Saturday, September 23, 2017

Gushing

My husband never talks negatively about me in public or in front of the children.

In fact, he goes one step further and gushes about me and my amazing qualities.

It's a little embarrassing, especially when I'm sitting right next to him. My cheeks can't help but flush pink when he shines the spotlight on me.

But I'm not complaining! I know that having a husband who doesn't gripe about me to people and instead praises me (as imperfect as I am) is a rare gift. And he has done so for fifteen years! I was starting to take this for granted when  my husband shared a recent text conversation with me.

A friend was asking my husband where in the Bible it says not to speak negatively about your wife in public. He wanted some passages to share with his men's Bible study group, to encourage them to change their attitudes and habits. He ended the conversation with this, "I struggle with it at times, when things aren't going well at home. I have noticed in the past how you talk about Rita, but could never put a finger on what was different about hearing you speak versus other husbands. But I get it now."

When I read that, my eyes teared up. What has become commonplace to me is still extraordinary to the world. Yes, my husband is extraordinary! It's my turn to gush now! In a world that oftentimes sees marriage as a prison and puts the focus on "Me and My Needs", my husband chooses to take his God-given role to heart. He knows that his main responsibility as my husband is to accept me as the flawed person that I am, to embrace my gifts and positive traits, to forgive my failures, and to encourage me to grow to be more Christ-like. And every time he does so (with even a small comment like "You should meet my wife. She's amazing!"), he shines a light that makes heads turn.

Isn't that exactly what Paul writes about in Philippians 2:14-15?

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.

And Peter too, in I Peter 2:9?

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Peter goes on in chapter 3 of I Peter to address wives and husbands specifically, that both should make a practice of being outstandingly kind to their spouse. Wives are to have "respectful and pure conduct" (I Peter 3:1) and husbands are to "live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel." (I Peter 3:7). Peter puts even more pressure on husbands to do so "so that their prayers may not be hindered."

People who follow Christ should stand out! Heads should turn! Ears should be shocked! There should be that "I-can't-quite-put-my-finger-on-it" feeling when people spend time with us. So I challenge all of you wives and husbands out there:

The next time you start complaining about your spouse to your friends or family, bite your tongue. And if you can't say something positive, choose not to say anything at all. Then when you have time, pray that God can change your attitude towards some of the things your spouse does that drive you crazy. Forgive where forgiveness is needed. Let go where bitterness is starting to taking root. Make a list of all the amazing things your spouse does, even if he or she does them in a way different from the way you would do them. Look at the details. Look at the big picture. See this person that God has gifted to you. 

Then start gushing about your spouse! (Here's a hint: It's even better when he or she is sitting right next to you!)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Surreal Sunday

My husband got a concussion on Sunday.

He went out to enjoy a few minutes of scootering with our young son before dinner, and the next thing I know, my daughter comes running in, saying, "Mom, come quick! Dad needs you!" I hurry out to meet my husband, hobbling towards the house with his arm around my oldest daughter. Blood was on his chin, neck, and arm. His face was pale and grimaced with pain.

I sat him in a chair and examined his cuts and abrasions. The one on his chin definitely needed stitches, so I starting making preparations for a trip to the emergency room. While calling grandparents and giving instructions to get dinner on the table, I noticed that my husband, though he seemed lucid, was repeating himself. He asked again and again, "What happened? Did I hit something?" No matter how many times I explained to him what had occurred, he asked me the question again within half a minute.

It was scary. If you've never experienced a concussion before, believe me, it was scary. He looked fine (enough) on the outside, but his brain had suffered injury.

All on the way to the hospital, my husband could not remember what happened. He could not remember what he did that morning, or the night before. He could not remember that I was pregnant with our eighth child. But at the hospital, we received the best possible news. I thank God that the doctor did not find any internal bleeding or broken bones. Besides the concussion, there was no other major damage done. My husband suffers from short-term memory loss, but that should go away with time. It has been a "surreal" experience, in his words. He now has greater sympathy for the elderly and those who suffer from Alzheimer's, dementia, or other brain damage.

And I, well, I'm exhausted. I won't write much more than to say this:

Our bodies are wonderfully made, fragile and strong at the same time. That my husband could take a fall like that and not be dead is amazing. That his body is healing itself is astounding. But that it took only a fall from a foot-powered scooter and a landing on a paved road to hurt his head, that makes me humble. There is nothing that we can take for granted. Life and health are gifts from God. Every day and every moment are gifts from God. One minute, I'm cooking dinner and listening to my children play outside with their dad, and the next… I was glad when I cleaned my husband's blood-stained clothes only because I knew that he would still be there to wear them.

