Death is not the end!

“Slowly they walk, one by one, scattering the leaves and trampling the grass under measured and heavy steps. The minister’s words still echoing in their minds, they hear workmen moving toward the terrible place, preparing to cover the casket of their loved one. Death, the enemy, has torn the bonded relationships of family and friends, leaving only memories and tears and loneliness. But like a golden shaft of the sun piercing the winter sky, a singular truth shatters the oppressive gloom: Death is not the end! Christ is the victor over death, and there is the hope of resurrection through him.”

The title may be a little misleading, but it is true for the Christian after leaving this earth.

This past week has been a whirlwind of tragedy and heartache. On February 21, it is celebrated as my grandmother’s death anniversary, along with my birthday. And now, we are adding my uncle’s death to the list of death anniversaries. He passed away this past week and it has just been difficult.

I don’t think death will ever be an easy concept to understand or swallow, but moment by moment, God is continuously explaining how He is sovereign and in control.

My uncle’s life is one that I clearly remember being one of a deep love and loyalty. Although we didn’t talk often because of distance and language barriers, I truly believe love transcends all of that. I specifically remember him being the one to come and get us from the airport a few years ago when we had the chance to visit for the first time in about 20 years. I remember him being the one to make all of us laugh those deep belly laughs, and simply be present. I reflect and think about just how wonderful of a man he really was. When I think of my cousins, I think of how his character of that deep love and loyalty is ingrained in them as well. Although he is no longer physically present with us, I can see him living on in his family.

I’ll be honest. Something about my uncle’s death has triggered action steps in my own heart. I’m continuing to understand the temporary existence we have here on earth, along with the importance of living in a manner that is deeply pleasing to the Lord- an agape, total-surrender-of-self-kinda-life and love towards Him. This occurrence prompts me to check myself daily and ensuring that I am loving God and His people well.

So, to my uncle- thank you for loving us well. You will forever have a place in my heart.

Until we meet again,

27 & lookin’ up to Heaven

Happy happy birthday (to me!)

It has been quite the emotional rollercoaster for this particular birthday and I’m not entirely sure why. It has been filled with its share of highs and very strong realizations about my life. One of the exercises I have been trying to incorporate in my life is taking time to sit back and reflect on the small moments and identifying how I can exercise a spirit of gratitude. As I enter into this new year, I wanted to simply share my [abridged] running list of what I am grateful for. As you read the list, think about your own life. What are the small things that we tend to overlook?

27 blessings for 27 years!
_
sunrises
_meaningful conversations
_really good books
_warm, fuzzy socks
_flair pens
_traveling
_board games
_Fixer Upper
_farmhouse sinks & beams
_rocking chairs
_blowouts from DryBar
_parks
_chai tea lattes
_photography
_hugs
_puppies
_journals
_candles
_laughter
_coffee shops
_overarching trees
_soft tissues
_words of affirmation
_Google docs
_blankets
_[pun]ny jokes
_sunsets

These are all simple ways that God reminds me of His delight in me. Even when the days are hard and things aren’t going the way I would hope, I rest in the overarching idea that God does indeed delight in me. How do you maintain a state of gratitude?

Don’t Kill Creativity

Y’all. It’s Friday.

I am currently sitting in the living room of a rented house in Austin (my favorite city), with my sweet friend, Rachel. She’s the one who wrote this post of her travels all around the other side of the world. We are typing away, editing content, and she is sipping her coffee. It really has been a wonderful morning.

And, yes. It’s Friday. Adulting at its finest.

We’ve managed to turn our vacation into a space of work.

I share this because she and I were having a conversation about how she was bombarded with coming back from India and being thrown into the continuous frenzy of work. She explained there was a difference between the way of living in comparison to the life she led while on the other side of the world.

How fitting that she would share that this morning.

Now, flashback to this past Monday in room 339. As I called my students to the carpet, many of them came. Then, we were waiting patiently for the other students to join us. I write the word patiently in a very light manner because of one student. To be honest, I wanted to see how my students responded to waiting without having anything to do. It was pretty neat to see the outcome.

I had my handful of students that were sitting there in contentment, another group that began looking around at the carpet and exploring to see what they could find, and then there was one kid.

I was a bit taken back because of his response to having to wait. He kept looking back at the other students who we were waiting on and huffed, sighed, and became antsy. I know this is an isolated incident, but I’ve seen this type of response come into play when some of my students are expected to wait.

