Being specific: the new norm

It was boring and time-wasting, reading a subject, which is not so interesting but important.  For children, everything needs to be told and get done in those few minutes before they get carried away.

‘Beating around the bush’, in other words, is expressing matters logically. However, being logical to illogical person did not make sense at all.

To sound more polite or to avoid shock at some unusual things, it is better to avoid being direct and to the point.  These are how we express events and thoughts, be it in writing and speech.

Short – to the point and catchy, is the preferred words, especially in the social networking sites.  People had different amount of time as well as understanding level.

We want to know everything in the least time taken.  The world’s moving fast, we say.  For adaptability, we should be able to follow the new norms.  But that’s hard.  Does that mean all things should be short and specific?  It is for you to decide.

Although that is not what I am writing this piece.  Let me tell you something about prayer:

It was lunchtime; my son was eagerly waiting for what is going to be served.  His mother had prepared ‘chapatis’ for him, before heading for work.  We mostly had rice for every mealtime.  For starters, chapatti is a flatbread made from stone-ground whole meal flour.

With his hands folded, my son said his thanksgiving prayer, before he began eating.  We thank God for giving us meal every day.  But that day, this was how he prayed.

“Lord, thank you for the chapatis.  Please bless our chapatti to be our source of energy.  Bless Mommy’s hand for making this chapatti.  Give us this day our daily chapatti.  In the name of Lord Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen!”

If you see, it’s chapatis, chapatis… along the way.  He knows what he was saying.  So, he was praying or expressing his gratitude specifically, I would say.

When the mind is pure, and we know exactly what we wanted, this is the likely outcome.  We can pray for the whole world or the whole planet too.  We should also pray specifically, if we are burdened about something, very heavily in our heart.  For it would provide relief from shouldering our burden too.

Being specific in our prayer meant that we are clear about what we wanted to say to God, which is a good thing.  While praying for the whole world is more than a good thing to do, sometimes, we need to be specific about certain things.

Generally speaking, in that very short span of our invested time, it might be possible that we missed some of the very important ‘add-ons’ that comes with the big catch.  The ‘add-ons’ can serve as a bridge to our next move.

It is a known fact that big investments take time.  We should be willing to wait for the big thing to happen.  In this fast moving world, it is necessary to take time out for ourself.

By being specific and well chosen words, we are following the norm.  It also meant that one is clear and confident about what was expressed.

Counting Depreciation Values: For Appreciation

When you are buying or selling used assets, calculation of depreciation values for that particular asset is vital.  Let me put it this way, to get the best values out your used assets, depreciation needs to be calculated.

During my time in the Banking Sector, I’d witnessed some automobile companies setting up camps in the vicinity of our branches.  While they are doing their job, it is something that sounds very attractive because of the so-called ‘buy back policy’ or ‘exchange policy’ for vehicle owners.

However, certain customers, who did not have much exposure in the financial sector, are left stunned and disappointed when they are told of the roughly calculated depreciation values.  It is because the value of their used assets has been reduced before their very eyes.  They could not believe it.  So, some back off from selling and exchanging their assets while some made good money out of it.

For someone new to this term, Depreciation is an accounting method of allocating the cost of a tangible asset over its useful life.  Several important factors are taken into account while counting ‘depreciation values’.  Let’s simply lists them out, without further explanation.  They are: Initial Costs, Residual values or Scrap values, Useful life, and Rate of Depreciation.

Especially for moveable assets, depreciation rate was far higher.  Depreciation started right from that day when you proudly rolled out your car from the dealers.  In my city, the roads are not always in their best shapes, which gave you bumpy rides at times.  Further, the over populated vehicles in the city left you with some scratches and dents on the vehicles.

Here the ‘useful life’ mentioned while counting depreciation is worth considering.  At every condition of the assets, there still is something useful found in the assets.  While disposing off your used or scrap items, you get paid for that very little amount of the ‘useful life’ counted, despite the small amount it could be.

One, please do not write off people before they are lifeless.  Although they are of no used to you, they still occupy the core of some people’s heart.  We must mind our tongues while dealing with others.  Before we know, sometimes, we degrade some people more than they’d deserved.  Even in their worst condition, there must be something appreciable, if we dare to explore it.

Two, there are some people who could still nurse the little appreciation we gave them, even in their worst’s condition.  Be it mental or physical health, someone could still find ‘useful life’ in their futile life while counting their depreciation values.  Unwanted depreciation, in reality, cannot be avoided.

