25 December 2014

The Wonder of Christmas

wonder: the feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.

I spoke about this feeling last Sunday, albeit imperfectly, and questioned whether we experience Christmas in wonder of what happened some thousands of years ago or have we become desensitized to the Christmas story. 

The birth of Christ is also an event full of scandal, danger, death, and conflict. It's a story about the God of the Universe leaving his throne and coming down to Earth in the form of a helpless infant who cannot do anything by himself, but depends on others for its every need. He came down because He loved His people so much that he could not let them be. He came down to die a death that He didn't deserve and we so rightfully did.

He came to earth in the most ordinary way possible. Not as a king but as a baby. In that same way, you can see God is in our lives, not only in the dramatic but in the ordinary moments where He's teaching us about grace and showing it to others and to ourselves. 

I hope this Christmas, you wake up with a sense of wonder. Jesus' birth was beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, and inexplicable for those who did not know Him and I hope that you fall on your knees from the crushing wave of gladness in your heart that comes from knowing that the King was born and the world would never be the same. 

And to end, here's a modern day reminder of the wonder of Christmas. I was in awe of this person I met earlier this year, who chased a dream despite the cost and below is something he's been working on. It captures the gravity of Christ entering the world so well, you have to watch it! 

ANOMALY from ANOMALY on Vimeo.

Merry Christmas, friends.

02 September 2014

Well said.

They say to write well, you have to read. So here's some things I've read today that I don't want to forget and I'm eager to share.

From Bob Goff's Love Does:
"If Jesus has taught me anything, it's that sometimes you can really want to know somebody and it takes them forever to want to know you back."
"I used to think God guided us by opening and closing doors, but now I know sometimes God wants us to kick some doors down."
And my most favorite quote from the book so far:
"Ryan's love was audacious. It was whimsical. It was strategic. Most of all, it was contagious. Watching Ryan lose himself in love reminded me that being "engaged" isn't just an event that happens when a guy gets on one knee and puts a ring on his true love's finger. Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving. It's about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That's what I want my life to be all about -- full of abandon, whimsy and in love. I want to be engaged to life and with life."
 From Relevant Magazine:

The word “happy” appears six times in the Bible, none of those in reference to God’s intention for your life. Happiness is almost always tied to the present. If we constantly lived for our current happiness, what a miserable life most of us would have. How many times has something awesome birthed from something not so awesome? The good news for you and me is that God is much more concerned with lasting qualities such as joy and peace. Those qualities are unaffected by the fragility of life.

And lastly, from C.S Lewis:
I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God's thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and the most precious thing in all thinking. 

15 August 2014

Munchkin Birthdays

My munchkin is turning 4 in just a couple of days. I can't remember life without her. Actually, I do. It was much quieter and I didn't use my imagination as much. But Suraya has opened the world of adventure and pretend back up for me. We ride in corner elevators together (actually the corner of a hallway) and sing our own music. We tiptoe into rooms so the sleeping tiger or lion doesn't hear us. Somehow he always does and we run out of the room screaming for our lives. We sing the songs in Frozen over and over again though we don't know the words.We ride through the sky with a five foot high view and take stops in Houston, Dallas, and New York along the way.

Don't get me wrong -- she has her tantrums when she doesn't get the ketchup bottle when she asks for it or I don't give her the red crayon when she demands it. But two minutes later, she's promising me a spot in her bridal party and trying a new hue of lip gloss on me.

Reminiscing on the joy she's brought me in her young life reminds me of the little ones I met in Mumbai a little more than a year ago. Their smiles are so alike though their circumstances couldn't be more different.
Their smiles are so alike though their circumstances couldn't be more different.
These children have hope because of the special people in their lives-- whether that be parents or a compassionate servant-- they are people who consider the child and his or her life as significant. As a result, instead of worshiping a tribal statue, she will know the Lord. And instead of settling for a life as a laborer, he can go to college. 

They have the opportunity, like Su, to reach past that glass ceiling and seize their dreams whatever that might be. I'm not sure when their birthdays are but I hope its full of the same love, joy and memories that Su's will be. Either way, I'm thinking about them.

13 June 2014

My Dad, My Hero

My dad is not a perfect man by any means, he'll tell you that himself. But it's how he's conquered life and broken free from things that held him back that makes him a hero in my book.

I've grown more and more proud of my dad especially in the past year when he made a decision that changed his life and our family's forever.

He's a living testimony to the fact that you're never too old to change, improve and get better. Most of all, he is proof that God can break through the hardest of hearts and years with of shame and pain.

I think it's a daughter thing-- we want to believe our dads are these invincible people who can fix anything and rescue us from any trouble. There's many times I've put my dad on a pedestal which never worked. As you get to know your dad or any one in your family, disappointments happen and imperfections show through. You see that dad isn't as invincible or mighty as you thought.

Dads don't belong on a pedestal --they belong at our side. I now look at my dad as a human being who's advice and guidance is only there to bless me and who's love is more constant than anyone else in my life. He messes up but so do I and if I expect forgiveness, I have to be willing to give it, too.

