“Here are My mother and My brothers!  For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Matthew 12:48-50 ESV

God is dead serious about His family. He watches it like a hawk, or more gently said, like a mother hen, but sends angels with drawn swords to guard it. Jesus honoured his father and mother, but spoke clearly regarding just who his family is.

Jesus said, …“Let the little children come to me.
Do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Mark 10:14 (NCV)

Those attached song is for the children; the ones we turn our heads away from as we walk by and do nothing except disown them as not being our problem. We, the world, are guilty. That is the easiest way to avoid orphans.

Click on the song link, Jesus Said.

Why was I falling over when I turned and had to catch myself on the walls in order to walk straight? Every step felt like a trampoline was under my feet and the house swayed back and forth. Something was wrong and doctors suspected the worst of the worst (if there is such a thing). I had a brain tumor nine years ago so local doctors wondered if it was a second brain tumor. They advised me to visit my neurologist immediately. Thus, we made the familiar five-hour trip to Punjab. After the MRI scan, a brain tumor was struck off the list of possibilities almost as soon I got there. So, why was I so disbalanced?

The first deduction included tuberculosis, autoimmune disorders and leukemia. What a ball of fun! If you’ve had your share of hospital experiences, you’ll understand what I’m talking about when I say multiple tests were lined up so that all the possibilities would be ruled out in the hope of finding where my balance problem truly stemmed from.

I was admitted for one week. Harrowing “tests,” as in horror films, were on the list. The most unbearable ones were the first choice of the doctors. My friend, also a doctor, advised me, “Choose tuberculosis, it can be cured in about 8 months. Autoimmune can be controlled, but stay away from leukemia.” I thought, “okay, I’ll see what I can do.”

There were various blood tests and cancer ultrasounds, which I can’t complain about, but a more objectionable test was the lumbar puncture. I had to curl up on my side in a tight ball on a narrow table while a big needle was injected into my spine to draw out spinal fluid. And shock treatment —!?!?!? But for me the worst was a spinal angiogram.

A long fat needle is shoved into your upper thigh and upwards along the spine (only local anesthetics guarding you from pain). Dye is dispersed for a detailed computer view. Before taking this test, you are told it is a bit “risky.” I learned that word “risky” should be considered seriously before committing yourself to such a thing.

The angiogram took two hours of lying on my back —agonizing because my spine is deformed. Afterwards I was sent to the ICU for a few hours and told to lay on my back without moving for another 6 hours! My distorted spine was very upset with me. Finally, still lying on my unhappy back, I was allowed back to my room. Wide strips of adhesive tape crisscrossed my thighs and abdomen to keep me from hemorrhaging. The nurse firmly told me not to move until midnight or 12:30. That didn’t add up in my calculations. Six hours from the time the operation finished should have been 11:00 pm. I decided that 11:00 pm was the correct hour. At three minutes to eleven I could stand it no longer and groaned to my husband, “pull me up!” Wrapped with tape I waddled around the room like a penguin while he and another nurse supported me. I laid back down on my side. Now the angiogram is only a bad, but unfortunately, unforgettable memory.

A PET scan and three steroid infusions were sweet in comparison. At the end of the week, we gladly and hurriedly took off for home. I was a sticky adhesive mess, but free from the torture chambers.

So, what was the diagnosis? None of the above diseases! All I needed was a simple change in the medicines I’ve been on for the past nine years. With all those traumatic tests etched into my memory, it almost seemed like a let-down. Everything had been heading for some tragic finale. After I adjusted my thinking cap, I realized that was such an easy and amazing solution. Everything had been properly and officially ruled out!

I have nearly died many times, but I’m still alive and thankful that the God I know can be trusted in all circumstances. I’m spared from worry about life. God is aware of every situation, so I lean back and trust. Nothing left for me to do but to thank God for doctors and nurses who care and give their time and their utmost to find reasons for symptoms and cures for illnesses. There is a certain bond between doctors and God; God says to them, “love and cure the sick” and in His wisdom, teaches them how to do it. I have to be honest and admit; my doctors did a tremendous job.

The Formidable Bus Station

The bus station was very challenging, not just because I was extremely pregnant and had shopping bags hanging off me like ornaments on a Christmas tree, but just because at the best of times it was hard to get ON the bus, let alone get a seat. In 1981 the Rajpur bus stand was endless chaos. It was actually a muddy, unpaved, empty lot. Only one bus went in the morning and one in the evening from Dehradun to Rajpur. Thus, when the bus arrived, there was a flash mob, but not a harmonious singing flash mob.

