Orphan, Widow, Single Mother – Still Alive

Forty years ago in South India there was a girl who was born the second of three sisters. When she was very young her father became ill and died. The mother could not bear the thought of raising three girls alone and since she had a history of mental illness, the girl’s mother also took her life. That day the girl became an orphan.

The girl and her older sister were sent to live with an Aunt in Mumbai and there they were treated slightly better than household servants. When they were old enough, they traveled to Rajasthan to attend Bible College. The middle sister was sickly and worry-prone from childhood so she was soon married to a relative of her older sister’s husband to relieve her family of the burden of caring for her. Unbeknownst to her, her new husband was also sickly and on top of that, terribly unkind to the girl. Nevertheless, she soon became pregnant and bore a daughter of her own. Not long after, her terrible husband died. That day the girl, who was now a woman, became a widow.

While I lived in India the woman and her child came to live near her older sister who was married to a member of my staff. The woman, who was a true orphan and a true widow and a true single mother was also one of the most annoying people I have ever met. That sounds mean, doesn’t it? But it’s true. The crazy part is, I loved her. I loved her in spite of her annoying and pushy ways. I loved her through all her (many) physical ailments and doctor’s appointments when the doctor would scold her for not taking her medicine or doing what she was told to get well. For some reason, God had given me an abundance of grace and love toward her, it surely was not from myself.

Over three years ago I left India and have not returned. I have not seen or heard from the woman, my friend, since then. She has no access to computers and would not be able to type even if she did.

Last night I saw I had a Facebook message from an old staff member in India – the brother-in-law of my friend. When I opened Messenger there were five words: Hi from Princy and Justy.”

My first thought was, Wow, she’s still alive.


5minutefridayThis post was written for Five Minute Fridays where many many lovely people link up to write for just five minutes inspired by a single word. Today’s word: Messenger. Find link here.

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I cried this week…


I was a missionary for 12 years. I vividly remember the emotions my friend A.L.F. is describing in her post, “I cried this week…” I was in a position, as she is, to lead hundreds, sometimes thousands – it is a lonely place up there all alone and thoughts of throwing in the towel are never far from your mind. After over a decade of that life, no wonder I tend to write humor…

A Living Flame

I cried this week. I almost never cry. I am not one who prides myself on not being a crier but I just don’t respond to emotion often by crying. Life has been hard though. I have cried more in these first months of 2014 then I have in years. It is not brought on by shallow, petty or even circumstantial things but by deep hurt. Mostly the hurt of being misunderstood.

I am thankful for the honor and position that God has given me. It has allowed me to make a great impact in my sphere in the world I live in. Being in a place of position does have great disadvantages. Often people in ministry are placed on a pedestal. It is not a pedestal that we have asked to be placed on. It is often a pedestal of honor. However when you are on a pedestal you…

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Motherhood, Magnolias and Missionaries

I rarely struggle for inspiration. Actually, I don’t struggle at all – sometimes I just don’t have it. We’re halfway through the A to Z Challenge and on most days I know well in advance what I will be posting for each letter. But not today. Not “M.”

M! Motherhood, Magnolias, Madness. So many Ms! But I wasn’t feeling it. Was. Not. Inspired. At. All.

stockvault-magnolia-tree121131I care about you, dear readers. I do. I never want to post – just to post. When I read A Living Flame’s post this morning I realized instantly why I was not inspired – she had already written the post meant for today. Voila! Missionary. (PS – I loved this post. PPS – She also wrote the recipe for Chai in my post The Art of Chai.)

A Living Flame

Some days life on the field is easy. Then there are days when it is hard. There are days when I climb to the rooftop and singing praise songs over my neighbourhood and then there are days when I feel like hiding in a quiet corner of my house and listening to the voices that tell me I am not good enough and will never accomplish anything. When I want a close friend to take me out to coffee and pray with me I am reminded that I am alone.

But there is encouragement. There is a way that I bring myself back to reality and realise that my obstacles are small, my friends many and my situation hopeful.

In the past few years I have found great joy (and sorrow) in reading of the lives that have gone before me. When I read about Amy Carmicheal and that she…

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Identity – Who Am I?

“I miss India a lot today. The foggy weather outside reminds me of it. I miss the smell of spices and riding with the wind in my hair on the back of a motorcycle. I miss the old mommas in the streets selling their goods. I miss the high pitched singing ladies that were on the radio in every car. I miss the colors. I never thought I would say that I miss India. But today, I really miss India.”

My niece, who lived with me for a time in India, wrote me this a few days ago.

For a long time I found my identity in being an Indian wife or a Dweller in the land of India.

India 3Then one day these things were Gone. Over. Done. That part of my life was Finished.

And I suddenly had to figure out, Who am I.

The answer didn’t come in a moment, or a day, or a month. It came as I journeyed forward. I’ve written about this search for my Identity here.


* I write for the online publication, Moms of Faith, every Wednesday & Saturday. (You DON’T have to be a mom – or even female – to visit. Stop on by.)

I Gave Birth in India (Part 1 of 4)


Mention the words “India” or “Indian” around my five year old and most assuredly she will inform you, “I was born in India.”

