Categories
Inspiration

Little Bird, Scared Silly

The other day, a Little Bird all of 3 inches long flew into our home. Two of our doors had been left open, and the poor creature, suddenly finding itself in this “new dimension”, was scared silly!

So silly, that instead of instinctively turning around and flying back out the way it came in, Little Bird decided to flutter around from perch to perch. Two large doors loomed wide open in front of it, but instead of flying out, it kept flying higher and higher as if the roof would somehow magically open and let it out!

At one point, Little Bird found the ventilator window that is shut tight permanently, and kept banging against it even though its wings were getting hurt. Once exhausted from the effort, it settled down on a wire, and tried calling out to its friends for help. Sadly, none of them ventured in to the rescue.

All this while, I was gently telling the bird to calm down, look at the open door ahead, and fly out through it – by this point, we had three open doors, and almost every window in the house was open. I even tried creeping closer to the bird to see if I could catch it gently and carry it out. But the closer I inched, the further it flew in desperation.

Finally, losing patience, I told the bird, “Ok, enough trying to be gentle with you. The only thing left for me to do is to scare you.” So I clapped my hands and raised my voice… and right enough, Little Bird immediately flew straight out of the door it hadn’t seen before!

You probably know where I’m going with this. Little Bird is so much like us. Sometimes we land ourselves in trouble as a result of our own mistakes and and find ourselves in an uncomfortable place. When we do, our immediate response must be to get back out the same way we got in.

But if you find yourself too deep in already, don’t panic, hurt yourself, get deeper into the problem, and make things worse. Don’t furiously try venting it out on anything that appears close to freedom, getting hurt in the process, and blame satan for everything. Don’t expect anyone to help get you out, because they don’t know the place you are in, and as much as they would like to help get you out, most often they can’t. Don’t wait for the Father to scare you in order to force you out of the place you’re in.

CALM DOWN and LISTEN to the Father with His still, small voice directing you. Instead of running away from Him, thinking He’s out to get you and punish you, let Him pick you up in His gentle hands and carry you out to safety and freedom!

Photo Credit: INDIA’S BIRDS

Categories
Leadership

A Leader I Honour

A while back, we attended the Global Leadership Summit held in South Chennai, and while we enjoyed the two days of learning and networking, much of the content got me thinking beyond.

I thought about the many leaders I have had during school, college, at various churches, and work places. Like everyone else, I have had my fair share of bad to horrid leaders, and some in-between, but it wasn’t hard at all for me to point out the best leader I have had so far.

So I write this piece to honour the best leader I have known, because I believe that in recognising and honouring good leaders, we build more good leaders, and bad ones can learn and grow. If someone reading this would like to honour a good leader in a similar way, please feel free to do so in sincerity, and in so doing, perhaps we will create a global chain of honour that acknowledges, appreciates, encourages, and builds good leadership at all levels and in every sphere of life.

I choose to honour Kami Kindle as the best leader I have had. 🙂

Kami & Janie
When We First Met

I first met Kami at a strategic planning meeting among those working with children and youth in India. She sat beside me, and we quickly became acquainted. It so happened that I was looking for a change of location at the time, and the organisation Kami works with (OneHope) was looking for someone with my capabilities. So before I knew it, I was being interviewed, and I still remember one significant question I was asked: “What kind of a relationship would you like to have with your leader?” I didn’t have to think hard to respond, because my leader at the time was my good friend, so I simply said, “I’d like my leader to be my friend”, and that was it. Little did I know then that Kami herself was soon to become my boss – and good friend as well.

Kami and I worked together for close to 4 years. We had some fun adventures travelling together in India, sharing each other’s cultures, attending her wedding way out in North Dakota, and of course, EATING!

Eating from a Banana Leaf
Eating from a Banana Leaf

Gastronomic adventure was our top priority, next to getting work done. 😀 She introduced me to Easter Peeps, 7-Eleven Slushies, Vietnamese tripe soup, and horse riding. I introduced her to custard apples, Hajmola (don’t ask why, it was the worst thing I have done to her!!!), Tiger Balm, eating off a banana leaf, and traditional Indian salwars.

Oh, did I say we WORKED together too? 😀 See, that was part of what made Kami such a great leader – she was so fun and adventurous, work was a breeze! Kami was, and still is, all about getting the job done, but she never passed up an opportunity that was fun.

