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!

Sunday, March 12, 2017


In my brokenness, I find You
In my shame, You lift my face
When I don't know how to pray ... You give me a song to sing!

When I am weary, I know You are here
In my fears, I can feel Your strength
When I don't know how to laugh ... You bring a rainbow of hope

I feel the world bear me down, I feel you put my hand over Your shoulder
In my discomfort, I can feel Your reassurance
When I don't know how to cry ... You hug me so I can feel You near!

The world says be brave, this is how it has got to be
But You say, 'I see the bigger picture, Trust me!'
When I think its hopeless to hope ... Your set out the sun to shine on me!

Isaiah 61: 7
Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The move! #kidsmoving

We recently had some close friends move out of Bangalore. It was a strange mix of emotions! Laughing about old fun times and getting mopey at the thought of not seeing them often.

Suresh and I have moved several times. In fact during the first seven year of our marriage we moved

2003 January 300 E Franklin #805
2004 May 300 E Franklin #1401
2005 October 1503 Irby Drive
2007 July Lodges at Seven Oaks
2008 January 2601 Barred Owl way
2009 January 1027 S Hanover Street
2010 January 1409 Pangbourne Way
2011 November MIMS Ardendale Bangalore

You could say that we had gotten pretty good at moving and settling and packing and moving in the first seven years. It was easy to move when it was just Suresh and me. Though we had plenty of furniture. It seemed like there was nothing in particular keeping us clinging to one spot.
The last move however took a heavy toll on us. It was a big move. It also was accompanied with a significant life change. Arrival of baby #2 'Ziva'. As we made the decision to move and as we ironed out the fine details of the movers and dates and other logistics, we had forgotten one small element. We forgot to prepare our 1.5 year old. It may seem silly! You may even think that 'What can a 1.5 year old understand?'. The move to Bangalore took a heavy toll on Isaac.

This was my happy and sweet boy a few weeks before we left. The first couple months in Bangalore was a nightmare. Not too clingy a boy, he suddenly had deep separation anxiety. He would cry every morning as Appa took off to work. This made the first half of my day miserable. I tried to keep pushing through it with the hope that dad would come home soon and rescue me.
At about two weeks past birth, Isaac smiled a big broad knowing smile. A friend, who was also a pediatrician, commented - 'You guys must have smiled a lot during the pregnancy'. 2 years and one big move later and Isaac spent a lot of time crying. Whining to be precise. There was a lot of tears all the time.
Nap times were easy till 1.5 year for Isaac. I could never remember him waking up crying. In fact our favorite memory of Isaac waking up was a quiet sound we heard whispering over the baby monitor. Several times we peeked through the door and he would be lying quietly talking to his fingers or staring at the wall as if it was a piece of Picasso. Come Bangalore and I could not leave him alone at nap time. The minute I rolled out of bed he followed me. It seemed a different person.
Now five years later, I am thankful the phase is over. But a small part of me knows that moving and change is an inevitable part of life. What will I do differently this time?

Moving with someone who cannot express how their are feeling is tough business. Moving with someone who now can express a lot but doesn't understand their own emotions is far greater a turmoil and while I pray it will not happen ... Tomorrow is another day

Once I mentioned the fact that we had moved so many times, it seemed ridiculous and my brother in law mentioned that we were after all Isaac's parents and like the biblical story of Isaac's parents, Abraham and Sarah, maybe we were destined to be nomads.
How did Abraham do it? Keep moving! How did the Israelites do it? Keep walking. No stability and nothing the same.

This being said, the community of MIMS Ardendale has been the place we have stayed in the longest. (we did move between two houses less then a few meters from each other). And I am thankful for this stability. However a few months ago, in the midst of some trials I impulsively told Suresh - Lets move! For me - move is an escape route. The EJECT button. But maybe it time for me to make my peace with here and now - for the sake of Isaac and Ziva!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Be a woman who earns respect,
By your actions
By your words
By your kindness
By your love

Be a woman who doesn't have to fight for it
By your willingness to give
By your ability to forgive
By your joy in strife
By your laughter in conflict

Be a woman who shows that you are a blessed creation
By supporting your husband
By loving your children
By caring for those around you
By your devotion to your household

Be that kind of woman!

Happy Woman's day!