Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Great Lent Week 5, Women in Jesus' Ministry
Volume 6 No. 335 March 4, 2016
 

V. General Weekly Features

Inspirational: Finding God in the Park
Abe was fiercely independent, even at age 85, but after a mild stroke his son insisted he move in with him. Abe missed going to the park near his old apartment, and one Saturday he set out to find it.

When he became disoriented, he asked a young boy named Timmy where the park was. Timmy said he'd like to take him there, but he didn't have time because he was looking for God. He said he needed to talk to Him about why his parents were getting a divorce.

"Maybe God's in the park," the old man said. "I'd like to talk to Him, too, about why He's made me useless." And so they set off together to find God.

At the park, Timmy began to cry about the divorce, and Abe lovingly held his face in both hands and looked him straight in the eyes. "Timmy, I don't know why bad things happen, but I know it wasn't because of you. I know you're a good boy and your parents love you and they will always love you. I know you will be okay."

Timmy gave Abe a big hug and said, "I'm so glad I met you. Thanks. I think I can go now."

From across the street, Timmy's mother saw them hug and approached her son in a worried voice. "Who was that old man?"

"I think he's God," Timmy said.

"Did he say that?" she demanded.

"No, but when he touched me and told me I'm going to be okay, I felt really better. Only God can do that."

When Abe got home, his son asked in a scolding voice, "Where were you?"

"I was in the park with God."

"Really? What makes you think you were with God?"

"Because He sent me a boy who needed me, and when the boy hugged me, I felt God telling me I wasn't useless anymore."

Source: www.whatwillmatter.com

Family Special: Nine Things Your Baby Would Say If Only She/he Could Talk

By Gary and Joy Lundberg, FamilyShare

Your littlest angel, so recently making his or her appearance into this world, just might have a powerful message for you, if only those words could be spoken. Here are 9 things your bundle of joy may be bursting to tell you:

1. I trust you, completely

When you look into my eyes I can tell that you will do anything to protect me. I'm so blessed to be your child. When you hold me close I feel safe. I know, without a doubt, that you would never let anyone hurt me. I pity them if they ever try. You are my ever-watchful guardian.

2. Thank you for loving me immediately

I didn't even have to earn your love. It's just there, and I can feel it every time you hold me, kiss me, feed me, bathe me, and say cutesy words to me. I wish I could say how much I love you back for doing all these things for me. Instead, I look at you and smile and wiggle and do the cleverest things I know how to do, which aren't many yet, but I'll get better at it. Wait and see. I have so many things to show you as I grow.

3. I'm counting on you to teach me good things

I'm new on this planet and I don't know much. In fact, I don't know anything. You have a clean slate to write my life on. Be careful what you teach me because I will believe whatever you say. At least for a few short years. Then I guess I'll start figuring things out on my own. That will be easier because of the good things you teach me.

4. Thank you, mommy and daddy, for loving each other

I'm watching you. Every time you kiss each other or treat each other in a kind and loving way, it makes me giggle inside. It's the kind of giggle that says, "I'm so lucky to have parents who love me enough to love each other." I'm going to learn how to be a married person by watching you two. Thanks for showing me the way.

5. Thanks for giving me siblings

I hope this is possible because I would love to have those built-in friends. I'm sure we'll do our share of getting on each other's nerves, but it will be worth it—even if we drive you slightly crazy in the process. With a brother, or sister, or both, I won't be lonely. These friendships will last not just while we're home together growing up, but will be with me throughout my whole life. What a gift to have forever friends.

6. You always make sure I have food, clothes, and a roof over my head

What a relief to know that you will provide those necessities of life for me. You're doing it already. You may not realize it but when you dress me and wrap me in a warm, cozy blanket I feel so happy. When you feed me, I feel loved. When you take me out into the cold, noisy world, I'm glad beyond words, which I have none of yet, to be back home in a safe place. Wow! I wish every child had that blessing. Thank you for working hard to provide these things for me.

7. I'm hoping you won't spoil me

Well, maybe a little spoiling won't hurt. What I mean is, I hope you won't make my life so easy that I won't know how to make it on my own when I'm no longer with you. I hope you won't let me have everything I want. Teach me to work, so I can know the joy of accomplishment. Remind me I said that when I'm acting like a brat, not wanting to do my part.

8. Don't hit me

I may deserve a swat on the behind now and then, but please don't hit me. Some kids get beat by their parents and suffer a difficult childhood. Thanks for being the kind of parents who would never do that. Just tell me what I'm doing wrong, set some good boundaries for me, and discipline me with love. A serious look—you know, the evil-eye stare—may be sufficient. Let's hope.

9. Keep on loving me

Don't give up on me — ever. Keep that love you felt for me at the beginning. That might be hard when I'm growing and doing some dumb things, but please love me anyway. I promise I will return that love to you. And one day when you are old and not able to do things, kind of like I am now, I will take care of you. I will love you always. You can count on that.

