Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: New Sunday,
Jesus Appears To Disciples and St. Thomas

Volume 6 No. 342 April 1, 2016
 

III. General Weekly Features

Poem: Twilight Streams

by Dr. Mercy Abraham

At the banks of Periyar river at Parur before sunset.
Coconut trees casts a deep shadow on the river.
Watch the shadows dance with the the waves.
Photo by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World


Twilight Streams

by Dr. Mercy Abraham

Streams in twilight are falling down around
It is such a beautiful sight
Colours of emerald, blue and brown lights
Twinkle around me, it is a mirage

I think about your love, when I am far from home
Here the trees are beautiful, yellow flowers
On tall hanging boughs swinging in the wind
As a mother's child in its cradle

Yes I think about your childhood and tears
Swell up in my eyes, trimming over and
Rolling down my eyes as streams in the desert
Springs bubbling up in the desert for you my child
You will never thirst in the desert, my dear

The depths of your love mother is so deep
who doesn't care for you, as we do my dear
As we see your face it is so beautiful but sometimes it is sad
I have to go, moments are flitting as the ticks of an alarm clock
in front of me, don't you see

Flowers are beautiful as butterflies flip around
Honey bees booming a around with their long snouts
As I travel from this forest to an open prairie across the Pacific
Sky is beautiful with myriads of stars

As we gaze up, thunder clouds with an occasional lightning
herald the summer rains , as I wish you were here
with me at this time my dear to share these
Moments of tranquility and peace across life

copyright (c) 2015 by Dr. Mercy Abraham

About The Author:

Dr. Mercy Abraham does not need an introduction for Malankara World Journal readers. We had been privileged to publish several poems penned by Mercy. Mercy, a medical graduate from Kottayam Medical College, works in UAE. She is truly the "voice of the wilderness and dessert. The eerie landscape, the desert and the hot winds inspire Mercy to write her poems. A recent trip to the USA has expanded her horizons as can be seen from this poem.

Recipe: Beef and Toasted Coconut Curry from Malaysia

by Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

The toasted coconut and other spices makes for quite an unusual curry. The addition of lemongrass is typical of Malaysia and the neighboring areas and makes the curry taste very different than we are used to.

Ingredients:

1 kg (2 lb) lean stewing steak, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons peanut oil
3 tablespoons desiccated coconut
1 stem lemon grass, chopped
or rind of half lemon
4 dried red chillies
I teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
I medium onion, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste
4 tablespoons tamarind liquid
2 teaspoons salt

Directions:

Roast coconut in a dry pan till golden brown.

Remove to a plate and when cool put into blender container together with rest of ingredients and blend to a smooth paste adding a little hot water to facilitate blending.

Heat oil in a saucepan, Add blended spices and cook, stirring till oil comes to the surface and spices smell aromatic.

Add meat and stir till color changes, then cover and simmer till meat is tender, stirring occasionally.

Add more water if necessary.

Serve with rice and accompaniments.

Yield: Serves: 4-6

Family Special: Five Ways to Know if You're a Good Spouse

by Lori Freeland

We get married for all kinds of reasons. Love. Security. Children. Fear. Loneliness.

We might take that walk down the aisle as early as high school graduation or as late as in the fall or winter seasons of our lives.

Maybe we chose our high school sweetheart, our best friend, a coworker, someone we met in Sunday School, or even a person from our past who becomes our future.

Some of us had great examples of solid marriages to look to in our own parents and mentors. Others of us saw what we didn't want to become and vowed to do marriage differently. But no matter why, when, or with whom we take the plunge, most of us are nowhere close to understanding what it really means to tie that lifetime knot.

Out of a desperate need to belong somewhere and to someone, a few months after I turned 21, I married my high school sweetheart. Still in college, reeling from my parent's nasty divorce, I was clueless about life, relationships, and what it took to sustain a marriage. I didn't know who I was as a person, let alone how to be a good spouse.

But I jumped in headfirst, blindfolded, and totally naïve - in love with the idea of being in love. Who wouldn't get excited about candles, romance, whispered endearments, and hours of staring into each other's eyes? I was all over goofy pet names. Holding hands. Never-ending hugs. Butterflies leaping through my stomach. Basically, I expected my marriage to remain in the honeymoon phase.

My honeymoon phase lasted as long as my honeymoon - exactly three days.

When my husband and I returned home from our short getaway and settled in to our apartment for our first night as a married couple, we were prepared. We had the required rings on our fingers, a store's worth of candles lit around the bedroom, one silky nightgown, and a King-sized bed.

