Rajat knocked on my door yesterday and held up a very swollen foot. “Uncle Yip told me to ask you for ice.”

While he was chopping wood for the kitchen, a bee stung him. I gave him an ice-pack and said he could take it with him and go lie on his bed if he wanted. He chose to stay, so I sat down with him while the ice-pack slowly melted.

I opened the conversation by mentioning a story I heard about his broken chappals (flip-flops). We laughed about how the cobbler mended his chappals and they soon broke again. Afterwards he went barefoot for a couple months, preferring it to any kind of footwear. I looked at his feet, remarking on his nice looking, new chappals. He lifted up one foot, staring with admiration. “It’s good to wear chappals, because it’s easy to step on thorns.”

I asked Rajat about his family.

“I was born in Bihar. When I was a baby my family moved to Dehradun, into a colony called Chor-kala, meaning black thieves. And that’s how it was. Dark and sinister. No one was trust-able. It wasn’t a nice place.

My father never went to school, but had a job working on cement trucks. He married my mother when she was 14. I have a sister four years younger than me. She is 12. I’m sixteen. My mother is 29 now. My father was not good. He drank a lot, and when he did, he would beat all of us. The doctor warned him about his drinking, saying one day it could kill him. He didn’t listen.

When I turned 6, my mother wanted to put me in school. My father was against it. He thought school would make me turn out bad, like him. My mother disagreed and they argued. She thought school would be good for me and was determined for me to go. They kept arguing about it. The result was he drank, and then beat my mother, my sister, and me. In a real act of bravery, Mom enrolled me in school anyhow. She got another beating for that. I was in school for one week. Then Dad died.

Mom married again. My stepfather is okay, though he drinks and beats my mother, and us, sometimes. I call him Father. He is not as bad as my real dad was. My relationship with him is improving. From their marriage, I have a little brother. He’s 5 now.

My birth father had AIDS. My mother has AIDS. My stepfather has AIDS. My sister has AIDS. Only myself and my little brother do not have it. When my brother was born the doctor advised Mom not to breastfeed to give the baby less chance of being infected. She spent extra money and walked daily to the bazaar for his milk. It kept him safe. My mother just put my brother into school. I’m glad she did that.

My family now lives in the mountains. I was stuck at home during the covid lock-down and couldn’t return to school. My father had me work in a chai shop. I didn’t mind, but it’s difficult at home when he drinks and beats us. His doctor told him to stop drinking and eating so much chili, because one day it may kill him. Like my first dad, my stepfather doesn’t listen to the doctor’s advice.”

Rajat came in to my house in the evening for another dose of the ice-pack. I fed him cake and showed him pictures. In the morning he came again for the ice-pack. This afternoon his foot was less swollen, so he asked my husband, Yip, for permission to play soccer. Yip playfully raised an eyebrow and looked down at his foot. “I suppose your shoe will fit over it?” He winked.

After Rajat left Yip told me why he let him play. “Boys will be boys.”

Seemed reasonable, but I also knew boys sometimes need an excuse to be brave… brave enough to talk. For Rajat, it was a bee sting.

Hebrews 13:2

“Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

It was September 12th, 2022, Dixie Mall, Port Credit, Canada.

After a 5-year gap, my husband, Yip, and I were able to visit Canada again. Enjoying the “foreign market,” we were roaming a large shopping mall with our daughter, Sheva, who had connived with another sister to buy us shoes. I tried to convince Sheva I didn’t need shoes. “Spend your money on Dad. He can’t get his size at home.” And that was true. In India, where we live, size 13 is nearly impossible to find.

Tired, I waited inside the door of a shoe store while Sheva and Yip shopped. Standing behind my wheelchair, I gripped the handles firmly in order to stabilize myself. A man suddenly appeared before me. Noting the wrinkles on his face, I guessed him to be about my age (68). I also noted the vibrance and sparkle in his eyes. Dressed in sport pants and a T-shirt, his eyes locked in on mine, ignoring my surprised expression. His noticeably fit body matched the animated way he bounced as he spoke to me.

“Do you always use that?” He meant the wheelchair.


“Then you need Nike-Zoom X shoes.” He ignored the confusion on my face and carried on.

“The Nike Zoom-X are the most aerodynamic running shoes, scientifically engineered for athletes.”

It was a verbal onslaught—a lot of information coming fast right in my face, and I’m embarrassed to say my mouth dropped open. I could barely mumble, “I don’t know what you’re’ talking about.”

That didn’t stop him or even slow him down.

“Nike Zoom uses every muscle for every step. Nike-Zoom has a legacy and athletes use it for its renowned quality. It’s the most popular racing shoe world-wide, though you’ll find this particular make in almost all the top brands, not just Nike. The responsive cushioning in its soul will kick-start your day, and after 24 hours of wearing the shoes, the only thing you’ll want to do is mambo.”

“The sturdy support breaks records, whether they’re world records or personal records—you really need to get this shoe.”

And there he ended with a smile, and popped out of existence—or at least from my view. You see, he could pop in and pop out, because my neck doesn’t turn. It is “fixed” with 13 screws and rods, which is why I never saw him coming or see him leave—but Sheva did.

“Mom,” she said, “Who was that man?”

