Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Weeping Angels

I used to like stone angels. Not that I have seen many real ones, but they are really good photography subjects.

I used to like stone angels until Doctor Who's Weeping Angels. Nowadays, whenever I see a picture of a stone angel, I remember those totally scary Weeping Angels.

They are predatory creatures that resemble stone statutes. They have been persistently nominated as one of the most popular and frightening Doctor Who monsters.

Photo (c) Elisabeth Fuchs, 2006

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'm now a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach!

I have made it!

It all started on 10th April 2014 when I attended a breakfast talk on the topic "Achieve Higher Level of Performance through Strengths Based Development" where I was really attracted to the Gallup philosophy and concept.

I took the assessment on 17 April 2014, attended the Gallup Strengths Accelerated Coaching Program from 2 - 6 June 2014, passed my coachee evaluations on 14 Aug 2014, took my examination yesterday and received a pass today!

So I am now a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach. And it has just been four months!

The first thing to do will be to develop a profile to post it in Gallup's list of coaches. I am very excited, and looking forward to more coaching sessions for anyone who is interested.


Monday, August 18, 2014

And I Quote #2

If you’re always bored then you’re always lazy, if you’re never bored then you’re always in some kind of drama.

Source: Joyce Riedl

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

It is a movie day for me today and I caught up with these two that I had wanted to watch for a long time, and I loved them, especially the first one, which made me cry and cry and cry.

The story is about these four girls who are very close friends. They came upon a pair of jeans that is so magical that it fits everyone of them perfectly. The made a pact to take turns to have it during the summer. Each would use it for a week and mail it to the next person until the summer is over. Things happened and lives were changed but they stayed as close as ever as friends.

What I wished I had were friendships as close as theirs and that pair of jeans, not because it's magical but because it will fit me perfectly and it has all those amazing sew-ons by the time it appears in the sequel.


Friday, August 15, 2014

That's indeed very long

The Chinese language never fails to fascinate me. As much as I dread learning it back then, it still astounds me in its beauty and depth.

Like the word for "long" here. I am not sure what the character is made out of but it has a "high table", "changed person" and "death". How does that spell long?

Another source states that originally this was an old man with a stick in his hand and with long unkempt hair.

Whatever it is, "long" certainly has that feel to it, that you are on a high table and you can't get down even after your changed, your mind or your being, even unto death.

Now, that's what I call long.


Source: &

Thursday, August 14, 2014

On my way to be certified!

I got this in the mail this morning:
Congratulations for having been successfully evaluated by the individuals you have coached. You clearly have the ability to effectively coach others and help them improve their lives via strengths-based development.
Woohoo! But I was surprised as I do have two more to go, whom I will still coach and have them evaluate me because I have promised and committed to them.

In fact, I have five and maybe six more coachees to coach. And I am looking forward to it.

And I am going to prep up myself to complete the exam this coming Monday. And if and when I pass the exam, I will then be a certified Gallup Strengths-Based Coach.



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We are never content

I was set to finish reading Chapter 36 of Philip Graham Ryken's commentary on Exodus, and I did. (But I must say, with the help of Kate in VoiceReader).

What made me think this time was from the point of the whining Israelites.

For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, 'What are we to drink?' (Exo 15:22b-24)

If I were them, I would have said why didn't God provide good drinking water in the first without us having to ask him, because he already knows that we need it! We have no water for three days! I don't even need to ask! It's a given!

It does not work that way, not with them, not with us.

But we certainly expect it, don't we? We want everything ready at hand for us. We are really a very pampered generation. Gone are the days where we do all the things ourselves. For most of us, wherever we go, we are waited hand and foot for the basics of life - clean water, clean air, clean clothes, good food...good coffee. These are now considered a given by most.

We have lost the awe and wonder of the simplicities of life.

So when the Israelites were dying from thirst, why didn't God just provided and lead them to good fresh water to start with? It is because they need to know and acknowledge that all providence comes from God.

If you...know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matt 7:11)

The key word is "ask". We don't have because we don't ask. It is a command from God that we ask, and in his will and in his time, he will give. Only then will we know and acknowledge who the giver is, and not be like how we are these days, pampered babies.

But when the Israelites were given manna every morning everyday of their lives wandering the dessert, where they contented?

There were not. They were still grumbling and wanted something better.

We will never learn. It is only by God's grace that saves us from his wrath.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Moses and the whiners

At the rate I am keeping up with the commentary on Exodus by Philip Graham Ryken, it will be a lifetime before I complete all 102 chapters. I am only at chapter 36 today, and I only barely read the first few pages before my mind got stuck and became busy with this one thing.