Isn’t that something?

One of the conversations I’ve had to have with my students this year is the importance of learning how to wait and that it’s okay to be bored. On one hand, I understand that children in general have a difficult time learning how to wait. On the other hand, I believe it has become much more difficult within the past few years.

The idea of instant gratification is one that has been reigning heavily in my classroom, but I have been on the hunt to minimize its hold on the minds of my children. And, I was recently reading an article recently that discussed how boredom is the perfect breeding ground for creativity.

This past week, we heard the fire alarm go off and rushed outside. While we were outside, I saw this breeding ground. Students were asked to sit down in a line outside and after we realized it would be some time before we could go, the children began to exercise their creativity. Some made up games and some played the classic hand clapping games and paper, scissors, rock. Case in point. They were engaging in creative shenanigans and practicing their social skills. Something so small such as this spoke volumes.

I loved that.

From that moment, I developed a conviction to continue supplying that space of allowing children to be creative and embrace those moments. Yes, they are bombarded by screens and times of instant gratification, but if we give them a space to live and breathe creatively, we are going to see many incredible outcomes.

-Side note: This post was written on Friday/Saturday, and finally published Saturday. 🙂

Unveiling Vulnerability

***The author has asked that I not include their name. However, if you would like to get into contact with the author, please message me privately.***

was five years old when my innocence was snatched away from me.

A grown man, clasped the little me, stroked me in places that weren’t even developed, tried to teach me how to kiss and satisfy him… all at the ripe age of five. I wish it stopped there but it didn’t.

It happened to me multiple times with different men in my family from the time I was five until I was about ten.

Once, I mustered up the courage and told one of the predators that I would say something to which he responded, “nobody will believe you”

At that moment, I felt defeated and quietly accepted my punishment. At that moment and for the majority of my life, I felt like I deserved it. I deserved to be dehumanized.

These horrific years affected my life decisions and perception of the world. I spent most of my childhood living in fear. I learned quickly that showing weakness to the rest of the world was not an option. So, I put on a façade for many years and quietly suffered. I became a great actress in the process. I pushed myself away from the people that brought me into this world. They loved me unconditionally, but the pain I’d been through made me resent them and I lashed out.

Years later, when I started to receive attention for my looks, I found myself in situations that retracted me back to my childhood. I was in countless relationships belittled me, used my shame for their gain, and held it against me. I’ve been cheated on and labeled all sorts of names. Even my own friends were ashamed of me. I always came back to the conclusion that I deserved it because I was not worthy of anyone. I was insecure, depressed, anxious, and kept myself guarded. These thoughts hurt and consumed me. I wanted to halt the pain and started to have thoughts of ending my life. In those deceitful moments, I believed that my absence on Earth would be unnoticed.

I am telling my story publicly for the first time because I need people in the South Asian community to stop shaming people (especially women) and start getting to the root of pain. I’m beginning to see that the only way to do that is to embrace vulnerability.

Growing up in an Indian Christian community was both a blessing and a curse. A curse because at a very young age, I was exposed to the notion that any sign of vulnerability was a weakness. Something happened? Like my girl, Olivia Pope, please know that it is being handled. At what price? Our society has taught us countless times that showing any kind of vulnerability is a weakness. So what do we do? We mask this vulnerability and so called “weakness”, digging a deeper hole. Too often, we suffer.

According to research from “Barriers to Mental Health Services for Asian Indians in America”, the most prevalent mental health issues relate to somatization, stress, suicide, and denial. Each of these issues are common trends in the South Asian community. But, they are rarely addressed. How have these issues ignited struggles in our own lives? Each of these issues is a domino effect for other struggles that people encounter; anger, addiction, abuse, and many other underlying problems. Sometimes, they become a part of us, luring us to a path of destruction

This is why I believe that unveiling vulnerability is a beautiful concept that we must embrace.

Sometimes, I feel like we have lost our ability to empathize with humans. Instead of empathizing, we say or think malicious thoughts that eventually become a part of who we are as a society. Or worse, we believe that ignoring the problem is the solution. We cannot claim to love Christ if we do not love people the way that we should. Imagine how different our society would look if we embraced vulnerability in a Christ like manner.

