Tuesday, July 25, 2017

In the safety of Strangers #run

I am on this 'running' craze. I never in my life thought I would choose running as an exercise means. I thought it would be more cycling or swimming. But I now find myself addicted to my morning runs with some encouraging music and some silence to run my thoughts into.

But there has been this nagging thought in my head even as I run everyday. It's a thought that was put into my head a few years ago by my stitching teacher. About 3-4 years ago when I was on the cycling move, she genuinely showed her concern by saying ' Rohini, you are a young woman and these roads very lonely. Please be careful.' While the bones did not feel 'young', the road certainly seemed lonelier after that conversation.
A few months ago when I started my early morning runs, it was peak of winter. The roads are lonely when the weather is that chilly in the morning. I started to note a routine. A few people. Strangers ... and yet ... not really!

Stranger #1
One morning as I was running down my lonely path, I was suddenly aware of no one around. As I slowed down, I saw a distant figure, a bald head. The person was walking toward me. I smiled and picked up my pace. This is stranger #1. As we crossed paths, he tightened his grip around the leash of his German Shepherd and smiled. 'Good morning' he called out across the road. I waved back. I felt safe. I have been seeing him across the road now every day for the last 6 months. No introductions needed. We are just strangers in this world. We smile and walk past as we go on with our life.

Stranger #2
I see a distant figure, and I quicken my pace, I know the colors, the bright pink tee and purple leopard print pants. I try to catch up. But boy! She is fast. Actually she runs a steady pace. This is stranger #2. Maybe a 50 something lady who has taught me the value of pace while running.  As I just manage to pass her with a quick sprint, I smile and wave. She waves back. About 5 minutes later, as she maintains her pace and I have lost my breath from the quick sprint, she smiles and waves again and passes me!

Stranger #3
The arms move as if independent from the body. Suresh calls him the Cholestrol man as he walks swinging his arms wildly. You would think that you can race him since he is just walking. But he has a fast walk going! This is stranger #3. He smiles across the road even as he cannot raise his hands and wave considering he may ruin his rhythmic arm movement.

The above three have become my close walking buddies. No no - I dont walk or run with them. But when I see them walk by, it reminds me of several things. Perseverance, discipline, health and above all safety in the midst of these folks, whose names I do not know. I see several people from my own community as I run but somehow, I find it easier to smile at these strangers.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My season of Unforgiveness


I am in His presence and I can feel it.
But in these seasons ... I feel alone.
I struggle with my emotions.
To stay right here
Or to rise up and fly again

I have always had this problem with forgiving people.
A lot of people have the other problem. Asking for forgiveness. As Suresh frequently tells me ... as a child he would never say 'Sorry'.
I don't seem to have much of a problem with saying Sorry! Especially if I know I did wrong.  I have been willing to restore relationships by saying sorry. But I have been unable to build a relationship based on giving forgiveness.

 I did a small bible study and I was not able to relate much to the reason of the unforgiveness theories.
1. I do not underestimate the amount my Father in heaven has forgiven me
2. I am also not the unkind manager. I do understand that there may be people who cannot forgive me. I can pray for them.

As I sit brooding here about my incapacity to forgive, my thoughts take me to the people who I have a tough time forgiving. I have realized that they are people I love a lot .... I mean a lot.
They are also people I look up to. Like 'Role Model'. And in the midst of my brooding I realize that my season for unforgiveness comes up with the the reason of expectation.
I expected too much from these people. These are people I consider close friends, mentors and relatives who I honor and love.  There are people I look up to. No I don't seek their approval. But in my mind I believe they can do no wrong.
This is where I fail. Because there are after all 'people'. Me looking up to them, honoring them, loving them... etc ... doesn't stop them from being people.
When they hurt me, offend me and sometimes destroy a certain passion in me, I lose my faith in humanity. I now realize, my faith in humanity is not what will keep me. It is my faith in Christ.
My desire to look up to these people and expect from them a relationship without offense in unrealistic.
The only one I can look up to is Jesus.
It seems sad that I cannot have a role model. The only role model I can and should have is Christ.
Does it justify my lack of forgiveness? Does it give me an excuse to slip out of one of the key portions of the Lords prayer? No it definitely does not!
But at least I understand my struggle better.
We can try and do all kinds of bible studies and even read up devotionals on issues and struggles we have. But in the end we have to sit quietly in His presence and ask Him to speak to us on our struggles.
How does figuring out that my issues is not really with unforgiveness but rather the expectation of near perfection from these people help me?
Well I now pray to God to help me expect less. I pray to God to look only to Him as my role model.  I pray to God that I realize that as ordinary as I am so are these people who hurt me.