But I do think this is good, because devotional reading and studying of God's word takes time and much thinking and mulling, and application.

The chapter is entitled "A Bitter Complaint" on Exo 15:22-27. The portion that made me stop and think was this:
Whining always sounds childish. Consider the bumper sticker on which the word “Whining” is superimposed with a red circle slashed by a diagonal line — “No Whining!” It is not hard to guess who is inside the car (usually a minivan). Children are notorious for whining. To be guilty of this sin, as the Israelites were, is a sign of spiritual immaturity. One day the people were dancing on the beach, singing praises to God; but only a few days later they were on the verge of open rebellion. This is a clear sign that they were still in their spiritual infancy."

I began to think about Moses. I wondered how he must have felt having to face a horde of whining people for 40 years! How could he stand it? I wouldn't be able to. I cannot stand whiny people.

But that is what he did. He did show his impatience once in awhile as we read in the exodus account, but all in all, I must say he is very, very patient indeed and he always come back to God in his frustrations.

I had my fourth coaching session with a CG friend this evening, and in our conversation, with no reference to my mulling about Moses, she talked about him.

Coincidence? I don't think so.

She brought up a very interesting point. Moses brought the people through the wilderness for 40 years, but in the end he did not go with them into the promised land. My friend commented that sometimes in our dealing with people, we complete our duty and let them move forward to their new land without us.

Is that so? Can I then let the people I deal with move on and I let them go ahead without following them. If that is the case, I can move on to help and manage other people.

However, the only reason Moses could not go into the promised land was because he sinned against God in his disobedience and lack of faith. How does this then square with what my friend say?

I think I can conclude with these observations:

1. God has chosen us to minister to some people he placed in our lives, and some of these people will be whiners.

2. We are to obey God and following his leading and bring the people into God's truth, especially the whiners, so they can mature in Christ.

3. I do not think we can apply it literally to our lives where Moses was left behind and not go into the promised land. However, when some people move on to continue to grow in God, we trust that God will arrange for new guides for them in their next phase of growth and sanctification. It is not our call, but God's.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Coaching Session #3: This is All Me!

I had another session of coaching with a very good friend this evening, and it was a really interesting and enjoyable one. By the way, she is always enjoyable to be in company with, and now I know why: Positivity is her #4 talent.

Before our session, she texted me saying that her disagrees with her top 5. I replied saying, "Hmmm...interesting. Can't wait for the session. It will certainly be interesting."

And indeed it was.

When we met, she gave me what she thought was her top 5, after going through the materials she printed out.

Her Gallup StrengthsFinder results were:
1. Ideation
2. Relator
3. Significance
4. Positivity
5. Achiever

And she felt she has these instead:
1. Positivity (#4)
2. Achiever (#5)
3. Empathy (#26)
4. Responsibility (#9)
5. Developer(#22)

But after I explained to her what Developer and Empathy were - the rest are her dominant themes anyway - she understood it a bit more. I have basically explained how she thought those were her strengths in relation to her top 5. It was soon clear what she thought she had in Developer and Emphathy were evident in her Relator, Significance, Positivity and Achiever talents.

And so we moved into naming and claiming her top 5 by going through her report.

I made a mistake in using her Insight Report rather than her Top-5 report, which I usually use in my first coaching session. I only noticed it halfway but the good and interesting thing was, it became the highlight of the session.

By the time she finished highlighting what she felt represent her in the report, she has highlighted E.V.E.R.Y S.I.N.G.L.E sentence! She was embarassed by it, but I assured her it is a good thing. It meant that she was able to identify and claim them as her talents. Moreover, when I asked her to share a success story after going through each of the top 5, the stories were top notch, especially the one on Ideation. It was brilliant.

The session was supposed to be an hour long, but I spent two hours with her.

Excellent. Three coachees done, three more to go.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Coaching Session #2: What a set of talents!

In my effort to get accredited as a Gallup Strengths Coach, I need to coach six people and receive good evaluation from them. I have stepped up in my coaching appointments, as the initial few who agreed to want to be coached weren't so forthcoming in even setting a date to meet.

As such, I even managed to get three appointments set for today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, which is absolutely wonderful.

I just completed one a couple of hours ago, and in the short time it was arranged, my client was only able to complete the assessment this morning, and she had not shared it with me until I reached her place.

But with one look at her top-5, I went, "Wow!"

As much as all the Gallup themes are neutral, there is no one theme better than the other, her combination of top-5 is pretty impressive.

