Monday, 15 December 2014

7 Christmas Quick Takes


---1---

So usually I do quick takes on a Friday, because you know, that's when the link-up is hosted. But tonight I'm ready to write, so Christmas quick takes it is.

---2---

Did you know that many Catholics and other Christians have a big fight going on about Santa Claus? One side says acting like Santa Claus is a real person who leaves gifts for your kids is the same as lying to your kids, plus takes the focus away from Jesus, and the other side says people against Santa are killing the wonder and fun of childhood.

---3---

I see both sides. I remember the disappointment and let down on the day I found out Santa was my mum. Actually, it didn't happen at Christmas time, and it was all the Tooth Fairy's fault. I put my tooth under my pillow, waiting for my shiny one rupee coin to appear there (1 rupee got 30 peppermints, so that was wealth) and day after day passed and no coin appeared. i just couldn't understand what was wrong. Then my poor forgetful mum took me out on the balcony and said, "Well, Sue... actually the Tooth Fairy is me. And so is Santa Claus." NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Perhaps if we had never started playing that game, I would have avoided the big let down.



---4---

But then, but then, I also remember the years of joy and wonder of the night before Christmas, the anticipation, the thrill of trying to wake up early enough to catch Santa at work, the excitement at seeing the pile of gifts under the tree, and the ones with my name on them. (I must have been a very gullible kid, because I never noticed how similar Santa's handwriting was to my mum's.) It was magic! It definitely added something to my childhood. We also had prayer time, we went to Mass, my siblings and I were not greedy little consumers who only cared about material things. Our family growing up didn't have a lot of money, so the one or two gifts and the stocking full of sweets and dried orange and nuts were so special.

---5---

So I was thinking a lot about the issue. I'm all about the truth and keeping it real and all that jazz, so how did the two work together?

And then I found a great article that gave me a lot of clarity-

The Great Santa Lie Truth by Calah Alexander

Everyone keeps talking about how telling your children about Santa is a lie because Santa isn’t real. But who cares if Santa is real or not? That’s not the point. The point is, Santa is true.
We’ve so totally lost the ability to distinguish between the real and the true that we act like they are the same thing, when they’re not — at least, not always... 
But, said Lewis, myths are lies, even though lies breathed through silver.
No, said Tolkien, “they are not.
…just as speech is invention about objects and ideas, so myth is invention about truth.
We have come from God (continued Tolkien), and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming a ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.

You mean, asked Lewis, that the story of Christ is simply a true myth, a myth that works on us in the same way as the others, but a myth that really happened? In that case, he said, I begin to understand.
(Read the rest here)

It's a cool perspective that basically says that Santa is a myth that prepares kids to understand deeper truths about God. Undeserved gifts- that's God. Joy and wonder and glimpses of a bigger, more beautiful world- that's a glimpse into God too. And THAT'S real!

---6---

It's a little bit like reading the Chronicles of Narnia, or the Lord of the Rings, or even George MacDonald's books. They're stories, but they feel real, because they reveal truth, and with it wonder and joy and even awe.

---7---

In conclusion, let me leave you with some Christmas memes, because what better way:


That's my plan too... roast chicken stuffing mmmmm


 Ah ha ha ha

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Why Have Kids?

The other day my sister said to me, "I can't think of a good reason to tell people they should have children. I mean, I think they should, but rationally, why?"

I thought about it. From a secular perspective, saying 'God said go forth and multiply' didn't sound very convincing. Besides again, why DID He?

Biologically, to carry on the human race, but hey, there are plenty of people who exist already, so doesn't look like the human race is going to die out any time soon. Carrying on the family name? Maybe that's important to some people... like European royalty, maybe?

(Speaking of royal babies...)

I guess the question is, why do anything?

For most people, it's pretty simple- you do whatever adds to your happiness (immediate or future), and avoids potential pain. With kids, well, there's cuddles and cuteness, but also exploding diapers and sleepless nights. There's a mini-version of you (yeah, we're all narcissists), but then that mini-you will probably grow up and refuse to live up to your expectations and cause you all kinds of pain. Having a child means major lifestyle changes. If you have a pretty comfortable, satisfying life, then adding kids has too many potential risks of discomfort and pain.

(Ah ha ha ha ha)

So why have kids?

Well, if happiness meant pleasure and comfort, then I guess maybe I don't have a good answer.

But suppose, suppose, there was more to happiness. Suppose happiness was becoming the person you were meant to be, becoming the best version of yourself? Suppose happiness was living a life not of mere comfort, but of love?

Kids can help with that.

Somehow kids can change selfish lazy human beings into people whose focus moves from ME to someone else, a someone else who depends completely, totally on them.

Have you seen the difference between most bachelors, and daddies of young children? The video game playing, hours of TV watching, or even work-obsessed career men versus the baby-holding, diaper-changing, tired daddy who cleans up messes and looks for chances to give his wife a break? Which one do you look at say- "Yes! That is what a man is supposed to be!"

This?

Or this?

I'm not saying there aren't selfless bachelors or spinsters or childless couples. BUT most of us tend to selfishness, and sometimes half-heartedly desiring to be different doesn't work as well as being FORCED to be different.

Nor am I saying parenthood automatically changes people into saints. Having babies more likely reveals to them how far from sainthood they really are. Even good parents fail a lot, but they keep trying. But not all parents choose to rise to meet the challenge of love a baby offers. We always have a choice.


I believe like JP2, that "Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self."

You can give yourself through serving the poor, looking for ways to serve your family, and your room mates, spending your Saturday afternoon doing art with kids in a slum, reading a book to an old person, picking up after someone else, choosing a career that helps people, saying yes when someone asks for help, even when it's a little inconvenient. So many ways.

But babies are one of the most effective ways God graciously provided to change lazy sinners into selfless saints. I've seen enough parents to know that it's possible.

Friday, 21 November 2014

7QT: Excerpts from Old Journal

You'd have thought I would have a detailed journal from the time I was six, but surprisingly, I didn't. I had one or two in my childhood I occasionally wrote in, but I only started keeping a regular journal at the ripe old age of 24, on my computer, when I left my home in 2010 to join an organization based in the US. I wrote often in it over the next two and a half years, as I lived in the US and the Philippines, and visited Mexico. Sad to say, once I had regular access to the Internet I wrote a lot less. Anyway, I'm really enjoying re-reading the random snippets of life that I recorded over that time. These are all from my time in the US, maybe next time it will be about the Philippines.

---1---

Americans' reactions to me being Indian:

'K mentioned that he was surprised that I didn't seem to have any accent at all. He’s worked with several Indians with the missionaries of Charity, and said he could recognize Indian accents pretty well now. Well, I told him, there are a variety of Indian accents depending on which part of India you came from. So he asked if my accentlessness was something people from my city had in common or if it was just my family, and I had to admit that it was just my very strange family.



Explaining that I’m not the typical Indian was as hard as I expected it to be. They are surprised that I don’t fit into their expectations of Indians, and I keep trying to tell them that I am pretty different from most Indians...I hope they don’t expect to learn about Indians by observing my life and manners and way of thinking.'