Going a little secular and thinking of a dialogue from 'Dear Zindagi'
If just for a moment, you can manage to see your parents as normal people, capable of making the same mistakes as you, maybe you’ll find the strength within you to forgive them and undo the damage. It’s hard to do this as a child, when they’re the ones teaching you life skills. But as an adult, you can see objectively what they did right, and what they didn’t. Parents are not perfect, they’re as flawed as you and me.

While this one specifically talks about the relationship between a parent and a child. For me it is in every relationship where I was learning a life skill and got kicked hard enough not to want to get up again. As I attempt to stand up this time ... I have myself saying 'They are normal people just like me.'

Christ forgave me not expecting an extraordinary and perfect person ... but yes one in the making. I get in this time with my fist down... no gear looking at a person - 'One in the making'.

I hope I am on my way to redemption.

 Love this song - only the cross has made us 'Flawless'. Else we are all normal people who need and must give forgiveness

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Touching a chord we have lost! #empathy

I dont like everyday to be the same. I want school to be a tad bit different each day. I like routine but I do want to make a difference in my kids lives.

One morning as I was searching for something on Youtube I came across this video

I got very emotional. Every time I watch a video like this, I feel- What am I doing! There is so much more I can do. I should be volunteering and working for the poor or doing some social service or raising funds or reading to the blind or something more dramatic!
But where is the time - with two. I am barely able to finish reading to these two. Forget reading to the world.
I showed the video to Isaac and Ziva expecting the same reaction. But they just watched and it seemed like there was not much reaction and I began to feel ' Am I creating a robot?'  Far worse 'Am I creating a child with no emotional quotient?'

In this world that focuses so much on the IQ of a people, very little importance is given to the emotional quotient. I copy below from wikipedia
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own, and other people's emotions, to discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt environments or achieve one's goal(s)

While emotions range a vast variety of feelings, empathy is something that may not be high on the list. We would love to discern when someone is angry and stay away from the person or when someone is happy and be part of the fun. But are we able to discern when someone needs empathy.
We love sympathy. We love giving it and we love getting it. As my husband frequently quotes 'Pity party'
But are we willing to put ourselves in the shoe of someone and feel how they are feeling. Are we teaching our children the meaning of the word 'empathy'. Are we more interested in teaching them to survive a over competitive world? Are we teaching them to stop and wait when someone is hurting or needs help, or just go by because time is so important?
As part of our homeschooling curriculum, we are reading missionary stories. As we read aloud to the kids, both me and DH find ourselves frequently crying. One particular story, I was barely get on with the words, Ziva asked me ' Amma why are you sad?'
'I don't know why Ziva' I had to reply. It wasn't that I knew anybody in the story. It wasn't that they were family or some dear/near one was involved. This was just some random person in some random place far far away.
And yet I could not keep myself from being in their shoes and weeping. Ziva who did not totally understand, just decided to to come very close and hug me.

We have been recently enjoying the song 'Zombie' by Cranberries and these words struck me as part of the lyrics
But you see it's not me
It's not my family
In your head, in your
Head they are fighting
Will you cry if its not your family?
Will it effect you if you don't know anyone who is blind?
Will it matter if you have not watched someone suffer of a dreaded illness
Will it?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Hold my hand -

No one gets you, Why you cry
Let me not deny
Sometimes neither do I!