They are:
1. Strategic
2. Futuristic
3. Analytical
4. Relator
5. Achiever

I must say four of those are what every corporate professional desires to have. And these talents serve my client well, being the wife of a business professional. She assists him in the business and spends her time also managing her kids' and their education.

She has big realistic dreams, she knows exactly which is the best to strive for, she knows how she can get there, she makes sure she achieves it in phases, and it is all for the success of herself and her family.

Our first coaching session lasted one and half hours today, and I am certainly looking forward to our second session next month.


Friday, August 08, 2014

Why so downcast O my soul?

Psalm 42:11-43:5 (ESV)

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God;
for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

Vindicate me, O God,
and defend my cause against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God;
for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.


Thursday, August 07, 2014

The power of asking questions

Coaching is different from counseling but they are same in one way: coaches and counsellors do not give advice, but prod and ask good questions to help the clients find and own their solutions.

Here is what Tony Stoltzfus says in his book Coaching Questions: A Coach's Guide to Powerful Asking Skills on why ask questions:
Why ask questions, anyway?
What's the benefit of using coaching questions instead of advising or telling in a mentor or consultant role? Quite simply, questions hold the power to cause us to think, create answers we believe in, and motivate us to act on our ideas. Asking moves us beyond passive acceptance of what others say, or staying stuck in present circumstances, to aggressively applying our creative ability to the problem.

Questions also redefine relationships between people. When I am advising, mentoring or consulting, I'm the expert. My role makes me your superior (at least in knowledge). But when I'm asking you for your ideas, I'm a peer. Questions honor you as a person and communicate your value as an equal.

And because this asking approach changes the relationship, it also changes you. Have you ever left a conversation thinking, "Boy, that conversation was one-sided! The whole thing was about him." My wife calls that a lack of "conversational generosity". We all hate it when others can't stop talking about their own thoughts and ideas—but we're blind to how often we do it ourselves.

The coaching approach forces your conversations to become less about your thoughts, your input, and how you can steer the dialogue around to the answer you think will work. You start listening—really listening—to the other person. You decrease what you say, so that others can increase. And that's where the magic happens: the more you listen, the more you see how capable they are, how much they can do with a little encouragement, and what wonderful individuals they are. The more you ask, the more you love.


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

One of my most fatigued weeks by far

I could not understand why I am so fatigued this week. I am usually bright and energised Monday to Wednesday, and only starting to slow down on Thursday and all tired out by Friday, waiting to be recharged over the weekend.

I googled "fatigued for no apparent reason" and checked out this page: 8 weird reasons why you are tired all the time. (I have checked other more serious sites, but the reasons are too serious -- I will go there if I feel I am a serious case.)

Of all the 8 reasons given, the most probable one is #1 You're Dehydrated. It is true I really don't drink enough liquid.

The other reasons are probable, except for #6 You’re not working out, since I am still working our every weekday morning, unless there is a public holiday and I have events at work -- which is practically the whole of last week.

So what I will do now is to stay hydrated tomorrow and see if I have a less fatigued than usual Thursday.

Photo Superburg 2009

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Just when I thought

I always seek for perfection
For the ideal
I always have to remind myself
In this fallen world
Nothing, no one, is perfect

Just when I thought
Things are running smoothly
I trip and fall

Just when I thought
Things are all in place
There comes a storm

Just when I thought
I couldn't be happier
Life gets ripped apart

Only the Gospel of Christ
Can I firmly stand on
Only by His blood
Am I made perfect
And only by His grace
Am I called a child of God

All rights reserved © 2014 Pearlie Ng

Monday, August 04, 2014

If you can't take it...

I like the movie Ender's Game when I watched it last year, and even now as I encounter life situations and read the current news, I remember certain scenes and lines from the movie.

I did read the book after watching the movie, but the movie left a more significant and lasting imprint in my mind, maybe because I watched it several times.

Like this scene, which stuck with me from the first time I watched it.

The kids were in their classroom with a teacher and one of them, Bernard, being a bully, sent out a text about Alai who threw up in an earlier flight in space.

"Look out! It's the captain of the Vomit Comet."

Of which Ender responded with, "Bernard is living proof that chimps still fly into space."

Bernard spoke up, "Who sent this?"

When the teacher found out what happened, she smiled and said, "Oh, if you can't take it Bernard, don't dish it out."

Which I find very applicable in real life, especially when it comes to real and painful things like revenge--if you can't take it, don't dish it out.


Sunday, August 03, 2014

Book review: Girl with a Pearl Earring

Girl with a Pearl Earring
by Tracy Chevalier

I talked about my reading of Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring yesterday, and I was right. It is an absolutely excellent book.