Still bewildered, I could only shrug. I retold his pep talk, described how confident he was, and how he encouraged me to buy the Nike-Zoom shoe. It all seemed bizarre and unlikely to Sheva, that someone I didn’t know would approach me and question my need for a wheelchair, and then tell me what I need to buy.

We kept going and tried another shoe store, but no luck for size 13. We continued our stroll, and further down the corridor I saw a sign: NIKE SHOES—CLEARANCE SALE. I couldn’t help myself and aimed my wheelchair toward its doors. “Let’s go check it out. I want to see the shoe that man was going-on about.”

I rolled down the centre aisle and was soon talking to a salesman who directed us to the Nike-zoom shelves.

“Size?” He asked, and soon returned with glowing neon-orange shoes. I cringed inwardly, doubting whether I could be seen in such a colour. “Any other colour choice?”

“There’s only one other, I’ll get it.”

He returned with a beautiful aqua-blue-green shoe. Bending over I put them on and took a few steps.

“You can walk!” cried Yip and Sheva at the same time.

It was true, and absolutely amazing. The way the shoe pushed me off and kept me walking at a good speed; how it steadied and balanced me. Unbelievable! It was so unbelievable that I had to do it again. I removed the Nike’s and put on my own shoes. They had the opposite affect; I was unsteady and unbalanced. I laced the Nike’s up again and walked with such ease. I couldn’t stop saying “Wow!” and, “Who was that guy?”

There were no second thoughts—I was going to let my daughters buy me these shoes—I needed them! What a mind change! Sheva was very excited. The clearance sale made them significantly cheaper, but they were still expensive. Sheva was over-joyed and happily bought them. I really wanted to find that man and tell him I’d bought Nike Zoom shoes. Sheva helped to keep an eye out for him.

We shopped until we dropped, and then took a coffee break. Eventually Sheva and Yip went off again while I remained seated in my wheelchair. Then, directly across from me, coming out of a mobile phone shop, was the man. But it couldn’t be—all his clothes were different. He now wore long baggy pants, a collared shirt and a work jacket. Why did this man look exactly like the Nike-Zoom guy? I watched him walk back and forth around the area. I was staring at him, hoping he would look my way and give me a gesture of recognition. Then it happened. He looked directly at me, starring, while he took a half-dozen steps towards me. Then he stopped. He continued gazing at me for what seemed like minutes, though it must have been seconds. Then he turned and walked out of the mall.

I was confused. Did he recognize me? Was it him? Trying to figure it out was getting very weird and exhausting. It was impossible, so I gave up and another thought took hold—how do guardian angels work? Perhaps they wear specific clothes needed for their specific assignments. Nike needs sporty fellows, but the shop where I spotted him a second time was a mobile phone shop … it could be anyone. It gives scope to the imagination. Angels are God’s servants. What a gift God gave me. Yes, the shoes cost money, but it was that invisible gift-card from God saying, “Don’t worry, spend the money, it’s on me. Get up and walk.”

Complete Audio Story with songs

Falling in love is like falling off a cliff.

In fact, I heard of one couple who did just that. They had fallen in love despite large differences. Their families were staunchly against the marriage because of huge differences in religion. The couple determined to overcome them, for they were in madly in love. In their determination, they became distraught and overwhelmed with the difficulties. The path they took was meant to teach their families a lesson, including a Romeo and Juliet style ending.

They went to a cliff overlooking a large river and vowed to “love each other unto death.” With tears streaming down their faces, they held each other in a final embrace and counted to three… and then she jumped. She jumped, he didn’t. Far below, in the cold, fast moving water, she looked up at him and yelled, motioning for him to jump. He refused.

Exasperated and exhausted, she swam to the edge and climbed out. A short distance away she found a policeman and insisted he arrest her fiancé who had broken his vow to her.

Traditional Christian marriage vows use the words, for better or worse, which doesn’t make marriage look very appealing. Instead, it makes marriage look like a leap of faith off that cliff.

Yip and I have been married for 45 years. Our first year throbbed with heartache and misunderstandings. We needed a private mediator—God was perfect. Even when angry and not talking to each other, we could talk to God. It was a release; like letting the steam out of the pressure cooker.

The Deep Deep Love

Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus.

Vast, unmeasured, boundless free,

Rolling as a mighty ocean, in its fullness over me.

Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love;

Leading onward, leading homeward, to my glorious rest above.

God compares His relationship with us to a marriage. Being the bride of God sounds heavenly and romantic, but when He chooses us as His bride, we should expect a long, hard road. Face it, being married to Divinity is not going to be easy. Though we are far from perfect, God covers us with love, forgiveness and grace. Otherwise, we’d never stand a chance. It’s hard to believe Yip and I successfully crossed all those raging rivers, deep valleys, and avoided falling off cliffs. Looking back, there were so many hidden mines ready to blast us into oblivion. We couldn’t always see them coming, but tried to work or way through them as they flared up.

We had just met each other when we encountered Jesus. Meeting Jesus changed us; our character, our perspectives, our vision and aims. Meeting each other changed the course of our lives. It all happened simultaneously. As a threesome, the road ahead was not completely visible, but we went headlong down it. Jesus died on the cross for us, and Jesus was just what Yip and I needed to begin new life. Marriage showed us just how much we needed God. Without Him, we never would have been “Yip and Frieda.”