I stood on the outskirts of the crowd, waiting with my bags, wondering what in the world I would do when the bus arrived. I was in no shape (on the contrary, I was shaped like a giant tomato) to push and shove my way into the bus like everyone else would be doing. Predictably, the horde began to move like a wave towards the entrance of the station as the bus pulled in. Both the front and back doors of the bus were open, and passengers hung out; one foot in, one foot out, grasping the stair-rail with one hand. It was as packed full of people as a tin of sardines. As it slowed, people began to jump out, and climb in. That made it nearly impossible for inside passengers to find their way out.

With my mouth agape, I stared at the mob and then at the bus, and took a few unwilling steps towards it in slow motion. A little white-haired, village looking grandmother appeared in front of me. She didn’t even look at me, but started grabbing my bags from me until she had them all. I don’t know why I didn’t stop her, for someone once attempted to rob me in that bus station. She turned towards the bus with my bags and motioned me to follow her. I was obedient. When we reached the throng her elbows took over, a jab to the left, a jab to the right, left, right, left, right until we reached the bus steps. I stayed right behind her. I don’t understand how she did it, but suddenly we were inside the bus. She pushed and shoved her way up the aisle with me following. Midway, she came to a halt, but there were no seats. No problem. She grabbed a man seated in front of her and pointed to me. He saw me, he saw the old woman, and half-heartedly got out of his seat. He too was obedient. Then she sat me down. One bag after the other was carefully placed on my lap making sure I was comfortable.

I turned to thank her. She was not there! I peered down the aisle thinking that maybe she was not traveling and was getting off. When I had searched thoroughly, I realized there was no way that she could have moved that fast. She had vanished!

Angel? There weren’t really other options or explanations. If you read my first story entry, I AM RAGHAV, you may recall a similar incident in an Indian bus station. Perhaps attendants in Indian bus stations are angels in disguise? Mine was an old woman. For Raghav, it was some sort of official who came out of the mist and saved him. Angels, are anywhere, and dressed as anyone; wherever someone has a need. God really does have endless surprises for us.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
Psalm 91:11

The King and I

This is a story where “school” becomes a part of “creepy bedtime stories.” It was a unique, one-of-a-kind situation, so students should not take this story to be common happening. It happened once, and it’s highly unlikely to happen again, unless you live in a place like ours.

Out of need, we started a school. English education would give students a good future, so, we began. I headed up the school and taught with some of our older girls. Our daughter, Kirti, entered kindergarten and Asher entered Nursery class. We had one staff couple with their two children and a few young boys living with us who were in KG and Nursery Class. The rest of the students included a dozen village children, totalling about 10 – 15students in each class.

The school was located a kilometre from where we were living. We were still in the endless process of moving rocks off our land, but the house was up and we were in it. After school, I’d walk home with the children on a well-trodden path across the fields. We’d all follow each other in a straight line, for the path was narrow. And, on that momentous school day, one little boy exclaimed, “Snake!”

I responded in alarm, “Where?”

“There.” Said he, in a factual way while he pointed to the ground about two feet away.

I looked down! Sure enough! There was a snake, a real monster snake! It was shooting alongside all of us but moving faster than us, with its head ahead us and its tail behind us ALL of us!  It was much longer than all of us in that straight line; I suppose it was about fourteen feet long and quite big around!

We stood stock-still in awe and shock. Relieved it didn’t stop and didn’t seem at all interested in us, it sped its way past us in a hurry to get somewhere. Perhaps it was trying to get away from us? It was a King Cobra and had been spotted a few times in the area. Once it was in a row of hedges on our property. We tried to burn it out, but failed. Its size made it too hard to kill it without being ready for such an occasion. The good thing was that the King was the King, though he did, eventually, lose his kingdom. Over the upcoming years he vanished from sight and we and other villagers never saw him again. I guess he moved on to less populated hunting grounds. I think the children and I had the best, the scariest and most perilous sighting of the King. I hope he is happy with his queen.

The Toilet Ring

After 10 years of avoiding relationship, not answering my letters or having correspondence with me, Dad broke the ice by visiting me in India. I was thrilled! He was annoyed by my letters which detailed stories of how God had provided and saved us through this and that. He truly thought I was nuts. He is a psychiatrist, who generally should know who’s nuts —but he got me wrong (I think).

When he arrived, we wanted to show him around the “neighbourhood,” which meant traveling about 35 km in both directions of the road to meet our friends. We showed him the village and the city of Dehradun, rather than daily bore him with our unfinished brick house where we lived with about 40 boys. Plastering needed to be done and some of the floors weren’t finished, including the hallway Dad had to walk through to get to his guest room. By our standards, the guest room was very nice; not too large, but everything one needed was there, including the luxury of a private bathroom. (Of course, it lacked running water and electricity, which meant no fan in this very hot season.)

