Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
I have to admit that in these years of being a Christian, reading the Bible is seldom a rewarding experience for me. Is it not strange that while the words of the Bible offer rich promises of peace and salvation, so little of it translates into my daily life? I cannot claim to feel that I "lay down in green pastures", or "rest beside quiet waters."
Romans 8 tells us that "nothing separates us from the love of Christ." What could be more reassuring than the love of the most powerful being in this world? Yet I could read this repeatedly, memorising it, with little change in how I feel towards myself, my troubles and God. Somehow the significance of the all these amazing verses gets muted and diminished, as my old self and familiar patterns of thinking always make me respond to trouble in the old ways - in fear or in anger, and then in guilt.
I have come to realise that, at least for me, this is due to distorted perception of the world, leading to disproportionate responses because of deception - by the senses of the flesh, and by the lies of the evil one. During a stressful period of my life, the simple loss of a notebook made me feel like giving up a major project, because I couldn't imagine replacing what was recorded. Yet eventually, the problem was corrected in just a few hours. On many occasions, the offences of others look more intentional than they are and hence trigger greater annoyance than they should. Troubles loom huge in my lenses but help from our all-powerful God seem so far away, when the truth is really the opposite. It is like seeing the world reflected in funny mirrors.
Surely this is what Jesus means when he says that some "have ears but do not hear, they have eyes but do not see." The heart is so troubled by the old ways of responding to trouble that it is bound by anger or fear. And this heart is our "well-spring of life". No wonder one could be a Christian for many years, and still experience little victory or joy.
So my new year goal is, to replace each lie with God's truth, and let the truth will set me free. God, open my eyes that I may see the chariots of fire that are on my side.
This new hay is a hit with the rabbits - a delectable mixture of timothy hay and fragrant flowers and herbs. Blackie is so excited about it that he can't even wait for me to put it into his hay rack. Instead, he insists on sticking in his nose and munching straight out of the bag.
Greedy boy, I know you are just picking out all the flowers and leaving the hay behind.
Slightly more than two years ago, I brought home two tiny, young hamsters - Friendly and Ninja, collectively known as the TwinSqueaks, because we couldn't tell them apart. Friendly has long passed away, so Ninja now lives alone. Perfectly healthy in other ways, she developed a strange dental problem - the upper and lower front teeth don't meet anymore.
Who could have foreseen this development when we were choosing a pet? They were so young and energetic, full of life. Now taking care of Ninja is such intensive labour of love. Apart from grinding and pounding her food for her, I have to bring her to the vet extremely regularly to trim her teeth. Sometimes, it feels like such a tiring commitment. But to give up trimming her teeth is unthinkable, since the overgrown teeth would pierce her throat.
Because I chose her and named her, I feel responsible for her, even if now she is aging, and not quite as cute as she used to be.
Christmas is almost here and Chinese New Year follows shortly. It is the season to be asking again.
Traditionally a time to renew family ties and friendships, it inevitably turns into an occasion when one's private life undergoes invasive scrutiny, accompanied by probing questions and exhortations. Dear me, woe betides anyone who falls short of the "married with kids" ideal. I am so tempted to flee the country for the season, if only I could get pet boarding.
The trouble is, people have such difficulty accepting others' life choices and circumstances, especially in the light of our government's push to reverse our low birthrates. This is certainly one policy that is seeing support from the whole village. Singles are encouraged with (measly) dating vouchers, and I have to explain (repeatedly) the absence of happy little feet (furry ones don't count here). It doesn't matter that the media has done us miscreants a favor by highlighting the unpopularity of these questions. Those who would ask, always ask. Sometimes one suspects they do so out of sheer bloody-mindness.
It is a little premature to be griping about this actually. But you are living in an Asian society and reading this, remember my complaints when the real CNY season begins, and "think before you shoot".
Suddenly, there was a terrific crash. Instinct told me that it wasn't normal mischief.
I dashed into the yard, and to my horror, the rabbits were standing in the midst of broken ceramics! One of them, probably Blackie, had pushed their feeding bowl off the top of their cage and shattered it. I shouted for V, who raced over to pick the silly rabbits out of danger. While I gingerly picked up the shards, he examined their feet carefully. We then vacuumed the place twice to ensure that nothing was left behind to hurt the rabbits.
It was an exhausting night, and the two of them, as usual, had no idea what trouble they created. Whitty even thumped indignantly at the vacuum cleaner!
Huffily sitting in a corner waiting for their slaves to complete the cleaning job.
The rabbits' visitors always come to the same conclusions. They find Whitty prettier, but Blackie is always their eventual favourite because he is more affectionate. Whitty's only focus is food, and once the treats are done, she goes off to find other tasty things, like this oat mix hay.
How many more of such massacres must happen before the obvious preventive measure is taken? I know gun ownership is considered an constitutional right in the US, but when the 2nd Amendment was written, guns were not the automatic, rapid-fire mowing machines they are today. How can anyone be allowed to walk along the streets carrying weapons that are made for the battlefield?
