Sunday, May 29, 2016

T shirt quilt

Made these two quilts for my college classmate ... For her gift to her son's graduation from Harvard this week. One for her MD doctor son and one for her engineer son. Each has 30 blocks of 16" squares. It was a blessing toile them, hand quilt them with ties and share the stories behind each t shirt that have marked their life journeys...
My body was aching by the time I finished it last week but it was so very blessed. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Fear Not

Fear is a common emotion that we face.  The Bible  gives importance  in the process of helping us cope with this physical emotion. A deer hunter once told me that even the animals such as the deer when  impact by fear  releases something bitter into its body while  fleeing in fear that makes its meat bitter, and unpalatable.
Wordsworth said "Fear hath a hundred  eyes, that all agree to plague her beating heart.."  Yes it is a plague that grips the heart.
The Bible uses the word fear on various ways about 500 times. To bring you all the promises of God that tells you how to deal with fear will not be possible in this  small space.  Here are a few for you to rest on. 
'Be not afraid of sudden fear.. Proverbs 3:25
"The Lord shall give you rest from fear". Isiah 4:3
"Fear Not.."...Isiah 35:4, 41:10,13
"Fear not the reproach of men". Isiah 51:7 Daniel 10: 12,19
"Fear Not I am with thee." Genesis 26:24, 46:3, 50:19
The  verses reveal reasons why you and I should not yield to unholy fear, and reveals the blessed promises of deliverance from all our fears.
It is a good idea to collect all  the "fear not"  promises of the Bible, and internalize  them.
By the way ...what is fear? Our human fear is a painful emotion marked by alarm, dread, despair, disquiet, anxious concern, or solitude.  Some of the fear is imaginary, when no cause of fear exists, wherein  the Lord asks us  "why are you fearful O ye of little faith?"
"Fear not little flock,  for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom" Luke 12:32
(The Bible uses the metaphor of we as sheep and God as our Good Shepherd)
The above promise was made as a rebuke when the disciples entertained the fear regarding sufficient food and clothing as they continued to follow Jesus. When God was able to care for the birds and the fields then why would fear grip their souls and care about materials things.
It is good to remember the promise that "My God shall supply all your need"...Philippians 4:19
Our Good Shepherd know that fear is our inherent weakness as we face our arch adversary the devil. And He assures once more..."Fear not little flock". He wants faith to replace fear. No matter what goes around, we are called to exhibit a quietness in spirit and confidence that is birthed from faith in the divine promises.
May God's promises be rooted in our hearts and keep us from all fear.
Devotional written by Shanti
 (Picture courtesy: My hand made clay elephant on my note pad)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ring around the roses....

"Ring ah ring ah  roses..
a pocket full of posies
husha busha ...........we all fall down..."
This is how we sang this  little song as gibberish ...We grew up in the church colony built around the Church of the  Good Shepherd, which is more than a hundred years old in Southern India.  Our neighbors were also those with whom we sat in the Church pews.  Each family has a name they carried after the names of missionaries that served in Southern India... some of the missionary names that are part of our family names are for example...Caldwell, Roberts,  and so on..
With skirts swirling as we twirled around holding hands, singing these words  in the midst of our giggles, our ears would wait for the cue in the most loved words  "fall down", and  our sparkly eyes would see our little frames  falling into the  mud in the heat of the day with the rising dust...after having danced  around in circles. For us "falling" as children into the dust meant fund and laughter.

The regional language Tamil Bible was an initiative of  a German missionary, who wrote the Tamil Bible.  Tamil is the closest language to Hebrew. Appreciation of God's Word in Tamil is as close as reading in the original Henew Until this translation was completed,  it must have been difficult for believers to access God's Word in all of its full meaning.  All the hymns from "songs and solos"  were also translated into regional languages for Church worship services. With the  Indian  educational system based on the European system and standards we grew up with this little song  Ring a ring a roses....and learnt of the true meaning only years later on. The song originated in another part of the world, and with kids singing it eventually as a children's song in a different part of the world.  (and without knowing the meaning!!) 