In order for Dad to reach his room, we had to buy him a pair of rubber flip-flops. Both ends of the hallway were dammed up and filled with water daily to make sure the cement set properly. It was August, the middle of monsoon, so water was everywhere, inside and outside; flip-flops were quite handy. It was considerably hot, and dear Dad was truly a trooper, as he doesn’t like the heat and sweats like crazy.  I thought the visit was going in a positive manner, but something spectacular was about to happen that would change my relationship with Dad forever, as well as Ken’s —something just prescribed for a doubting Thomas.

One day, we took Dad and Bess to visit our doctor friends and see the Mission Hospital 35 km away. It was certainly a “primitive” hospital to my father, an American doctor, but when he saw their work and compassion with the villagers, his respect was won and he was in awe.  He had deep respect for our friend who had studied to be a doctor the same place as he did. It was a good day, but dark by the time we piled into our crank-up little ’64 Willies jeep to head home.

In monsoon everything is green, and everything grows long and wild. Grass gets out-of-hand but stands out beautifully with all the rest of the greenery. With our large amount of land, 22 acres, there was no chance to keep up with the grass cutting. When we arrived home, Ken aimed the jeep lights towards the back door so he could see to unlock it and asked us to “Wait in the jeep.”

I watched Ken as he reached the door, but instantly, he bolted backwards. He yelled at us, “Stay in the jeep!” I knew immediately what was going on. He disappeared around the corner of the house and went in the other door and woke the boys. Soon, everyone was outside, stomping and thrashing here and there around the area brandishing long sticks, trying to find that snake. Alas, it was nowhere to be found.

Ken was about to call the snake hunt off, when one of the boys spotted a tail hanging from the drain hole in the guest room bathroom. Ken shouted for a couple boys to follow him. He grabbed a three-foot stick and a candle. The boy behind him held the candle while Ken entered first through the guest room and into the bathroom to find the snake. Not knowing how long the snake was (compared to his 3-foot stick) made it rather perilous. Ah ha! He spotted it, nicely wrapped a few times around the base of the toilet in a nice ring. Ken made a wild but successful jab. He pinned it to the floor while one of the boys killed it.

Dad could not believe it! He imagined himself going in to have a sit on the toilet to relieve himself in innocence, oblivious to the sinister presence ready to terminate him. What if the snake had not been found? What a shock that would have been! Now it dawned upon him what we were talking about when we talked about miracles and how God saved us time and time again. In Dad’s mind, Ken had always been the pot smoking, long-haired hippy. Now he had a chance to see Ken in action and learned to respect him for the amazing person he is. From that time, after many deep talks, Dad realized just how smart Ken was, and how hard we were working to do what we felt God was calling us to. It was the toilet ring that changed everything. My goodness, the toilet ring changed our relationship and brought us back into love. What a weird way to see that happen. The saying is true. God works in mysterious ways.

Taking a Dip

We made ‘ye ole’ swimming hole before we had water. After we dug the well there was enough to fill the hole and enough for everything else too. But the foundation for the pool was first built with faith, not water. Rubble, stones and dirt were pressed up around the sides of the pool for extra strength against the pressure that water would create. For years, the inside of the pool was only rough cement walls. Finally, water ran into the pool along with the swimmers, who came out bloody and scraped from the rough cement walls. However, that was never a deterrent from diving and splashing and thoroughly enjoying the pool during those hot Indian summers when there was very little electricity. Again, years passed, but eventually the pool was tiled with sky blue tiles and a stainless-steel ladder. It was a dream come true.

When the pool was freshly cleaned, it was as clear as the sky. Standing over it, one could see each individual tile reflecting the sky, as well as every little toad and bug that dared to jump into the pool. When the pool was dirty, it was as dark as the murky, swampy fish pond beside it in which nothing could be seen, not even a few inches into the water. The colour was “dark black/green.”

One of the water games I taught the boys was “Marco Polo.” One person is designated as “Marco,” and Marco’s eyes must be closed. Everyone else is “Polo.” Marco thrashes around in the pool trying to find the others who cry out “Polo. The boys loved the pool most when it was murky, because then no one could cheat, even if they opened their eyes underwater —absolutely nothing was visible.