---2---

On being thought to be younger than I am- STILL happens!

'Oh you know, most people are really blank when it comes to figuring out how old I am... I was talking to one of the campers (at a youth camp), a 12 year old girl named N.

N: So how old are you?

Me: Very old.

N: No, how old exactly?

Me: I’ll tell you what. Take a good look at me, estimate how old I look, and then add five years to that.

So she looks at me.

N: Eighteen.

Me: Now add five years to that.

N: I already did!

Good grief! She thought I was thirteen!'

---3---

Insightful American-Indian comparisons:

'I don’t know if I wrote about this before, but one of the major differences I've found between Americans and Indians is that Americans are encouraged to be way more spontaneous and creative and uninhibited ever since they were little kids. Indians are not. So back home our family was considered creative and I was one of the crazy people... here I’m not.'

'I feel a little intimidated by how much more spontaneous everyone is here. Which in turn makes me way more inhibited than I normally am. I remind myself of so many Indians I knew- who were stiff, unsure of themselves, a little envious of the comfort zones of others. And the thing is, I know I’m not like that. Maybe it’s back to my ‘comparison’ complex. I define myself only in relation to other people. So when people at YA (our youth group) were shy or uncomfortable or quiet, I was loud and funny and outgoing. Now that I’m with funny outgoing spontaneous people, I’m quiet and inhibited and a little lost.'

---4---

Even more insight on feeling at home and yet out of place with my new community all wrapped up in a dance analogy (I know, I know, NOT a quick take):

I feel like I was a foreigner in my own country, and now I've finally found my world. Except that I don’t really fit in. Or like I've been speaking a strange language all my life that no one fully understood, and now I've come to a place where everyone speaks the language, except that I've realized I can understand the language really well, but can’t speak it as well as I thought I could.

However I have a strong feeling that I’m going to pick it up gradually, like when I got good at jiving. At first I just watched, for years in fact. I remember sitting at the side at youth group events, everybody else twirling and floating, blurred, but graceful. I would watch so wistfully, but guys rarely asked me to dance. Mostly because it was considered a declaration of interest if a guy asked a girl to dance. So they were scared that they were committing something if they just asked for a dance. So they just didn't. And a few of us girls would just be the wallflowers.

But then gradually I started learning. There were so many awkward attempts. Dancing with other girls, dancing with a few awkward guys who couldn't really dance. I thought it was hopeless. I didn't think I would ever be graceful and jive like the other girls. But then... it happened.... Oh the joy of dancing gracefully. It was like flying. . It was the joy of getting the rhythm, being a part of it, not just observing it from the outside. Being beautiful...


So I’m hoping- and I can see it happening- that I am eventually going to find my groove, move with the rhythm, dance this dance with grace and beauty and joy. It won’t look exactly the same as everyone else, because I’m Indian, and my cultural history is different, and I am different...

...So I will dance a slightly different dance, and yet the same- because we all come from different places, made with different molds and different colours and different flavours, and yet we are all wrapped together by our love for Jesus, and our love for souls, and we are all dancing together in the same direction- towards Heaven. And someday we will all be there, living together in perfect communion with Christ and each other. Someday.

---5---

A cooking fiasco and revealing my un-saintliness to my Christian community

'So I offered to cook (for the community) last week, and decided on chole bhatura as my menu. Simple enough, I thought, considering I had ready-made masala, and I've made bhaturas a zillion times. I started off on Wednesday morning by reading the recipe and suddenly realizing that the bhatura dough was supposed to ‘sit’ for six hours before I could use it. I hadn't even bought the ingredients. And here I can’t just pop down to the store to buy my groceries. It’s a Walmart trip that takes a full hour. So I started very late, using baking powder instead of yeast... not because they didn’t have yeast, but because I assumed they didn’t have yeast, and I didn’t bother to ask. The recipe said place dough in warm place to rise. Since the inside of the house was air conditioned, I decided to put it on a table on the porch. Real wise move.

Okay I am going to cut this narrative short since it really is already wearing on my nerves. Basically first I burnt the onions. Some of them. So I changed the pot, remembering Mama’s warnings about the burnt taste spoiling the whole dish. Then I cut open the packet of chole masala... and EMPTIED THE ENTIRE PACKET ON TO THE ONIONS. And mixed it in well. That’s when I stopped and said “Hmm... this looks very wrong.” I had put in more than double of what I needed. I just hadn't bothered to read the small print on the box. Gosh.




 I had a bunch of kids helping out, and with their encouragement and sympathy, and with a little inspiration from Mama Mary, I threw away half the onion with the masala, and added some more raw onions. Then I decided to check on the dough.

“Oh &%$# !” I exploded in front of all the kids ages 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13 and 15 and their mother as I charged toward the porch. That stupid crazy dog was on the table, and having pulled off the cling wrap had his head in my dough. I freaked out! What would a dumb dog want with dough?

Thankfully, it hadn't made much headway, so I just threw away the top and quietly used the rest. It hadn't really risen, so the bhaturas didn't puff up well, then I managed to splash hot oil on my foot and the chole curry was so pungent that I added four tomatoes and I still burnt my throat when I tried it... but guess what? It was still edible, and they all enjoyed it. 

Well, the little kids weren’t allowed to eat the curry because it was too pungent, but they enjoyed the bhaturas. Everyone loved the bhaturas, and the older  kids were fascinated by the way they puffed up in the hot oil. The slogan for the bhaturas was “They’re not just edible, they’re INCREDIBLE!”'

---6---

A prayer I wrote that I need to remember:

'Lord, let me see people as souls that You want me to love, not as potential attention-givers or ego-feeders. Grant that I may no longer seek to be loved but to love.'

---7---

Random observations:

'I know I’m inculturated when... I’m at a Mexican event with the others and I say “You know, we’re the only white people here.” Oh, wait.

I know I've had an overload of Spanish when I look at Juanita's FB account and read ‘Wa-neeta’.

I know I miss hearing British English when... I watch Sabrina and feel a little thrill when I hear Audrey Hepburn say ‘buh-nah-nuh’ instead of the American ‘buh-n-Anna’. (A as in apple)'


More Quick Takes at This Ain't the Lyceum.

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Very Touchy Topic of the Christian Perspective on Homosexuality

Shh, listen... do you hear that? You don't hear anything? That's it- it's the resounding silence of your Christian friends on the topic of homosexuality and gay rights. It's a topic many Christians would prefer to ignore, mostly because they're either not sure what to say, or they're scared of sounding like bigots.

But we can't really ignore the fact that homosexuality is a real thing, and you can't really sit on the fence about it. It keeps coming up- on American sitcoms, gay pride parade in your city, friends who are fighting for LGBT rights, the controversy over Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, even Bollywood movies now.

There is so much to say, but I'm not going to say it all. Maybe I'll leave you some links, maybe I'll write more later. But just a few thoughts and perspectives.