A guaranteed happily ever after, right?
Not so much.

Sometime between lighting those candles and donning the nightgown, I got the flu - double-over-the-porcelain-bowl-gut-wrenching flu. Cue my husband sweeping in to save me. Rubbing my back. Holding my hair. Whispering how sorry he was.

Only that's not quite what happened.

Instead, my brand-new husband abandoned me on the cold tile floor while he fell asleep sprawled across our bed next to my cat - killing every single expectation I ever had about how marriage worked.

I'd even left the bathroom door open so I'd be easy to rescue. I mean, what was his problem? Couldn't he hear the horrendous retching? The sobbing? The SOS I silently sent? And wasn't it his job to take care of me? Be my champion. My knight. Hadn't he signed up to meet all my needs the day he signed our marriage certificate?

Due to my backward way of thinking, wondering what he could do for me and not the other way around, the first fifteen years of our marriage can be summed up in one word - rough.

And not because he was an uncaring jerk who forgot he was supposed to hold my hair while I ejected my dinner. But because I didn't know how to be a good spouse. I was selfish, demanding, ill-equipped, and brimming with unreasonable expectations. It wasn't until I was ready to abandon all that and ask myself how I could serve my spouse that anything changed.

Whether you've had a rough start or an easy run, God cares about the state of your heart and the condition of your marriage. He's an amazing redeemer - who's going to ask you to change if you want your marriage to change.

Twenty-five years, three kids, two major illnesses, a cross-country move, and a lot of living later… this is what I've learned about being a good spouse.

I know I'm a good spouse when I:

1. Get Real with My Expectations.

The world tells us we deserve to be happy. That our spouse should make us happy. Maybe even read our minds. Know exactly how to talk to us, touch us, love us without ever learning how. That's a lot of pressure on another person, when it's really only God who brings true joy. God who sees our every need. When I accept my spouse as human and don't try to put him in God's place, a funny thing happens in my marriage. I begin to shift my thinking off myself and onto my spouse. When I put his needs above my own, it changes the way we interact in a positive direction.

2. Offer Myself as a Safe Haven.

Life is hard. Jobs. Kids. Health. Money. Impossible relationships and people. Hard choices. The bumps in the road you never saw coming. There's enough negative out there, that we need a place where we feel safe and loved and wanted and important and respected. Somewhere we can be ourselves. My role as a spouse isn't to criticize, it's to uplift, support, and encourage. I want to be a refuge in my spouse's life so he sees me and our home as his safe haven.

3. Learn to be a Soulmate.

Intimacy involves baring the deepest parts of your soul and being trustworthy so your spouse can bare his own. Nothing substantial in a relationship comes naturally - most things need time and effort to grow. A willingness to communicate makes all the difference in the depth of your connection. If I'm quiet and thoughtful, if I pay attention, watch my spouse in different situations, take the time to learn his moods, to listen, to care about what's important to him, I'll create a soul-deep bond between us that takes my marriage to a whole new level.

4. Decide to Love No Matter What.

Falling in love is easy. Staying in love takes work. Love is a decision. It might be a cliché, but it's also a rock-solid truth. The day we pledge ourselves together, God expects us to choose to love each other forever. Over the years, there will be moments, hours, days where our spouse sinks to the bottom of our happy list. Times when we don't like each other very much. Where we question keeping those rings on our fingers. And those feelings are okay. You don't have to like someone to love them. Real love isn't about the butterflies kicking around in my stomach. Real love sticks deep, lodged tight in a place not easily shaken. When I constantly show my spouse my love isn't driven by my ever-changing feelings, but by the pact I made to be faithful to him, he'll trust I'm in it for long haul.

5. Make Good History.

Like in a war, there's something to be said for walking the trenches together. I've known my husband since I was sixteen. He lived through the bad years after my parents divorced. He watched me grow and mature after college. We became parents together. Struggled through two rounds of our son's childhood cancer. None of those experiences can be erased. They're collected. Stored. Mounted in a mental scrapbook. But it's my choice what they look like. Are they ugly or beautiful? Did each of those memories build our bond, better our communication, forge our path? Or did they tear us down?

It doesn't matter when you met your spouse - early, late, or somewhere in the middle. The moment you commit to each other, you step out of your own story and start a new one together. Every situation we come across has the potential to strengthen or weaken who we are as a couple. Work hard to lay down positive pictures in the journal of your life together.

Each of the ideas above are meant to encourage you in your journey of becoming a good spouse. And they all have one thing in common - giving up ourselves.