I never imagined I’d find my perfect guy. So, when I met Yip, who was everything I wanted in a husband, I never considered marriage. Yip was out of my league. Why would such a wonderful man consider me? Given my high ideals, who would be interested in me? But Yip also had high ideals, thinking he’d never find a girl to marry him. Happily, we both were quite wrong.

We had been working in a children’s home working as mom and dad to the kids. When Yip finally got down to the question of marriage, he was very unsure of himself. I could see him squirming around inside himself. He hemmed and ha-ed’, until he finally spit it out, “You are mother to the girls, and I’m father to the boys… seems like a good way to run a family. Do you want to get married?”

A friend had given me a head’s up on Yip’s intentions, so I had already prayed over it thoroughly; “God, if you don’t want me to marry him, you’re gonna’ have to stop me.”

Looking into Yip’s deep eyes as he stood waiting for my reply, I realized that as yet, I had not been struck down by lightning—nor had divine intervention stopped me. So, I confidently replied to Yip’s question, “Yes.”

In the past 45 years, I’ve discovered the “for worse” was regularly used out of context in a sort of blame game when we didn’t see eye to eye. Marriage doesn’t mean automatic perfection; in fact, perfection doesn’t have anything to do with marriage. Our commitment of marriage meant we agreed to accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses, support each other in our shortcomings, hold each other accountable and encourage each other. Ove the past year illness and surgery turned my independent way of life upside-down. I’m now dependant. Yip has taken me on once again, with renewed vows, the new me, with all my shortcomings.

For better or for worse couldn’t be more of a misnomer. Regarding “for worse,” the harder the going, the deeper the commitment and personal sacrifice. And with sacrifice, suffering shows up. Suffering is transformed into the gold of growing together, and growing closer to Jesus; being made into his image. Commitment, sacrifice, suffering. That is the way of the cross. That is the bride of Christ.

Marriage. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Of course, there is the inevitability of death which ends earthly marriage. Looking at my present poor state of health, I wanted to assure Yip that he has my full permission to marry when I die, as long as “she” isn’t 20 years younger. His reply was, “But how would I be Yip and Frieda?”

So, far beyond looking at the pain, the sacrifice and suffering, I try to stay focused on Jesus. I hold on to my vows from:

Song of Songs: 4:6
The “for worse” is always a “for better,” because suffering love pitches us into an ocean of deep, very deep, love of Jesus.

Our Song of Songs

I’ve made up my mind. Until the darkness disappears and the dawn has fully come, in spite of the shadows and fears, I will go to the mountaintop with you—the mountain of suffering love and the hill of burning incense. Yes, I will be your bride.

Showers of Blessings Fell

We began with just a rupee or two
When boys arrived, we had no food.
That went on, for quite a few years
We reminded God, “Hey! We’re working too!” 
And refused to beg from anyone else…
And that’s when showers of blessings fell!

The Story:

Selaqui, in 1986, consisted of a local betel leaf (paan) shop. Today the bazaar is so packed with shops, cars, and industries, that standing on the road to take a photo would be putting your life in danger. The flyer hanging over the road welcomes the Canadian Ambassador to inaugurate our house. Our hope was that a little publicity may help us out. Thinking our way through survival was hard.

In 1976 we began with 4 boys, then 14, then 34, then 50…. and in fact, we went on to have 25 girls too. Ridiculous? Indeed! At that time, we lived in Mussoorie, the foothills of the Himalayas, and rented two houses. We had no income, therefore, most of the time we had neither money or food. Yip managed to make a deal with the leper colony; they would give us oats if we gave them potatoes. (We had bags of those.)

I cajoled the girls to accompany me into the jungle to find eatable plants, mostly thistles. With big sighs, they picked up the tools; gloves and scissors. They hated it, but at least we had some greens. We told no one about our needs and waited for God to provide, since that is what God said he will do. We were new in following Jesus and were told that God doesn’t lie. So simply, we held out.

One day, some guests came to visit us from Kenya. As they walked in the front door, Yip hustled me out the back door to borrow some coffee from our neighbour. We had nothing to give them, which is culturally rude (…rude to be poor?). As they sipped their coffee, they told us about their work and how the Lord always provided for all their needs. We hoped they were enjoying their borrowed coffee. It was quite depressing. Why didn’t God provide for us?

One day, a friend requested help to move his refrigerator up the mountainside. He needed strong boys, and we had boys by the dozens. They did the job and earned 20 rupees. We ate vegetables that night.

And thus, the saga of not having money, and not having food, went on. Occasionally an envelope would arrive with the needed finance at just the right time. We called those years, our desert years, similar to Moses who roamed the desert while relying on God to supply.

But many great things came out of those years. The boys learned to trust us and understood we loved them, for when we had no money for food, we all went hungry. It added honour, integrity and endurance into our lives together because we stuck it out together. Once, when we ran out of all our food supplies, the boys counted the papayas on the tree, to make sure no one selfishly went for them.

Yip told one of the older boys, Ravi, to go to Dehra Dun and find out if we had any money in our bank account. He went and found there was nothing. But the children were hungry. In the bazaar Ravi found a shop willing to buy his watch for 13 rupees. He brought the money back and gave it to Yip. Ravi said, “Buy food for the kids.”