Love each other selflessly. Forgive much, as your Father in heaven has forgiven you much. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15b)


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Introducing… Regina!

I have known Regina Gadad since high school, though only as my classmate's older brother's girlfriend. (Did you get that?) We both played piano and we both ended up attending UC Berkeley, but still we never became friends.

Fast forward about ten years, and I'm attending a MOPs meeting when I see a vaguely familiar face across the table. I glance at her name tag and almost shouted, "Regina!" She gave me a puzzled look. Clearly, she had no idea who I was. But, nevertheless, that was the real beginning of my friendship with Regina.

I have since discovered that Regina is energetic and outgoing. She loves her two children and going on camping adventures with them. She is an amazing pianist and has the gifts of encouragement and hospitality. She also enjoys cooking interesting cuisine because she is Mexican-Chinese and her husband is Indian (yes, her high school sweetheart, my classmate's older brother!) Most of all, she loves to serve at our church and has done so in several capacities; currently she is the teacher for our 4-year-olds class. My daughter was in that class last year and loved Miss Regina!

Then I discovered that Regina is also a writer! She has been blogging since 2012 and loves sharing her thoughts about life and God with her readers. Recently, she has been reviewing books, so if you are an avid reader, check out her blog for some great book recommendations!

I asked Regina the same questions I asked Susan (two posts ago.) Here are Regina's answers:


1) Please tell us about yourself.
I am a homemaker, piano teacher, mom and wife packed within the confines of a 4-foot-10 Mexican/Chinese woman. I graduated from the foster system at age 17, UC Berkeley at 22, and had my firstborn at 29.

2) What passions drive you in your writing?
When I write, I exhale. Writing helps me organize my thoughts and is therapeutic. I better understand myself and situations when I visually lay it all out. In some ways, it is like leaving my mark on this earth. After I pass away, I'd like to think my kin will read my words, maybe take something away from it and have some remembrance of who they've come from.

3) What is the greatest lesson you've learned as a wife?
It seems like I have always been married since Vijay and I have been together since we were 16. I am not sure what kind of person I would be if I weren't with someone. That said, it certainly has given me character refinement, realization that only God can be my perfect lover, not to mention financial security so I can pursue hobbies like writing and playing the piano.

4) What is the greatest lesson you've learned as a mother?
Motherhood has increased my compassion for life and I have this intense desire to mother and protect all kids that I come in contact with. For example, my family does a lot of camping and yesterday a filthy 6-year-old boy was left at our campsite while his single mom went somewhere for a few hours. I couldn't resist cleaning up his face, making sure he was getting water to drink, shade from the afternoon heat, and food to eat until his mom came back for him. If I see a young child on its own without a parent/guardian I instinctively want to care for them. I just can't stand by and see a child not being loved on.

5) What is the greatest lesson you've learned as a daughter of the King?
As a daughter of the King, I desire to glorify Him with my entire being. Being independent at an early age has taught me that He will provide for me–even as I tithe every earned cent from packaging fried chicken, delivering newspapers, cleaning rat cages, babysitting, piano accompanying, and office temping. I am loved immensely. If not by blood family, by my church brothers and sisters. By Jesus who died for me and allow me to have incredible supernatural experiences. I have learned my life matters despite those who oppose my decision to follow Christ. God has used me to bring my husband and children to Christ. Children I have taught. Moms I have come alongside with. And young adults I spent time with in my twenties (before kids). God loves me, I love Him, and there's nothing that can separate this eternal bond. While I am certainly a faulty human, I know Jesus death on the Cross has sealed me with my Creator.


To read more from Regina, check out her blog, Regina's Ramblings. Thank you, Regina, for answering my questions!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Beyond the Classroom (Part 2 of 2)

My oldest is starting high school. My breath catches in my throat just thinking those words.

"This is it, right? This is the beginning of 'real' life. No more playing around. No more 'learning is fun'. If I mess up now, my son's future is at stake."

That's how I feel about high school, because that is the impression I get. If my son doesn't take the right science class, then he can't take the next right science class, which means he can't get into the right college, and graduate and get the right job. It's time to panic, Rita. 

Yes, PANIC!

But wait, didn't I just give advice to a mom of an eleven-year-old? Didn't I say (and I quote myself), "There are things that schools do not teach our children. There is so much more to life than GPAs, SATs, and PhDs"?