Yes she was.

Over the years there have been some requests for the birth story in its entirety. My fear is that I will not be able to fully describe in words what took place that March night five years ago. Yet, with much trepidation (and a lot of backspacing) I will try.

In 2008 I found myself sitting on an examination table at my OB/GYN’s hospital. (Yes, hospital. She owned it. I was living in Gujarat, India and this is the way it’s done.) The woman who mopped the floors was apparently also in charge of waving pregnancy test pee strips around to dry them. I’ll never forget the expression on her face when she looked up at me and shook her head. Not a shake in the affirmative, but a shake from side to side. It was a gesture that clearly said, “That’s a shame.” I.e. You’re pregnant. Again.

With three children already under my belt, I wasn’t too dismayed by the news. P. was unexpected but we’d always wanted four. She just came without planning, forethought or intention, sort of like Christmas in the Grinch. We were happy she was here.

The only stressful part of this unexpected news was the thought of packing up and heading back to the US for the delivery. My three older girls had all been born in the US even though we were living in India at the time. I’d take a hiatus from our life there and come stay with mom and dad in NJ for three or four months. Have a baby. Get a passport and visa. Return to India. It was laborious, and I’m not just talking about the squeezing out the baby part.

One night I had an inspiration. Have the baby in India. It was like a “Duh” moment. In the end, that’s what we did.

This is Part 1 of 4. Find links here to: Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

P passport

I Gave Birth in India (Part 2 of 4)

P 2

Her due date was February 15th, but she hung in there an extra two weeks just for kicks. Finally, the contractions began and by this point I. Was. Ready. I’d had my previous two children naturally without drugs and with a midwife, my preferred method, but it HURT. And I’m gonna be real honest here – I HATED the actual birthing process. Still do. SO THANKFUL I never have to do that again. P. coming late was a blessing, I was past the point of fearing the pain and at the This Needs To Happen stage.

So, whoopdeedo, February 28th rolled around and I was ready to go at last. I called my doctor to let her know I was coming in and, you guessed it, here comes the wrench in the plan, the hospital lady who sleeps next to the phone at night informed me that my doctor was in Mumbai for the weekend. And just like that, I was doctor-less and had nowhere to go.

By eleven o’clock at night my husband had driven to six maternity hospitals in the city, one by one. No one would take me. I wasn’t their patient, why should they? I get it. I can now relate to Mary in Bethlehem. No doctor in the hospital? Won’t take new patients? No room in the Inn? Been there. All I really wanted was to find a place to squeeze this baby out and a person to catch her at the other end. A stable makes perfect sense.

After several phone calls from my husband on the road informing me there was nowhere to go, I finally said, (I honestly said this) “Go to the slums, find a midwife and bring her to the house. We’ll do it here.” I was totally serious.

In the end, a family friend, who was a nurse and used to work for an OB/GYN interceded for us. My husband caught the doctor in his parking lot leaving his hospital at midnight and convinced him to admit me. This is where the fun began.

This is Part 2 of 4. Find links here for Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4.

P 3

I Gave Birth in India (Part 3 of 4)

P 1

I was admitted at midnight on a Saturday/Sunday morning. This is important because the doctor and his wife were opening a BEAUTIFUL, MAGNIFICENT, MILLION DOLLAR Maternity Hospital at noon on Sunday. I was 12 hours too early.  Sigh.

Yes. It mattered.

The new hospital was not inaugurated, read – Not open until Sunday afternoon. I had to deliver in the old hospital. Now, when I say old, think India old. Think: they knew they were moving to a new facility and had allowed the old one to go to crap old. I didn’t even have a room, which was fine since I was happy to roam the crumbling halls til she came out. They did, however, place a cot in their file closet for me. So, that was nice.

Boom, when she came, she came fast. By my fourth child I knew when we were in the homestretch. I was beyond the point of words so I grabbed a passing teenage girl. Seriously, she might have been eighteen. I hoisted myself up onto the delivery table and man I REALLY wish I had some pictures. Words cannot adequately describe the filthy state of the table I delivered on.

Rusty metal table.

Thick, green plastic cover on top in use since forever.

It was ancient and stained with unimaginable things. And when I say unimaginable things I mean blood, gore, amniotic fluid, fecal matter, etc. Of course.

Let’s just say, it was crusty and I didn’t care. 

This is Part 3 of 4. Find links here for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4.


I Gave Birth in India (Part 4 of 4) The End


I’m a bad pusher. I know this to be true. I’ve witnessed many a birth in my life and I’ve even delivered a baby myself – that’s a WHOLE ‘nother story. The point is, I KNOW that I am a bad pusher. I do, however, try. I shout at the top of my lungs. I say things like, I can’t. I can’t. I can’t… And then… I do. Finally.

P. was born in India at 1:24AM with an old Gujarati floor washer pushing on my tummy, a teenager playing catcher between my legs and a sweet friend by my side.