No one gets your intensity, Your need to be perfect
Let me not deny
Sometimes neither do I!

No one understands your dream world, as you build up mansions in your head
Let me not deny
Sometimes neither do I!

No one gets your passion, your love, your kindness, your gentleness, your anger, your craziness, your laughter, your tears
Let me not deny
Sometimes neither do I!

Everyone will want you to change!
Be more boy, be more rough, be more loud
Let me deny
Never will I!

Everyone may seem like they don't understand you
But I always will try

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dayyenu - What's in the name? #givethanks #gratitude

December 20 2010. That's when I published my first blog.


Since then, several people have asked me what the name 'Dayenu' meant. I know it sounds strange. But I guess I was on this 'Hebrew' high. I had named my first born 'Isaac' which in Hebrew means 'laughter'.`
My first blog also shows where I was in life. Grieving possibly. And also trying to be happy since I had just found out that we had a second little one on the way. Its hard to be happy and sad at the same time. And it was during one of those up and down moments when I was asking God 'How do I praise you at this time', that I read a blog by one for the editors of the RZIM ministries

It was an email that I received called 'A Slice of Infinity' from the RZIM website

This particular article was written by Jill Carattini and the title was  'Like a Letter from Christ'. (See the entire article at the end)
An excerpt from the article

A tradition in the Jewish Passover celebration called Dayyenu marks in the Passover ritual the rising crescendo of thanksgiving.  "Dayyenu," which essentially means, "It would have been enough for us," is sung as a response after merciful acts of God in history are remembered one by one—the parting of the Red Sea, the giving of the Sabbath, the completion of the temple.  Each act alone would have been enough to sustain our praise and faith, but God moves well beyond our imaginings.  

Pagbourne way with Ziva, Roni and Yuvali
We lived in 1409 Pangbourne way at this time and had lovely Jewish neighbors who invited us every Sabbath (i.e. every Friday night) for their special dinner. We had once gone over when they were lighting the candles and the two little girls they had, Yuvali and Rony, wanted Isaac to light the candles with them. Their mother had to plead that only girls lit the candles and Isaac was a boy. She never once said he is not Jewish and therefore cannot light the candles.
In a strange country, on a quiet street, in a room full of lovely food, stood two families from two different countries and yet united by one Good God. Sometimes you meet fantastic people and they change your perspective of life!

Pangbourne way with Bhageera, Isaac, Roni and Yuvali
I looked up the song Dayenu after one such Sabbath meal with this family and fell in love with the word.
I realized that this blog would be both good memories and sad memories. But in all of it 'Dayenu' - It was enough! Each act whether Good or Sad was enough for me to praise and keep my faith in God.

I recently read a meditation about 'Happiness'. Happiness was part of a 3 fold program. Joy, Gratitude, Prayer.
Dayenu is a reminder of all that I have to be grateful for, all I pray for and all I am joyful for!