John 15:13 tells us, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."

Laying down your life doesn't have to mean death. It can also mean self-sacrifice. If we love someone, we sacrifice our needs and wants for theirs. And in an ideal world, they turn around and sacrifice theirs right back.

God gave us a fool-proof formula in I Corinthians 13. If we followed God's Golden Rule regarding love, I bet almost, if not all, our discord in marriage would fade and disappear.

So next time you're wondering how to be a good spouse, dive in, meditate on, and live out this famous verse:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(I Corinthians 13:4-7)

About The Author:

Lori Freeland is a freelance author from Dallas, Texas with a passion to share her experiences in hopes of connecting with other women tackling the same issues. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a full-time homeschool mom.

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

Family Special: Parental Lessons to Avoid

by John R. Throop

Scripture: Ezekiel 20:1–29

"Do not follow the statutes of your parents or keep their laws or defile yourselves with their idols. I am the LORD your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."
Ezekiel 20:18–19

Most children follow the example of their parents. Even as we move into adulthood and marriage, it is natural to mirror our parents' attitudes and actions. Following their examples can be positive and productive. But what some parents teach can also be difficult and destructive, or somewhere in between.

Jim and Jolene wrestled with the lessons each had learned in their dysfunctional families. When they gave their lives and their marriage to Jesus Christ, they found themselves on a healthier path. But the lessons each had learned from parents and other family members required a lot of sifting. As the couple grew in Christ, they learned three important lessons that the people of Israel also had to learn. The prophet Ezekiel provided specific directions:

First, do not follow the rules (written and unwritten) of sinful parents.

Their destructive behavior, broken relationships and spiritual emptiness can lead to death. That was Jim's experience. He had witnessed drunkenness, abuse and betrayal in his parents' relationship, and as a teen Jim followed their example as he got into drugs, alcohol and trouble with the law.

Even religious parents can provide poor examples to follow. Jolene often went to church with her family and took part in a youth group. But her mother was judgmental, and her father was preoccupied with his own life. Neither one modeled for Jolene how to behave in a long-term relationship.

Second, do everything you can to pattern your lives and relationship after Christ and his followers.

Before meeting each other, Jim and Jolene had become believers. Yet they had to learn how to live as authentic Christians in marriage. They learned as much as they could from Christ's teachings and example as well as from godly couples in church.

Third, keep the Sabbath.

It's easy to organize life around each other, your jobs, recreational activities, house and yard upkeep, or caring for the kids. But as God says in Ezekiel 20:20, we must keep the Sabbaths holy, "that they may be a sign between us."

When our lives conform to the pattern suggested to us by Scripture, setting aside a day to worship God with other believers and letting everything else line up after that, then, as Ezekiel said, we will know God is our Lord.

Let's Talk

  • What were some of the lessons our parents taught us about being a husband or wife? How did they model good behavior? Not-so-good behavior?
  • What are some practical and productive ways we can follow the commands of Christ to build a spiritual life as a couple and together glorify him?
  • In a time-challenged world, what are some ways we can keep the Sabbath together? How can we worship and obey God together?

Source: NIV Devotions for Couples

Self Improvement: Limitless Potential - Limiting Beliefs

by Jae M. Rang

When you drive down the highway, you can't help but notice that the government has imposed a speed limit.

When you find a good special, the store imposes a quantity limit.

When you purchase a home, the bank imposes a credit limit.

It doesn't matter where you turn, there are limits.

Limits to cell phone usage.

Limits to how much you should eat.

Limits to how many days off you can take from work.

And as with any limit, when we push the envelope - cross the line - there are consequences.

But what about the limits imposed on our potential?

The ones we'd been conditioned to accept relating to what we deserve, how much money we should make or trips we're allowed to take?

Now, maybe our parents and teachers taught us to play it safe to keep us protected. After all, they love us, right?

And... when you push boundaries, there are repercussions. I'm sure they wanted to protect us from bad things happening.

But did any of those boundaries protect us from really good things happening?

Aha – the most impeding limits are limiting beliefs.

Pushing a limit – taking a risk – isn't always a bad thing.

The question is, when did the limitations imposed become a habit as opposed to a choice?

Our limiting beliefs about our growth and potential may have been influenced by someone - the seed was planted - but we're choosing to water that plant and reinforce the limiting belief.

Take a step back and ask yourself: "What limiting belief is playing in my head and my heart that is keeping me from soaring!?"

Is it about money? About accomplishment? Education? Circle of friends? A car?