Unveiling vulnerability will not diminish the sufferings that people endure. But, when we start responding to these issues in a loving manner, I’m beginning to see that it can change our perspective on how we treat one another and the way we perceive vulnerability.

What does unveiling vulnerability look like?

It starts with a seed of an open heart, loving people the way that Jesus called us to love. Instead of rolling your eyes or taking a screenshot of someone to make a joke out of the issue that another person is facing, let us learn how to control our tongues and our thoughts.

Confession, confessing to a friend or accountability partner who is walking with Christ about the struggle is necessary. Too often the enemy will whisper that you are the only one going through this and you will be condemned for the struggle. So we carry this struggle, on our own, without leaning on to the ONE who paid for it all. Take a deep breath, you are not alone in this.

Kindness and compassion will never go out of style. These fruits are essential for your life. How life changing it is once you can convey these emotions to those around you and strangers who don’t know you. Prime example- Mother Teresa. Kindness and compassion   allow you to be approachable and put you in a place of love- not judgement.

The most wonderful thing about Jesus is that He pursues and loves us so well. I was at my absolute worst and He picked me up and pieced me back together. It was not an overnight process and all of a sudden I was healed. It took years of building up and me knocking down certain pieces. I fell multiple times.

There were plenty of times I cried, cursed, yelled, and questioned His authority over my life. These problems did not just simply vanish; they are less evident in my life. I write this because it’s my prayer that unveiling vulnerability brings healing and compassion to the people around me.

People are struggling with things that have hindered them in all areas of their life. We must embrace vulnerability as a society to uplift and encourage each other- just like Christ asks us to.

The Super Bowl is coming & there’s going to be a spike in [traffic]kers.

As the week comes to a close, a frenzy of excitement has been present in the air for the past week/s & months in the city of Houston. A game that is going to be watched by millions is going to happen about a mile from where I live. It’s exciting and lends itself to many individuals entering into the Houston area. As these fans flock into the city, they can be met with different billboards and other media means that shed light on the issue of human trafficking, and I love that! Awareness is critical.

Earlier this week, I was reminded of human trafficking and its ties with the Super Bowl. While I don’t want to take away from the excitement, there is a truth that exists and it must be shared. I’ve linked a few sites that properly define human trafficking and its place in the Super Bowl.

Please feel free to visit these links and gain a deeper understanding of an everyday phenomenon that is not only associated with sex trafficking. I’ve linked a two sources with varying degrees of information regarding human trafficking.

Human Trafficking Isn’t Just a Super Bowl Problem

Super Bowl Myths Debunked & What You Can Do

Simply musing,
-Sharon

Where are they now? 5 years later.

It’s wild to think that almost 5 years has passed since I took my first steps away from college and my first steps into a classroom with Teach for America. While it is sometimes unbelievable, I am also deeply thankful for the many lessons I’ve learned along the way.

After five years of teaching, I can sum it up with a few simple-musings. 😉

1) The beauty of teaching lies in the fact that you will never know where your influence ends. I reflect on this picture that’s taken from my second year of teaching and I am eternally grateful to have crossed paths with these fourth graders, at the time. And, I can hardly believe it. They are in 7th grade now and will soon be in high school, college, and then you can include any other life milestones that come along. 🙂 These students changed the way I taught and taught me what it looked like to be an advocate in the world of education. They’ve also taught me to be bold and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

2) Being a teacher is a gift. If you exclude items such as testing, accountability ratings, )all the icky stuff,) from schools, being able to teach is a gift. Your kids are looking to their teacher to provide them with academic information, but also to be there to listen to their stories, no matter how farfetched it might be. Case in point: As we were at recess today, one of my students came and told me that she knows two languages: English and Paris because she went there after the first day of school and learned the language. See? No matter how farfetched it might be, students simply need you to lend your ear. 🙂 And yes, I’ll tell her that Paris isn’t a language… someday!

3) Being a teacher requires you to become a student. While you are expected to have a proficient understanding of your subject/s, there are other areas of teaching that you aren’t taught during your teacher preparation program. One of these include being able to learn from your kids. Ever since I became a teacher, I’ve learned countless lessons from my students through the years. A few of these lessons include learning how to forgive easily, be a bit kinder and understanding towards the full story of a person, so forth and so on.

So, to my students, past and present, thank you. As your teacher, I am humbled & eternally grateful that God would choose a person like me to teach His children.