It is possible to disagree with the choices that other people make and still love them. I can accept a person, without accepting their moral choices, and even hoping, desiring, and doing whatever I can to help them make better choices. If you've ever had a friend who smokes too much, drinks too much, or is in an unhealthy relationship that is bad for them, you have already learned this. So believing that homosexual activity is ultimately not going to fulfill anyone and is even bad for them spiritually does not make one a bigot. You can disagree with my belief system, and that's your right too.

Just because it is possible to love the sinner and hate the sin does not mean Christians are doing that. It is far easier to hate the sin, and distance yourself from the sinner. And I've seen so many doing that, including myself (not in the case of homosexual lifestyles, but other sins). One of the big realizations we all need is that even when an act in itself is sinful, we are not called to judge the culpability of the sinner. That means we don't know their motives, their background, whether they are aware that they are sinning, whether they have been deceived or deceived themselves, whether the lies of our society has blinded them to truth. Even with an alcoholic who has fallen yet again, I am called to have compassion, and not condemnation.

This is one of my favourite articles about the kind of relationship you CAN have with friends you disagree with: A conversation with my gay friend by Jennifer Fulwiler

But if I truly love another human being, I CANNOT support them in a harmful lifestyle. That means I wouldn't join most LGBT movements which while promoting good things like awareness and anti-bullying, also encourage people with SSA to live an active sexual lifestyle.

I too think Section 377 should be scrapped. Every sin is not a crime. If you think that consensual homosexual activity should be an imprisonable offence, so should premarital sex, divorce, use of contraception, gluttony, masturbation, cutting (self-mutilation), and impure thoughts. If it hurts you more than it hurts anyone else, putting you in prison doesn't help anything. You can't FORCE people to stop sinning, except when it obviously causes harm to another person, which is when it becomes a crime.

Also, India treats people with SSA like crap. They can't receive medical help, they are harassed by police, they are mocked, they are rejected, they are marginalized. I can't even imagine how hard it must be for someone who is struggling with this to think about talking to their family or friends about it. Which brings me to...

Having same sex attraction (SSA) is not a sin. Desiring something you shouldn't happens to all human beings in different ways. IT IS NOT A SIN. IT IS NOT A CRIME. IT IS NOT EVEN SOMETHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. Have you been tempted to do something you shouldn't? Have you ever had sexual thoughts pop into your mind? Married people, have you ever had a crush on someone who was not your spouse? That's called 'fallen human nature'. That's the human condition. It is not someone's FAULT if they have these desires. It's what you do with them.

Like Joey Prever wrote in his coming out article 'Yoiks and Away', 'It doesn't make sense to be ashamed of something you didn't choose, and even though it’s just one among very many weird things that can happen to ordinary human beings.'

We need to acknowledge that many people are struggling with SSA. In India, no one talks about sex in a healthy way. Everything happens, noone talks about it. Pornography, adultery, prostitution, rape, child abuse, incest. But since appearances are SO important in India, everything gets covered up. And that leaves people feeling very alone and very trapped. If we never talk about it, or if we act like SSA is a temptation more disgusting than other temptations, then we have locked the ones who struggle in their closets.

The Catholic Church says, "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

We need to accept that they have a heavy cross. Although every human being has their unique struggles and sufferings, some are harder than others. Joey Prever wrote in The Truth About Same Sex Attraction, "Sex isn't everything, but as anyone with any kind of sexual dysfunction knows, it’s an awful lot. Put the sexual aspect together with the other things that homosexual men and women often experience — depression, low self-esteem, loneliness, a sense (however false) of being utterly different — and you have a heavy cross.'

In conclusion

Christians, we need to step up our 'loving'. Don't be afraid to speak the truth, but truth without love is not God's truth.

People who struggle with SSA, on behalf of all Christians who have knowingly or unknowingly hurt you, excluded you, belittled you, rejected you, I'm sorry. You are not alone. Jesus loves you, and has a good plan for your life. Don't be afraid.

Here are a few links that may help:

Courage

People Can Change

Steve Gershom

And this video:



The Third Way from Blackstone Films on Vimeo.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Hand-Holding and Other Such Indecent Behaviour

Did you know that some people in India consider hand-holding and kisses on the cheek in public 'indecent'? I kid you not. If you're Indian, you know about the Richard Gere- Shilpa Shetty incident. If you're not, prepare to be amazed at the things India chooses to be shocked by.




Yeah, an Indian court issued a warrant to arrest Richard Gere for... wait for it... kissing Shilpa Shetty, an Indian actress... ON THE CHEEK. It was an 'obscene act'.

Yup. For more 'Please tell me you're kidding' stories read this: Moral Police.

But back to the topic... holding hands.



I remember as a little kid companiably holding my cousin's hand as we walked home from Sunday School. Through most of my childhood, my parents would go on walks with one or more of their kids, and we often held hands as we walked. We're not a super physically affectionate kind of family, but that was one form of affection that was normal to us.

In the West, holding hands is seen as the most innocent of romantic gestures. In India, it is still a big deal. Guys and girls don't commonly hold hands unless they're in a relationship. Actually it's kinda cute, my mum and dad are one of the few married couples I've seen in India holding hands. (Which might get them arrested, but still.)

So what does hand holding really mean? Why hold someone's hand at all? What inspires the Beatles to sing 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand' repetitively with almost no other lyrics to keep the song together?

I think it's the human contact. It's a sign of something more. An outward expression of an inner reality. A tangible sign of being loved, understood and WITH another human being. And yet so often, you get the outer sign without the inner reality. And so hand holding has begun to mean less. As have hugs. And kisses. And sex.

Can I tell you the most meaningful and comforting hand holding I have ever experienced?

No, it was not the annoying guy 'friend' who wouldn't take no for an answer and kept holding my hand while my younger inexperienced self tried to figure out the least awkward way of getting out of an awkward situation. (How do you pull your hand away without your actions screaming "I reject you!"? #problemsidonthaveanymore)

It was not a guy at all.

It was my mum. I came home one night weighed down by sadness and disappointment. I casually told my mum and dad what had happened. But then as they gently asked me questions, I began to unburden my heart. In the presence of someone who cared, I allowed the tears to gather and fall. And my mother silently took my hand and listened with love and sympathy. What a sweet, sweet experience of true companionship.

I think that's what every heart craves.

Friday, 24 October 2014

7QT: Links and Funny Stories

---1---

A few days ago I had the fun opportunity of talking to 14 year olds about sexual morality. I LOVE doing talks like that, because I know how unusual it is for kids to hear about sex in such a frank and unembarrassed way. Plus there are always unexpected moments of hilarity.

Me: Today we're going to talk about sex! Do you know what that is?
One kid's hand shoots up: Yes! 
Me (really surprised)
Kid: It's whether you're a boy or or a girl!
Me: Yeah, but you know the other meaning too? That's the other one we're talking about.

Me: Is sex good or bad?
Kids: Umm...
Me: Who created our sexual desires? Where did they come from? God or the devil?
Kids: The devil!
Me: Really?????