It was a very dark black/green murky pool day (a day I stay out of the pool). But the boys were in the height of glory, playing Marco Polo. Anshul jumped into the pool to join the fun, but the others were already getting out. He swam around for a bit and went underwater, searching for someone. He felt someone. Then he felt someone again, but with horror he realized that someone was definitely NOT a someone. The “thing” was slimy and scaly. In a flash, he shot out of the pool at bullet speed.

Everyone stared at him in surprise, while he too whirled around and stared back into the pool where he got out. Immediately, and directly behind him, a large snake head appeared and flung its upper body out of the pool charging right after him. But the water in the pool was lower than the big snake could manage, and it was not able to bring all of its 7 feet out of the water. The boys managed to kill it and drag it out. The snake turned out to be a big rat snake, but thankfully not poisonous. However, if bitten, it would leave some nice teeth marks.  Their size makes them a bit daunting, but the snakes themselves prefer rats, not humans.

The Crack in the Kitchen Door

When our older child, Kirti, turned three years old, we’d still had no visitors in our new village location. We thought it was time we put ourselves on the map and acquaint our friends with our new area. The kids were asleep and Ken, too, who had just returned exhausted from Delhi. I stayed busy in the kitchen with the next day’s final preparations. The last thing to be done was to boil water to drink. We had no well or running water and brought it in vessels from far away. I had some large pots on my stove and was impatiently waiting for it to boil so I could go to bed.  It didn’t help that I kept peeping under the lids, holding up my blackened kerosene lantern, to see if it was boiling yet. Life was simpler than we sometimes desired.

In the midst of the boiling, I turned around and looked at the door which led into the large hall and the boys’ bedrooms. It was closed and locked, but when I was alone with my imagination, I was more on the cautious side. I had a fear that a snake may sneak its way into the house. Even so, how would I ever see it with my blackened lantern? When I turned to the kitchen door, I thought I saw something white in the crack at the bottom. However, knowing my fears were apt to take my thoughts on an irrational journey, I decided to buck up and just get on with my work —which I did, quite successfully.

The water was about to boil, but suddenly Ken was too! He bellowed loudly from the bedroom, “Frieda! Get in here quick!” Alarmed at the sound of his voice, I dashed into the bedroom and waited for his instructions… but there was silence. Then I heard the sound of his breathing, the gentle rippling sound of sleep.

I looked back at the door and saw something entering; it moved slowly into view, I reported its entry; “There’s something coming in the door and it’s… it’s a…” and then yelled, “…SNAKE!” Ken jumped up and was out of bed in a flash. I followed behind. He shut the bedroom doors hoping to keep the snake in one room. Then he grabbed my boiled water off the stove and threw it in the direction of the snake as I held the blackened lantern out for  “light,” which gave him almost no visibility.

“I don’t see it.” He said. We looked everywhere in the kitchen, which seemed to be the only the only room where it could be. Yet, it was not. Ken opened the hall door and with a broom, carefully pushed the wastebasket into the hall, hoping that the snake might have gone into it, for that was the only place left for it to hide. Then he went to the boy’s rooms and woke them up. Because the large hall had many windows, there was more moon light.

The boys reluctantly woke and each grabbed some kind of weapon; a stick, a broom, a brick, or whatever they found. When they had all circled the waste basket (at a safe distance), Ken knocked it over. Nothing happened. With a stick, he began emptying every scrap of garbage and trash out of it. Still nothing. (Great! I thought, the snake is still at large in the kitchen.) When the last piece of rubbish was pulled from it the snake raced out. Ken killed it immediately with his stick. He took the lantern from me and looked closely at the snake. It was a krait, which though small, are more poisonous than a cobra.

It was another lesson to me about my useless worry. I wondered if I’d ever really be able to give up fully my fears of scorpions and snakes. How deep could this trust lesson really settle into me? And who was I trusting to keep me safe? There was only one answer, because only ONE could do this. God.

Once Upon a Scorpion

Before we had moved out of the mountains, we lived in The Queen of the Hills, Mussoori, a beautiful mountain town in the foothills of the Himalayas. We rented various houses to live in on the edges of steep mountain sides, but never stayed in one place for more than a few months at a time. Our shortest rental was only two weeks. Once we changed houses 11 times in 19 months. The reason was that no one wanted to rent to a young hippy couple with 50 children. Go figure that!

The worst house we lived in was also the house we kept going back to out of need for a house. It was on the back side of the mountain, the shaded, dark, wet, cold, gloomy side of the mountain. Of course, it was the cheapest. Its House Speciality was scorpions (not crispy deep fried)!  Once, when our stay was only two months, we killed 25 scorpions inside the house. A day would never go by that I didn’t give a thorough check  in all corners, sweeping frequently and shaking my shoes out in the morning. One morning, as I banged my shoe, a scorpion dropped out.

