most needed



Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses. 
~ Ann Landers

Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity. 
~ Khalil Gibran

Things are never quite as scary when you've got a best friend. 
~ Bill Watterson

A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. 
~ Walter Winchell

The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when. 
~ Simon Sinek

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship. 
~ Thomas Aquinas

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. 
~ Helen Keller

Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness. 
~ Euripides

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
~ Colossians 3:12-14 ESV

pearlie

Why everything matters

One of my favourite books in the Bible is definitely Ecclesiastes, and if you perform a search in my blog, I talk about and quote from it quite a lot. 

Today I felt I needed to read the book again, and so I started to re-read Philip Graham Ryken’s preaching commentary on Ecclesiastes. 

Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters
by Philip Graham Ryken

I remember reading the book in year 2012 and six years down the line, it’s time I read it again, and once more learn that whilst everything is meaningless, why and how everything matters. 

I did not blog about this book when I read it then but I did do a book review in 2015 on Thomas Nelson’s A Life Well Lived, A Study of the Book of Ecclesiastes. 


A Life Well Lived, A Study of the Book of Ecclesiastes
by Thomas Nelson

And now that I am reading my blogpost Enjoy Your Life! again, I think it’s time I re-read Nelson after I finish Ryken’s. 

pearlie


It’s so hard to find forgiveness



I learnt a big lesson about forgiveness today. Something happened and I realised how lightly have I taken God’s forgiveness. 

For one, I take myself too seriously at times and I don’t easily forgive myself.

And secondly, I find that people at work do not forgive, nor are they emphathetic when you make a mistake. 

With this, I realised how much I have taken the forgiveness of God for granted, that I don’t think too much of it.

But the things that I have done wrong and how I have sinned against my God is so much more in comparison to the mistakes I have made where forgiveness is so hard to come by. 

Imagine if God were like the people we encounter with everyday, who are judgmental and unforgiving, how can we live without God’s forgiveness?

I am now so grateful that God forgives. And I’m forever grateful for he died for me on the cross, in my place for my sin, so I may live. 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
~ 1 John 1:9 ESV

I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. [26] Put me in remembrance; let us argue together; set forth your case, that you may be proved right.
~ Isaiah 43:25-26 ESV

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
~ Ephesians 1:7-10 ESV

Amen. 

pearlie

What is the joy of the Lord?



When I am down, I would always recite to myself Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

I would regard this joy as coming from the Lord and with this joy that originates from him, it will give me strength to carry on. 

But this time, I thought a little further and realised that it’s the joy of the Lord and not joy from the Lord. 

That is quite substantially different, I thought. When it is the joy of the Lord, it doesn’t even need to be in me. The fact that he has joy is strength enough for me. 

But what is his joy? What does he have joy in?


The author gave four things that our God has his joy in, of which I will only state just one. I am not so sure about the other three but you can read it up and tell me what you think. 

His joy is us - God delights in us for he made us out of his love for us and gave his Son for us on the cross so we may reconciled with him. 

For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
~ Isaiah 62:5 ESV

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
~ Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

And this gives me strength because he rejoices in me and delights in me, and what more, he first loved me. And with that I rejoice in him, find strength in him and love him with all my heart, my soul, my might and and my mind. 

pearlie

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!

pearlie

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. 

pearlie

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. 

pearlie

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

pearlie

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

pearlie

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. 

pearlie

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. 

pearlie

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. 

pearlie

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. 

pearlie

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. 

pearlie

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!

pearlie

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)

pearlie

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.

pearlie

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. 

pearlie

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 Kobo.com. 

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. 

pearlie

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. 

pearlie

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?

pearlie

What does it mean by being members of a church?

Our sermon in church today was based on 1 Tim 5:1-3 and Titus 2:1-8. And I find the words in Titus very good and instructive. 

Titus 2:1-8 (ESV)
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.



I feel that being in a faith community gives us the privilege of being in a larger family in Christ and it’s something so good that we shouldn’t take it for granted, which we sometimes unconsciously do. 

Like what Titus 2:1-8 say, we should be building relationships in the churches we worship in together. 

But building relationships and building trust with each other takes time. And we don’t spend that much time in church. 

So I find that we do need to make an effort to get know each other, to talk to one another and to love them. 

It wasn’t brought up in the sermon but it does bring me to something I have not thought about in a long time: church membership.  

I have not put much thought into committing to being members of a church ever since we sort of got burnt in one. 

We are not negative about it. We just don’t think about it. And with that I realise we are not fully committed either. 

As such, I am now beginning to put some thought into why I am not thinking or considering being a member of the church we are currently attending. 

We have “visited” a church before this for more than 4 years. We left and now we have been in this current one for one and a half. 

We love the people and the place...so maybe it’s time we commit again. 

pearlie

I have lazed it away...again

CNY


I find that I have this bad habit of extreme lazying, what my husband and I call it vegetating, at home during a long holiday.

As much as I tell myself I deserve a break after a full week of work, it’s hard to justify it when I ended up doing absolutely nothing in a longer break of more than the regular 2-day weekend. 

In this modern times, many do try to glorify laziness but however you put it, it’s not a good thing. 

Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction. 
~ Anne Frank

All of the biggest technological inventions created by man - the airplane, the automobile, the computer - says little about his intelligence, but speaks volumes about his laziness. 
~ Mark Kennedy

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
~ Luke 16:10 (ESV)

A sluggard's appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
~ Proverbs 13:4 (NIV)

Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.
~ Proverbs 20:4 (NIV)

The above two verses from Proverbs do speak to me particularly because I always feel that I have wasted my time away when it should have been put to better use—at least in reading or attending the online lectures I have already signed up to begin with.

But why is it I only realise it after and not before?

pearlie