Thursday, April 28, 2011

Plain Silliness

Peanut butter and banana together is just heaven. Today, I got out a cream cracker, a wheat cracker and a slice of oat cake, placed them on a plate, and slathered all three of them with peanut butter. Then I topped them off with sliced banana. I usually do it with wholemeal bread--my perfect idea (delusional or not) of a healthy meal--but since there weren't any bread at home, I improvised.
You should try it. It's better than good. I wonder when will I encounter peanut butter and banana ice cream. I've tried chocolate and banana ice cream, and it was awesome. Peanut butter goes well with anything too, doesn't it? Gosh. My life has just turned silly. Why should you care if I wish for peanut butter and banana ice cream?  
* * *   
I have found a new love in my life! I've finally transferred the six cacti in my home from their miserable little claustrophobia-inducing pots to a posh gated community. Now they can all be together. With almost the pride of a mother, seeing them looking so pretty sharing the same soil and having actually not died in my hands, I already have a growing itch to grow more things. I want more cacti now. I want a garden.

This semester break has been so productive. In a matter of few weeks, my life has turned silly and I've become more demanding. Oh well.
Goodbye to life in the hut
Say hi to posh living

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fickle I am

As a person still in my teens--thank God, I think I have the right to be fickle. No, it's not just my basic human right. Fickleness is expected of every perfectly normal teenager. So here I am, changing my blog title for the third time in a year now just because I can never quite make up my mind what sounds cool (but not too cool) for a blog without compromising my life's philosophy.

I've also already changed my template for more than a week now--for the hundredth time if you really must know. I confess, the old splattered colors of rich red and orange and purple seemed appealing at first, then it got too much for my eyes to rest on after a while. So now it's a nice shade of calm blue (bordering turquoise) with ribbons and lace and spirals that's so scrapbooky I absolutely love it.

For my title, I've decided to settle for Noisy Canvas for now. It sounds sort of catchy to me. It makes sense to me too. Personally. So if it doesn't ring any bell or hold any meaning for you, good! My new title is supposed to be unfamiliar and unique anyway.

"Why such a random name?" you continue asking. I say, "Read the second last paragraph of this."

Oh, well, I'll just paste it here since I may make some changes a couple months from here:

This blog is my personal canvas, painted with words (and the occasional pictures) of my life, my reflection on it and everything that matters enough to me. Noisy is the restless state of my mind, constantly bombarding me with ideas I mostly never use. After all, it's called noise for a reason.
Yea, I've been obsessively making changes on this page about me and my blog too. It's a sign of hopeless perfectionism and fickleness.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why ruin a perfect cup of green tea?

I've found a food item that never tastes or smells or feels good outside its original form or purpose.

You know how some food is awesome by itself and is still pretty darn awesome as an ingredient for another food? Like, say, mangoes. A mango is perfect to be devoured in its simplest form--as a fruit--and is still good when turned into swiss roll, pudding and juice, or placed on a pastry.

But not green tea. Today, I realize green tea sucks for me as anything other than a cup of tea. For the last couple days, I've been showering with green tea gel. It comes from the collection of little hotel room bottles my mum loves to bring home (due to her we-already-paid-for-it philosophy) from every holiday trip and also from the hotels Che visited during her cabin crew days. We have been forced to use hotel shower gels for the past months because Mum refuses to buy giant bottles of gel from supermarkets until after we have cleared every drop from the hotel toiletry collection or moved into our new home. I guess she decided that collecting toiletries isn't that fun after all.

Anyway, the first few showers with the green tea gel were tolerable. But when I reached fourth time, I felt like puking as I lathered the gel in my hands. The unnaturally strong smell reminded me of the time I ate green tea Oreo cookies. My first green tea cookie was fine. A little too aromatic for a cookie if I may. Few cookies later, the aroma turned into an artificial taste. And from then on, I felt like puking every time I smelled a green tea flavored cookie or ice cream. Then I realized, green tea product works on first encounter, but quickly spirals downhill from there.

Give me one more green tea product that is not tea, and I'll be put off with green tea forever.

Haha. Sorry, Jess, but your green tea ice cream doesn't work for me.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Great Exchange

This is the Easter weekend, the weekend Christians remember the great demonstration of God's love and sacrifice for us mankind through his Son Jesus Christ.

Many know the story. I know the story too.

