Little Thomas

There’s this little boy that I meet almost every Sunday. For the sake of our story, let’s call him Thomas. I got to know Thomas a few months back. He was this cute little guy whose face and beautiful smile stayed in my head.I took a liking to him almost instantly. As I got to know him better, I learnt that little Thomas was quite an interesting little person. He loves attention but hates crowd. He is quite shy and yet, given a task would love to do it. Noise makes him cringe and he likes to run away from situations that he feels uncomfortable facing. I pray for little Thomas every time I think of him and I actually look forward to seeing him every Sunday. He is my friend.

And today, when I thought of little Thomas, I also thought of something he says pretty often – ‘Leave me alone’. Every time he would say that to me, I would tell him something along the lines of , ‘Ok. Thomas. I will leave you alone. But I am always your friend and when you are ready to be my friend again, come talk to me’. Most of the times, he would immediately start talking to me. The other few times, I would give him 5 minutes, talk to him myself and he would be more than happy to talk to me again. And this happens almost every Sunday.

So today, when I thought of all this, I found myself wishing that Thomas would know how much of a friend he is to me.I found myself thinking, ‘will this little boy every understand how much I love him? ‘. ‘Will he ever know how many favors I pull for him every Sunday like making sure my seat is quite often next to his? (No Surprise there!). ‘Will he ever know that I pray for him apart from Sundays? ‘.I know the answer to all my questions are ‘Mostly NOT.’. But I also know that little Thomas has a place in my heart and it does not matter if he does not know it. I will keep on working at being his friend.

And then it dawned on me, Unconditional Love. This is probably a teeny tiny version of Unconditional Love. If this is how I feel about a little person who came into my life few months ago for a few hours every Sunday, I think I am beginning to understand God’s love in a totally new way. I now understand why God doesn’t stop loving me every time I do something wrong according to his standards. I understand why I can always go back to God after I complain and sulk about events in my life. I understand why it does not matter what my past is like. I can always go to God for a fresh start on my future.And suddenly, it dawned on me. To God,I am the little Thomas.You are a little Thomas.

Would the next time little Thomas says to me, ‘Leave me alone’, make me stop being his friend? NO. Would the 10th time from now when he says those words to me be the time I stop being his friend? NO. I cannot imagine that I can stop being friends with Thomas.

And Neither can God imagine not loving you. After all, you are his little Thomas.


Take a Change

CaptureI don’t like change. I eat the same ‘Chicken Friend Rice- Basil’ from Thai Express every time I do not bring lunch to work. I drink the same ‘double double’ coffee from Tim Hortons in winter and an iced cap in summer. I take the same transit every day after work even thought I have other options. I shop from the same 4 stores that I am used to. To pretty much sum up my life, I have a routine and I stick to that routine. At all times.

Every time I walk alone, I listen to music. Two days back, I was stressed out in the morning trying to make it to office in time. I plugged in my headphones as I left the house hoping the music will calm me down (as it always does). And then for some strange reason, I decided to keep the phone in my bag and proceed to office, music-less. GASP!

My 40 minutes ride to office that morning was amazing. What happened, you ask? Well, nothing did. Or at least nothing that would make you go WOW. But, it was different to me and that was what I needed that morning. I needed a change.

On that morning commute, I heard people talking. I heard the sound of the train. I heard a little boy (who just got into the train and sat with his mom) ask the stranger sitting in front of them, ‘What kind of a phone is that?’ To which she replied ‘An IPhone’. And I smiled.  I heard another lady talk on the phone about an interview that she was heading to attend. I heard a gentleman walk up to the bus driver and suggest another route to take because a CP train was crossing our road. And the Driver did too, saving 20 minutes for all of us in the bus.

All these incidents are insignificant. I agree. But they were different from my regular. And that sometimes, is good.

Perhaps, you can try it too? If you drive to work every day, take the bus one day. Be prepared for it to take you twice as long to get to work, but enjoy the delay. If you walk the same path every day, try another one today. If you send the same mail everyday as part of your routine, change your words one day. If you have the same cooking routine every week, change it for a week. If you go to bed every day at the same time, change it for a day.

I enjoyed my morning commute to the office without music so much that I tried it again today too. I loved it. So does that mean I am not going to listen to music when I travel in the morning for the next couple of days? Umm. Can’t say. For all you know, I might get back to my music tomorrow.

