He Is Risen!

“A man who was completely innocent offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.” -Mahatma Gandhi

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“Here is the amazing thing about Easter; the Resurrection Sunday for Christians is this: that Christ in the dying moments on the cross gives us the greatest illustration of forgiveness possible.” – T.D. Jakes

To those who believe and revere the day: Have a blessed and joyous Resurrection/Easter Day!

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Thank God It’s Friday – and it’s ‘GOOD’!

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When I was a little girl, I never knew whether to be sad or happy on this day. The visuals and the story of the crucifixion did nothing to convince me it was a day to “rejoice” or be happy about. I was too young to comprehend ‘God’s love’ in connection with ‘sacrificing’ His son for a whole bunch of ‘sinners’ who would happily save a Barrabas and let an innocent, no less God’s son, hang on the cross. So I would try to tone down my play and general joviality in keeping with the solemnity of a death (and worse, a death that I too was somehow responsible for.) I just didn’t get it…any of it!

Then there was the three-hour long church service I’d go through playing with things my mother would make with her handkerchief to keep me engaged. I loved the kerchief mouse a lot! I made it hop and pounce all over and crawl under benches to retrieve it! And the little kerchief purse came next. And when I’d be exhausted and bored with this she’d have some snacks wrapped up and orange juice ready for me, and I’d munch my way through thirty more minutes! The next thing would be to curl up on the bench with my head in her lap and drop off to sleep. That was the spiritual part of my day.  And that’s how it remained until I turned eight. From ten to fifteen, church-going became a sporadic exercise because we moved to the country and our church was about twenty-two miles away.

So it was only after I began going to church regularly, at sixteen, having returned to the city once again, that I began to understand a lot of what had gone over my head earlier.

Now, many of my non-Christians friends or acquaintances ask me why we call it “Good Friday” when our Lord was so cruelly crucified. They listen to the explanation and nod their heads as if they understand but I can see the confusion in their eyes. They just don’t get it. For myself – It’s enormous! This love and sacrifice… and often I wonder – “How?” I don’t see myself or the human race, worthy of such a huge sacrifice. God’s own son sent to die on a cross for my sins! I’m just zapped by the ginormous love God has for us, rather unworthy humans! Every year, come Good Friday, it comes into greater focus – this love divine, this love sublime.

Thank God we have a Good Friday!

Crown or Crucify

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There is something about the cross that compels us to make a choice, either for him or against him. You can’t find a middle ground when it comes to Christ, even though at times we try to. (Fr. Sunny John O. Carm. )

Grandma’s Tales – Piggly

PIGGLY SMELLS THE ROSES

By Joy Clarkson

Acknowledgment – Thank you, Mia, for planting the seed of an idea for this story.

“Dada, Dada,” Mia called out as she scurried into the dining room and made for the corner, at which end of the dining table Dada had set up not only her permanent seat for meals but also a workstation where she’d sit and write.

Mia came and stood beside Dada who looked up from whatever she was doing into Mia’s serious and troubled eyes.

“What’s the matter, Mia? You don’t look too happy.” Mia nodded her head up and down. Dada waited.

“Dada, my lil Piggly has lost his snout!”

“Lost his snout?” Lil Piggly?” This was the first time Dada had heard about a lil pig called Piggly.

“Yes, Dada. Lil Piggly has lost his long snout,” she repeated gesturing with her hands in case Dada didn’t know what a snout was.

“What can I do Mia? Do you want me to help you find the snout?”

“Yes, let’s find Piggly’s snout,” she said, happy and relieved, as she took Dada’s hand in hers.

“Where’s Piggly? I need to ask him some questions,” Dada asked seriously. This was a serious case. Who ever heard of a pig losing its snout!

She pulled Dada out of the dining room and into the corridor that led to the bedrooms.

“There he is,” she said pointing a finger.

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“There he is.”

“Ah! I see him and he’s not looking very happy. Piggly, can you tell me where you lost your snout?” asked Dada

“Oik, oik,” said Piggly sadly, “I don’t know.”