In the beginning of time, sin came into the world when Adam and Eve first disobeyed God. Because of sin, mankind was no longer righteous in God's eye and was destined for Hell, where sins would be punished for. Heaven was meant to be the eternal dwelling place of God and His people, but God is Holy, and sin cannot live with Him. Because we are already sinners, we cannot live with Him in His dwelling place. It is the price to pay for the countless sins we can't help but commit in our lifetime.

But God loves us very much, so much so that He wants to save us and have us be able to dwell with Him in Heaven again for eternity. That is why He sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to live among men and to die on the cross for us. He allowed Christ to die and suffer in Hell for three days so that we can be forgiven of our sins. Then, Christ is risen.

All this I have known for a very long time. Brought up in a Christian family, being taught the story of Christ in Sunday school and reading about it in the Bible so many times already, I grew up never for once doubting God or the Gospel. In fact, I have believed it with all my heart for as long as I can remember; it is almost second nature.

However, no matter how sure I was of the fact that Jesus has really saved me when he shed his blood for me even before I was born, I never really quite understood how the life of just one could be exchanged for the lives of all humanity, that anyone and everyone can be saved from the fiery pit as long as he or she genuinely believes that Christ is the Saviour.

I mean, how can Jesus alone be the reason that billions of people can be forgiven for their gazillion sins? The ratio just seemed too big to be possible.

But from reading one of Steve Cioccolanti's books--From Buddha to Jesus--it finally makes more sense to me. Steve used some really good examples to answer the question he knew many people would ask, which is, "How can one man die for the sins of the whole world?" It's the same question I've always had in my mind. He used two examples to put things into perspective.

One of the examples is of Burmese terrorists holding some Thais as hostages in the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok. Now if one of the hostages were to feel really courageous and wants to save everyone, he would come forward and ask that all hostages be released except for him alone. But that would be a really silly move, because obviously for the terrorists, there is no benefit in diminishing their hostage number to just one. To them, the brave guy is no more valuable than the other hostages and would not account for their freedom. Besides, the more hostages there are, the better it is for the terrorists to get what they want.

But imagine the Prime Minister of Thailand going to the Embassy to offer himself as hostage in exchange for the other hostages' freedom; the terrorists would most probably gladly accept the offer. Because of the Prime Minister's high rank in the country, he is more valuable to the terrorists than a group of normal civilians as hostages.

A hostage can't be saved by someone who is equally held hostage. Someone of higher value and status needs to save both hostages. Likewise, a sinner can't expect himself to be saved by another sinner because both are bound by sins. But when Jesus--God's Son and the only sinless man who has ever lived on earth--came to die in our place, the devils happily took Christ hostage in exchange for all humanity's freedom because Christ is more valuable than all the sins of the world. After all, God is the Maker of the Universe and everything that's in it. Jesus is God's Son, so he is the Prince of the Universe. Wouldn't he obviously be worth more than the whole earth which is only a tiny part of God's creation?

When Jesus died on the cross, the devils rejoiced because Christ, carrying the burden of whole world's sins, had to suffer in Hell. They thought that victory was theirs. Too bad for them--and awesome for us all--Jesus resurrected from the dead after three days. The great exchange is already done. The veil has been torn down more than two thousand years ago. We are already set free. Jesus is alive again today in Heaven. And we too can all be there with him one day, as long as we accept him into our heart.

God could have chosen to abandon us after seeing the ways humans screwed up the life given by Him, and moved on to create another world that is perfect. But He didn't. He chose to sacrifice His own Son to save us, because we are all too valuable to Him for Him to give up on us. Isn't it just astounding, to know that we are so precious in the eyes of the One who created the infinite Universe?

And why would a Prime Minister risk his own life for several of his people's? That would require great love and sacrifice on his part for him to be able to do that. Just like God making the great sacrifice, the great exchange, to save mankind.

Happy Resurrection Sunday!
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,"
1 Peter 1:3

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's in the genetic makeup

I think I've been asked this question more than a hundred times in my lifetime. And amazingly, the question goes the same way almost every time--verbatim, like there is no other way of going about the question but ask, "Do you play basketball?"

I think my being 5'10" tall has more to do with genetics and less to do with whether I spent half my childhood jumping around trying to score hoops. Have you ever seen short people competing on the basketball court? I'm sure you have. So yea, not all basketball players are tall, and not all tall people are basketball players. Surely there are tall people in the world who can't even bounce a ball properly. That would be me, for starters.