The point is, change can be good. To appreciate your usual.

Marriage – How it all begins.

Marriage is every girl’s dream. It was mine too. I dreamt for years of an evening wedding with a small gathering of my closest friends. The backdrop would be pretty and simple. The food and decorations would be a bit western. My brother would be the best man. There would be no customs and definitely no gold involved in my wedding. And then I got married. And there wasn’t even a slight resemblance to my dream in my wedding process. Except for the guy.

I had a morning wedding with the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen come to a private ceremony. The backdrop was grand. My brother wasn’t the best man and my wedding ceremony involved a lot of customs that I did not even knew existed. And I wore an awful lot of gold jewelry. Nothing went as per my dream. However, I know without a doubt that it was one of the happiest days of my life.

And that’s where a marriage begins – Sacrificing for someone else’s happiness.My husband and I have known each other for a long time. And we have never fought. But the weeks leading up to the wedding was so mentality draining on us that we constantly found ourselves fighting with each other. For no reason. 2 Weeks before the wedding, I found myself sleepless and wondering if I made the right choice. Wondering if this is how life going to be. Full of fights and tears. Wondering how we were going to solve our differences. If we will ever solve our differences. This is what they call cold feet I guess and I had cold feet. 

The reason behind our fights was this. We had plans of how our wedding was supposed to be like. And our parents had plans of how our wedding was supposed to be like. And it was not the same. While hubby found it easy to accommodate our parent’s plans, I found it hard. The only thought that was running in my head was, “This is my wedding. And I want it to be the way I have always dreamt about.”  And hubby, being the sweet guy he is, was trying hard with our parents to have it our way. And he wasn’t having much success. As a result, we were fighting.

So, with just days to go for our wedding, we made a decision. That we were going to let our parents have this happiness. They can do all that they want and we would go simply along with it. The moment we decided this, there was peace in our hearts. My feet became warm again and I found myself looking forward to my wedding day.

And I can tell you today, when I look back to my wedding day, I remember all the events very clearly. Right from how they made us walk behind a marching band to the huge life size pictures they had put outside the church with the most ‘not so nice’ picture they could find of me. Embarrassing as it was, that day, we decided to laugh at what comes our way and we did. We still do.

i-doWhen I was talking to my mom about all this, she told me this. Marriage is a one day affair. In trying to have it your way for a day, you are straining relationships that are going to last a lifetime. It is not a weak or a foolish decision to give up your personal dream to win the hearts of people you are soon going to call family. And as a soon to be wife and daughter in law, I inscribed these words deep in my heart. And 3 years from that day, I can tell you now, all that I gave up is well worth all that I gained on that day.

It’s not you. It’s me.

We have a wonderful couple as neighbours. Last night was movie night with the neighbours. We watched the movie ‘October Baby’. And I must say, I loved the movie.  It deals with a subject that I feel strongly about – Abortion.  And I did not even know it till I started watching the movie. Almost at the end of the movie, there is a conversation between the father and the daughter where the father says, ‘It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s that, I’m trying honestly to learn to trust God again.’  Wow!

Isn’t this our problem today? – Trusting God.

october babyAs a parent, you teach your kids. You teach them not to steal. You teach them to say no to drugs. You teach them to do the right thing at all times. You teach them to not to lie. You teach them not to cheat. But what after that? You teach your kid to look both sides when you cross the road and hope that they learn how to cross roads. But what power do you have over the drunk driver who may run a red light? You teach your kid that guns are bad and pray that your kids never see a gun all their life. But what can you do about a crazy gun man who may charge into their school? You teach your kids a whole lot of things praying and hoping they are safe all through their lives but there are greater things that you have absolutely no control over. What do you do then?

As a wife, I pray for my husband’s safety every day. I tell him not to text and drive. I tell him to eat his meals. I tell him to sleep. I do everything in my power to pray and wish that he is safe at all times. But does that guarantee anything?

As a daughter, I pray for my parents that they would be blessed with good health. I call them often to see if all is well with them. I live half world across from them and I know at times when they need me, I can’t be there. What do I do then? Is anything in our hands?