For those of you who would like to know the origins of this song..Read on...
The great plague was across the country in Europe and had covered it  like a thick dark blanket and it had come in as a thief in the night unannounced and silent and had been dreadfully treacherous. The plague had left more than 25 million people on the isles and in Europe dead and the mortality rate was very high. In May 1664 few isolated cases were reported ..but this was ignored. One year later on the same day there were  590 people who had died the same month. By June the number of dead rose to 6137 and in July over 17000 had died. In August the death toll was over 31000 and panic swept  the place. More than two thirds of the remaining people had fled from their homes and to somehow save themselves from death. This was also called the Black death for 2 reasons.  The body of the victims became dark with black blotches covering the skin and also because of the darkness and blackness of ignorance that surrounded the knowledge of the cause nor cure.. Some people had come up with the idea that the  polluted air brought about this plague and so they started to carry flower petals in their pockets thinking with the superstition that this fragrance would ward of the disease. Groups of victims who were able to walk were taken outside the hospitals  and holding hands they would walk around in circles around the rose gardens breathing in deeply the aroma of the blooming plants. In some cases the patients would not be able to get out of bed and so the attending physician filled their pockets with the bright colored petals from the English posy plants. While visiting the patients they walked around the bed sprinkling the posy petals on and around the patient. As death came close another superstitious  activity was followed. some felt that if the lungs could be freed from pollution life could be sustained and so they places some ashes in a spoon and brought it near the nose causing the patient to sneeze a couple of times.. But neither the sneezes nor the flowers postponed death until the real cause was found which was the bite of fleas from diseased rats!!
Anyway this terrible experience gave birth to a little song that  children sang at play..(including me !..on the dusty ground in Southern India......) The song was first heard from the lips of a soiled old man pushing a cart in London picking up the bodies along the alley ..the original song he sang was this: .
"Ring around the roses
A pocket full of posies
Ashes, Ashes, We all fall down"
For all of use who sang this song in some version or the other..without knowing the husha and busha ........well it is ashes and ashes...........
....... superstitions  do not liberate, save  nor count...only Christ does.

Devotional written by Shanti Samuel.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


"There arose a great storm........HE AROSE"

There are two arose here synchronized and happening together.
Read Mathew chapter 8.
For every storm that rises against you  in your life, Jesus RISES on your call to rebuke what is needed to give you the calm.
He is the Christ that is able to deal with any situation in your life. Do you fear the storm? Do you fear the waves of back biting, hatred, and trials and sorrow and loss?  Never fear. Look up to Him. He is right there in your boat. He is near you. He has the power to defend you. He has the wisdom to guide you. He has the fullness to meet all of your needs.

Call Him ...

Devotional written by Shanti Samuel.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A treadling mom ..


This is my sewing has an electric motor. During my growing up years I had  used my mother's treadling Singer sewing machine, that was powered by the foot pedal.

I have been shaped by my mother. Her knees are calloused  with hours spent on her knees praying. She is a praying mom. She sewed all our clothes. And her life was and  is still spent within the portals of the Good Shepherd Church,  visiting villages and sharing the word using local communication media such as the "villu pattu" which is a proven media in villages. As part of the Global Indian Diaspora family, born in Malaysia and having grown up with many blessings, she is a blessing to me. Below is the picture of a figurine that I made for her,  each sheep to represent my parents, me and my 3 siblings. She loves  it. The one with the flowers on the shoulder is my mom! The other holding his head is my dad. I am  atop the staff, and my brother at the other end of the staff and on the other two sides are my two sisters. I made the  coat of the Good Shepherd  in fluorescent clay that glows in the dark. My mom loves the Good Shepherd metaphor and so do I. This piece took me several months to sculpt it. 

I wrote this poem for her  ...

A Treadling Mom 

(tadak tadak tadak is the sound of the treadle on a sewing machine)
"Quietly turns a silvery wheel.
Held within a weathered heel,
The treadle of my heart it moves:
Tadak tadak tadak...
Feet firm and poised;
Forward and behind,
Rhythm, they pressing find,
Tadak tadak tadak...
Seamless love it makes,
Nay the thread may break,
Never a backward motion takes:
Tadak tadak tadak....
Well oiled pieces,
Treadle in harmony,
Music to my ears,
Tadak tadak tadak....
Polished decals in gold
Her nurture care untold,
Pops me from ordinary:
Tadak tadak tadak...
Specially knit, in her womb
Sound of silence breaks
Soothing, rocking me to sleep,
Tadak tadak tadak....
In your heart's treadle
I solace meet
Heart beats of my God I find
Tadak tadak tadak....

This  poem was penned down by me for her  77th birthday on March 6th. This poem reflects my moments as a child, sitting on the floor, by her feet, watching her relentless feet go up and down, to and fro, on her treadle Singer machine foot pedal, while the rest of the household was snug  and well taken care of for the day, and when she found the time to piece together my clothes, bringing meaning to colorful threads of fabric in love.