So, "guns don't kill, people do", huh? Much has been suggested about the boy's troubled psychology. There will always be troubled people in our society, but at least, keep lethal weapons out of their hands. It would have been so much easier to subdue him, if he were not so heavily armed. Is it because I am not American that I cannot understand this fierce protection of the right to bear arms?
Once again, our evenings have been punctuated with the sounds of rabbits gnawing their toys and an occasional crash as they kick their furniture about. In the middle of the night, Ninja wakes up to scrabble in her bedding and run on her wheel. After the long stay our animals had at pet boarding, our home is filled with the noises of animals making happy mischief. It has been so quiet without them.
In the middle of their stay at pet boarding's, their Nanny sent a message to reassure this anxious pet mummy owner, "your rabbits are having a ball of a time bullying me." Oops...I'm relieved that she is still willing to look after them when we go away this weekend.
Blackie - as picky and willful an eater as ever. I had been chasing him around the yard with vegetables, and he finally agreed to eat them, but only in his favourite BusyBunny mini haven.
Massive destruction wrecked upon the mini haven. I had better get a new tunnel for them before they start eyeing my doors again.
"There isn't going to be much pain, though you will smell...your skin burning."
Isn't it amazing, what women are willing to go through for the sake of beauty? There seems to be more raised freckles on my skin lately, and before Christmas, I thought I would go and get them removed at the doctor's.
He applied a numbing cream unto the major spots, and explained to me that the raised skin have to be burnt off! As the bigger spots would hurt more, he would also use injections to control the pain. Lying there in the cold room, with my face tingling from the cream, I wondered if I regretted walking into the clinic. This was the basic procedure - tiny injection of anaethesia (which hurt pretty much actually), followed by zapping, then the wound is wiped firmly. I tried not to think that he was cleaning off blood :P After that, he moved on to the next spot.
The ordeal isn't completely over yet. I have to hibernate at home because I can't use sun screen and make up for the next two days :P And the entire treatment cost a whopping sum too. Excuse me while I go and clean my wounds with antiseptic cream now :(
Incidentally, I have to say that the smell of my burnt skin was...less scary than I expected. It wasn't exactly a "Silence of the Lambs" moment.
After the stress of all the term papers, boredom is a luxury.
We packed the animals off to their nanny, and took a ferry to Bintan, where for three days, we did nothing but eat and sleep and look at the beach. There was plenty of lush greenery to roam through after meals. For a misanthrope like me, it is such a relief to be far from the madding crowd :P I asked specifically for a quiet room, and the resort was kind enough to put us so far from the everyone that we were the only guests in the entire wing!
Fascinated by the antics of greedy sparrows during breakfast. A whole flock of them lined up on the rafters of the ceiling, flying down to dip into the milk jugs on the tables every now and then. It was only after I added milk into my coffee that I realised they had probably taken a drink out of my milk jug too :P Eek!
This naughty one is hogging the milk, chirping angrily to chase the others away.
The war scenes in Ah Boys to Men are more frightening than World War Z.
It was terrifying to imagine our familiar landscape bombed to bits, landmarks demolished, and civilians shot, cowering. Singaporeans, complacent in our daily safety, scrambled to make sense of sudden disaster and survive. Most of the war scenes in our shows have been based on the Japanese Occupation - our latest memory of military aggression, and comfortably remote. War scenes, updated and transplanted into modern Singapore, brought close to home how fragile our way of life is. It struck me abruptly that I do not even know where the nearest bomb shelter is!
That aside, the rest of the movie was peppered with many laugh-out-loud moments, and for female audience, illuminating revelations about the army. Hm...I must admit that I hadn't expected such a great amount of vulgarities. The movie had certainly exceeded my expectations, and there are scenes to appeal to every one, including moments of nostalgia for retired army men.
Indignantly, I asked V what can be done about those who shamelessly "geng" (fake illness) during training. Sadly, he said nothing much could be done. Hey guys, we are counting on you, you know. I suppose the opening scenes were intended to remind everyone that while National Service demands a lot on our men, we cannot dilute the training or reduce the rigor. Nothing can ever be taken for granted. I mean, even if we gripe about the architecture of the "Durian", we don't want to see it bombed, right?
Quite accidentally, I discovered a superfood - cherry tomato.
Poor Ninja can't bite, and has been feeding on assorted powdered food, like wheatgerm and ground flax seeds. I thought she would probably be able to enjoy at least the soft, pulpy parts of a tomato, and sure enough, she loves it!
Then I realised that fresh cherry tomatoes must be remarkably rejuvenating! This hamster is more than 2 years old now, and was getting distinctly geriatric in behaviour. After weeks of cherry tomatoes, she has become so active and energetic that she has gone back to running on her wheel. We could the whirling of the wheel throughout the night, and what a welcome sound it is! We are now feeding ourselves with the rest of the cherry tomatoes since she needs only so few a week :)
It has been frightfully tiring for poor V to take care of the animals when I was ill. Since our new neighbour is doing intensive drilling, and we want to take a holiday, what more reasons do we need to send the animals off to their nanny?
Just as I was starting to miss them, their nanny sent this lovely picture. Thanks, Little Pet Hotel Spa! I know they are a handful :P I love them, but it is also quite pleasant not to have to worry about feeding and cleaning up after them all the time :)