About The Author:

Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer and lyricist. Together they author books on relationships, including "Wake-up Call: What Every Husband Needs to Know".

Source: JWR, © 2016 FamilyShare

Family Special: Doing the Right Thing
"If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith."
1 Timothy 5:8

Our friends Keith and Mary Korstjens have been married for more than forty years. Shortly after their honeymoon, Mary was stricken with polio and became quadriplegic. The doctors informed her that she would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. It was a devastating development, but Keith never wavered in his commitment to Mary. For all these years he has bathed and dressed her, carried her to and from her bed, taken her to the bathroom, brushed her teeth, and combed her hair.

Obviously, Keith could have divorced Mary in 1957 and looked for a new and healthier wife, but he never even considered it. We admire this man not only for doing the right thing, but for continuing to love and cherish his wife. Though the problems faced by the rest of us may be less challenging than those encountered by the Korstjens, each of us will confront some kind of hardship in the years ahead. How will we respond?

Just between us…

Do you worry about failing health down the road?
When you're sick, how well do I care for you?
Have you ever resented having to serve me during times of sickness or disability?
How could illness - either minor or serious - actually strengthen our marriage?

Lord, we don't want to deny the faith by failing to provide for those You have entrusted to our care. We ask for Your strength - especially when hardships come - to show enduring love in our marriage and in our family. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Change Your Behaviors To Become A More Inspiring Leader

Behavioral Strategist Offers 4 Tips For Broadening Your Mind And Your Leadership Skills

Habits can be a trap for people in leadership positions – whether they are in business, politics or another field.

As leaders, they should provide a compelling vision that inspires those around them. Instead, many of them lapse into automatic and mindless thinking. And that can affect every decision they make – and the actions of the people who report to them.

"Too often, we don't come up with imaginative solutions because we let ourselves be ruled by routine and by preconceived notions," says Rob-Jan de Jong, a behavioral strategist and author of "Anticipate: The Art of Leading By Looking Ahead" (www.robjandejong.com).

"We think we know ahead of time what will and won't work, which makes us quick to dismiss ideas that sound too ‘out there.' The people who answer to you learn the lesson that creative thinking is frowned upon, even if that's not the lesson you wanted to teach."

Simply making a New Year's resolution to have a more open mind in 2016 likely won't be enough to turn things around. But de Jong says there are behaviors and practices that, through repetition and perseverance, can help leaders and anyone else develop a mindset that's open to imaginative and better ideas.

Formulate powerful questions.

Generating ideas starts with asking the right questions and the best questions are thought-provoking. They challenge underlying assumptions and invite creativity. "They also give us energy, making us aware of the fact there is something to explore that we hadn't fully grasped before," de Jong says. Train yourself to catch poorly designed questions, asked by you or someone else, and reformulate them. Questions that begin with "why," "what" and "how" are best because they require more thoughtful responses than those that begin with "who," "when," "where" and "which." Especially avoid questions that can be answered with a "yes" or "no."

Expand your sphere of influence.

"We are strongly influenced, for better or worse, by the small group of people we have direct contact with," de Jong says. "Since we tend to hang out with people who are fairly similar to ourselves, chances are we are limiting our perspectives." He recommends making a deliberate effort to encounter people and ideas that are "profoundly different from the usual suspects you hang out with." Visit a conference of a different profession, hang out with skaters, join an arts club or buy a magazine randomly off the shelf.

Break your patterns.

You can increase your chances of seeing things differently if you deliberately break your normal pattern of working, communicating, thinking, reacting and responding, de Jong says. Take a different route to work. Change where you sit in meetings. If you are normally the first to volunteer, hold back.

Learn to listen.

"We've all been taught the importance of being good listeners," de Jong says. "The problem is most of us struggle to actually do it." Often when people are "listening," they really are waiting for the first opportunity to share their story, their opinion or their experience. De Jong suggests training yourself to engage in three pure listening conversations a week. They don't need to be longer than 15 to 20 minutes, they can be formal or informal, and the other person doesn't need to know what you're doing. Vow that you won't try to take over the conversation no matter how much you want to. "Just keep asking questions and don't dismiss anything the other person says," de Jong says. After the conversation, reflect on what you learned. Don't dismiss any ideas or views that don't align with yours. "Dare to challenge your own assumptions and reframe your beliefs if need be," he says.

"Some of these practices may take people outside their comfort zones, and everyone might not be ready to try all of these at once," de Jong says. "But if you start to put them into practice, you'll be able to grow into a more mindful, visionary leader one step at a time."

About Rob-Jan de Jong

Rob-Jan de Jong, author of "Anticipate: The Art of Leading By Looking Ahead" (www.robjandejong.com), is an international speaker, writer and consultant on strategy and leadership themes. He serves as an expert lecturer at various leading business schools such as the Wharton Business School (USA), Thunderbird School of Global Management (USA), Nyenrode Business University (The Netherlands), and Sabanci Business University (Turkey).

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