 She wrapped me with clothes of honor and spiritual values. In clothing me I experienced the Christ in her, clothing me in love. (When saw we you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you?" Mathew 25:28.   "I was a stranger and you did not invite me in. I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." Mathew 25:43) In clothing another  we entertain Christ.
Her treadling feet gave me meaning and purpose. ("He makes my feet like the feet of a deer: he enables me to stand on the heights." Psalm 18:33)
She soothed my soul with the movement of her sole. She filled and taught me the harmonious rhythm of perseverance, with her whole orchestrated being in Christ, hands that set the wheel in motion, feet that sustained the pulse, and fingers that never ceased to push the fabric through, and keen wakeful sleepless eyes, that one minded focus on the tiniest needle point details. (akin to the way she paid attention to the details in my life).  She is a Proverbs 31 woman, a woman after God's own heart. She taught me what a  persistent sole can do with an iron footing and once put the foot forward and yoked to never go backwards. She taught me what it took to start and finish and move on to the next challenge. Her life and actions have shaped and informed me into what I am today and who I am today are all contained within contextual scriptural metaphors through her language of actions and love. As I celebrate my mom  I owe it to her in whose womb God chose me to be planted and knit by His Hands. "For you created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13
I am blessed to call you "mom".  I am blessed to be her first born and called out and set apart for the Lord's work. I am blessed to have been in her womb vessel, fashioned by the Potter's Hands ("Yet O Lord you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter, we are all the work of your hand," Isaiah 64:8)
Today and always, I thank God for  my precious mom, at whose feet God poured all His lessons into me, to treadle on in His vineyard. I thank God for all the precious moms's in the world. I pray that God bless them and keep them and fill them with peace.

She is on facebook and likes all my art work posts too!! Mom is always a special person and I pray all God's blessings on her.

To my mom ....I love you.

Written by Shanti.
Picture courtesy: My sewing machine and my clay handmade figurine of the Good Shepherd.

Monday, August 12, 2013

In the midst of greying......

In Wordsworth's words  'an old age serene and bright" we find something of cheer for old age, and it is good to know the promises God has given for such a time, and embrace the promise, before it is too late.  It is good to also  have an understanding of old age as how the Bible describes, and also do certain things that we are called to do while we still can.... Read on...

Firstly keep this  promise of God in your heart... "EVEN TO YOUR OLD AGE I AM HE, AND EVEN TO HOAR (white hairs) HAIRS WILL I CARRY YOU."..Isiah 46:4 ..He is a loving God who never leaves nor forsakes you and carries you in even during your grey hair days...

If you have a bible you may refer, else I have keyed  them for you here. Turn with me to Ecclesiastes Chapter 12: verses 1-7
1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, 4 And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low; 5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Here ends the reading.

It is a great experience to come into every season of life  without wasting any time and being aware of what each season brings and not worry. I have experienced happy and cheerful aged people as well as those in distress.

"The years draw high, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them."  Dwelling in these verses give us a  peek into old age.... As we get old there are different kinds of failure of vital organs and the body becomes feeble for service and sometimes the mind also gets clouded to appreciate God. It is therefore better to appreciate him now and in the present.

"the keepers of the house shall tremble"  Our body is the house and the keepers are our hands who at one time are our strong providers and source of defense.  We need our hands for so many things.  As we get old the hand start trembling and our hands are not as strong as before, ridden with decrease in nervous power and so on and until in fact our hands become so fragile and weak like that of an infant. I do a lot of crochet and work at the computer and also play the piano sew and quilt etc and I praise with my hands as much as I can while I still can. Some who work extensively with their hands develop carpal tunnel pain etc.... The Word does explain this so beautifully. You can see some of my work here with my hands, in my art HERE 

"The strong  men shall bow themselves--"
Our legs are the strong men and as we age they bend, and the  24 vertebrae akin the strongmen also get shriveled  with loss of elasticity in them and we bend forward and our shoulders droop too.

"The grinders cease" because we loose teeth and there are few or none left the actual grinding activity cease. The double teeth are the ones that that chew, and in their absence the gums act as chewing mechanisms. The molars ..a name that has come from the term "mola" refers to the grinding in a mill with the ridges and depressions akin in a corn mill...with the passing of time the teeth are all worn and smooth..and lose their ability to grind.

"Those that  look out of the windows be darkened"  The eyes out of the sockets akin windows are deep set and darkened too.

"The doors shall be shut in the street "
Our lips maintain their shape as they are  actually supported by our teeth. When the teeth are not there, to support the lips the lips bend inwards locking, and not bend outwards. This is nature's way of locking in the food so that the food does not fall out while the old without teeth are processing the food inside the mouth. Instead of the grinding sound it is a different kind of sound produced which is actually the sound of the gums. The doors are thus said to be shut.

