Solving a Who-Dun-It… Or Trying To

via Daily Prompt: Grasp

I just finished reading an old Agatha Christie who-dun-it.

I spent the last few hours, after all the characters were clearly delineated of course, pointing my imaginary finger at almost each one going, “Yep! You’re the murderer. I’m so freaking sure of it!” Well, that’s until the next character made a seemingly suspicious move like twitching his eyebrow in a dubious manner or something equally innocuous. Then, of course, he was the one I held responsible.

Finally, when the real culprit was revealed, my reaction was an obvious, “Well, of course, I knew it’d be him. I’d already said so, hadn’t I?” (Well, who would have the temerity to gainsay me within the depths of my head?)

As a writer, I’m quite accustomed to looking at a person and providing him/her with a make-believe family, a rich history, a sorrowful tale or a fascinating superpower. The ability to imagine is a prerequisite for any writer. However, that can be quite the handicap when one is trying to solve another writer’s murder mystery.

I was so busy providing  each character with a backstory and a reason for him/her to commit the murder, that I missed the opportunity to grasp the writer’s point of view. This was her world – a world and its inhabitants that she moulded amidst the chaos of hundreds of other ideas clamoring for attention. My preconceived notions and I were hindering her characters from doing what they were created to do – captivate and entertain. It didn’t take me long to see that I did that in real life too – letting my imagination run amok about people and incidents instead of grasping the Creator’s point of view about His people and His schemes.

Sigh! You live and learn, I guess! Anyway, I’ll be starting a new who-dun-it soon. I wonder if all this soul searching will help me enjoy my next book all the more or hinder my reading process.

Soul Search

(Never claimed to be an ace illustrator!)

Stay tuned for updates!


The View Through His Eyes

Now, be honest… really honest!

Isn’t there someone in your list of acquaintances or colleagues whom you dislike and, try as you might, you can’t really put your finger on the reason? You aren’t of the same wavelength, your conversations lack any zing whatsoever or some such excuse is what you rely on when you try to keep your exchanges to the barest minimum. And, what about all the people who have wronged you? Isn’t there a list of them and their words that you can bring to immediate recollection sometimes, much faster than… your spouse’s birthday, maybe?

Unfortunately, this is occasionally true for me too. (No, not the bit about finding it easier to remember my detractors over my husband’s birthday – I do remember the date! Seriously!)

Our creativity and imagination often display amazing results when we are faced with having to meet these people or have just completed an unsuccessful interaction with them. When faced with the former, our creativity concocts unparalleled ideas, never before seen in our professional or personal lives, that enable us to avoid the dreaded meeting. When faced with the latter, our imagination soothes our offended dignity by providing us with witty comebacks that, if we had managed to vocalize on time, would have totally decimated our detractors – or so we think.

Of course, our brain is so busy strategising in and following those moments that we hardly have the opportunity to recall our Lord’s command about loving our neighbors. We tend to forget that Jesus faced opposition both physical and verbal a hundred times worse than ours. And yet, He still spoke of and displayed love.

There is no doubt about the fact that we are, each one of us, spectacularly special to Him.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139: 15

We were all given the same amount of attention and care when He wove us into creation. He breathed the same breath of life in each of us. He put together the road map of all of our lives – from birth to death. We are all, without exception, equally loved and equally adored by Him. Now, when we meet our detractors/the people we dislike next, if we can stop focusing on whatever irritates us about them and concentrate on how special to Him they are, we could see them the way He does and, as a result, arrive at the first step toward loving them.

It probably is best to stop trying to see them through the lens of our past experiences, and instead to view them through the lens of His presence. The longer we look at them the way He does, the easier it will be to love them the way He wants us to, don’t you think? 🙂

(One-word prompt: Zing!)

On Equating Problems With Bullies

We’ve all had bad days.

Those are the days when that figurative dark cloud dogging our every step gets really annoying. Sometimes, and this is something no self-respecting dark cloud should do, it clings to us and lets us do the hard work of carting it around. I think it finds it immensely entertaining to bring our frailties to the forefront! Finally, to top it all off, it patiently waits till we are feeling our worst and then gleefully sheds its girth atop our heads.