Some people say it's better to be safe than sorry. But really ... if you always play it safe, you might be sorry!

Why?

At the end of the day, we regret the things we didn't do more than the things we did!

If there is one thing you should be totally comfortable taking a risk on, that should be yourself.

After all, when you make up your mind to be so, you're unstoppable!

About The Author:

Jae M. Rang is the author of SENSORY MEDIA; Discover the Way to Anchor Your Brand and Be Memorable. Bob Proctor has this to say about Jae's work. "Given Jae's extensive study in self development and the workings of the mind, I'm not the least bit surprised she has brought this study to the realization that promotional products are "sensory media". It's true."

Let's Start a Movement of Kindness

by Jesse Weinberg

Think about a time when someone did something kind for you. A smile from a stranger, an unexpected compliment, someone buying you coffee or lunch. A simple act of kindness is enough to change someone's day around for the better. Or even life.

My grandfather navigated his life with ultimate kindness. By actions, not words, he helped teach many others and myself what true kindness means. My beloved grandfather recently passed away, and I regret not sharing with him some ways in which he influenced me. At his memorial someone noted a fierce argument in Grandpa's life in which he responded to an offensive statement by saying softly, "it sounds like we have a difference of opinion." Within a few months of my grandfather passing my wife and I had our first child, which was the happiest moment of my life. I would like to help my son grow up with the spirit of kindness I learned from my grandfather.

Life is so good. Life is so short. It's easy to get caught up in routine and just sort of drift through. I want to remember (and help other people remember) the amazing feeling you get when you step out of your comfort zone and do something good for someone else. It's a simple concept, and so powerful, but practiced much less frequently than it should be.

As I think back through my own life and about the random acts of kindness people have done for me, I realize those memories are life altering. How is something that is so simple to do (a smile, a compliment, buying someone lunch, going out of your way to do something helpful or unexpected) so powerful? And why are those simple acts so underutilized and acted upon in day-to-day life on a whole throughout humanity?

As we all know, the news from mainstream media is mostly bad news. What if each of us did a little bit to help shift this paradigm from negativity to positivity through small and unexpected acts of kindness?

A wise man once said, 'Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.' Over the last few years I've been formulating ideas to bring kindness into the mainstream. With death comes life, when one door closes another opens. An idea is worth nothing without execution, so after my grandfather passed, and my son was born, I decided to launch Kindness & Co with the goal of starting a global movement of kindness

To begin to create a Movement of Kindness and to help people jumpstart their own ripple effects of kindness, Kindness & Co has created beautiful hand designed Random Act of Kindness Kits. These Kits make it easy to get started practicing kindness and includes great ideas of things to do for others that will make life a little sweeter.

Together, let's start a Movement of Kindness

'Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.'
- Scott Adams

About The Author:

Jesse Weinberg is a serial entrepreneur living in the Pacific Southwest. He thinks kindness is cool and in 2015 founded Kindness & Co with the mission of starting a movement of kindness though Random Act of Kindness Kits and beyond. He is dedicated to shifting the paradigm of collective human consciousness to revolve towards kindness.

Full of Sap and Spring at Age 93

by Stephen Altrogge

They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green…(Psalm 92:14)

My grandfather, J.J. Altrogge, is 93 years old. He is still bearing loads of fruit of Jesus. He conducts Bible study at retirement homes regularly. For the last 15 years or so he has also painted birthday cards for every member of our church. That currently puts him at around 5,000 birthday cards. Lately he's been bringing a down-and-out friend of his to church to hear the gospel. He also gives the guy rides to the grocery store to help him purchase groceries.

So what's his secret? How is he still so fruitful for God at age 93? I think it's because he is in regular fellowship with Jesus. Every morning he sits in his sunroom, surrounded by his paintings, sips on bad coffee (instant!), reads God's word, reads a devotional, and takes time to pray. Nothing fancy. No extravagant, mystical rituals. Just time with Jesus.

I'm convinced that the more closely we stay connected to Jesus, the more fruitful we will be. The more we marinate in his word and open our hearts in prayer, the more we will blossom with spiritual fruit. That's why Jesus said:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:4-5 ESV)

My grandpa abides with Jesus which then leads to him being fruitful. It's the same with my dad. His fruitfulness as a pastor for the last 30 years is because he is regularly abiding with Jesus. I want to be like my grandpa and my dad. I want to imitate them as they imitate Christ. There's no gimmick or trick to being fruitful for the Lord. It's simple. Abide with Jesus and then walk in the works he has prepared for you.

Stephen Altrogge, theblazingcenter.com

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