In the small group QnA with just the girls, we asked them to write questions on slips of paper. After one very specific question, 
Me: You all DO know what sex is, right?
Some girls look unsure, half nod, half shake their heads.
Me: Wait, y'all are 14! Y'all must have done this in school, right? Right?
Girls: Um, maybe we'll do it in the 10th standard?
Me: So you really don't know what sex is?
Girl: We think we know, but we're not sure if it is what we think it is.
Me: So you want me to explain?
Girls: Yes.
Me: Oh my goodness.
Girls who DO know what sex is buried their faces in their hands. Lol.
I thought I was past getting embarrassed, but apparently not. Biological explanation of sex followed.

---2---

Okay, on to links.


Apart from the phrase 'Your Man' I liked this article. Living with two other girls means that PMS is a real and relevant aspect of our lives, and hey, it's good to think and talk about what that means.

---3---


I though it would be a stupid list like 'get a career' and 'stop drinking so much', but it was surprisingly though-provoking (maybe slightly guilt-producing?)

P.S. Less than a year a half to 30 for me!

---4---




I love the Myers Briggs personality types! And then there was this:


Perfect! I loled!

---5---

Are you struggling with making a decision for your life? Do you desire to do God's will, but are not sure what that is? This is one of my favourite articles on discernment:


Something useful I've been reflecting on is that the most important things is 'goodwill' or the will or desire to do God's will, and if you have that, abandonment and trust are all God calls you to. Something hard for this INTJ who likes to predict and control all possible outcomes.

---6---

I'm not a mom, or a 13 year old who spends hours doing hairstyles with her friends, but I thought his was fun:


In both the Philippines and the US I was struck by simple ways that girls and women prettied themselves, something that many Indian women either don't think about much or know much about. A pretty hairstyle takes a few minutes, and can be so pleasant on the eyes. Nowadays I've seen a lot more teenagers try stuff like this out though.


This was my favourite hairstyle for the past six months, especially in the summer

---7---

I'm out of links and funny stories, so here are some pictures of unusual cakes. I made the first one, my mum made the second. Yes, she IS very talented.



More QT at Jen's. #6 cracked me up.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Flash Mobs

You all know how I feel about flash mobs, right? Or do you?

Here you go... I love 'em! I could waste hours on Youtube watching them. (But don't, I promise.) When I first heard of them back.in.the.day, my friends and I organized Pune's first ever flash mob in our junior college (well, that's what we like to believe anyway). Okay, it was not the most impressive thing ever, but we had so much fun! A bunch of us 17 year olds gathered in the main hanging out area of the college, silently set our bags down, pulled a handful of small change from our pockets, and silently and solemnly started counting money, while bemused college students looked on. 2 minutes later, we all walked away. Yeah, there was no real point.


One of my favourites.

Anyway, moving on.

A couple days ago, some of my friends organized a flash mob in a mall in my city. The cool thing about it (apart from the fact that it was a FLASH MOB!!) was that they did it along with a bunch of trash pickers, and social workers, and just friends, and were promoting a 'Clean India' message, which is our new prime minister's movement. They used buckets, djembes, lejhims, and basically seemed to have a great time creating some music (do you still call it music if it's just percussion?)


I've always been outraged by how mindlessly educated people in my city throw trash EVERYWHERE. How do they not get the connection between the fact that our streets are dirty, and the fact that they keep THROWING TRASH THERE? Stupidest response I've ever heard when I asked someone why they were throwing trash was "There are people who are supposed to clean it up. I'm just letting them do their job." Aaargghh. The trash pickers have the worst job, are looked down on, often considered 'dirty', and we only make it worse. For years I've been surprising people by saving trash in my bag when there's no dustbins around. Getting people conscious about their part keeping our city clean is something I'm kinda interested in. Hopefully this flash mob made them think for a moment about the people who clean up THEIR messes?

So yeah, here it is.



P.S. Although a percussion flash mob is a cool idea, I like singing better, and dance flash mobs are the best. Speaking of which, stay tuned for an exciting event in a few weeks ;-)

Sunday, 5 October 2014

You Thought 7QT Was Random?

Jennifer Fulwiler created Seven Quick Takes Friday for bloggers to pull together a blog post out of seven thoughts/ideas/stories which they didn't have the energy or desire to expand into full blown posts. A kinda cheat blog post. I regularly post those, mostly because it requires less effort than thinking through one idea and making it readable.

Today I feel the urge to blog, have the time, but NO attention span worth speaking of...


Of course, the smarter option would be to get off the Internet, take a nap, and wait to blog when I have something coherent to say... but then I'd never blog.

So here you go. 12 Random Not Even Authentically Bloggable Tidbits.

----1----

Who says only Humans of New York can capture candid meaningful moments and expressions?


"We all wear masks."

----2----

I love catching hidden (or not so hidden) meanings and analogies in the Lord of the Rings... every time I read it, I'm like "Ah ha! Another Catholic analogy!" So of course I was excited to read a blog post called 'Éowyn & St Thérèse: The Story of Two Flowers.'

---3---

This is cool: (via Unequally Yoked)


---4---

Something I've been thinking about: what's the happy medium between constant self-justification and constant self-accusation? Both are real temptations, when anything goes wrong. "Everybody else was wrong, but me." Or "In some way, it was really my fault." How to be free from false guilt, but honest about real weakness and shortcomings? How to be conciliating and seek peace when someone's mad at you, while accepting the truth of your own sin, but rejecting anything which is NOT true?

---5---

Kinda related to that is this snippet from Leticia at Ramblings of a Crazy Face:

The one thing that I am learning how to do is how to set boundaries. How to say no and how to not feel like what someone else thinks or feels is something that I can control. I can’t. I can only control myself and do what I have to do to take care of myself and how they feel or what they think is on them. That is so hard for me because I have always heard that thinking of yourself is selfish. I’m still not sure how it isn’t selfish, but I know that God wants us to take care of ourselves.

Yeah, so how does setting boundaries work alongside sacrificial love that gives all? So confusing.

---6---

Also, here's another balance question:

What's the balance between 'keeping it real' and complaining all the time?

Person A: How are you doing?
Average person: Fine, how about you?
Me: Horrible! I couldn't sleep last night because it felt like I was coughing for hours, and every time I swallowed my throat HURT...

Yeah, TMI is the name of MY game.

---7---

On a completely unrelated note, (I did say random, so why do I need to explain?) riding in my city has gotten scarier in recent months due to an outbreak of crazy suicidal dogs over running the streets. I used to think city stray dogs must be street smart. No more do I think it. They stumble around in the middle of crazy traffic, shoot out into the street at unexpected moments, draw out all the bad language my mind is trying to forget, and keeps my guardian angel on his toes. My brother had a road accident a few days ago with a dog shooting out in front of him.

Although I am neither a dog-lover nor a dog-hater, I have seen too many limping or mangled dog bodies for my peace of mind.

Only in my city: First horror and then relief when you realize the mangled corpse on the road is just a piece of brown sacking.