Oh, the nerve!

I’ve often likened my dark cloud to a bully.

We are advised to face bullies head-on, that they will back off because most of them are cowards at heart. Well, often, that trick works on my dark cloud as well. It may be heavy-laden with a lot of problems that are facing me at the moment but strangely enough, when I raise my head from my dejected posture and look directly at it, somehow, the cloud loses its hold on me.

It isn’t like my problems magically fade away. It’s just that sometimes facing my problems, figuring out why I fear them, comprehending the worst that can happen and remembering I can dump the whole lot at my Father’s feet, helps me put them into perspective.

The change in posture is immediately obvious – figuratively of course. What once was an unintended frail over-burdened bow from lugging around my dark cloud changes to a thumb-my-nose-at-my-dark-cloud and intentionally planned bow before my Lord, the God of my circumstances.

“So, Mr Dark Cloud, back away! Do you know who my Heavenly Father is? Hah!”

(One-word Prompt: Frail)

Stepping Off the Harbor of Safety

There is a path that leads forever and on.

It ran past brickwork houses and medieval stone-worked churches. It ran into and out of cheerful schools and busy offices. It meandered past other paths and occasionally accompanied them for a while before continuing on its merry way.

I’ve walked down that path and it’s led me here – to the edge of the Sea of Uncertainty. But I am not perturbed, for I can see that my ship, Lord Father’s Arms, is docked and prepared for departure.

I am aware that the voyage will be a difficult one. I have been warned of the storms and whirlpools that frequent this section of the sea. But I have faith in my ship and its captain. It has seen such trifles before and it has come out on top.

My Captain knows where to drop me off. I haven’t a clue. I wonder if the ship will lead me from the uncertain waters of the sea to the Ocean of Impossibilities or take me all the way to the end of my voyage and my final home. It may instead dock at a nearby port, one that I don’t know of yet, and I may have another path to travel for a little while longer.

I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter. I am learning to enjoy the journey because He has assured me of the destination.

(One-word prompt: Voyage)

Watching the World Pass By

I have been travelling.

I’ve been up a mountain and at a beach through the course of the last 3 days and I have seen so much my head has still not processed all that my eyes have taken in. What a delightful predicament to be in!

I’ve seen rolling hills of vivid green, dotted with grazing cattle. I’ve seen lambs gambolling in large fields and I’ve seen llamas look up at our whizzing car with jaundiced eyes. I remember plastering my nose up against the window to watch when a pair of rambunctious kangaroos decided to escort us a few miles. Everywhere I looked all I saw was a land filled to the brim with life – flora and fauna.

And then, I remember driving through lands radiant in shades of browns and blacks. I saw carcasses from roadkill through my car window. We drove for ages without setting eyes on a single sign of obvious life. I saw, what appeared to be, a land devoid of life and inhabitants of any sort – until a pair of camouflaged birds took to the air.

I saw a sea frothing at the mouth and I saw the same sea gently lapping a sandy shore. I saw birds I’ve seen all my life and some whose colorful existence were a lovely surprise.

I saw a whole lot more this last weekend but what I retained from the trip was the impression that our God is an incomparable artist. What supreme imagination it must take to conjure up such opposing vistas in the head, and then to speak them into creation; to create beauty that touches not just the senses but also all the hidden recesses of the head and heart; to create hills and seas that can dwarf the cares of the viewers with the reminder that His magnificence is not limited.

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”  Job 12:7-10

Reader, the God who created the mighty mountain that I saw also created that small flowering shrub outside your window. Whom I saw in the Aussie outback, you can see in your backyard because He made them all. It helped me put into perspective the worries my heart were carrying. How does one hold on to those when every living being in the vicinity is loudly declaring His power and presence?  🙂

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.”   Psalm 145:5


The Grain Representing Home

Any scientific minds reading this post?