Mind you, friendly folks. I'm not bashing people who I think are bashing me when they question me for being who God has created me to be. And please don't bash me for probably falsely assuming that others are bashing me when they really are just asking a simple four-word question.

This is just another one of those many random thoughts that passes through my mind when it is allowed to go idle.

And, oh, I don't play basketball, in case my inability to bounce a ball hasn't already given that fact away. So stop asking.

Cheers to world peace! =)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Kite Runner

Two weeks ago, during the most crucial time when I should have been revising for my college finals, I was turning the pages of this novel, literally hooked by the thing called suspense.

It's not just suspense too. Khaled Hosseini has this gift of writing about war-torn Afghanistan, ethnic discrimination, female oppression, violence and personal tragedies in the most beautiful way. His work is like a poetry of tragedies and triumphs, realistic because bad things happen and good things transpire too. He shows that life is not a black or white area of misfortunes or luck, but a gray area intertwining the good and bad events in a character's life. Ultimately, whether tragedy or victory has the upper hand in life is up to the way one takes control of the things that happen in it.

In The Kite Runner, Amir lives a privileged life in a mansion in Kabul with his father, who is a wealthy merchant. Ali is the servant of the house, and Hassan is Ali's son. Because Amir and Hassan grow up together, they are each other's playmates. And really, they are each other's best friends too. However, Amir will never admit to that because Hassan is only a servant's son and a Hazara, an ethnic group many Pashtuns will regard as inferior to them. Hassan, on the other hand, is a very loyal, courageous friend who will go to any length for the sake of protecting Amir and his happiness.

This is the story of Amir's guilt that follows him wherever he goes--a result of one fateful event that happens after a local kite-fighting tournament, that ruins Amir and Hassan's friendship, that causes Amir to be haunted by the cowardice and betrayal of his childhood, that changes everything and the lives that could have been for Amir, Hassan and their fathers.

During Amir's teenage years (Hassan and his father having moved out for years), he and his father leave for the United States to escape the Soviet Union invasion in Afghanistan. In America, Amir becomes a grown man. He pursues his passion for writing, marries beautiful Soraya, becomes a successful novelist and is pretty much living the American dream. But even with all the good things that are happening to him, Amir lives without peace in his conscience as he is constantly reminded of what he has let happened to Hassan on the day of the kite-fighting tournament years ago.

Finally, an opportunity arises for Amir to return to Afghanistan, the home he has not seen for many years, to redeem himself. But everything comes at a price. He has to first leave the comfort of his American home before he can make right again the wrongs he has left behind in Kabul.

The Kite Runner is Hosseini's debut novel, but I have read his second work, A Thousand Splendid Sun, a couple years ago. Both are well-deserved international bestsellers. Both are very impactful, and have made Hosseini one of my favorite authors by far. Like his other book, The Kite Runner is full of emotions and moments that made me cry out for the characters as if their pains were my own. It reveals the cruel reality of life not only in a country affected by war, but also of one person warring against himself.

While this story is a sad and tragic one for so many reasons, Hosseini still manages to capture the humor of everyday life in the novel. He portrays the amazing ability of humans to thrive above all the misfortunes of life and still find joy and contentment. For that, he has come out with a stunning novel.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Price

What's life but a torturous cycle?
A cycle of wrongdoings, shame and guilt?
Of trying to justify my every human action;
Of the ways in which I have fallen short,
Countless numerous times.

Should I tip my hat off,
To the man who is persistent?
Who does all things right,
(Or at least he tries),
In hope of the reward that might come one day.
One day.

Or should I laugh,
Laugh at the folly of the man?
Of wanting to do right,
Only to be betrayed by his own flesh.

Life, life.
Is it not all but a futile effort?
Of attempting to make peace with my own conscience,
Clinging on to the hope that,
One day,
My transgressions will cease,
Cease from haunting my very existence.

I wish I can turn away,
Not face the things hidden in my closet,
Not be indebted by my debts.
But nothing in life comes free,
Because everything has a price.

The price of my nature,
Is the consequential death.
The perpetual grip of man's fallen nature,
Will it never let me go?
I should have lost all hopes,
And rightly so,
For who can escape death?

But I found hope in Christ.

He chose to pay the price for me,
The price of my nature,
Of my own flesh that go against me.
Jesus Christ died and he rose again.
He escaped death.
He set me free.

And in Christ I found hope.