Take a deep breath, Rita. You can't plan everything. You want to line up the dominoes and see them fall, one by one, so neatly and methodically in the pattern you set. You want guaranteed success, for the next four years to sail by without a glitch. You want to be able to see the future, so that you can make choices rather than mistakes, and live with no regret of the past.

But that is not life. And that is certainly not God's plan for  you or your son. God asks you to obey Him one step at a time. To be faithful one day at a time. To trust Him one thought at a time.

So trust Him, Rita.

Trust Him to take care of the details.

And do what you know is right: prepare your son to be a leader, a decision-maker, and a fighter for justice and integrity. Teach him how to learn, how to research, and how to communicate in speech and through the written word. Live by example and show him the importance of God and people, family and friends, work and rest. Remind him that it is more important to reach down and help the helpless than to climb the ladder to the top.

And pray. Pray for each day. Pray for each moment. Pray for each child.

That is something your son will never learn from a textbook.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Introducing… Susan!

I fortunately have several friends who are writers/bloggers, and oftentimes, when I read what they share, I find myself so encouraged! I love that though we don't live in the same neighborhoods or have the same backgrounds, we still have much in common. They are moms, wives, and daughters of God, seeking to live as shining examples of God's love to their families and their neighbors.

And so, I decided to share my mom-blogger-friends with you through a series of short interviews! At the end of each interview, there will be a link to their blog. I know that if you are like me, you don't have tons of time to sit and read through tons of blog posts or emails, but maybe today you too will find yourself reading just the very words you need to hear and be encouraged by my friends' words.

To start us off, let me introduce Susan Narjala, whom I met 8 years ago when she came from Oregon to visit her sister, one of my closest friends. We were both pregnant that summer and so commiserated through the California heat together. Shortly after the birth of her daughter, Susan and her husband decided to move their family back to India– a big and bold move for their family of four. They were able to come back to the U.S. to visit this past summer, and it was wonderful to see her baby all grown up and to catch up on life. I especially love asking her about daily life in India; someday I hope to visit her there! 

Besides regularly posting on her blog, Susan has had articles published by Relevant magazine, the MOPs blog, Parents.co, Indiaanya.com, and Huffington Post India. Her Indian and American background gives her a wonderful, unique perspective on faith and culture, and her sense of humor shines through all her writing. I can always see Susan's smile and hear her laugh when I read her articles!


1) Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm a mom of two precious kidlings who are growing up way faster than I'd like. Been married for 12 years to one strong, dependable man who puts his family before himself. If there's something different about me, it's that I've got one food in America and one in India. I was born and raised in India, but ever since I can remember, I wanted to live in America. I first came to America as a nervous 20-year-old grad school student to Syracuse University in upstate New York. I later got married and moved to Portland, Oregon, where I had my babies and did the whole stay-at-home-mom thing. Twelve years and 856 loads of laundry later, we decided to move back to India and give up our American Dream. I've now lived in India two years and I love it but I still long for the green parks, the clean roads and Target.

2) What passions drive you in your writing?
WIth my writing, it's like my thoughts have to get on paper or on a screen. I think I started journaling when I was eight and don't think I've ever stopped. I love putting into words what God is teaching me through His Word or through daily, mundane, yet sometimes full of surprises, events.

3) What is the greatest lesson you've learned as a wife?
It's a lesson I continue to learn: don't expect my husband to be my God. When I put larger-than-life expectations on my husband, he feels the pressure and I become a pro at nagging. But when I allow God to be my number one priority and get immersed in His love, then my role as a wife and as a partner becomes clearer and more do-able.

4) What is the greatest lesson you've learned as a mom?
What shocked me most about mommyhood was just how impatient I could be! I used to think I was pretty zen and that I'd be a fun mom. Then I had babies. And, oh boy! Did they know how to push my buttons, or what? I think the greatest learning curve for me has been in the patience department. I'm learning that when I strive for perfectionism in my parenting, it's a sure fire recipe for falling flat on my face! 

5) What is the greatest lesson you've learned as a daughter of the King?
That no matter what happens in life, I always circle back to Him. And I can. Because He's always there. My greatest lesson is realizing my absolute neediness before God– and knowing that He is willing and able to untiringly fill me up. His grace doesn't dry up. Ever.

Susan, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions! There is SO much more to say, that I wish I had time for a much longer interview! Maybe someday she'll put it all into a book. (I'm hoping she will!) To read more from Susan, visit her blog Alliteration Alley!