I was updating my GoodReads account when I read this gentleman's review, and he literally took the words right out of my mouth.
David M. Perez's review of Girl with a Pearl Earring
Another one of my wife's recommendations (I read a lot of books that way), I picked it up from the bookshelf the night we came back from seeing the film with Scarlett Johansonn and Colin Firth. I loved the movie--it was just so incredibly sumptuous--and was curious to know the story in the novel, which I knew from experience, and from my wife's continuous comments, would be different, more detailed. I was right.

Chevalier has won a place in my heart and bookshelf. Her novels are well-crafted, simple to follow, and addictive; Girl was no exception. The story of the maid Griet in 1600's Delft, Holland, was amazing in its simple prose and endless emotion. Completely fictional (no one knows who exactly were the models for any of Vermeer's paintings), it nonetheless possesses a veracity that makes you believe Chevalier found the long-lost journal of this unknown woman and wrote her novel based on it. The details of seventeen century Holland are rich; you feel you are walking the canal-lined streets of Delft, smelling the pungent scents of the Meat Market, holding your breath as Vermeer paints next to you. Griet is a wonderful protagonist, taking you into her world, yet retaining a few secrets for herself, especially where Vermeer is concerned.

Girl is one of those novels that truly invites you, and almost kidnaps you, to become part of the story, to walk next to the characters, to share in their lives, to feel as they feel. Watch the movie, by all means (the photography is absolutely incredible), but then read the novel and get the whole story. You will not be disappointed. (Emphasis mine)

Yes, in comparison to the movie, you will get the whole story. The plot of the story is resolved where the movie left it more or less hanging.

I will be reading Chevalier's other books, but I will keep them till much later. Pastor Marvin recommended a book today, which got me interested. I already got a copy and started on it.

My fourth book for the weekend!


Saturday, August 02, 2014

It is a good book day

I spent the day completing a book I started five days ago, started and completed another book and started on a third one, which I am certainly looking forward to continue reading in the next few days.

Artist of a Floating World
by Kazuo Ishiguro

I was alright with this book by Kazuo Ishiguro. I find his writing elegant and crisp, even though it is a book about an elderly Japanese man reminiscing his life and living his days managing his relationships amongst others with his two daughters, a son in law and a grandson. I learnt quite a bit with regards to the Japanese culture, worldview and mindset. It is amazing to me how they communicate with each other. I found that they are not straightforward at all. They spin and turn and it actually began to frustrate me. I wonder if it is a Japanese culture as far as their communication style is concerned.

The Virgin Blue
by Tracy Chevalier

When I finished reading Ishiguro, I was still in a reading mood and started hunting for my next read. I had found the Girl with a Pearl Earring an excellent movie, and I seldom read the book after I watched the movie. But I did contemplate reading it because it is indeed a very compelling story. So I decided to read her first book to check out her writing. I found that I do like her style. I have enjoyed reading The Virgin Blue, an alternating story about two women, one in the 16th century and her descendent in our time. It is a good story though I did not quite agree with some parts of it. But it is enough for me to want to read more of her work.

Girl with a Pearl Earring
by Tracy Chevalier

And so I decided to read Girl with a Pearl Earring after all and from the first few pages I have just read, I like it. Even from the beginning, it was more than what the movie was and this it is promising. She is able to bring colour and life in her writing and it draws you into the life and emotions of Griet, the book's protagonist. I hope it will indeed be a good read, with added satisfaction on top of it being a good movie. I shall see.


Friday, August 01, 2014

Salvation in Christ through the Holy Spirit

We were studying on the Holy Spirit in CG lately, in line with the Holy Spirit sermon series by Pastor Marvin, and I discovered something interesting this evening.

I have studied the book of Acts in TEE before, but I never saw this till now.

It was stated in our bible study materials that the phrase of being baptized in the Spirit was only mentioned in Acts in two places: 1:5 and 11:16.

Acts 1:5 is the precursor to the Pentecost in-filling of the Holy Spirit for the Jews and 11:16 the interpretation of the in-filling of the Holy Spirit for the Gentiles.

As such, I see that the significance of the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" as the salvation of Christ and for both the Jews and the Gentiles: not as an emphasis on the baptism of the Holy Spirit as much as it is to mark the salvation for all mankind in Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Peter underlines this with his truth in his sermon in Acts 2, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (2:38, ESV)

That is, the whole theme of salvation is encapsulated in the unity of all these things: repentance, baptism, forgiveness of sins and receiving of the Holy Spirit, all in one salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.