He's my biggest fan and I am his and I couldn't be more proud of him as Father's Day approaches. If all goes well, he has the perfect present in store this weekend and I can't wait to see his face! (I'll make sure to post a picture.)

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there. 
Thank you for being our heroes. 

01 May 2014

A Day's Worth of Grace

I've been listening to Kathy Keller (The "Other" Keller) talk about singleness and relationships. She ended with the excerpt from Betsy Childs' post, Marriage and Celibacy. I think it will be encouraging to both married and single friends.

While marriage and celibacy may technically be opposites, they have at least one thing in common. Both can seem overwhelming when one imagines them lasting for a lifetime.
Even if you deeply love your spouse, the thought of putting up with his or her foibles or coldness or chaos every day for the rest of your life may be enough to make your hyperventilate. Likewise, those who have chosen to lead a celibate life may be happy in their friendships, their church, and their work, but when they peer into the future, the frightening prospect of growing old alone overshadows the mercies provided in the present.
If the thought of enduring your marriage or lack of marriage for the rest of your life is daunting, it is because God doesn’t hand out grace in a lifetime supply. He provides it one day at a time. If you feel like God has not given you the capacity to love your spouse for a lifetime, that’s because he hasn’t. But he has given you exactly what you need to be loving today. Furthermore, God has not given celibates the grace to bear a lifetime of solitude. But he will give you what you need to make it through this day.
God will give us what we need, but he will not give it to us until we need it. He didn’t give the Israelites enough food to last through forty years in the wilderness; he gave them manna one day at a time. None of us has a lifelong stockpile of grace, but we can look forward to God’s faithfulness over a lifetime, offered to us one day at a time. 

24 April 2014

My mama

This is not another obligatory post about my mom. Mother's Day is around the corner but my mom has been on my mind for other reasons.

This year, she made the decision to go back to school for her Bachelor's in Nursing. Like your mom (or most Indian women you may know), she completed her associate's degree and started working as a registered nurse. But standards in healthcare are changing and moms like mine are having to go back to school (after almost 30 years) to get their bachelor's degree if they want to continue working as a nurse.

I should add that I have nothing against this new standard but for my mom, it's hard. I think about the papers she'll have to write, tests she'll have to study for, assignments she'll have to do every week... It's stressful enough without the added complexity of learning how to write paper, what APA format is, and computer skills all at the same time.

But my mom is doing it. She's TACKLING it. In fact, I'm the one hiding under the covers, paralyzed by the hurdles in front of her and my mom is poised for battle. Bring it on, teach.

I didn't think my mom could make me any more proud. After 25 years, I thought I'd seen her do it all but she continues to amaze me. She gives me courage to not back down or allow an inconvenience keep me from achieving great things.

I'm so blessed to not have to look at the world for a role model. Mine is sitting across the kitchen table.

25 March 2014

God Is Just Not Fair

I am so mad at God.
I've said it before. Maybe you have, too.

"I'm mad that I'm still single/sick/unemployed/fat/in a horrible marriage."

Just insert your current problem or need right there.

For a long time, I thought I had every right to be mad at God. We think we're entitled to that anger. Because God is supposed to give me what I want... isn't he?

You feel a lesson coming on? So did I when I approached this chapter in Jennifer Rothschild's new book, God Is Just Not Fair: Finding Hope When Life Doesn't Make Sense

Jennifer picks apart the common thoughts and questions we often have after life disappoints us and the God that is supposed to be close to our hearts feels so distant.

When things don't go our way, we assert this right to be upset with God, but Jennifer turns to scripture to unmask what the anger really is.

"Sometimes when we indulge what we call our right to be angry at God, what we're really doing is casting a thin veil over envy instead. Deep down, we are jealous that God is seemingly generous to someone else but not us."
That sounds harsh but sometimes, the truth is. 

The thing is, if we believe that our God is supreme, ruling over this universe and everything in it, he has the right to do or allow whatever he pleases. I may not understand the why, but I trust Him and praise Him because…

"We don't base our gratitude or praise exclusively on what we receive or do not receive from God. God  deserves our praise and gratitude because of who God is."
Let that sink in for a second. You may even want to re-read it. This is so contrary to our human and selfish ways but God deserves your thankfulness in all circumstances.

Jennifer's book unpacks these thoughts in a way that will make sense not only to your brain but to your heart. I cannot stress how important this book can be to your personal spiritual journey. It's brought me peace where my heart has been restless and without answers. I hope it can do the same for you.

If you've never heard of Jennifer… 
Jennifer and her family are good friends of mine. Jennifer went blind as a teenager when a disease took her sight. It blows me away that she never let her sight take her life. Jennifer is an accomplished woman! She's a wife, mother, author and talented singer, not to mention, one of the most genuine people you'll ever meet. As you can imagine, Jennifer's faith has been tested by her blindness (she talks about it in her book) which is why I'm so glad she's sharing her own experiences, struggles and revelations. Want to know more about her? Click here.

Disclosure: I received God Is Not Fair for free but the views and opinions I express here are my own.