You would affirm, I’m sure, when I make the claim that science has progressed to such an extent that an in-depth analysis of the smallest item at a crime scene is sufficient for the provision of case-breaking clues. (Well, what do you know, CSI episodes have something to offer to a conversation after all. 😛 ) It’s mind-boggling to realize that something as inconsequential as a wrongly present grain of sand at a scene can be analyzed and can aid in gaining the composition of the ground it hails from and, as a result, the original location of that grain.

It brings to mind the fact that as that grain of sand, we can be far away from home and still carry within us the qualities that declare to the world our real identities.

Nope! I am not talking about human factors that act as distinctions like ethnicity, color, race, etc – not the way our misguided human eyes choose to label people. I am referring to the way our Creator would see us – through eyes of wisdom and kindness. Will His eyes still see the goodness, honesty, generosity, etc, that He initially installed as a part of each of our make-up, those qualities that represent Him and His kingdom? Are those qualities still within us that can make the world sit up and say, “She’s/He’s different. There’s more than meets the eye with them.”

We were put here to be the aforementioned grain of sand i.e., to behave as an anomaly – to stand within and yet apart from the world. However, if we are ‘analyzed’ today, will our characteristics declare to the world our real home? Will our composition reflect our Father’s traits?

I guess self-analysis is the way to go. All the best with that!


The Battle Plan

Have you ever had one of those slow-mo Matrix kind of moments in your life? That’s when all movement slows down because you are watching a projectile approach, and in the movie, Neo does a good job of dodging it. But when a projectile is articulated through the Holy Spirit’s intervention, taking a hit to the heart is a good thing. That’s what happened when I was in the midst of a skirmish with myself.

We each battle our version of the ‘impossible’ in our lives on an almost-daily basis – cramming in time for the next day’s exam, hitting that difficult sales target, preparing for a chemo, etc. Every situation seems bigger and stronger and more intimidating before that first step. We feel overwhelmed and discouraged when we see our ‘Goliaths’ in all of our impossible circumstances.

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1.4)

Often, we rely on the experiences  others have shared with us in the hopes of supporting us. But although our circumstances may appear to be the same, the lessons He wants us to learn from those circumstances may be varied and new – so shouldn’t our method of handling the situations be different too?

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

This excerpt is from 1 Samuel 17 when Saul, a seasoned warrior, is preparing David to battle Goliath. The circumstances they both faced were the same – war. But the armor, sword and helmet that worked to protect Saul were more burden than boon to the shepherd, David. So he wisely chose his own weapons, things that he knew well and trusted, to take to battle with him.

Isn’t it the same with us? We take comfort in knowing that others have been through the same situation but we may have to face the problem in a completely different manner.

So, if you are going through something difficult, stop comparing yourself and your circumstance with that of another’s. They may have sailed through the same difficulty and you may still be stuck in the heart of it. Your journey and your lessons are unique to you. Just face your ‘Goliath’ with weapons that you choose wisely – blind faith/unrelenting prayers, or anything that works best for you. Whatever it is, find it and hold fast – the battle is the Lord’s, after all.


Surviving the Ages

Humans have survived wars, natural disasters, diseases, and a whole lot more, because we’ve adapted to all that is thrown at us and we’ve turned survival into a form of art. We tell ourselves that this, too, shall pass, and carry on. When faced with a quandary, our little grey cells immediately take to analyzing the situation and deconstructing the problem to arrive at the best possible solution.

Of all the gifts that God has blessed us with, I’d say the skill to survive is probably up there with the most important. In fact, quite often, it isn’t even a skill. It’s a desire so entrenched within ourselves that, when in trouble, our flight or fight response aka the survival skill comes to the fore. But we have that to rely on only when we are in immediate physical peril. Surviving emotional troubles is another ball game altogether.

Do you know of any perceptible skill or an inherent gene that helps us through emotional difficulties?  A broken relationship, a state of unemployment, a failed exam, a distressing diagnosis, etc, are all problems that our fight or flight response cannot help us with. Although we cannot rely on ourselves to get us through this, I believe He’s provided us with more than adequate aid to survive these times.