That would be a really nice ending to this story but dang it, that’s when the doctor decided to show up. Oh, Hello doctor. Thanks for not being here. Oh, now you want to come do some doctor stuff? I’m going to get graphic here and if you can’t handle it skip on down to the next paragraph. Minutes after giving birth and simultaneously tearing open my episiotomy scar (that’s a word you don’t want to Google – ew), the doctor reached his entire hand through my ravaged vagina and into my recently emptied uterus. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? He used his ARM to clear out my uterus. It. Hurt. Worse. Than. The. Actual. Birthing. Of. My. Child.

The good news is, I obviously survived to tell the tale.

In the end, I shuffled back to my file room, pale and sore but oh so happy. She was out, and in my arms. And she was perfect.

Will Smith ears and all.

The End. Or, should I say, The Beginning.

This is Part 4 of 4. Find links here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.


How to Prepare Chai at Home (In the Western World)


Earlier in the week I posted a recipe for Chai written by a dear friend of mine overseas. It was a traditional Indian version of how to make this yummy milk tea. However, what works in an Indian kitchen, doesn’t always translate to an American one.

Since being back in the US I’ve developed my own version of Chai preparation in a Western kitchen. Unless you have a tea strainer and loose tea on hand…DSC05327…you might want to try this easy version.

All you need is: Milk (2% works best), sugar and a teabag (black tea.) That’s it!


If you want to go fancy and yummy – add one or a combo of the following: cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick or slice of fresh ginger (not pictured).


However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, before we dive in we need to address the issue of American-sized mugs compared to Indian-sized teacups. 


Two Indian tea cups full of Chai fit into One American sized mug. The following instructions will be for making ONE American sized mug of Chai. Double the recipe according to how many mugs of delicious Chai you are making. 


  • 1 mug of 2% milk
  • 1 teabag (black tea)
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • spices (optional)

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and place on Medium High heat.


Allow ingredients to come to a boil (milk WILL boil over, you must watch it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) Once milk comes to a full boil adjust the heat to keep milk at a low boil for about 3 minutes. Color should turn light brown. I suggest swirling the pan occasionally to mix the ingredients, using a spoon to stir often tears open the tea bag and then you’re gonna need that strainer anyway. 


Isn’t that pretty?

I suggest that you do not rush Chai – it’s better when you allow it to take its time. The entire process takes about 5 minutes. Once done, turn off the heat, remove teabag and any spices and throw them away (unless you lived during the Depression, then you can wash them off and reuse. As you wish.)

Drink! Enjoy! Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

I recommend experimenting with spices til you find your favorite. One cardamom pod is perfect for me.

If you are interested in learning how to make authentic Chai you can visit my earlier post, The Art of Chai or visit the original post by A Living Flame.

FYI: Your homemade Chai will most likely form a milk skin on top as it cools. Don’t be afraid! It’s just milk. You can either: A. slurp it down. B. slurp it into your mouth and chew it up C. blow it over to the side of your cup and let it stick there D. use your finger or spoon to lift it off and discard.

Which do you think I prefer?


Milk skin. Nothing to fear.

The Art of Chai – By an Expert (Not Me)

After my previous post I was made aware that of some of my beloved readers would enjoy a lesson on making Chai (tea). And then, what do you know, a dear friend of mine who lives overseas, and is also the writer behind the Blog, A Living Flame, has recently written a perfect Indian Chai recipe. I hope you enjoy it and I hope you will continue to visit her Blog on a regular basis. It is so worth it. In the coming days I will also post an American version of how to make Chai tea at home. But until then, I present the authentic Indian version. (And just to be perfectly clear – the following post was not written by me but is being used with permission. Please find the URL for the original post at the very bottom.) Enjoy!

The truth: some days I don’t feel like doing anything.

The other truth: some days I don’t do anything. 

Today is one of those days and you would not want to hear my thoughts on life. (because we all have those days when it is better not to post:) What I would rather do is sit and read and have chai. If you are having one of those days you can do it too. Here is the chai recipe to make the option complete!

Indian chai- you either hate or love it. I have met both types of people. Wait, I am both types! When I first visited India I can remember thinking it was quite odd. Now I may be addicted to it (yet, I will not be mastered by anything…so I quote)

To make a cup of chai you need a med. size pot on a medium hot burner.

2c. whole millk (sorry Americans, your milk is just not the same as India’s)

2t. loose black tea leaves

2t. sugar

1 green cardamon, a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg. (all are optional)

Heat the milk and add the other ingredients. Watch and wait for the milk to boil. (If you walk away to do anything it may WILL boil over!) On electric stoves milk boils up very fast and often overflows. As the milk starts to boil, remove the pot from the stove and turn the burner down.


Add all ingredients and bring to a boil

Let the tea simmer until it is the color of hot chocolate. This can take between 5-10 minutes depending on how strong your tea is and how hot your burner is.


When the tea is ready, pour through a fine strainer directly into your glass. Throw away the used tea leaves.


Strain out tea leaves.

In India, chai is ALWAYS served on a tray with biscuits. (we have a bit of British English here). Presentation is very important so if you have guests over you would use your best cups and dishes. Of course, today is one of those days I just want to enjoy this cup, so until next week when I feel like sharing my heart (and life)..enjoy some chai!


Original post may be found here: http://alivingflame.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/a-chai-kind-of-day/