That day, a friend came to visit. When the sun set, he straddled his Bullet to take off again. The engine roared and he said his goodbye’s. “Oh!” was his murmured afterthought. The motor sputtered and stopped as he reached in his vest and pulled out a fat envelope full of money.

We had no money or food many times, but I have no recollection of ever going even slightly hungry. God faithfully came through when we had needs. Even so, we were living constantly on the poor side of life. We never knew where or when we’d get our needs looked after.

One day, as we prayed, Yip and I looked at each other, both feeling rather fed-up with the way God was treating us. We agreed with each other, and in prayer, told God just what we thought. “If you’re not going to take care of us, then we’re not going to work for you.” (God was just waiting for us to get serious with Him.)

We found some (rocky) land and moved off the mountainside into the valley. The Doon Valley. Every day Yip and the boys walked to the land and moved rocks here and there, only to find more rocks. We rented a house near the land but found it too expensive. We prayed about it and felt that God wanted us to buy it. The owner was ready to sell, so we made the deal. We had to pay 4,000 Rs. for the first down-payment. Of course, we didn’t have anywhere near that amount of money.

Once more, Yip sent one of the boys to Dehradun to check our bank account. No one had ever donated into it, so our expectation was not high. However, we were in for a surprise! There was exactly 4,000 Rs. in the account. Yip quickly made the down- payment and was informed that we need to give another 30,000 rupees in 6 weeks. Yip agreed.

Six weeks went by remarkably fast. “God? Why do you do this to us?” Same story; no money. Yip sadly went off to the court to annul our agreement. In the meantime, I sent one of the boys, Jugat, walking 4 km down the road to Selaqui to get the mail. Jugat returned with a letter. In the letter was a check, and it was in English pounds! I grabbed the boy by the shoulders and shook him excitedly, “Run! Go fast to the courts in Dehradun and find Uncle. Give this to him! Go!”

Well, God must have been having a chuckle. The check was from a young English couple who ran a bakery in England. Yip gave them ride from Mussoorie to Dehradun in our 1964 crank-up Willy’s jeep once… the only meeting we ever had with them. And now a large check looked us in the face.

Jugat reached Yip just in time. He paid the 30,000 and was told we needed another 30,000 in the next six weeks. We were pumped and quickly agreed. We were on a roll now.

Six weeks later; no money. Despondently, Yip sulked around. That week he remembered that Sister Agnes, who ran the leper colony, had asked him to drop in when he had time. He figured he might as well visit. There wasn’t anything else happening, unfortunately.

He met Agnes, who said, “A priest in Germany died who was like a father to me; he left me an inheritance. He worked with boys. And since you work with boys, I think he’d be pleased for you to have it. It amounts to about 50,000 Rupees. Do you think you can use it?” She had a suspiciously sombre look on her face. Yep, Yip used it, alright. With that much money we even bought a bit of land around the house.

Then we invited the Canadian Ambassador, the Wardens, to come and inaugurate our house. Canada made a donation to support “grass-root projects.” The embassy sent our project proposal to Canada to show what projects they were supporting. Canada was confused. They thought it was a new proposal … thus, a second donation was mistakenly given. The Embassy apologized, and asked if we’d be willing to use it (returning it to Canada involved too much paperwork). We took time to think it over (no!) … of course, we’d use it!

God, in his Godly, playful way, met our needs. He helped us learn faith.

After that, showers of blessings fell. Why? I guess God trusted us now with faith. We leapt out of the desert and into palm-tree-ed luxury on the other side of the desert.

(Same place where the rocks were in 1986)

Happy Hippy Fights for Me

We just got married and had 50 boys
When malaria hit, we all got sick
No money, no know-how to cope with this
It was algebra for us country hicks!
Walking up Nigam Road that day
Was a flute-playing-hippy coming our way
He wore a loin cloth, thongs and beard
Was this help an answer to prayer?
You see
On our own we’re weak, but God even fights for Selaqui!

The story goes like this:

“Turn off the fan, guys, it’s cold.”

Every eye stared at me. We were sitting on the floor in August, and it was hot. Turning off the fan was just not done, neither in the day or in the night. In August? Never.

“Guys, it’s cold. Turn off the fan.”

Reluctantly, but respectfully, the fan was turned off. Looking at one another with questioned-marked faces, the boys shrugged their shoulders. I was intensely cold and got up from the floor. I went into the bedroom to put on a sweater.

The boys surely had an inkling of what was happening, for every one of them had just recovered from malaria. I was a hotbed of sickness. Wearing a sweater wasn’t enough. I lay down on the bed and asked for a blanket, then another blanket, then a heavy quilt, until the weight of all the bedding was too much. I shivered violently. I wasn’t thinking clearly, but after caring for all the boys, Yip knew how to proceed without asking a doctor. Yip dosed me up with chloroquine. In time, I recovered.

Much to my horror, our 1-year-old daughter was next. She also recovered normally. Finally, Yip, the last, became sick. He out-did everyone by getting chloroquine resistant malaria. His was harder to diagnose and required a smart doctor. He ended up in the hospital. His recovery took over a month.