Himalayan scorpions won’t kill you, but their sting will certainly not go unnoticed; they are guaranteed to cause unmentionable amounts of agony. Interestingly, it was not in that house my scorpion encounter happened. There was a time when I was staying in a house with the girls while Ken stayed in a house with the boys. We also had kids of our own, who stayed with me.

It was night, and the baby would wake up at least once wanting to be fed. I, my kids and the girls all slept in one room. As usual, half way through the night, I heard my baby cry. I reached down to the floor, where I had placed a candle and matches so that I needn’t put on the light and disturb everyone. I slipped my bare feet into rubber flip-flops and walked in the direction of the cry. The baby was in a large drawer I had pulled out of a cupboard to use as a bed. I walked carefully with my candle held out in front of me. There was a definite sound of a “crunch” underneath my feet. I stepped back and held the light to see what I had stepped on. I could not see anything on the mottled cement floor. So, I decided to proceed.

When I reached the drawer, I could not find place for my candle, so I set it on the floor. Then I saw the large scorpion which I had delicately and brutally squished quite directly under my rubber slippers! I was horrified! Taking off my flip-flop, I swatted it again and again. It must have nearly been in pieces when I finished with it, but I was still not satisfied; I went to a shelf and grabbed as many books as I could carry and stacked them up, one on top of the other, and placed them neatly on the scorpion. I fed my baby, and went back to bed, prayed that the scorpion was thoroughly dead and quite unable to crawl out from under the books, and slept with my eyes open.

In the morning, the girls wondered at the stack of books in the middle on the floor. So, I told them what happened. That was it, as soon as I’d finished, hysterical laughter burst forth from all sides of the room! I no longer had that heroic feeling of saving them from that huge scorpion, no, I felt very much the opposite —like a worm, or a mega sized chicken. I guess now, to my brave girls, I was today’s joke! Admittedly, I was a true coward (but only regarding scorpions, and maybe snakes).


During our first year of marriage I was enlightened to Ken’s fascinating ability to dialogue; a captivating a story teller who could also come up with some pretty hair-brained ideas.  Although entertaining, it could be hard to discern whether or not he was sincere, or just brewing a bunch of confabulations.  The first adventure began with a bang, but ended in a puncture:

Halfway through the night, I was disturbed by Ken when he suddenly pulled himself up on one elbow and looked suspiciously around the room, “Shhhhhh…” Wary, I was quiet and silent and scared, wondering what or who was in the room? I barely whispered, “Huh?”

After a pause that seemed forever, he suspiciously replied, “I think there’s a snake in the room.” In a flash he was sitting upright and took a quick scan of the room. We didn’t speak, but I couldn’t help wondering why it was necessary to be quiet for a snake? Perhaps if we spoke it would understand our plan of attack? Ah, no.  More likely, if it knew we humans were near, it would get angry and hurdle itself up on the bed?

After I endured a few minutes of imaginative thinking (along with sweat forming in my tightly clenched fists), I finally heard the distinct, familiar sound of heavy breathing, the sound of blissful sleep, coming from Ken’s side of the bed. It was obvious; he was oblivious to what had just occurred, and in the morning, would feign complete innocence. I frowned inwardly and felt quite dismayed. He had his little fiasco, and I was left terrified.

Alas, it was the exciting new beginning of our shared future (no getting out of it for me) —my husband’s infamous sleep dialogs and night excursions were off to a grand start (with more to come). I would eventually get used to them and it would become entertaining —like going to the movies; I’d wait in eager anticipation to see what bazaar thing he would do next. But like air wheezing out of a puncture, it always came to an end with the blissful snore.

The setting that made me feel
Just plain…


I stepped outside onto the cement porch. It was a wintery day and I took a breath of fresh, cold morning air. My view looked directly upon the orchard, which was wrapped in a beautiful heavenly mist. Was it heavenly, or was more of this world? The fog lying on the orchard reminded me of the gloom and darkness, that for years, had settled as a weight over my life. But on the other hand, its mystical loveliness compelled me to feel awestruck. The years I spent groping in the darkness were not for attaining satisfaction —that had never been my quest. What I chased after wasn’t the pursuit of happiness. It was truth —God. Although the scene in front of me was a cloud, I now walked in sunshine. Early mornings were a stroll with God. I could walk in the mist, I could walk along a cliff, and —whether or not I literally did these things, it hardly mattered. I am SATISFIED.

Click play to listen the song.