“See,” piped Mia, “he can’t even speak properly without his snout. He’s saying ‘oik’ instead of ‘oink’!” And she looked so sad Dada thought she’d cry any minute.

Now Piggly, that doesn’t help much, does it? Let’s see, can you tell me all that you did this morning?”

“Well, I played in a muddy puddle. It was so much fun! I rolled around in the muddy puddle and splashed and jumped…” Dada interrupted him.

“And what did you do next?”

“Oik, farmer Longbottom took me to find truffles. I did a good job of it. I’m sure he’s pleased with me, oik, oik!”

“And what else did you do? Where did you go?” asked Dada.

“Oik, oik, I was tired and took a nap. I didn’t go anywhere and I didn’t do anything else.”

“Can you take us to the muddy puddle and the place where you found the truffles?” asked Mia.

“Oik, I can,” said Piggly eagerly. He did want to find his snout.

So off they went to look for Piggly’s snout in the muddy puddle. Dada used a pitchfork to dredge the squelchy, muddy pool for the missing snout but found nothing but slimy leaves and a few pebbles.

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Dada used a pitchfork to dredge the squelchy, muddy pool for the missing snout but found nothing but slimy leaves and a few pebbles.

Then they trudged to where Piggly had searched for truffles. It was a lot of searching as they had to go over a large area. They were quite exhausted by the time they had finished their search but had still found nothing. No snout!

Mia, Piggly, and Dada, who was not so young anymore, sat under a shady tree to catch their breath and rest their aching legs. No one spoke for a while. They were all lost in their own thoughts. And then the silence was broken by a big…Achoo! Achoo! Achoo!

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Then they trudged to where Piggly had searched for truffles. They were quite exhausted by the time they had finished their search but had still found nothing. No snout!

Piggly had a sneezing fit.

“Do you have a cold Piggly? Said Mia, as she patted Piggly gently.

“No, I don’t,” he replied. “It’s an allergy. It happened earlier today when I was sniffing the roses. I think I’m allergic to roses or flowers or pollen or…dear me! I’m so miserable, I could cry! Oik, Oik, Oik.”

“You smelled the roses?” said Dada sitting up straight.

“When did you smell the roses, Piggly?” asked Mia.

“You never mentioned it earlier,” mumbled Dada annoyed.

“I forgot,” wailed Piggly, “I just remembered when I sneezed. While farmer Longbottom rested under this tree I strolled that way…there. There’s a patch of wild roses down there. I sniffed them and …Achoo! Achoo!” Piggly had another sneezing fit.

Dada took Mia’s hand and both of them hurried in the direction Piggly had pointed out. A short run and they came upon a beautiful sight. The patch of roses!

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A short run and they came upon a beautiful sight. The patch of roses!

“Be careful Mia, these roses have nasty thorns. You stay here and I’ll look around for Piggly’s snout.”

Though Dada was very careful, but still, she let out a yelp now and then when a thorn pricked her. And then, Mia heard Dada shouting…she had found the missing snout and was shouting for joy.

“How are we going to put back Piggly’s snout?” Mia wondered aloud.

“We won’t,” replied Dada, “Dr. Horsense will do that. Come on, let’s hurry.”

Later that day, after Dr. Horsense had fixed Piggly’s snout right where it belonged, Dada and Mia went to see how lil Piggly was doing.

“Oink, Oink,” said Piggly happily, when he saw them. “I’m so glad I’ve got back my snout. I’m never going to sniff around roses again. Thank you, Dada. Thank you, Mia,” said lil Piggly as he trotted home.

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“Oink, Oink, I’m so glad I’ve got back my snout. I’m never going to smell the roses again.”

The story of the story:

Three-year-old Mia, one of the twins, came running to me at my ‘workstation’ and said, “Dada, Piggly has lost his snout.”

I said, “And who is Piggly?”

“My lil pig,” she replied.