Natural calamities, for individuals, are unpredictable.  Let God guide you in every sphere of life.  Invite Him in your life and let Him have you.  Even beyond you can ever imagined, you will be guarded.  But if something depreciating still happened there must be a reason from God, which are left to be understood in our life or afterwards.

IMG_20170521_172905

Last week, when suddenly, a thunderstorm strikes our locality an old tree fell down near our parked car.  A bit shocked, we checked our car if there was any damage caused by the falling tree.  We are relived, when we found out there is just one small scratch on the bumper.  This is the ‘appreciation’ we got while trying to count the ‘depreciation values’ while cleaning our car.  We are saved by His grace.

Lastly, this practice, of counting depreciation for appreciation, is applicable in our lives too.   Sometimes, we must reflect back at our lives and count the ‘useful life’, which are already used or still left in us.  We must also learn how to appreciate our life.

The Village Tree

It can be noisy and annoying, for some, when children are playing.  Noisy sounds of children, chattering and playing, can be heard from far distances.  They did not seem to have enough time before darkness completely takes over daylight.  To them, it seems like the last day on earth.  Relieved from their daily routine, they are enjoying every bit of it.

IMG_20170524_141318

There was a huge tree in our village.  Village folks referred to it as ‘the village tree’.  The tree is located in the center of our neighborhood.  It appeared to be a full-grown tree and must be of ages.  With its perfect location and long branches spreading out for all, it is home to the villagers throughout the day, especially early in the morning till late evening.

For any events in the village – ‘At least one members from each family are requested to meet at the ‘village tree’ for discussions or before any community work had been initiated’, notices was served.  Before the advent of Community Centers, few motion pictures, which could instill harmony amongst the community, were also shown in the shades of the tree using projector.

It is where different generations of the villagers met together.  Young and old came out of their home in the evening to sit in the shades.  They would talk about the day’s work, politics, past glories of the village, and many more general topics.  Not all parts of the world are exposed to modern culture.  They would, comfortably, sit in the elevated area in the roots spending their leisure time.

The tree had united all the villagers in the shade.  By spending time together, they become more united and get to know each other well.  Any threat or person trying to demean harmony can be easily sorted out through discussions.  Migrants and new faces joined them, which takes them further intrude in the realm of the villagers till they get fully settled.

Few times, I had enquired about who could have planted this particular tree.  However, nobody seems to know much about its history.  Almost everyone came up with different theory, which seems to be backed by their friends.  May be they made it all up, I guessed.   The most valid and acceptable theory could be that the former generations had planted the tree for generations to come.

Every year, when spring dawns, the tree grows new buds to replace those leaves shed in the previous months.  The bud of the tree is edible, which sometimes caused few snarling sounds among the villagers.  It is natural – when there is something to benefit freely, it caused a rift in human hearts.

However, we felt blessed to have such a tree in our village.  We thank God for His creations, which had become one of the most ‘happening zones’ in our village.  The tree is not worshipped instead of that, whenever we sat under the tree, we are left in awe of God’s care for human race.

One morning, the very sad news of ethnic conflict breaking out nearby came around.  The villagers run amok like a flock of bird scattering away at the sound of gunshot.  That day marked the end of an era.  No villagers ever came in groups under this tree anymore.  Peace had eluded the village ever since.

The village tree slowly gets deteriorated, which might be caused due to its loneliness.  Eventually, the tree died a natural death, someone reported.  The tree, which had once provided shelter to the villagers, was no more talked about.  When violence and hatred enter the world even an innocent tree had suffered deeply.  It is gone!

There would be no other thing – human or any creature, like the village tree, which could accommodate all the villagers – any kind of them whether good or bad, rich or poor.  Be an agent of change – when interacting with others, spread love and unity among the ‘global villagers’.

I Spent All My Time Alone: Desolation

While scanning through my old journals, I’ve found this piece – a kind of short poem.  It was written in those times, when I really feel desolated.  And, I know, I am not a good writer.

Some ten years ago, I wrote this small piece.  My joy and happiness are short-lived.  My health was a major problem and my preplanned life did not seem to flow as I’d desired.  Few people have seen it.  And for them, it really looks annoying and depressing.

vasa

For me, it’s a kind of prayer to God or my physical and spiritual barrenness being let out.  Here I cannot tell you all my problems but I’ve already told my God.  Some problems are solved or just withered away while some are still work in progress.

If you’ve been through such times, you might feel it.  But for some people, as I said earlier, was a waste of time and simply depressing.  I am blessed to have a look back and feel a bit relief by His grace.  By the way, even in the midst of storm, we  never walk alone.

There are times when I really longed for God’s presence in my life.  Many times, I let it slipped away from me.  One thing or another snatched away my happiness.  Yet His faithfulness endures forever.