It was during that time that we spotted the happy Canadian hippy rambling up the road. In those days, foreigners were rare. We were the only ones. Any foreigner who got off the bus in Selaqui, had only to look around with confusion on his face and a villager would point up the 4 km road toward our house and he’d be on his way.

That was the day we met Sammy. He’d been told we were all down with malaria and may need some help. This uniquely attired angel came at the right time.

Sammy was searching for meaning and truth. He’d never known a “living” Jesus. He thought Jesus was just a super-hero out of a Marvel comic. As he stayed with us and spent time with our boys, Sammy’s life changed. He met a living Jesus.

He asked, “What can I do to serve Jesus?”

We couldn’t provide the answer. It was between him and God. And the answer came immediately.

“I should become a doctor!”

It seemed a bit of a joke. A flute-playing-loin-cloth-wearing-happy-hippy decides to become a doctor? Sounded a little unlikely. But Sammy had given his heart to Jesus, and that is exactly what he did.

He became a doctor and served all over the world, in the most terrible conditions. In the Rwanda genocide, in the Canadian northern territories where suicide and depression pervaded. He served in places where no other doctors would go. He was dedicated and utterly stalwart in serving Jesus. Sammy never forgot us. As he earned his money, most of it was sent to us.

It’s worth taking in the stranger—no matter how strange. It may save your life, or the stranger’s life, and gently ripple—or joyously explode—into other people’s lives.

We are all beloved.

*The background rhythm from a song by Charity Gayle, My God Fights for Me, was the inspiration for creating this song/poem. Her song, should be the tale in our lives.

There is a vista beyond the cloud.

Every experience does it’s work in us; experiences can be like war. My father’s nightmare experience was like venom from a fire breathing dragon. The humongous dragon obliterated the entire horizon with the madness of hell and brought death. Dad’s thoughts, his joy, his work, and his family were all in that hell. It left him as good as dead. Nothing could be the same again. I’m his daughter. I know. When life becomes abominable, you too, become abominable and hate yourself. You are two people. One of you is the crowd pleaser and says the right things, somehow managing to keep the ship from completely sinking. The other is hidden deep inside, and keeps grief, bitterness, and confusion alive.

Dad’s heart resounded with shame; he’d let Mom down. He was not there when she needed protection. It haunted him —but a man with a gun? Who’s to say what may have happened had Dad been there too? We may have become orphans.

One brisk spring morning when Dad was miles away and we children were in school, an intruder entered our house and attacked Mom. She put up a good fight but was brutally murdered. My father was away, working in another state. Her stalker had picked the timing carefully. No one was nearby.

Our youngest sister arrived home from school first, walked in and found her mother lying in a pool of blood. My sister was never the same. None of us were. Life changed. No one could take that memory away from my sister, or from any of us. It was tattooed into our souls. Our earnest desire to help our sister was itself helpless, for we were boxed into an environment of stunned emotions. We were confused, angry and helpless.

Dad needed an escape route and diluted his emotions by writing:

Who Am I?

I am a pitiful lump turned tragic,
placed by unnoticed cosmic error
at point often crucial in the lives of others, rising to confront weakness and strength as though with strength, but settling, later, like gull on troubled water, more yet like
sparrow stung by blowing sand, clinging
to life’s branch while yet longing for
the peace of release,
forgetting those who have loomed suddenly to lend brief dignity to the dream
of survival, a moment of grandeur
to a lonely quest to be,
to be a man,
to matter.

Many people took counsel from Dad. He knew there was a way to get from the pit of despair to that beautiful, rainbow-colored vista of hope. But while trapped in the pit he was unable to find the escape route. A woman named Jerrie had been trapped in her own pit, but she found the escape and climbed out.


There is a vista beyond the cloud
Unseen by those who labor in its shadow
by those who grieve,
by those who hate,
by those who struggle in the storm.
It’s reaches stretch beyond the imagination Of even those whose vision is not obscured.
It is they who must venture into the shadow
With the poetry of hope.

Dad, the psychiatrist, was just a pitiful lump of clay when Jerrie found him. Jerrie was his secretary. When she was only 20, she became paraplegic. She faced death in her hospital room. Jesus came in, and she was healed. She never got up and walked again, but Jerrie always lived fuller than most people who can walk. Miraculously, she forged her way out of the dark valley and up to the mountain top where she firmly, resolutely, grabbed the lifeline of hope that Jesus had thrown to her in the hospital room.

Dad and Jerrie began a close relationship on a normal workday, but in an abnormal way. Jerrie went about doing her secretarial work. She first knocked on Dad’s office door, and hearing no answer, rolled herself in. Assuming he was out, she put some patient files on his desk. His desk was cluttered and in disorder. She rolled her chair around the desk to clean it; that’s when she spotted dad. He was curled up in a ball under his desk, crying. She was startled, as was he. Professionals like Dad, always know the answers to everyone’s problems, but now, Dad was completely lost and confused. No one had recognized the depth of his despair.

That was the beginning of an intimate relationship. Jerrie had an infinite amount of wisdom and empathy. She’d already come out of her valley of death victorious. Her incredible courage, determination, and hope —her everyday armor, was the showcase of her character.

She helped Dad wage war against the pain and depression that could have overtaken him. Together they went to God. Together they understood that God had never deserted them, even when the going seemed more than one can bear. God never promised happiness; he guaranteed suffering.