From then on the story unfolded as we went around the house…to the places mentioned in the story above.

‘Oink, Oink, it was fun finding Piggly’s snout!

Does Your Toolkit Have The Right Tools?

I have often been asked how I have managed my family, home, relationships and life in general. A verse from Proverbs 14:1 comes to mind – “Homes are made by the wisdom of women, but are destroyed by foolishness”

I believe wisdom here lies in having the right tools of the trade. My tools have consisted of Faith, Love, Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Humor. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have these tools and to use them.

Faith has been my bedrock. I know whatever may happen and however rough times may be, my Lord and my God will be there to guide, protect, and carry us through. My faith has been put to the test many a time and I have turned and put my Lord to the test and He has never failed. Faith has taught me patience. It has taught me to trust and wait for His timing. Faith has shown me how to cast my cares on God. When my family was in need He provided for us. His grace keeps restoring our hope and faith.

Love has always acted as an all-purpose tool. When everything fails, pull out love; it never fails. It will not only transform the home but will also transform you. When I say ‘love’ I mean the kind of love as is written in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

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1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I sincerely believe love makes you calmer, reasonable, sensitive and definitely more approachable. Love is the best beauty treatment you can ever have, inside out, it makes you radiant.

Forgiveness is an important thread that holds families together. If we must survive the hurts that we cause to one another we must have forgiveness. Much as we don’t want to be hurt we do get hurt, disappointed or offended. People hurt people. It is a flaw of human nature that we tend to hurt the ones we love the most. This is because of the ill-placed expectations we have of them and when they do not come up to our expectations we tend to deride them, be angry, take offense and blame them, thus adding insult to injury.

Forgiveness lightens the distress on both sides. It isn’t easy, but the good news is that it is possible to forgive. We need to forgive ourselves too. Often our guilt or anger at ourselves builds up walls of bitterness and resentment. We can’t face ourselves. To forgive others we must first be able to forgive ourselves. Sometimes we may have to work harder at it, especially when we have been deeply injured. Turn to Faith. Turn to love. Turn to Forgiveness. Forgiving families are happy and united families.

Humor is one tool that can never be used too much. It is a wonderful tool and can lighten gloomy days and chase away the blues. It should be readily available and used liberally. “Laughter disarms, relaxes, distracts, enhances, and connects us to one another. There is no sweeter melody than when our families laugh together and sharing joy causes us to bond at the heart,” says Patsy Clairmont, and I couldn’t agree more. Seeing a funny side to a situation, helps us to be more positive and cheerful. Laughter acts as a safety valve to release repressed emotions or stress. It improves mental health and lends an amiable disposition.

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Gratitude, simply put, is thanking God for everything He gives. A grateful heart acknowledges even the tiniest help rendered. Thank God in good times, thank God in bad times. A thankful heart will let us look beyond our difficulty and see the lesson. The message comes from our ‘messes’ – a learning point.

There is a fable about a man who was miserable and couldn’t stop bemoaning his fate. He was forever focussing on all his problems and felt life had been very unfair to him. He looked around and found that his family members were more fortunate, his colleagues were lucky, his neighbors were better off. He declared that God was not just and it was no use worshipping him.

Finally, God appeared to him in a dream and told him that he could put all his problems into a sack and take it to the Tree of Destiny and dump it in exchange for any other sack over there. The man happily lugged his sack to the tree. There were many other sacks there and he found many belonging to some of the people he had envied. As he started opening the sacks, one by one, he found he didn’t want any because what he saw there did not appeal to him. So he gathered up his bag and walked home. The morning saw him as a changed man. He had developed a grateful heart and he thanked God for his lot. Be a family that is thankful for God’s mercies. Be a family that appreciates anyone who has done anything good for you.

Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done!

Stack up your tool kit with the right tools.

A Winter Wonderland -Picture Speak

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”- Lewis Carroll

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Nainital, in Uttarakhand, India. I’ve lived and worked here and have lovely memories of this hill town.

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