Now this is what I wrote.  Feel free to go through it.  Should you feel with me, it’ll be a good thing to let me know or remember me in your prayer.  God bless you!

I Spent All My Time Alone

#

In desolation I spent  all my time,

Where is Your presence in my wilderness?

Yet my faith will not perish on the way.

It’s hard to even call on Your name,

How will I ever feel Your presence again?

#

Yet my mouth will sing Your praise.

Through the sorrow and the pain,

My hope in You gives fragrance of life.

I will keep praising you forever.

##

I cannot see the plans you had for me.

Is there a good thing you’ve planned?

Yet I will not lose my faith in You.

It’s really hard for me to pray,

Would your presence not go with me?

###

Would you not filled by barren soul?

Broken and deserted here I lay.

Yet where would I go besides You?

It’s really hard for me to pray,

From my sickness and sadness deliver me.

###

Yet my mouth will sing Your praise

Through the sorrow and the pain

Yet my hope in You gives fragrance of life

I will keep praising you forever!

Due to my wrongdoings and unfulfilled dreams or promise, I assumed that God deserted me, .  He never did.  It was me who deserted Him.  Even in my worst condition, He loved me!

What do you want to say to God?

“Papa, I forget my prayer lines!” exclaimed my son.  The feeling of little disappointment can be sense from his voice.  And I rushed to his rescue, immediately.

IMG_20170522_114900

A child needs to be taught how to pray.  I teach my children few prayer lines, which I thought, would instill the practice, and make it easier for them beginners.  Bed time, morning, and mealtime provided suitable time for such practices.

“Dear, don’t get upset,” I said to encourage him in his learning.  It is a good feeling when a child wanted to say a prayer by themselves.

In the meantime, questions like: Why do I need to pray? Is God really watching… needed to be answer sincerely and carefully.

“What will I do if I forget my lines again?” he asked.

“Son, you won’t forget again. However, if it happens again think about what you wanted to say to God.”

His eyes shone bright in excitement!

So I continued, “Because, in reality, you are talking to God when you pray.  If you are happy, say thank you to God.  If you are upset, let it be known to God.  If you want something you didn’t have  yet, you tell Him.  Then, if it’s necessary for you, God will give you.  So, say something at the least.”

“Oh! I’ll keep that in my mind next time,” said my son who now looks really excited.  And he really did it.  I’ve seen him.

Again, I asked him, “What do you want to say to God?”  The answers seem to be unending.  For a child, who did not know what to say to God a few minutes back, he was now flooded with his so many ‘thank yous’ as well as his request for himself and others he cared for.

During His time here on earth, Jesus Christ taught disciples how to pray.1 It makes me believed that one needed to be taught how to pray, especially for beginners in life and  spiritual new born.  More importantly, it is the heart which really matters than what we expressed, we are also told.

We are so blessed that we can pray anytime, anywhere, and whenever we need His presence.   God is omnipotent and preeminent, and we knew that, although there are some people who didn’t accept it.

Sometimes, being an adult human in the ‘groaning’ planet, it is difficult to get into the mood for praying.  I don’t feel connected.  The feeling of being unconnected, mostly, is because I had focus too much on myself or due to an astonishing lack of discernment.

However, in that particular time and place, I needed prayer the most.  In those moments, your priceless act of concern by praying for me will set me free.   There is no such thing as insurmountable problem in the eyes of God.

So, whether you are happy or unhappy, let me urge you to say something to God.  For your one act of random kindness by prayer will work wonders for you and for others as well.

1. Matthew 6:9-13 (The Lord’s Prayer)

Give me Rest!

At a very young age, we started working in the family paddy field.   We grow rice to meet our essential need for food grains.  It was not meant for commercial purpose.

For starters, rice is grown in a water-retentive soil, with a reliable source of water for irrigation, and a way to drain the water when it is time for harvesting.  Growing rice is the main source of food grains in the region.

tuilou.jpg

From dawn to dusk, we spend our time preparing the field suited for planting rice.  I felt blessed to have learned, lived, and experienced the art of farming in the field.  It takes a lot of hard work to garner a good harvest at the end of the season.

First, it was making the cultivation bed or terrace ready, which needed hard work the most.  We used self-made Langkawn in ploughing the land.  Since we do not use machine, the work need to be done physically.  The process took huge toil on our physical as well as our mental strength.  Looking back at those time, it easily fits into our story time with my children.