There are many other things I appreciate and admire in Kami, though not all may be possible to share in this post. Kami has always been humble, down to earth, with no airs about herself. She never boasts in her accomplishments, title or position. She carries herself with dignity and commands respect rather than demands it. She is confident, articulate, graceful, and compassionate. She is wise, knows when to speak and when to remain silent. She is a good listener, and is not quick to judge another. She adjusts to different people, cultures, and situations without complaint. She respects and honours everyone, however big or small. She is gentle even in her anger, always has a kind word, and knows how to handle conflict with grace. She says what she means and means what she says. In short, she is simply great! 🙂

And yes, she was and still is a great friend. Instead of our friendship getting in the way and having an adverse affect our working relationship, it, in fact, made us a much better team because we had built up trust and understanding, and we actually cared about one another.

Kami Teaching Me to Ride
Kami Teaching Me to Ride

When I went through a bad phase soon after I took up my new job, Kami was the first one I shared my heart with and who listened, and understood. When my Dad passed away, she got together a few friends to honour my Dad in a very meaningful way. When I was preparing for my wedding, she took me shopping for my wedding dress, shoes, and accessories. In fact, she even gave me some of her own wedding accessories, and I wore them. 🙂 Coincidentally, I even got married exactly a year and a day after her wedding.

While Shopping for My Wedding Gown
While Shopping for My Wedding Gown

 

I could go on and on, but the one thing that stands out to me in how Kami led – if it isn’t already obvious – was that she was a FRIEND, and a very good one. We don’t work together anymore, we live continents apart, and we communicate once in a purple moon, but our friendship remains.

Leaders, if you’re reading this, the one thing I hope you take away is this:
Be friends with the people you lead. Know them, care for them, have fun together, eat together, learn to work and play together. You may have hundreds of colleagues in your lifetime, but the ones who matter in the end will be the ones who were your friends!

And Kami, I wish a world of good for you. You deserve it, and more! 🙂

Categories
Inspiration

“Hold My Hand”

When I couldn’t sleep as a child, I would often reach out under the covers to my mother, saying, “Hold my hand…”.

The other night, I found myself asking Jasher the same thing. And as he held my still quite little hand in his, I drifted off to thoughts of asking Daddy God to please “Hold my hand”:

When a toddler reaches his/her hand out to an adult, in that simple act, he/she is saying, “I can’t do this on my own. I need your help. I know you are stronger and wiser than me. I trust you to hold me and be with me. I know you won’t let me fall, and even if I do, you will be there to pick me up, soothe my wounds, and assure me that it’s gonna be ok. I know you can guide me to the place I need to go, protecting me from things I cannot see, and leading me down the best route. Your kind voice will cheer me on, telling me which way to go and what not to do, and when I reach my destination, I know you will celebrate with me. On my own, I am afraid, but in your grip, I know I am safe. So please hold my hand. I am counting on you.”

I never want to lose that same childlike trust in my Heavenly Father. So my prayer today and always will be, “Hold my hand.”

Categories
Inspiration

Are Setbacks Blocking Your Destiny?

During a very disturbed night drifting in and out of sleep, I heard something inspiring that I feel an urge to share. I hope this will encourage someone today.

Don’t let your setbacks hold you back from your destiny!

Picture a catapult. The farther back it is pulled, the further and more powerful the impact. The same goes for setbacks. It’s in that dire situation when you are stretched beyond known limits and find yourself trying to hold on for dear life to a line fraught with tension, that you must NOT try to get comfortable and carve a niche for yourself. Instead of dwelling in the past, focus on the future. Take aim at where you want to be. And most importantly… LET GO!

Categories
Inspiration

The Journey Has Only Just Begun

This was a word the Lord gave us the morning before we led worship at a church. Unknown to us, the church was ordaining leaders that day, and the word was a great blessing and encouragement to them.

The journey has only just begun. Just as a journey of a hundred miles begins with one step. To complete your journey, you must take thousands of steps. But fear not, all you need to do is take one step at a time. I am with you. I will instruct and teach you in the way you should go, I will guide you with my eye. When you turn to the left or the right, you will hear a voice behind you saying, this is the way, walk in it. I have given my angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways. I Myself will strengthen and uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

Do not despise small beginnings, and do not be quick to judge the end by the beginning. For I am Alpha and Omega, both beginning and end. I know the end from the beginning. I will complete the good work I began in you. Remember, I am the same God who chose Joseph, Gideon, David, and Mary… even My Son Jesus was born in a poor stable. In your weakness, My strength will prevail. So humble yourself before Me, and I will lift you up. For I am the glory and the lifter of your head.