I’m learning that whatever role I play in my life, I need to learn to trust God. Cause, in reality, nothing is really in my hands. The horse may be prepared for the day of battle but the victory has to come from God. I have a good job today. But I learn to trust God that He will bless the company that I work for. I take the transit to work every day. But I learn to trust God to help the driver drive safe. I eat my food every day. I learn to trust God to bless what I eat to nourish my body. I sleep every night. I learn to trust God that I will wake up the next day. When I will have my children, I will teach them all that I know and trust God to help them to decide to do the right thing at all time.

End of the day, we love our loved ones and a lot lies in our hands. But an even greater ‘lot’ lies in God’s hands. And I learn every day to trust Him that He will keep my loved ones safe physically and in the decisions that they make.

From a wife to another – Recognizing the signs.

My mom knows me. I mean she really knows me. Just like every mother knows her daughter. I love singing and I usually keep humming some song or the other most of the time.  I am also good at hiding my sadness and disappointments. Or, that’s what I used to think until I realized my mom knew it all. Once during a conversation she told me, ‘I usually know how you are feeling based on the songs you hum or sing at home’. Wow! I did not realize it myself but when I began to notice it after that conversation, ‘She was right on!’ Like they say, moms are always right!  .

In the first year of my marriage, I found myself getting upset over a lot of things easily because I was just getting used to being responsible and being married. Oddly enough (or so I thought) hubby had no clue each time that I was upset. So I would sing just like I always do but only now, I would deliberately choose a song with words that would convey what I felt. Hubby was supposed to get it. I mean, come on, my mom got it. Even before I told her, she knew how I was feeling. If mom knew, hubby must know better. But hubby didn’t.

That made me even more upset. This went on for some time and one day, I could no longer hold it in that I shamelessly told my hubby, ‘you know, my mom always knew how I was feeling based on the songs I sang’. Hubby was supposed to interpret that as ‘If you listen to the words of my song, you will know how I feel and based on that, you are supposed to react.’ But hubby dint take the hint. This went on for a while and every time this happened, my mind would dance around with thoughts like ‘ Doesn’t he love me? My mom loved me and she knew me. Doesn’t he know me at all?’’ Doesn’t he care about how I feel’? ‘Does he not notice I’m singing a sad love failure song?’

starsI love lights. I love the lights on the road; I love the lights on the tree. I love lights anywhere in a dark room. And I love our Christmas tree with all its lights in our house. Ever since the tree has been up, I do not turn on the lights in our hall because to me, the tree looks beautiful when the lights are off. And hubby darling knew that. Since we turn off the Christmas tree when we go to sleep, Hubby finds every opportunity to turn them on for me. Like this morning, when I came out of the shower, hubby had already left to work. But not before turning off the lights in the hall and turning on the Christmas tree. Like two days back when he left for the gym while I was still sleeping. He turned on the Christmas tree so that was the first thing I saw when I woke up. And trust me, he does not care about whether the lights are on or off. I know in my heart, that he does it each time for me. And I smile every time I look at the tree. Cause I love the lights. But more because, I see what hubby darling is doing for me.

It’s been 3 years now and my hubby still does not react to any of my songs like how I would want him to react. And thankfully, I too have stopped singing situation songs. However, I am slowly realizing that marital love is completely different from parental love. When we keep looking for signs that we think are the right signs, we tend to miss out completely on the unique signs. I realize now, that my mom saw me every day for 25 years and she knew me. But hubby has seen me every day for only 3 years and for me to expect the same signs are pointless. Now, I am on the lookout every day for these small signs. They are small and hidden. But these ‘love’ signs are everywhere. There’s no right place to look cause it’s like a treasure hunt game. You don’t know what’s hidden or where it is hidden. But once you keep on looking, you will find them. Slowly and steadily. Once you know a few signs, the rest will become easy to see.

And knowing and seeing these signs, somehow gives us wives a whole lot of ‘heart’ happiness. There is nothing like knowing your husband loves you. He really does. Look for the signs.


The Power of a positive word

I work with kids at church. And a lot of my life lessons are learnt when I teach them or when I am preparing to teach them. And perhaps my biggest ever lesson learnt was this – the power of a spoken word.