James 1:2,3
My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Until you do really suffer, you’ll never understand the great value of endurance. Suffering is never easy, but through it, mercy and forgiveness were unearthed. Because Jesus walked his own dark valley, He’s able to help us get through ours. He, God, had no privileged life; his life was like ours.

You are the Best 

Phil. 1: 29
God has generously granted you the privilege, not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for Christ’s sake.

You are the Best

The Height Challenge

I was six years old and Ruth was eight. She was plenty more experienced in life than me. Bravery was her forte. Our childhood home had a natural boundary of tall trees and scrub separating us from a dental clinic, still in the early stages of construction. Wanting to explore the jungle of raw beams and kick up the irresistible mounds of sawdust, we squeezed through the brambles. Ruth, after scoping the place, naturally climbed to the highest cross-beam—a whole four-inches wide—where she balanced herself like a trapeze artist. I stood on the ground —my eyes glued to her.

“Don’t do it, Ruthie!”

She ignored me. My body tensed as she began to make her way across the beam, lifting pointy toes high and then dipping them low before she placed each foot on the beam. By the time my jaw hit the ground she was on the other side and had a smarty pants grin spread from ear to ear. She looked down at me.

“I dare you.”

What choice did I have? I had to do it. I couldn’t chicken out. Not now, not in front of Ruthie. So, I climbed, and after three anxiety-stricken steps I toppled over, landing squarely on my back, the breath knocked out of me. I lay on the dirt, panic turning to hysteria as I tried to gasp for air. Ruth’s face blocked out the sun as she wagged her head over me in disapproval.

The Jump Challenge

In January, when the water was at its coldest and wildest, I white-water rafted in Rishikesh on the Ganges with family and friends. After riding the current’s crazy ups and downs, experiencing the thrill of shooting through the rapids and dodging boulders, we finally reached calmer waters, signalling the end of a scary journey. Our raft driver pulled the craft over to the shore and pointed up to a precipice that peaked over the river.

“If anyone dares to climb to the top and jump off into the river, now is the time to do it.”

Walking on a narrow ledge at a great height scares me—but water doesn’t. I’ve always been zealous about water. A friend in the raft looked at me with a sparkle in his eyes.

“Frieda, if you jump, then I will.”

Being full of zealotry I didn’t hesitate and began the climb to the peak. When I reached the summit, I peered over the edge. The view was not at all what I expected. The anticipated dream of leaping gracefully vanished. It wasn’t going to be easy. I gaped at the unforeseen reality.

Positioned 30 feet above ground I had a clear view to the water. The only place to jump was directly on top of pointed pillars, albeit underwater, but hidden from ground view.

From my perch it looked deadly. Giant spears, or menhirs from Obelix comic books. I couldn’t jump past them or to the side of them. My only choice was to aim FOR them and hope for the best. Since I’d climbed to the top, I resolved to make the jump and began to take off my lifejacket. Then I heard the guide shouting.

“You better keep that jacket on!”

I obediently buttoned up again and took my place, inching my toes to the cliff’s edge. My one hope was that the raft driver was not a daft driver and knew what he was talking about when he dared us to jump. Closing my mind off to all else, I leapt into the air and did a death-defying plunge into the river. Lo and behold, I came up without a scratch! I swam to the edge in my weighted-down clothes and slowly dragged myself out of the water. Now I had the sparkle in my eyes. I looked at my friend.

“I jumped … up you go.”

He began to climb the precipice. When he reached the top, he did exactly what I did; he looked down. Big mistake. He saw exactly what I saw: the pointed pillars, the giant spears. He made up his mind.

“I’m feeling a bit cold and can’t jump right now.”

The Sing Challenge

I’ve always loved playing guitar and composing songs. In my mid-fifties I was a folksinger wannabe and decided it would be fun to make an album. After sharing this with an older and wiser friend, he advised that I was “well over the age for such youthful goings-on, and it was not the time for me to engage in gigs and such doings.”

I knew his advice held some—or a lot—of truth. And I was crushed. My gusto plummeted. Truth is a hard call.

Then I had a phone call.


“Hello,” said the voice on the other end. He was a well-known recording artist. I was baffled. Why would he be phoning me? He began to give me some excuses as to why his upcoming concert was not going to happen… and then suddenly he asked, “So, do you want to do something?”

I was floored. I knew of this famous young recording artist, but had never met him, and here he was asking me if I wanted to do something? Well, I wasn’t going to waste anytime beating about the bush.

“Do you want to make an album with me?”

I braced myself for his answer. It came without hesitation.

“Sure! We’ll do it in Lucknow at my studio and use my musicians!”

I was speechless. He knew nothing about me or my talent. Still, he offered to make an album with me. I packed my bags for Lucknow!

I’ll never forget that trip (and doubt that I’ll have such a chance again). It was an absolute dream come true! The songs turned out awesome.

The Write Challenge … or, The Last Act … or, The Beginning!

Exactly one year ago, I thought Sid’s challenge was a big. Sid is an overflowing bag of enthusiasm, enticing all to greater heights. He is fluid with good-willed lectures and positivity pours from his mouth.

“Come on, you can do it. Get your own website. You are a writer. You have lots to share. All you need to do is a write a story once a week for one year.”