In the muddy soil, we started our work very early in the morning.  Every stroke of our ‘wooden-handle spade’ made us nearer to the most awaited lunch time.  With no more energy left, I remember lying down in a pool of muddy water many times during the period.  However, I needed to get up again so that I can have a hearty meal and take rest in the shades.

We were filled with mud and dirty water.  However, when we washed in the clean water we become as fresh as new.  Let me tell you something here that it always reminded me of the cleaning of sin by the blood of Jesus Christ.  For it is written:

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.1

There is something to do in my part; I have to get up from that mud-filled soil with the tired body.  So that I may get rest, very much-needed for my well-being.

The hope of getting rest for a while in the noontime keeps us going, although the hope of getting a good harvest seems like a distant dream, for now.  However, if there is no natural calamity for that particular year, a good harvest is assured at the end of the season.

Now, with the preparation of the cultivation and planting being done, it looks like a very promising return will be garnered at the end of the season.  Even the sight of it provided attractive scenery, with its clean and lustrous green look.

Let me conclude herewith what has been offered to us with open arms.

“Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”2

1 Isaiah 1:18b, 2 Matthew 11:28

The Small Cabin – a place of hope

I’d just graduated from High School.  It was time to move into universities.  My friends and my peers are busy juggling their choice of universities.   For me, it doesn’t seem to happen soon as I wanted.

There was no money in our family balance sheet for entering a prestigious university.  Since Daddy involved us in maintaining the balance sheet at a very young age, and I know, there is no money.  There is no point of putting up a demand, which cannot be met.  It will simply lead to unwanted misunderstandings for a moment.

At that time, we lived in the western corner of a small town.  Nearby our house, there was a place designated for prayer but not yet in used.  In the family, we called it as ‘our Bethel – our place of prayer,’ taken from the biblical Bethel.  Every evening, just before dark, Daddy led us there to kneel and pray.  So the practice of talking to God was inculcated in us.

One day the thought of spending time alone with God, acknowledging my needs and concerns, came in my mind.  I asked Daddy for his permission to go alone in a prayer mountain, which was located at the outskirts in the eastern side of our town.

Daddy agreed with the idea.  So, in the evening I set out carrying the Bible, hymn books, and some candles to be lighted in the night.

npt

There are number of small Prayer Cabins made available for anyone who wanted to spend time with God.  It was maintained by the Nehemiah Prayer Team based in the vicinity of our town.  I’d occupied one such cabin by myself – all alone.  I was there for three days and four nights, fasting – without eating a thing.

I’d sang and prayed through day and night.  I’d started pouring out my heart.  My secrets were made known to God, especially those I could not afford to tell anyone.  In that way, letting myself emptying.  There was no time for sleeping.  It was as if someone came down to spend time with me.  It was a great feeling.  It was a time I will never forget in a life time.  My request and thanksgiving were let known to Him.  It was a time to commune with my God.

In between, I remember singing several devotional songs like –  ‘God will make a way’, ‘There is none like you’ by Don Moen, ‘Pass me not…’ by Fanny J Crosby, and many more.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11 reads.  This is a ‘very promising verse’ in a ‘very unpromising chapter’ of the Book of Jeremiah.

Now that the fourth night was over, the Caretaker of the place came and informed.  My brother came to pick me up and bring me home.  I was happy to spend such time at a very young age.  However, my request to God for a prestigious university did not happen for one year.  I felt lighter and happier than before.

I am blessed to work as a small time Teacher in an Elementary School at that time.  After a few months, I got settled in my job.  I loved spending time with the school children, imparting knowledge as much as I can.  I also enjoyed their company through the day.  I was thoroughly enjoying my role as a teacher.  Even more so, I earned money for the family and my enrolment in a local college.  It was a tight schedule from morning to evening, and I was really happy.

One year had already passed, when one day, I got a long distance call from one of my Uncle.  He was enquiring if I would like to pursue college degree from a prestigious university.  I was informed that they could spare some amount from his hard-earned money towards my study expenses.  And that I might pursue higher studies if I wanted to.  Now, I was overwhelmed by what God has done.

Even after one year, when my hope has already become thin, He answered my prayer. Not all prayers are answered, there are unanswered prayers too.  I praise God for His unfailing faithfulness!

We discussed the matter with my father, and agreed to take advantage of the ‘help’.  I was fit and healthy then.  So, with high hopes, I set out to enter one of the top universities of our country.   I started there and go on to complete my master’s degree in few years.

Unexpected twist and turns are experienced over the phases of life.  However, one thing that never deserted me – ‘His presence’ – the presence of God even in the worst crisis of life.  I do believe, He will lead me Home safe and sound, when all life’s works are completed.

Written based on my journals.