---8---

Funny conversations while hanging out with our parish RCIA team at a wedding reception.
Me: Hey C, what about YOUR wedding?
C: Me? Why me?
Me: You're 25, you must be thinking of it! Does your family do arranged marriages?
C: No...
Me: Ooh, then can WE arrange something?
C: (Embarrassed!)
Aunty* 1: Yes! You're looking? I know someone!
Aunty 2: I also know someone! (Pulling at her purse) I have a photo!

I love our Indian culture where everyone takes a strong and active interest in everyone else's future marriages. Well, I only love it when I'm not at the receiving end.

Aunty 1: What about you, Sue? Can we look for someone for you?
Me: (piously) Only God is my matchmaker.
Aunty 1 (very seriously): We are all God's instruments.

---9---

I heard the cutest love story the other day. Paraphrased: They were for different states and communities, which in India is a no-no for marriages. They were working in the same area and saw each other, and started talking. They fell in love, but her family forbade her from marrying him. they even beat her, to try to change her mind, but she told them, "I will marry only him." Finally she ran away with him, with only the clothes she was wearing.

She said for the first year of her marriage she only had one pot to cook with. So she would cook the rice, serve it, clean the pot and then reuse it to make the dal. It was only after the first child was born that their families began to speak to them again, and all was forgiven. She told me, "He is such a good husband, he doesn't tell me that I'm not allowed to go anywhere, he likes me to wear jeans, he doesn't mind if I leave my hair loose." It said so much to me about most Indian marriages, that her husband is an exception.

---10---

I discovered yet another Time-Sucker. Facebook was bad enough. But have you played 2048? I looked it up out of curiosity when my sister posted her high score on FB and everyone seemed to know what she was talking about. I looked it up... and came back to real life four days later. Okay, not four days, but there have definitely been some hours sucked away through this game.

Here's the reason (I think): It gives me space to think. I love mindless repetitive tasks for exactly that reason.  There's always so much going on in my brain and in my life that there doesn't seem to be space to process it all. That also may be why I have such an active dream life. My brain is frantically trying to figure it all out, fit it into patterns, draw conclusions, put pieces together. When I play games like 2048, my brain feels free to do so peacefully.

---11---

Here's one of the reasons my brain gets tired easily. Whenever I'm giving a talk, or listening to a talk or a homily, I'm not just listening to it. I am switching between different perspectives as I listen. First, there's me... what am I personally getting from this? Then there's Truth-Scanner, where my brain is constantly comparing what I hear with authentic Catholic teaching that I'v read or heard. There's so often heresy taught so naturally that my brain is always on alert. Syncretism alert! Prosperity gospel alert! Etc.

Then my brain keeps switching to different people in the audience. What is THAT person hearing? Are they getting what they need to hear? This is too simple for that cynical person. This is too high-falutin' for that simple person. This is too Catholic-sounding. This is not Catholic-sounding enough.

Phew. No wonder my brain hurts.

---12---

Something I was going to write about at some point... I've had some anxiety struggles in the past year. I've tried a lot of different ways of dealing with it, but the most successful one was this book:



And then a good friend dropped by a few days ago with an 'anti-anxiety package', with solutions that she looked up online. It included chamomile tea, a scented candle, lavender soap, probiotic yogurt and hot chocolate because tea and coffee make my anxiety worse. It was so special. I can only wish I was so thoughtful.



Okay, goodbye.

*Aunty doesn't mean blood relation, it's just a generic term for any woman in India over the age of... 40?

Friday, 3 October 2014

7QT: 7 Lessons Learned from Taking 55 Slum Kids for a Picnic



So my team and our Christian professionals group got together on Saturday to accomplish the exciting but somewhat scary mission of taking 55 kids from the slum for a picnic to a nearby garden. Most of the kids were from the tuition class I teach at, but some were just kids who live on the street where we teach who hang out with on Saturdays. (Funny aside, kids in India DRESS UP for picnics- they all came in their best clothes with heels and earrings and even lipstick! I guess it's quite the event for them.) This is what I learned:

---1---

Having a child to volunteer ratio of 4:1 is a very good idea. About 20 adults turned up to help. Dividing them up, about 4 kids to a volunteer an even better idea. Instead of 20 people herding a wild mob of 55 kids, each of the didis (big sisters) and bhaiyas (brothers) were holding the hands of their little mischief makers, which probably reduced the chaos a zillion fold. Plus we had enough extra adults for food distributors, emergency bathroom break guides, and law enforcement officers.




---2---

Forbidding 55 kids from dipping their feet in the VERY tempting stream was a BAD idea. It's like dangling candy in front of them and then repeating "No candy! No candy for you!" But, once the rule was made... consistency and discipline demanded that it be followed.

---3---

Kids can think of very creative ways around rules they don't like. The footballs they were playing with very conveniently kept falling into the stream. "Oh no" they helplessly gestured to me, "I guess I'll make the supreme sacrifice of jumping in the water and getting it out." I didn't think so. I started confiscating the ball.


So innocent. Not.

Next I see kids with little plastic cups, practically inside the stream. "No, Miss, we're not playing in the water... We're just catching fish!" Later there was some 'miscommunication' and a couple of the more rowdy ones landed up in the stream (when I wasn't around of course)... with no clothes on except their underwear. Yeah.

---4---

A little Hindi goes a long way when it comes to controlling children. I had a few handy phrases which worked wonderfully. "What did I say?" was the top used line, "Don't fight", "If you don't listen, I'm taking you straight home." "Come here", "Do NOT throw trash on the ground!" Actually, hanging out with kids is a great way to learn the basics of a language... it's very simple sentence structures, and there's usually a sense of urgency. Sometimes you just NEED to know how to scream "DO NOT DO THAT!" in another language.

---5---

A mixture of not feeling well, kids not obeying rules, and the need to control the chaos turns me into Dragon Lady.
I played the Bad Cop and all the other volunteers played Good Cop. I sat by the stream and scared kids away, while the others volunteers laughed and played and ran around with the kids. Hmm, who sounds like they chose the better part?


When I say Dragon Lady, this is what I mean. Yikes.

----6----

Kids don't hold a grudge. Even though I played the role of Foiler of Fun Plans, they still seemed to be happy to be with me. I think in India, the 'Discipliner' is a recognized and not unduly resented role, as long as one is not unfair or mean.

---7---

Picnics are fun! Even though I think Don Bosco was probably a little disappointed in me (he believed in the preventive method of discipline, not the repressive system , by using 'reason, religion and loving kindness' with children), I think the picnic was a blessing for the kids, and for us. We got to hang out, outside of the little classroom in the dirty slum. We got to be surrounded by God's beautiful creation. And we got to hold hands, push swings, and listen to them chatter about everything.

Plus there's always next time.