Categories
Worship

The Whistler

We decided to take our first break from routine in a long time, celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary. Our choice of destination: Munnar, “God’s Own Country”! 🙂

It was dusk, and the forest had erupted with the incessant chirp of crickets as we crossed Munnar town and drove on towards our lovely little homestay, when all of a sudden we heard a sweet yet distinct whistle above the din. Surprised, both of us looked at each other immediately and asked, “What’s that?” It seemed to follow us through the aromatic spice gardens and forest. First here, then there, now gentle, now shrill… so human, yet improbable!

Intrigued, I stuck my head out the window and began to whistle back, and much to my joy, heard the reply loud and clear! So we conversed, whistling back and forth, until the anonymous reply was an exact an imitation of mine. We could “speak” the same language!

We figured by then that it had to be a bird of some sort, like a parrot or a mocking jay. So we Googled it as quickly as we could, and found that it was the Malabar Whistling Thrush, aka “The Whistling Schoolboy”, so named for its human-like whistle.

The next couple of days this bird continued to entertain, waking us up at dawn, accompanying us on our drives, and closing our days with beautiful song. This creature, although so small, brought us tremendous joy.

The whistler brought to my mind my own relationship with God. I wondered if among all the clamour of this world, when I worship, He turns ear to listen, asking, “What’s that?” Is my worship a “sweet, sweet sound” in His ear? When He hears me worship, does it move Him to communicate with me more?

And do I follow Him passionately wherever He leads, listening attentively for His voice? Do I tune into the same frequency, echoing His voice? Does my song give Him immense joy and pleasure? Do I offer Him worship first thing in the morning, throughout the day, and last thing at night?

I don’t know about you, but I wanted with all my heart to be a whistler too!

Categories
Family

Any Good News???

Dear well-wishers who love to ask married women like me the question, “Any good news?” – wink, teasing smile and all – implying, “Are you pregnant yet?”,

I do, in fact, have some very good news for you! Guess what??? Today I am going give you some free tips on how to be the most popular, most loved person in your women’s circles, as well as how you can positively impact another woman’s life!

It’s actually pretty simple! Here we go:

  1. Be sensitive. Stop asking the question, “Any good news?”

Why? I’m sure you only mean the best for your friend/relative and would love to celebrate with her. But just keep in mind that the person just might have gone through the pain of miscarriage, have been told she can never conceive, have lost her child at birth, or something equally devastating.

I thank God immensely that I have not had (and believe I will not have) any such issues myself, but I can imagine and have seen first hand how painful it is for others who have. Not every woman has the ability to produce babies the instant they are married (ok, I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean). Some women are incredibly blessed in their fertility and that’s a wonderful gift, but, among all the women I have ever known, at least 50% of them (if not more) have either suffered the painful loss of a child, or have experienced difficulty in childbearing one way or another.

When it comes to conception, couples today have a hard time as it is. But have you ever considered the possibility that, with your well-meaning questioning, YOU might very well be the cause of unnecessary stress causing someone’s infertility issues?

So before you ask someone this question again, if you really mean well for her, please be sensitive to her situation. Take a deep breath… and STOP.

  1. Mind your own business.

Yes, I know that sounds rude. But so is your incessant questioning. While some women have difficulties conceiving, others prefer to practice “family planning”, some decide to focus on their careers first, and still others choose not to have children at all. In my personal case, my husband and I decided to simply enjoy being married the first few years, build our relationship, create memories, and establish ourselves before the kids came along.

Either way, as mean as it might seem, it’s none of your business. To have children, or not, and when is a choice meant for each couple to decide, and no one else must feel they have a right to interfere in that decision. Unless, of course, the couple concerned has already given you the privilege of speaking into their lives and advising them either as a parent, spiritual/marriage/health advisor, or an otherwise trustworthy relationship – in all of which cases, the couple will themselves initiate the topic, rather than you.

Otherwise, how would you like it if we asked you, “So, when did you last get it on with your husband?”, or, “Have you tied your tubes yet?”? None of our business, right? Also, rude? Remember, that’s exactly how we feel when you ask us the “good news” question. It’s personal, and we’d like to keep it that way.