Like a Letter from Christ
The question is asked with both biting sarcasm and pained lament:  Why isn't God clearer?  Why the complicated hunt for answers?  Why not a God with far more interest in direct communication?  Such questions are perhaps further disquieted by those who seem to claim precisely that experience—hearing God as surely as in a letter, as directly as any other conversation. 
It used to bother me that I couldn't give an exact date for my conversion.  I can't describe the moment when I finally bowed and admitted God was God.  This troubled me particularly when it was my turn to speak after going around a room of believers with specific dates and encounters to tell—and the expectation that I could tell likewise.  I've since learned that conversion is more than one moment of waking—even for those who indeed have one moment that stands out among all others.  But I've also come to love the diversity of means and ways God appears before a life—gently beckoning one to follow, pursuing over a lifetime the one lost or running, dramatically opening the eyes of another in an instant. 
Could this broadened picture itself not be something like direct communication from God?  The apostle Paul describes the converted one "like a letter from Christ... written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts" (2 Corinthians 3:2).  In this description, we discover conversion is inherently personal—a letter from creator to creature, written not in ink but in God, not on paper or tablet, but on living flesh.  Accordingly, there are as many stories of God drawing near a life as there are words one could put in a personal letter.  Like Paul, I have come to expect and to admire the compilation.  Some will speak of waking to God's truth gradually; others will describe being moved nearly to blindness as they encounter Christ more fully than they have eyes yet to see.   
But like the God we discover, conversion stories can still surprise us.  I met someone recently who told me that pivotal to his waking to faith was a profound desire to give.  He said he simply found himself thankful and wanted to know the somewhere and someone before he could act out his appreciation.  There was something in this confession that made me marvel at the God we both profess, as if I was shown another facet to appreciate, another layer I hadn't fully considered.  Not only is there someone to thank, but there is one who moves within our desire to give and our deep realization that much has been given. 
Moreover, when we learn to see conversions as reflections of God, letters that come to us personally and communicate something of Christ, we also learn there is something of God to behold in our neighbor.  Standing within a community of believers, it is hard not to marvel at the unsearchable riches of Christ, the depths of the person of God written on hearts all around us.  What other god comes so personally, meeting the world as individuals, moving followers into a community that reflects more and more of him?  Gratitude is a natural response. 
A tradition in the Jewish Passover celebration called Dayyenu marks in the Passover ritual the rising crescendo of thanksgiving.  "Dayyenu," which essentially means, "It would have been enough for us," is sung as a response after merciful acts of God in history are remembered one by one—the parting of the Red Sea, the giving of the Sabbath, the completion of the temple.  Each act alone would have been enough to sustain our praise and faith, but God moves well beyond our imaginings. 
God is indeed gracious in ways we never anticipate, meeting one profoundly in his desire to give, another in her profound suffering, coming to all in the sending of the Son and the manifestations of his life, death, and resurrection.  It would have been enough to sustain our praise in the Incarnation of the Christ child or in the ministry and miracles of Jesus—"The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor" (Luke 7:22).  But God wanted to bring more.  "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).  And that Son was sent to the Cross, where he was crucified, died, and buried.  This too would have been enough to elicit our gratitude—an innocent sufferer, God hanging with us on the gallows.  But then Christ rose from the grave, defeating death, and inviting us to follow and do the same. 
God is always moving beyond our imaginings.   As we live further into our conversions, as we tell the stories of God's acts in our lives and in history, as we remember again the unfathomable mercies of Christ, might our gratitude be heard across the land, a rising crescendo of thanksgiving for the one who is worthy of our praise. 
Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Mommy Prayer #Leadme #SanctusReal

The picture below jogged up some memories. Not the song 'Promises'! The group that sang it. 'Sanctus Real'. Back in 2010/2011, I remember listening to their song 'Lead me'  a lot.

PC and Edit Credit : David John

95.1 FM. Car drives to work and back, this was the radio channel that kept my faith going. Sometimes when you are way down in the midst of a trial and you don't know how to pray, and a song keeps you going. I really liked the song, but I have never paid close attention to the words.

 The other day as I watched the song again on Youtube, I took a closer look at the words. Then I dug a little deeper into the story behind the song.

While the story of 'Lead me' reflects the prayer of a 'Daddy and husband' for me it was a prayer I had been praying for me as a mommy! For 1.5 years after becoming mommy, I had worked. First as a full time physicist and then switching to part time. During each drive to work, I found myself asking why I was doing this. I was neither able to be there fully at work nor at home. We literally worked shifts at home where I left at 6 am and returned by 11 am and Suresh left as I walked into the door.
This song reflected how both Suresh and I felt! The loneliness at home where both of us were just trying to be brave and chug along.
I was told several times that I would raise a strong independent child and I should not feel so guilty about leaving Isaac at daycare. After all it was sometimes only for 2-3 hours. But one morning as I walked into work put on my lab coat and sat down, the phone rang and it was from Isaac's day care. They told me that he didn't seem well and had thrown up and that I needed to come pick him up. The best thing about day cares in US is that they never keep sick babies! To prevent other babies from getting sick! I jumped up and ran out. And as I was driving I kept thinking, why am I doing this! I needed to be at home with him.
#Lead Me by Sanctus Real
So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I am called to be
Oh, Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won't you lead me?