More QT at Jen's.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

7QT: Horrifying Insects, Scrabble Tips and Links


---1---

So I had a creepy deja vu of the Spider incident a couple of days ago. I was in the living room on my laptop one night, when  my room mate BA was in the bedroom. "Hey guys, I think there's a praying mantis in here." "Mm hmm?" I responded. "Well, I think it's a praying mantis." "Maybe it's a grasshopper?" I lazily responded without moving. She didn't seem too freaked out by this potential praying mantis/ grasshopper in the bedroom, so there was no reason why I should be.

A little while later she called out, "Sue! There might be a bug on your bed." She sleeps on the upper half of our bunk bed, and I on the lower. "Okay, I'll be sure to check when I get in." Then a little later "Somebody put on the light! The insect's on my bed!"

I finally felt like I might need to be doing something more supportive than making non commital responses from the next room, so I got up and switched the light on. I peered on to her bed...

and saw THIS:


Okay, not this exact one, because I didn't take pictures, but proceeded to helpfully start freaking out. "Ohmygosh, it's huge!"

Then we both simultaneously started yelling, "EWWW, WHAT is it DOING?"

The Insect was moving in an odd manner and then started SPEWING SOME DARK LIQUID OUT OF ITS MOUTH AND ON TO HER BED RAILING!!! Okay, maybe not spewing, but dripping in a steady and disgusting manner. "Is that BLOOD??" "Sick!"

By this time, our third room mate decided it was time to join us, while I started running around our room looking for a weapon. There didn't seem to be anything big enough to kill it. Plus BA felt like there would be guts everywhere if we smashed it. "What do we do? What do we do?" "Watch out, it can fly!" "Come, Holy Spirit!"

"Get me a plastic dabba (tupperware)" BA finally decided. I did. That must have been the most helpful thing I did all evening. The Insect evaded her, and began to crawl down to my bed. She lunged at it and half missed, while all three of us proceeded to scream loudly (I might have started it.). Past 11 pm in a crowded apartment building. Whatever did our neighbours think we were upto?

Anyway. She caught it. And left it trapped under a plastic dabba on our kitchen floor for the next day, until our guy friends came and rescued either its dead body or its semi conscious body.

---2---

It turns out to be a 'katydid', or a bush cricket. It seems that I am not the only person in whom katydids inspire fear, as I found out as I typed in 'Can katydids...' in Google search, and found these options:


I was also fascinated to read that some species of katydids are 'exclusively predatory, feeding on other insects, snails or even small vertebrates such as snakes and lizards.'

YES KATYDIDS CAN HURT YOU.

Nightmares.

---3---

Moving on.

So two of my guy team mates took me out on brother sister date the other day. They showed me that they knew me well, by pulling out a Scrabble board at the restaurant (much to the bemusement of passersby who have never seen such a thing).


When I was a kid playing Scrabble with my parents used to be so frustrating because my dad always got the 7 letter words, and would be hundreds of points ahead of us every time. But then some years ago I started playing an online game that transformed my seven letter word making abilities and made me a Scrabble master (comparatively):

This game: Eight which just makes you start looking at letters differently as you search for the big word hidden in them.

You're welcome.

---4---

So you know who I'm always thinking of the mechanics and logistics of people finding the right person to marry... I just read this article where Leah Libresco talks about the same thing!

If Someone Put Me in Charge of Yenta-ing You All

Matchmaker, matchmaker...

The funny thing is, I already work in an organization which involves young people working together on service and evangelistic projects. Not surprisingly, there have been several matches that have come out of it.

On the other hand, doing a service project or joining a service-oriented organization that has a large number of young people of the same faith JUST to find someone seems like a bad idea... because then it seems purely self-serving. Or desperate. NOT an attractive quality in a potential life partner, OR a fulfilling way to live your life.

I guess a good balance is to be open to the possibilities without that being your focus.

---5---

Nothing more to say, and almost bed time, so here's a cute song (stolen from Conversion Diary a few weeks ago)



---6----

And here's a WONDERFUL post that made me laugh out loud several time:

The Arm in my Driveway

Heather is always so funny and real.


Plus, that is EXACTLY me every time something goes wrong "Why ME, Lord? Don't you love me? Why is this happening???? Please nooo!!!" Yeah, Super Mature Christian am I.

---7---

Um, I got nothing. Bedtime.

"Discipline is remembering what you want."

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Friday, 19 September 2014

7QT: Courtship, Wars and Links

I haven't written for my blog in too long.

It's a busy life.

Anyway, down to business.

---1---

New favourite website: What If?

You know how sometimes your mind just gets caught wondering about an impossible situations? Have no fear, your questions may be answered. No matter how ridiculous.

If you call a random phone number and say “God bless you”, what are the chances that the person who answers just sneezed?

(Don't click if you're supposed to be working, and not wasting time on the Internet.)

---2---

I have often been annoyed when people say 'God loves me' when things go their way. (Even though I do it sometimes too.) Or if they get a parking spot and they say "It was all the Lord." So if you HADN'T found a parking spot, it was the devil? Who controls these things?

Things sometimes work out the way you hope they will, and sometimes they don't, and that happens to those who know and love God, and those who profess no faith at all. And yet I DO believe that God answers prayers, God shows us His love in practical and tangible ways very often. I've experienced it myself, too often for it to be coincidence.

So when Simcha Fisher addressed this, I knew I wanted to share her article:

Why I Don't Say "I'm Blessed"

(Although I DO say I'm blessed... even when I don't like my 'blessings'. It's all out of love.)

---3---

I'm kind of freaking out that I knew almost nothing about the Indo-Pakistan war of 1972 until last night. Well, I knew vaguely that India and Pakistan had fought, but had never thought of when and why. Then a few months ago I read Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, which is about the period after India's Independence... and whoah! I read about Pakistan (then West Pakistan) invading (now) Bangladesh, about the rape and murder, the genocide, and I thought 'Could this be fiction?'



Then last night I looked it up: Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. And it's all true! It all happened! Pakistan tore apart Bangladesh, and India stepped in to help. The international community turned a blind eye.

General Tikka Khan earned the nickname 'Butcher of Bengal' due to the widespread atrocities he committed. General Niazi commenting on his actions noted 'On the night between 25/26 March 1971 General Tikka struck. Peaceful night was turned into a time of wailing, crying and burning. General Tikka let loose everything at his disposal as if raiding an enemy, not dealing with his own misguided and misled people. The military action was a display of stark cruelty more merciless than the massacres at Bukhara and Baghdad by Chengiz Khan and Halaku Khan... General Tikka... resorted to the killing of civilians and a scorched earth policy. His orders to his troops were: 'I want the land not the people...' Major General Farman had written in his table diary, "Green land of East Pakistan will be painted red". It was painted red by Bengali blood.'

Millions of refugees poured into India. When I visited Kolkata, I saw how poor and underdeveloped the city was. Part of the reason was the thousands of penniless refugees who flooded the country at that time. My great uncle who was a priest then and Mother Teresa worked with the refugees.

Did I not learn this in school? Was it not said in a way that I understood? This is a part of India's recent history! I should have known!