  1. Practice courtesy.

Somehow this basic element of relationships seems to have been altogether left out in our Indian culture, particularly when it comes to personal issues. People think that it’s perfectly normal to ask about another person’s age, tell them how much weight they have gained (some even think they are paying you a compliment when they say so!), and ask when you are planning to have a baby. If you are such a person, all this may be very new for you, especially if you are from an older generation. But please know that all these things are considered highly impolite and offensive in today’s generation.

If there’s something you would like to ask without offending a person, a simple, “Would you mind if I asked you about…”, or, “May I ask you about…” goes a long way in politeness and respecting the other person’s boundaries before you pry into their personal issues headlong. And most importantly, if the person responds with a “No”, learn to accept it, and don’t pursue the topic further. But if you do it right and keep the information shared to yourself, for all you know, you may very well have won the respect of someone who might otherwise have despised you, and in time, both of you may even get to share a mutual, genuinely caring relationship!

  1. Pay a compliment instead.

And by this I don’t mean flatter or lie. Rather, look for a really good reason to compliment the other woman instead of offending her. By the way, it NEVER hurt anyone to pay a compliment. Her shoes, the colour of her dress, her hairdo, her cooking, her character, or her stunning beauty… whatever it is, find SOMEthing that you genuinely admire about her and let her know. Trust me, not only will this build a good vibe, but it will also boost her self-image. Who knows, that compliment might be the one thing that brightens the day of a woman who has almost given up hope of ever being a mother, and YOU could be the reason she has found reason to hope again!

And that, in 4 simple points, is how I believe you can not only stay BFFs with the women in your life, but also how you can make a difference in their lives!

I have written this from my own perspective and experiences, drawing on the experiences of others like myself, and I sincerely hope this creates a better understanding of what women like me go through. And while I am aware that many may be offended by what I have to say, I hope these very people realize how much they themselves have offended and hurt others. But beyond that, I hope they can see there is a better way and follow it. Nevertheless, please know that I have taken the effort NOT to write this just out of anger, hurt, and resentment, but have tried to be positive. I can only hope I have been successful!

To all the women like myself out there who have been bombarded with this infamous question, I am sending special hugs your way. I hope you know you are loved. The good news is, you are not alone! So don’t hesitate to reach out for support and encouragement to one of us. Together, we can find strength and hope no matter what the struggle.

And if this has struck a chord, by all means, please share.

Peace! ✌

Categories
Current Affairs

Can a Woman Be Safe in India?

Everyone has had their say on sexual harassment in India, and it’s time to speak my mind.

But where do I even begin? Do I start with the old villager who groped between my legs when I was about 7 or 8, while I was made to sit on his lap in a crowded bus? Or the hand that slid up my legs as I pushed & shoved to get into a bus on my way to college? Or the middle-aged man who stood with his genitals stuck against my head as I sat in a crowded bus? Or the youngster that hit me in my chest as he sped by on his bicycle, leaving me stunned, helpless, and in pain on a main road? Or the youth who took pictures of me on his mobile in a shop, no one coming forward to help or defend me when I shouted back in anger at him? Or the 4 men who pressed against me at a counter in a Railway Station just a few weeks ago, pretending there was no place for them to stand and looking blankly ahead as if they couldn’t hear me when I shoved them aside with my handbag & yelled at them?

There are way too many incidents to even recall – I could probably write an entire novel of them if I set my mind on it! And what’s sadder still, is that I’m pretty certain every other Indian woman has her own story to tell.

I don’t think I have to point it out any more than the media already has. The female gender, irrespective of age or location, is simply not safe in India. Period.

There are others who argue that stuff like this happens everywhere in the world. Yes, it does. But surely those who support this argument don’t mean to say that just because sexual abuse and rape take place all around the world, it’s the right thing to do, do they? For my part, let me just say this… As an Indian woman, I can only make a noise about what happens in my country. That is my right. That is my responsibility. If the women of other nations feel similarly, by all means, let them make the noise they need to. But please don’t try to subdue the few bold women of India who do make a noise, because they are the only ones with guts enough to make a positive difference.