It couldn’t be a coincidence that He engineered His Word to include promises and words of encouragement galore for those of us facing emotional worries. The emotional part of us or our souls, have always been offered a choice in times of trouble  – either trust in His Word or try to go about it our way i.e., either plod through the difficult times knowing that He has our backs or fail miserably at reaching the best solution, respectively. Our emotional survival rests in our hands – all we need to do is make the right choice.

It appears that we humans have survived physical dangers and emotional pitfalls of all sorts through the ages because of the skills and options offered to us. How often have we turned back to thank Him for these, I wonder?

(In response to the day’s one-word prompt – Survival)

Revealing the Differences, Reflecting the Unique

‘Everybody is a genius… But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’

We are, as a majority, a species that cannot seem to celebrate the different. We like to fit in with the crowd and we look askance at people who would rather not. We bury our unique differences and try to be what another was sent here to be – and as a result, we live miserable lives because we will never achieve our full potential. How could we if like the fish were meant to swim but were judged on our climbing abilities?

There is no denying that diversity is the norm and not the unique, but we are yet to accept it. We may have some similarities but were created in God’s “image” (Genesis 1:27). He can be any of these at any given point in time –  a creative genius, the epitome of wisdom, the fount of grace, the loving Father, the forgiving One, the jealous God, the silent Listener, and a lot more. Our puny human psyches would never be able to reflect ALL of Him. So, I’m hypothesizing that our diversity was born out of our individual reflections of His personality. So, if we are, each one of us, reflecting a different facet of His, who really has the right to cast aspersions at another for being different?

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ… But God has so composed the body… that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” (1 Corinthians 12: 12, 24, 25)

Quite an innovative way of showing God’s love for diversity, isn’t it? We are different and yet part of the same image and, quite obviously, that diversity was never a mistake. So, how about starting to show the world those differences? You could only enrich it when you reflect a part of His personality.

Now, if you want to go the other way and somehow find the courage to tell Him you aren’t happy with the differences He put in you, and which, by the way, are reflections of Him, be my guest! Just warn me in advance so that I can be a safe distance away! 🙂

(In response to the day’s one-word prompt: Diverse )

Chaos’ Promise of Beauty

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder – I guess it just means that it’s all a matter of perspective.

I quite often like to attempt at creating beauty through my extremely innovative attempts at cooking. Television’s cooking shows galore have a lot to answer for. I see those amateur cooks throw things together and I go, “Okay, throwing ingredients together that epitomize contrariness? I can do that!” So, that’s what I do – the ensuing chaos is quite a sight, and sometimes smell, to behold. Quite often, I wouldn’t even bother attempting a taste test. But I definitely enjoy the experience.

And isn’t that the point of life? Shouldn’t we always be stretching our limits, trying new things and creating chaos out of our regimented, well-ordered lives? Can we ever be at our creative best if we don’t break out of what makes us ordinary so that we can notice and then try to embrace the extraordinary? And isn’t trying something new always a bit chaotic?

However, at some point, when I have created chaos long enough, when the unfamiliar has occurred so many times even my infinitesimal brain has begun to recognize the signs, BAM! – chaos is no longer a stranger and my human eyes can recognize the beauty within. It is at this stage that most of my recipes turn out delicious – so, basically, I just cook something about ten times before I can make it reasonably edible. 😛

Creating beauty out of chaos has been running through my head these last few days. I’d been reading about the big creation in Genesis, and I’d taken to wondering how our God thinks. I know without a shadow of doubt that even trying to comprehend something as monumental as His way of thought is beyond my human ability. But nothing wrong with giving it a try, right?

As I think of God creating the universe, I can only wonder at how He saw order in chaos. Unlike my culinary fiascoes, He didn’t need to experiment till He came up with the best result. He saw the nothingness that existed, the chaos that reined, but despite it, He saw through to the promise of the beauty. And isn’t that what makes Him absolutely amazing – He still looks at us and sees something beautiful, something worth saving, despite the chaos that is, quite often, our lives.

As I said before, it’s all a matter of perspective – you can choose to see the chaos or the promise of the beauty concealed within the chaos. I’m looking forward to my next experiment at chaos. What should I try – something new with poultry, you think? ;P

(In response to today’s one-word prompt, Chaos )