I’ve had 5 and 6 years olds say to me in class, words that have penetrated my heart. I was once teaching my class how cool a God we serve. I was sharing with the kids a personal experience of mine that had touched me, when a little boy looked straight at me and said, “God can do much more cooler things than that.” I had to pause for a minute because my eyes were tearing up. I was going through some personal issues at that time, and his words ministered to my heart instantly. I felt strengthened immediately.  Another time, a little one said, ‘God is so big and yet He is so small that He can fit into my heart’. Wow! Blew my mind. I was amazed at the simplicity of his words and even more amazed at the magnitude of the God we serve.

hi5If words spoken out of pure innocence can bring a joy to my heart and renew my spirit, how much more can the words that were spoken to encourage someone, light up their life. I realised a ‘Great Job!’ comment to a kid meant a lot to the kid. I realised a ‘You look beautiful today’ comment to a little girl brought out a smile that stayed on the whole morning and possible rest of her day. I realised a HighFive and a hug works wonders in making a kid feel loved. But my greatest realisation was that, these simple actions worked even bigger miracles in an adult.

One time, a stranger on the road commented, I had a beautiful voice. Another time, another stranger in the lift with Arun and me, on hearing us talk in Tamil, commented that our language was musical to ears. Another time a colleague said, ‘Here comes sunshine’ when I stepped into the office. A lady on the train once said she liked the scarf that I was wearing. When I look back at all these events, I remember a nice feeling. I remember smiling at all the comments offered passingly. It did not matter what I was going through at that instant, but I smiled. It made my day that day. And to think that I still remember all these comments after all these days, I am happy that someone decided to give me a compliment that may have meant nothing to them. But to me, meant a whole world.

I know now, that a person does not have to look like Angelina Jolie for me to tell her, ‘You look beautiful’. I know now, that someone does not necessarily have to sing like Mariah Carey for me to say ‘You sing beautiful.’ If you choose to call it ‘lowering standards’, it’s your choice. I call it, learning to see the beauty in everything.

The more you give, the more you receive. I’m not taking about the compliments. Each time, I give out a compliment; I can see the joy on the receiver’s face. And that brings joy to my heart. More than what I gave out. Try it for yourself and see. The more you give out joy, the more joy you will receive.

See you on the other side…..

Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying.

I’ve known uncle for as long as I can remember. His wife and my mom are close friends. My bro and his son are close friends. And I guess that left us to become friends. Me, my bro and his son – we grew up together, eating in each other’s houses, taking trips with each other’s families. It was kind of like having two families that I could call my own. And Uncle was my own special friend.

He was in a way, my mentor too. Two days after uncle passed away, I was still hurting when I heard my pastor say the words ‘Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying’. It set me thinking. I’ve spent numerous hours with Uncle, I’ve taken a lot of mission trips with Uncle, I’ve sang with Uncle, I’ve prayed with Uncle, I’ve danced with Uncle. And in all those hours, I am sure that he would have said a lot of things to me. But somehow now when I think back, I cannot seem to remember any of those words of advices I am sure he must have told me.

However, I remember plenty. I remember all the things that he did not say to me but rather just choose to live it. Those lessons have taken root inside me and probably are things that I will always remember for the rest of my life. I will remember that trusting God does not mean that sickness will be far away from you. Rather, it means God’s grace is so abundant in your life that you can smile through the pain. I will remember that growing old is no excuse for not praising God with your hands and feet. I will remember how important it is to honor missionaries. I will always remember that people need God. That I need Jesus.

I will remember how when you trust God with your money, He will never let you be ashamed. I will remember that no matter what, I can trust Jesus. I will remember that in God’s family, you will have difference but that does not mean grudges should be held. I will remember that it does not matter if I am right or wrong, people are more important than my ego. I’ll remember that it’s alright to apologize even if I am in the right. I’ll remember to smile at all times.

If there was a banquet in honor of every person entering into heaven, I have a feeling that uncle’s table will be filled with palakottais and kolukottais. (I might have smuggled to uncle more than what he is supposed to have eaten. 🙂 )

Thank you Uncle, for all these unspoken lessons that you lived. You are my role model. As I would always tell my husband, you and Aunty are one couple that really practised every word your preached.

I’m gonna miss him. Miss his presence. Miss our ‘so called’ fights about how I have forgotten him. Miss him making fun of my cooking. When I land back in India, it’s going to be a strange world. A world without my mentor, my friend.

Uncle and Aunty helping us cut our wedding cake! It’s now one of my most cherished moments.