It’s funny how some who are unwilling to let go of their egos and actually take responsibility or make an effort to create a better environment for future generations find the easy solution – the blame game! Women should dress properly, women should be respectable, women should this, women should that…! Well, how about the men? Shouldn’t men have the basic sense to behave decently and keep their private parts where they belong? Aren’t all men in India supposed to be my “brothers” and show some chivalry towards me? How long more will these imbeciles keep blaming women for the atrocities they commit and get away with, while the victims are scarred forever?

The majority agrees that justice is needed. Arrest them, hang them, castrate them for all I care! But to be honest, that does not entirely solve the issue for me. Sure, it may send the right signals out to other perpetrators with such intentions, but I am not entirely sure that it will curb what we have quite subtly come to know as “eve-teasing”. As if it were something so negligible and bore such little significance! Let’s just call it what it is, shall we – sexual abuse!

What then? As a parent, how can I not worry about the safety of my little girl beginning kindergarten? As a young student, how can I hang out with friends and not have to hear catcalls and derogatory comments? As a working woman, how can I have the freedom to go wherever my job requires without the fear of being accosted and raped? As a woman who is getting married, how can I be sure that my future husband and in-laws will not torture me if I am not able to give them the dowry they want? Is it really even possible for a woman to be safe in India? Is an arrest, a life or death sentence meted out to a few sufficient to guarantee my safety in the country?

After the last incident I encountered, I debated this issue at length with my husband (I should say I am SO blessed to have such a wonderful man as my husband!). As a human and a woman, my gut reaction tells me I should have punched those men in their faces, or better still, kicked them in their groins. But perhaps such men are perverted enough to even get cheap thrills out of that too! I can’t seem to think of anything good enough that will violate these men – no, savages – in equal proportion to the way they so brazenly violate other women! But on the other hand, I realize these rogues are human too. What would I see if I could see them how God sees them? No, I am NOT recommending anyone hug a violator and tell them, “God loves you, my brother!” But would God show His love to such a person with a smack in the face and kick in the groin, I wonder? I honestly don’t have the answer.

So can a woman be safe in India? Yes, I personally believe so. How? Mindset change? Partly yes, but mostly because I believe in the people of India, and I KNOW we that when we set our minds on anything, we can achieve it. We have done so in the past, and I know we can make our nation a better place for the future. The answer lies with us… with each one of us… with me. Yes, it is possible for a woman to be safe in India, if I am willing to be responsible in some way. How, you ask? As with anything, little drops make a mighty ocean. So begin small. Ask yourself what you can personally do to make India a safer place? Here’s my own list, I’m sure each one can come up with their own:

  1. Respect myself as a woman. We have grown up in a society that belittles and demeans women so much, that this is something many of us have to learn to do.
  2. Be as safe as I possibly can! Don’t put myself in compromising circumstances or venture out to lonely, questionable locations alone. And dress appropriately. Yes, India is a developing nation with a mixed culture, and women must have the freedom to be who they are. But with freedom also comes responsibility. If I dress cheap, people are going to treat me cheap – not just in India, by the way!
  3. Prepare myself mentally & physically to deal with such encounters. Think of possible responses, getaways, people to call, places to run to for safety. Learn self-defense if I must.
  4. Be on the look out for other women who may be in need, and don’t be afraid to support them. In all of the incidents ever heard, every woman complains that no one came to their help and people just walked by. The only way that can change is if I myself am willing to help. Don’t be the one who turns their face the other way and pretends like they didn’t see or hear anything. Be the one to step in and help! Remember the saying, “United we stand, divided we fall.”?
  5. Teach little children, youth, and friends alike about “good touch” and “bad touch” and what they must do if and when they receive a “bad touch” from anyone. God knows this alone could save millions from the shame, fear, guilt, horror and embarrassment they go through after such traumatic incidents.
  6. Educate myself about all the reputed women and child safety organizations in the state and country as well as laws that safeguard me. Knowing this information could be a lifesaver for someone in need.
  7. As a parent, teach one’s boys to respect girls and not treat them as objects, and teach one’s girls they are just as valued as the boys. Don’t give preferential treatment to the boys. As a father, treat one’s wife respectfully. As a mother, honor one’s husband. Nothing can change “mindset” like an example well set!
  8. As a parent whose son is getting married, don’t ask for or accept a dowry or “gift”. As a parent whose daughter is getting married, refuse to give one’s daughter to a man who demands a dowry. After all, isn’t this the main reason why female infanticide is so high in India, and girl babies are discarded like trash?

These are my 8 little drops in the mighty ocean. What are yours?