---4---

Someone recently emailed me this article:

Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed

She sent it to me because I am pro-courtship, and she wanted my opinion. I started reading it somewhat defensively, like anyone would while preparing for a pet idea to be attacked. But by the time I reached the end, I realized we were on the same side, we just use different labels for the same ideas.

Basically the theory of courtship that I believe does not exclude 'low-stakes dating'. That means, go ahead and go out for coffee with guys who ask you out on a date. (We call it the acquaintance stage.) It doesn't mean you have just promised to grow old with them. Go out for coffee with multiple guys!


BUT I am still against long-term intense dating relationships with one person... which are not headed towards marriage (preferably sooner than later.) Those seem to play at marriage without the long term commitment, which has so many potential negative consequences.

I think that the 'courtship' that the author refers to is something very different than we understand it, and starts a lot earlier. That's probably why the parents are so heavily involved. My theory is 'If marriage is not something realistic for years to come, don't date yet.'

Of course all this is just theoretical, because India's still caught between arranged marriage and love marriages (which usually seem to follow long-term intense dating relationships), and no one's talking about courtship OR low stakes dating yet.

Leah Libresco writes more about it in her article 'Why is it easier to ask out strangers than friends'.

---5---

Remember how this was supposed to be 'quick' takes? Oops, sorry.

Here's a recipe that I just made, and loved, so I want to make it every day! (But won't because who has time to cook everyday?)

Cauliflower Dum Masala

2 cauliflowers (broken into pieces and par-boiled)
2 pureed onions
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
4 chopped tomatoes
turmeric powder
chilli powder
curd
chopped fresh coriander
sliced boiled eggs
sugar
salt

Fry the onions, ginger garlic paste and spices well, then add the tomato, and then the cauliflower. Mix with curd (seasoned with sugar and salt), and garnish with eggs and corinader.

Yum!

(If only I had taken a picture. Oh well, next time.)

---6---

(Am I only on 6??)

For married couples.. I liked this:

5 Things We are Getting Right in our Marriage

---7---

It was teachers' day in India a few weeks ago. At the programme the kids organized in our tuition room in the slum, one of my twelve year old students read this speech she had written.

Good evening one and all,

Today at teachers day I, Karuna from Std VIIth want to say few words.

First of all I want to wish all the teachers a very happy teachers day. Till ow which-ever tution changed I did not get a tution and teachers like you all. In my school also there is no teacher like you all who encourges us, appreciate us in little-little things.

As you all know that I am a newcomer in this tution so I wanted to give you this surprise and I hope that you will like it.

You all teachers are the bestest teacher that I have ever seen, who never beat children, who never scold children, the talk polielty with us. I want to say thank you for your all encorages. Once again a Happy Teachers Day to all the teachers. Thank you.

Makes it all worth it, right, teachers?

More quick takes at Jen's.


Monday, 18 August 2014

7QT:Catholic-Protestant Interactions and Thoughts

Aren't you so excited that I'm going to touch such a sensitive topic? Well, it's one that I think about a lot, so you just get to get into my head a little today. Something that people around me LOVE to do. (Not.)

----1----

I very rarely find a balanced approach to ecumenism in the Catholic world. Either it's the obsessed  crazy focused Catholics who are so convicted of the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith that they can't believe that there's anything good outside of it, who seem defensive, or offensive when anything 'Christian, not Catholic' is mentioned, who see the Protestant as 'the other'. Or it's the people who aren't too jazzed about the Catholic faith itself, or don't know that much, who are all like 'Nothing matters, in the end we should all do the best we can, there's no real difference between Catholic and Protestant belief', etc. Even though I leaned toward the first half for many years, I've reached a place where I KNOW that neither extreme reflects the truth or the beauty of God's love and plan for His people.

And so I feel sad when I hear of a prominent Catholic speaker who comes to speak at my parish and does some Protestant- bashing. Or when Catholics take offence at the phrase 'personal relationship with Jesus' because it sounds too Protestant'. What?

----2----

I know that one of the problems is that people's opinions are so much influenced by their personal experiences and interactions. If you've constantly been mocked by Protestants for being Catholic, I can understand being defensive about it. And if you've been put down in Catholic school for being Protestant, well, duh. And of you've never discovered the truth and beauty of Church teaching, of course you feel 'What's the big deal?'

Here's one of the truest and loving-est lines about ecumenism I've heard- 'There's far more that unites us than divides us.'

Ah ha. Quite the shocker for Catholics and non-Catholic Christians, both.

----3----

Pope Francis seems to be quite the example of how to relate to Protestants, in so many different instances:

\


---4---

In my own experiences, I have been getting many opportunities to work at Christian unity.

For example, a few days ago, I preached at a Protestant church.

!!!!!

Yeah, that probably sounds cooler than it was. We actually spoke to the youth of the church for an event on Indian Independence Day, but several pastors were present. I was surprised at their openness to having my team (as Catholics) speak, since many Protestants too have misconceptions about Catholics, and find it hard to believe that we are 'real' Christians. But it was so cool- I spoke on 'Freedom in Christ', and quoted JP2, and we were completely united on everything I shared! There were quite a few 'Amens' during the talk, not something I hear often when I speak to Catholics. :-)

----5----

Growing up with the charismatic renewal has definitely helped with being comfortable with Protestants. I can imagine many Catholics stiff with discomfort at the vocal praise, the music style, the preaching. But for me, it felt like a prayer meeting (which is not surprising since the Charismatic renewal started in Protestant churches), which made it easier to relate to them as brothers and sisters.

I remember one of my friends telling me after I attended a charismatic prayer meeting, something to the effect of "It's more Catholic to pray silently in Adoration, more like Mary." And I retorted "How many times does it say in the psalms 'Shout to the Lord'?" There are so many instances where the Jewish people sang and danced and shouted to God. How often do we Catholics do that? And let's not get into Acts 2 and 'tongues' which I'm sure most Catholics would be happy to vote out of the bible, which thankfully Catholics don't do. (You see how I'm digging at both Catholics and Protestants? Now that's the spirit of ecumenism. Not really.)

----6----

Favourite person to hear talking about ecumenism is Dr. Peter Kreeft. Some 'Ouch/aha' quotes from him:

Why should God let Protestants become Catholics when many Protestants, perhaps most, already know Christ more intimately and personally than many Catholics, perhaps most! How can God lead Protestants home to the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church until the Catholic Church becomes that fullness that they knew as Protestants plus more, not any less! 

When Catholics know Christ better than Protestants do, when Catholics are better Protestants than Protestants, then Protestants will become Catholics in order to become better Protestants! When Catholics are evangelized, Protestants will be sacramentalized. But not before! Evangelizing comes first.

Read the rest of the article/transcript:  Ecumenism without Compromise by Dr. Peter Kreeft or listen to the audio. (P.s. He's really easy to listen to.)

----7----

And just because memes make great addition to blog posts, here you go:



Over to Jen's for more quick takes.

(Oops, looks like posting Seven Quick Takes Friday on a Monday is not acceptable, link up closed. Guess I'll just link it next Friday.)