I was at Sid’s mercy; it is impossible to resist his fervour to encourage. Little did I know what the year would hold for me. Now, exactly one year later, two hospitalizations later, becoming a crippled person later, the challenge has been completed. Thank you, Sid.

Congratulation me in the comments. With the end of this story, I begin. What challenge could possibly come before the last act but a second year of writing?

It’s scary, I assure you. Wish me luck and read my stories.

A word of advice:

Live according to the childish enthusiasm of your dreams, let others well-meaning thoughts about your age go in one ear and out the other.

Song Challenge – Keep me as Your Child


Jump or Dive was written for my daughter Sheva, but this rendition is dedicated to my oldest grandkid, Elijah, on his 16th birthday. You have inspired your Granny.

Granny to Elijah
Jump or Dive

I’m standing in the church with worship welling up in me;
Throngs of people weave around, some swaying up, some going down;
Eyes are closed but looking up as though they can see…
I know they were lookin’ at the true reality.

I dreamt I was speedin’ down a bouncy diving board Runnin’ like a leaping calf, adrenalin flowin’ hard. I knew I had to make a choice perched upon the edge. Like Jesus on the pinnacle, I had a choice;

I thought about the friends I had who looked up to my lead…What I said what I did, like a shepherd with his sheep. When they fell I’d lift them up (they knew that I was strong).

But could I see the arms of faith to catch me when I fall?

There was one choice and it was comin’ fast I knew I’d have to choose and give it all I had Looking up I saw the living resurrected God Assuring me that even the dead are raised hrough love!

All empowering God above, Who casts gifts down from heaven on us! Through great mercy, grace and love,
The dead are healed when he says “jump!”
That same Word now filters through me, Ignites my spirit to fly and leap Opens doors set the prisoners free!
Pick me! Pick me! Should I bounce and leap?

Jump or dive? I clearly had to leap.

Dive or jump?… choosin’ was for me.
A question bright as neon lights to live or join the dead
The resurrected Jesus is the only choice ahead!

Jump or dive? Time to leap. Dive or jump?…
What’s it gonna’ be?

Warning lights are flashing bright and poundin’ in my head…

The resurrected Jesus doesn’t know a word called “dead”

I choose love!
I choose life!
I choose him, to be Lord of my life!

And my final choice was….


My Standby

This is what happened; my adventure
from Dec. 2020
 to the beginning of July, 2021…
It needs to be told and remembered.

I travelled back and forth; three states and five hours’ drive away. I felt like a pin-cushion and a guinea pig. Every medical test under the sun had been done on me… perhaps. Blood tests were the easy ones, others seemed to be made to…. well, be the opposite of “easy” … and I say that in respect to the medical staff who worked hard to try and figure out my problem. My doctor left no stone unturned. He always explained openly and became a Counsellor for me as to what diseases I might be facing. He discovered my spinal cord was pinched to nearly nothing in my neck, and yet was uncertain if it caused of all my problems; including my complicated walking issue.

It was frustrating not to have a final diagnosis as to why I walked like a drunkard. Walking became so hard that I’d have to stop and start again while hanging onto my husbands’ arm; otherwise, I’d trip over my feet. Yip was always patient and ready to catch me while I hung heavily on his arm. He always stood by; My Standby. We decided to pay the rather outrageous fee in order to get an online appointment with a well reputed American hospital.

I was assigned a neuro-spine specialist. He gave a new diagnosis, called Klippel-Feil anomaly, which just so happens to be a birth defect which sometimes only shows up much later in life. I’m 67. It also can be connected with congenital heart defects —mine was detected when I was seven. I had open-heart surgery.

Close friends, who happened to be doctors, were very concerned. They feared that if something was not done quickly about that pinched spinal cord, I could end up paralysed or worse. They didn’t want that to happen and took it upon themselves to find the best neuro-surgeon in north India. They searched for a doctor with a good reputation and experience in doing complex surgeries in the upper neck. They acted as my Advocate. Their search yielded a renowned neuro-surgeon in Delhi. Off to Delhi, Yip and I sped. Everything worked out and happened so quickly. I never thought I’d get the threatening, risky operation on my neck, but everything was heading in that direction.  Although I felt like a neck operation was going a bit too far, I found myself ready to do the needed. It was the only way to go —many people were praying. For that reason, I knew I was “covered.”

More friends appeared and brought us food daily. They escorted me from our hotel numerous times by car to the hospital —a six-minute walk away, which I couldn’t physically do. They lived 25 minutes drive away by car. They gave sacrificial love. What Helpers they were to me!

Sonu, our son, surprised us and showed up the night before my operation. We hadn’t wanted to bother him, but he wanted to be there for us. It turned out we needed his help. He ran errands, but his gentle kindness worked as a Comforter to me while I suffered with pain; his compassion was sweet.

The doctor emphasized that there was no guarantee my walk would normalize, but he hoped and expected it to improve. He also noted it was a risky operation, though he had confidence in his abilities and in the team who would be involved; he thought it would be successful. He would place thirteen screws and rods in my neck to allow space for the spinal cord. Thus, he was a Strengthener for me.

And so, it happened.

