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Stewardship and Trusteesh
  By A.J. Philip  
  I ACCOMPANIED Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to South Africa on the occasi  
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  DEVOTIONAL  
 
   
Letter to Metropolitan
  By Rev A.P. Jacob and five other priests  
  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar  
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  EDUCATIONAL
 
Small word, big problem
 
  By William Grimm  
  PEOPLE who have studied English as a second language tell me that three of the biggest challenges they encount  
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  COUNSELING  
     
 
   
A broken vessel
  By Cristina McEwen  
  I'M a feeler: a die-hard, passionate, go-with-my-gut, somewhat impulsive, feeler. As a wife and mother of three, I'm the person who writes up a to-do list but chucks it because it's sunny out and "gosh the park sounds fun today." And "oh, the zoo would be nice... and I need to stop at the grocery store on my way home."

Before I know it, dinner has come and gone, and my agenda has been put off until tomorrow.

The problem lies in the fact that my husband also is a somewhat impulsive, extremely passionate, borderline feeler. So when we said "I do" one drizzly and cold New Year's Eve at the courthouse, on a whim of sorts, I should have known what we were in for.

Until I said "I do," learning to forgive as Jesus forgave me sounded rather simple. I can honestly say that there's no other relationship on earth that God has used in the way he has used marriage to shape me into a more humble, more authentic and more forgiving person.

We've had fights that would earn us a combined Oscar for acting (if only we were acting). And with three ardent children added into the equation within the first five years of marriage (one a product of the honeymoon), vying for first place in our lives 24 hours a day -- communicating with each other is rarely uncomplicated.

Receiving forgiveness was a spiritually abstract concept until I was left with no other option. But, it's freeing. And I'm learning that this art of giving and receiving forgiveness, no matter how much it pangs me, when it is spilled into every other meaningful relationship in my life, draws me closer to others and therefore closer to God.

There's something to be said about working through something really difficult with someone whose companionship you value. I've had times when I've wanted to run away from confrontation, but a voice inside me whispers, "Stay. Stay." And in staying and humbly receiving or confronting (whatever end I'm on at the time), more often than not results in true healing. It's a sort of freedom that beckons my soul to come forth and expose its beautiful self to the world of hurting people who have hidden because of fear of rejection, indignation or perhaps very valid fears of having received responses that were ungodly in the past.

Jesus has this way of taking our lives -- these big messy slabs of clay -- and gently shaping them into vessels worthy of his kingdom. He takes the clump of my life -- my brokenness, my "good deeds," my sin -- and puts it between his hands, sorting out all the lumps, softening it just so. He puts it on the wheel and very slowly, very gently, begins to spin it, holding the clump in a way that looks as if it would just slip out of his damp hands and onto the floor, adding to the mess it is already.

His hands are cupped around the clay now, as it cautiously makes its way into what simply resembles an OK-looking bowl.
He holds the bowl, like he's holding a baby, and he lifts its sides, moving so slowly that I don't even realize he's doing anything at all.

The wheel continues to spin. The bowl is getting taller. And much more delicate. A few times I think that it will surely fall to the ground. But it continues to grow. Upward. Outward. With a rim that looks as if it's reaching to the heavens. Every piece of what is now a rounded vase is perfect. Every ounce of every lump has been smoothed into this piece of art that now has the capability of holding its own. Holding something else even.

And perhaps in that redemption of all things broken is the capability of holding those who are broken. Holding people who are withering. Dying. Those who are hopeless. Ashamed. Abandoned. In need of light.

Perhaps in the liberation of being a broken vessel, at the disposal of the Potter, Jesus, we can find healing in the relationships around us and the power to let them mold us and shape us into people who embody and emanate the fruit of the Spirit in every aspect of our lives. (Courtesy: Christianity Today)
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Cristina McEwen lives in Indianapolis with her husband, Thomas, and their three children, Elias (6), Keziah (4) and Ezra (2). They're raising support to live in Turin, Italy, for the next five years. Find out more about Cristina at whensoulscollide.com.
 
   
   
Sibling rivalry
  By Shaheen Chander  
  WHILE reading a book, I came across a comic strip in which a young couple is bringing their second baby home. The older child, on seeing his sibling, exclaims, "Ah! My new bicycle is now on the back burner."

The idea was hilarious, but it depicted a deeper meaning. It revolved around children and their conflicts -- something generally known as 'sibling rivalry'.

The word 'sibling' denotes a brother or a sister. However, its deeper sense is revealed as one confronts the realities of life. For a pre-schooler, a sibling may be a small baby with whom he/she can play and share toys, while for a grown up, he/she is someone who can be looked up to for advice. There can be complexities and difficulties associated with this, owing to the depth of the relationship.

'Sibling rivalry' is a term generally used for frustration, jealousy, hatred and annoyance that siblings may have for each other. It is not necessarily confined to childhood, but can penetrate other stages of life as well, whereby, a simple childhood contention can lead to adverse troubles in the later years.

To understand such disputes, let's take a look at some of the very basic incidents centered on home and parenting. For instance, on the arrival of a new baby, your other child might not have responded pleasantly. He was probably sharing his parents with someone else for the very first time.

However, your firstborns are not the only ones prone to it. Every child confronts some sort of emotional unrest. At times, more attention is to be given to a mentally or physically challenged child or even a gifted one.

Although you are not being partial intentionally, another child of yours might feel sad. Such issues, if not tackled properly, can lead to verbal abuse and even serious physical harm. Some families also have gender preferences. This can lead to feelings of insecurity and ignorance.

The problem is deep-rooted in wrong parenting methods that are based on favouritism. All these factors affect children emotionally and result in rivalries during childhood and at times prolonged cold wars when they grow up.

Sensitive and intelligent parenting is required to strengthen the bond between siblings and keep them together. In certain situations, where one child needs extra care, it is extremely important to prepare the others for it. This would make them feel wanted.

In the case of a minor quarrel or a scuffle, avoid interference. Children should be allowed to sort it out on their own. Excessive parental intervention might make the situation worse. Let your children develop a relationship based on understanding and care for each other.

Smart parenting also involves steering away from favouritism or partiality. Parenting in all aspects has to be balanced. Make each child feel wanted and special in his own way. A weekend meeting with your children or an outing provides a good opportunity for children to know each other better.

On occasions like birthdays, festivals or other celebrations, ask them to make each other feel special. Encourage your children to respect, love and support each other. Their roles in the household should be made clear to them.

To sum it up, intelligent parenting is the key to a closer and stronger bond between your children.
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The writer has done MSc in child development and is currently working as a research assistant with a publishing company, Pearson Education
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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