Monday, 11 August 2014

What Makes You Beautiful

Can you believe that I'm writing about One Direction? Better believe it, baby. I listened to this song and it echoed in my dreams as I took a nap this afternoon, and then sang it non stop while riding my bike on the streets of Pune today... all preparation for this blog post. The sacrifices of writing.

So first listen to the song....


Doesn't it make you want to be a 16 year old boy in a boy band? Or is that just me? Okay, moving on.

So there's some stuff that I think is true, and then there are some lines that don't ring true for me. And because I can, I'm going to write about it on my blog.

So, first the lies.

You're insecure... blah blah blah... that's what makes you beautiful. You don't know you're beautiful... that's what makes you beautiful.

Wait, being insecure makes you beautiful? Girls who have a bad self-image are more beautiful? Well, there's truth and lies all mixed up in that song.

Being insecure does not make you beautiful. Thinking you're ugly does not turn on the Beauty Switch. Usually, quite the opposite. I've seen many pretty girls who DON'T believe that they are, who keep comparing themselves to others and never measure up. And it shows.

What does make someone beautiful? It's all rather confusing. But here's what I think (you don't have to wait long to hear what I think.)

I think when a woman KNOWS that she's beautiful... she looks beautiful. When there is beauty within, she taps into that and it flows to the outside. But then of course I also think knowing you're beautiful is connected with knowing you're loved. When you know someone loves you, you glow. You KNOW that that person thinks your beautiful... and so you are.

I think about women that I've admired, women who I've thought are beautiful, and not just the first time I see them. They are of different ages. Some wear make up, some don't. Some wear fashionable clothes that fit perfectly, some wear simple but pretty clothes. Some wear heels, some wear slippers. Some wear earrings, some don't. Some are loud and funny, some are quiet and unassuming. What do they have in common?

They usually hold themselves well. They have wonderful posture. They are confident and sure of themselves. They know who they are.

They sparkle with self forgetfulness.

They are joyful.

They are looking outside of themselves.



And that's where the song almost gets it right- the women who are not looking inwards obsessed with their own beauty are truly beautiful. Humility, the best makeup. So women who are cocksure (not the right adjective?), who are aware of their power to charm, and are always ready to use it to manipulate, women who say or feel 'I could get any guy I want', women who are constantly thinking about their own beauty... lose it. And you can often see it in their faces. (Although guys often can't.)

I think all women have the potential for beauty. The more they are themselves, the more beautiful they get. The more they allow Love to soften their hearts, the more they glow. The more they love, the more beauty shapes their face, their eyes, their smiles. And the paradox is that when they allow true Beauty to clothe them, they are not thinking that much about it.

I've seen in myself the fascination with my own beauty. You know, when I look at every mirror I pass when I know I'm looking my best, when I wait impatiently for people to upload photos where I know I look good, when I untag myself in pictures that don't make me look good (of which there are many). What, you don't do that? I've had so many bad hair days, acne-ridden awkward days of my youth, that I value every good hair day (and the wonders of conditioning with coconut oil), and clear skin is a joy to my heart.

Speaking of narcissists

And I don't think that's all bad. Beauty is something to take joy in, whether it's in yourself or someone else, or a sunset, or a baby's perfectly formed features, or a beautiful piece of music.

BUT. When beauty turns one to narcissism, then it sours you on the inside.

I don't want to be insecure, unsure about whether I am really beautiful, self-consciously telling the world through my posture and expression 'Nothing to see here'. Neither do I want to be so full of myself that all I see is ME as I worship at the shrine of my own beauty.

I want to know I'm beautiful, and that I'm loved, and then with that confidence to FORGET ABOUT ME and see the beauty in the people around me and love THEM!

I want to be something like this beautiful woman, who knew who she was and Whose she was:

The Virgin in Prayer, Sassoferato

Friday, 25 July 2014

7QT Friday: Of Mice, Autotune Popes and Household Disasters

 ----1---

First of all, let me make your Friday awesome- Pope Saint John Paul II singing to us... "Perhaps I love you more!" Ahhhh!! Love it so much!




---2---

So you know how much I love mice? (Especially baked ones) Well, after two weeks away from my home, I came back to find that the house had been taken over by a mouse. Just a cute little one. I hardened my heart, tracked down a secret shop in town that sold mouse traps, and set the trap. It was the type that trapped the mouse, didn't kill it. So I caught it, and it squealed and banged at the door and I shuddered and handed it over to one of our guy friends to dispose of it. I forget how soft-hearted all our guy friends are, though. He let it loose and wished it well...

And then the next day, there was another one. Or the same one? I don't know! Operation Trap the Mouse was carried out again... and another guy was enlisted to FINISH IT OFF. Yet another failure a la the hunter in Snow White- the mouse looked up to him with big pleading eyes and his hard heart was softened, as he let it loose even further away from the house.


And guess what turned up in the bedroom AGAIN yesterday? Yes! Yet another mouse. Or the mouse that never died.

The main reason I think it's the same mouse- he's avoiding the mouse trap now (unlike the ants). So yeah. We live with a mouse. AAHHHH!!

---3---

Microcosm of conversations and attitudes and relationship between optimist R and pessimist me:

My room mate R: It could be worse.
Me: It could GET worse.
R: It could be bold and get into our beds. It could be malicious and chew up all our underwear. It could be revengeful and come back with its Super Rat friends.
Me: All these things could still happen.


---4---

To make our life even more fun and exciting, our fridge just died. It was warm and smelled and gross when we came home yesterday. This should not have surprised us at all, because the fridge was donated to us ten months ago. It had a broken freezer door, a tendency to leak and drench all our food with gross fridge water and the door didn't always completely shut. Still, it was disappointing.

However, a friend who is moving to the US in September told us he was donating his fridge to us when he leaves (or perhaps we begged it of him, I don't remember). That is seven weeks away. When R and I were in the Philippines we lived for three months without a fridge.

"If we did it once, we can do it again!" Plus our third room mate BA is all about solidarity with the poor and sacrifices and stuff like that, so I think she might be excited by the challenge. This is my technique for survival sans fridge:
1. Only cook as much as we need to eat for each day. (Which means more cooking)
2. Put milk container or leftovers in a dish of water overnight to prevent it from spoiling (the cool monsoon weather helps)

Yeah, that's all I got.

---5---


The monsoons are here! Can I even tell you how gorgeous the weather is after the oppressive heat of the summer? Sure everyone's complaining about getting wet all the time, getting splashed by rickshaws, mud everywhere, losing umbrellas... But it's cool! Everything's green! Sweaters! Hot tea! Hot showers AND sweaters AND hot tea after getting wet outside! Not to mention, crops growing, no drought, reservoirs filling up, all that good stuff.

---6---

Funny tweet I just saw from @Swag_Catholic:


Ah ha ha ha.

---7---

I've been writing a little more recently. (Not that much more, but still):

Let's Talk About Awkward Hugs

Judgmental People

In Which I Obsess About Books

The End

More Quick Takes at at Svellerella.