To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can't
Don't want to leave them hungry for love
Chasing things that I could give up

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone."

Giving up my career was not easy. I still get notifications from the American Board of Radiology reminding me that I was a fully certified physicist and I need to such and such thing to keep it active. But I do believe God honored me when I gave up what I was not called to chase. I still remember when I got the offer from old colleagues in Physics my first statement was to Suresh was ' Looks like this Medical Physics won't leave me'. Even as recently at two days ago, someone told me I was missing out on an adult conference because I wanted to volunteer for the simultaneously happening kids conference. But for me, in my head, I was thinking, maybe another year or two and if I could 'lead them', I know God will honor my desire to be show my children how much I love them.

Moving to India was not easy for Suresh. I mean giving up John's Hopkins was a tough call. But he did it anyway. God honored his sacrifice. God honored his desired to show his family that he was willing to fight for us. For the first two years, as I struggled with two kids below 3, Suresh took a lot of time off  and worked from home. While his friends had several days of vacation and leave carried over to the next year, Suresh barely made it till the end of year with enough time off. Every year it was time for the annual evaluation he would prep himself saying how others around him worked longer hours. But God honored his desire to ' Lead his children and stand up for his wife' when we were not able to.

So now that they are older are all the problems over. Oh boy no! Now they have a greater demand on time. But this verse made me realize there is only one solution. The third strand #Jesus!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Silence in the midst of pain

This morning during my time with God, I was reading about Simon of Cyrene. The man who carried  the cross for Jesus when the Lord could carry it no more! The title of the meditation was 'The weight of suffering'  (Take a closer look by Bryan McAnally)

The questions at the end of the chapter got me thinking on how I handled suffering. It gave me a reason to think about what I had learned in suffering. When I think about a time when I felt a heavy weight on me, the first thought that comes to mind is when I lost my mother-in-law.
Some of the things I felt was the shaking of my faith. I wondered why I felt so distant from God. I did all that was possible physically to get out of this mode. I took over all the chores of the house and over-killed myself at work, as a mother and as a wife. I realized that this was not the solution. 'Doing' things was not helping. Some of my sufferings has made me realize how imperfect I am.
Unless you fall and go into the deep pits of agony, you cannot empathize with those around you. I also learned not to 'holify' my situation.
I remember when my mother in law passed away a lot of people quoted bible verses, gave encouragement through verses and promises. And while I had to smile and listen to those, in my heart was a retching feeling. It felt like someone had cut an important organ in my body and had tried to replace it with holiness. My body just could not function. I had to watch my husband silently mourn the loss of his mother and listen to people talk about what a wonderful woman of God she was and all that she had done. In his heart of suffering, all he wanted was one more moment with his mother.

While I do believe the bible verses heal and speak to some, I am the kind who needs silence. Quoting verses may soothe pain. But presence, prayer, understanding and silence can soothe pain too. I learned this as part of my little cross that I dragged along.

Simon of cyrene was not going to be crucified. He knew they would not kill him. But he had to share in the suffering of Christ. He has to carry the cross to Golgotha.  Simon silently (maybe a little reluctantly) took up this responsibility. Was he quoting the old testament promises to Jesus? Was he reassuring Jesus that all would be well and we would all be happy in heaven. No! He just walked along silently.
I wonder what he felt as he lay the cross down on the hill. He had brought with him the instrument that was going to bring pain and death to another human. He could not even be a hero and rescue this man! What a hopeless situation!
In our utter state of hopelessness, Christ revives our faith. When we just want to give up, we reach Golgotha and it feels like we can breath again. Not by our strength ... But by HIS!