Afterwards, I was immobilized with severe pain. The pain remained even after I was discharged. A few days later it significantly lessened. The operation itself was successful, only months of inner healing, neck collars and time would show the healing which was happening. That inner healing was not from the doctors. The one who created me was the only one who could do the needed healing inside of my neck. God. My Standby.

God was My Standby throughoutand the orchestrator of all the others who worked together, though unknowingly, to make my healing happen —clouds of people witnessing. It was truly amazing how so many circumstances and people involved could make it happen. I counted on all of them. Each one was someone standing by, whether near or far, they were rooting for me. The few I’ve mentioned are highlighted, yet there are many more who were always standing by. Over a hundred people heard of my plight and were praying for me. That is a large number of Intercessors. I don’t take lightly that they were talking to God about my situation, for God became very involved —inner healing is his speciality. They were witnesses in this strange episode of my life.

John 14:26

“But the Comforter (Counsellor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener,
), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name (in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf), ….”


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses….

My Standby… click here for the song

He’s my Standby, through the night, my soft silent song as I sleep
He is there when I rise, as I open my eyes, I see Him, I feel Him always standing by.

He’s my Standby, …………………. My Standby, my Saviour, standby.

I look to the mountains, and on to the skies, arise, Son, to diffuse the love
Heaven waters the earth and I draw from its springs
Who gurgle and sing… with visions and dreams
When I drink deep… I drink deep
I drink deep.

He’s my Standby, …………………. My Standby, my Saviour, standby.

Oh Love, which is there, overflows, why sit and wait at the pool of Siloam?
On every high hill, by land or by sea, in the air we breathe, in rivers and streams,
the glory of God … stands by silently, in silent peace.    (Silent peace.).

He’s my Standby, through the night, my soft silent song as I sleep
He is there when I rise, as I open my eyes, I see Him, I feel Him always standing by.

Click here for audio version 1
Click here for audio version 2

Granny: So, did you say, Go ahead and eat your dream?
Annie: She laughed, and corrected me; No! It wasn’t a dream and I can’t eat it! I actually wrote the story.
Granny: Oh, you wrote a story?

Annie: Yeah. Granny: Cool! Can you tell me?
Annie: Yeah, okay, so its title is The Puppy Who got Peace.
Granny: Peace? A puppy got peace?
Annie: Yeah
Granny: Okay

With a big breath, my granddaughter verbally exploded as she embarked on her story, sweeping me down the current that cascaded out of her mouth …

Annie: So, there is a puppy, who was in the park, and he was abandoned, and he had lots and lots of cuts and bruises like he was kicked from houses. So, a girl whose name was Rani came with her parents to the park and saw this puppy. So, then she asked her parents, “Can I keep this puppy? Because if I don’t clean it up, it’ll just die, because it has too many cuts and bruises.”

So, she took it home and cleaned all the bruises up and took good care of it. So then, a couple days later, the puppy went missing. So, she put up lots of notices, but no one could find him. Two weeks later she was going to put up a couple more notices when she saw him in the park, abandoned again, the same as he was before. So, she picked him up and took great care of him again. And she never let him out of his set her sight again.

Granny: Never?
Annie: Never.

Granny: Then what happened?
Annie: So, what I get from this story is that… that’s how we are. It’s like we’re away from God, and then in sad times we go to God and He picks us up and gives us hope. But then others pick us up and carry us off to the wrong path, and we get abandoned once again. And then, we need God again so we go to him again. And because we learned from our past, we don’t make the same mistake again and God gives us a home.”
Granny: Wow! that’s amazing. So how did you think of this story?
Annie: I just got inspired when we were going to Dehradun. I was in the car, and I saw this street dog. It was a puppy, a small one, and it was just like this puppy was —abandoned with cuts and bruises.
Granny: Ah, so it really happened?
Annie: Yeah!
Granny: That’s really a nice story. You know Annie, I lost my mother in a tragic way, and an enormous, empty hole was left in my life.
Annie: Wow. I can’t imagine that.
Granny: There was no one to talk to. No one to I share my deepest secrets with. There was no one to understand and console my pain and grief… I lay in the depth of “me”. Not a particularly healthy mind space.
Shall I tell you my remedy?
Annie: Sure.

Granny: I drew a little person on a piece of paper. She lived in my pocket. I pulled her out when I needed a friend (in school or anywhere else…) but always and only in a private spot. I’d Look at her and talk to her. She understood the privacy and secretiveness of our relationship. Nobody knew about her or my darkness.

When I grew older and more mature, my paper doll that I’d kept in my pocket was no longer there. But the feeling of loneliness and daytime-darkness hadn’t gone away. Instead, I kept my little friend in my mind. She never left and was safely invisible to others. The truth is, I still meet her, even though I’m a granny. My friend is still there when I call. I can see her. She appears like a silhouette. But I see who she is—she’s me, a dancer. She dances. And when she dances, my own reflection dances. She comes in handy when I lack hope, when despair creeps up on me, or when circumstances say I won’t make it through this one…

I know I’m more than my body and more than life’s situations. I live in the unseen spirit. I soak in the overflow. I’m never alone. I don’t exist to live, but am resuscitated, rejuvenated, full of hope and expectation; that’s my dance. God inside me is the choreographer — with greater purposes than just good dance steps! Even the dance is in the unseen. But God sees me dancing, and I’m his puppy who got peace.