"He shall rise up at the noise of the bird"  Sleep patterns  becomes different now,  being light sleepers now the little noise of the bird also awakens them.

"The daughters of music shall be brought low.."
Our ear and voice organs can be said to be the main daughters of music. One produces beautiful music while the other can  appreciate the sounds. With advancing age even the most famous musicians have to bid a painful adieu  to their once famous  talents, and thus is said to be brought low. Music appreciation and singing etc reaches  an all time low.

"They shall be afraid of that which is high"    As we get older we are afraid of climbing up a ladder or steep heights.  (it is so nice..I can relate to all this in varying degrees!!!!)

"Fear shall be in the way" Because of fear of tripping or falling and so on the eyes are bent forward and cautious and fear certainly takes its place before every step.

"The almond tree shall flourish"  The almond tree flowers are pure white in color. The head of a old person is now fully white with grey and silver white hair. Hair that has lost its natural color has actually therefore decayed in in  turning color from what it was. To me it is almost akin the fall leaves in autumn that change color and drops before and has in reality decayed.  Soak an almond in water and see how the almond is smooth and white..many grow as bald and smooth or white as this metaphor. Refer back to the promise that God has given for such a time as this.

"The grasshopper shall be a burden"  The sound of the grasshopper which is quite negligible in normal times irritates and becomes a burden to the ear. Even the sound and behavior of this  small insect can now turn into a burden.

"Desire shall fail"  Certainly the desires now are not as they were before. Everything changes. The entire landscape and attitude and perspective changes.

The mourners go about the streets" The person finally leaves the world, and dies, and mourners mourn their absence. The manner in which they leave may be gradual as explained or abrupt and sudden with no indication of approaching departure, even to the extent of producing distress to the departed.

"Silver cords loosed,  Golden bowl broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain"  Departure can be so sudden as an abrupt cessation of life, akin the breaking of a golden and useful and prized silver cord and a pitcher of great present utilitarian value broken, descries untimely death, that comes before the gradual cessation of life.

In view of this we are encouraged to, as early as we can and now is the time to remember the creator in our youth and while we still can.

Hold on to God's promise, and may the peace that passeth all understanding fill you and keep you!
God Bless you.
In Christ

Kneeling on the mission road..

The comfort in  the smell of the sea and the feel of the sand under my feet, the cool water washing over my feet,  the sight of birds and sound of the crashing waves embracing the shore, was sheer delight. These are pictures of  the Hermosa Beach. You can read more about the beach  HERE.

It reminded me and embraced me with the  comfort of provisions, peace, protection and love and warmth of  my hometown, where within the safety and protection of the home it was mere comfort and I knew nothing else. The Marina beach (you can read more about it HERE) was just a mile away from the house where I grew up in. We would visit the beach very frequently and the smell of the sea surrounded our family chats,  fellowship and child like play.  The school where I went to was just along the beach too. Read more about my school HERE  The St George's Cathedral, (Read more about the church HERE) was walking distance,  and the Good Shepherd church was just behind my home. (Read more about the church HERE).  We worshiped in both these churches that had services in English and the  regional language.

When all comforts flee I will still love my Savior, as I love Him for whom He is and not for the comfort that His love provides. On the mission road, comforts take a new definition and new normal. I cleave to the Rock of ages, and hide myself in Him. Although the smell of the sea was teaching me about the existence of, and my recognition of comfort I have arrived at a place where  I can say with Job, "If he slay me, yet would I trust in Him". With or without  the comfort Hi love provides, I love Him.  On the mission road at this altitude of spiritual growth there are new tests that inform and shape and challenge me.

I drew and left  my signature on the shore on the sands of time....

The waves had judiciously moistened the sand for me. A lovely bird had left a feather for me too. I had used the feather  as a quill to write and  hoisted the feather atop the castle I made. It was childlike glee.
Kids when very young are teachable. Christ points to little children as the model to which the members of his kingdom must be with focus on the  humility  and simplicity of a child that are  contrary to being self seeking and worldly.  Christ said "Blessed are the poor in spirit for their is the kingdom of Heaven..Mathew 5:3.

I waited for the waves to wash my sand castles away.

There was this lone bird watching the setting sun and looking to see if he could take a dive for a fish.

It was fun to play in the waves and walk out black knees blackened and hardened with kneeling, remind me of the times I spend on my knees and my conversations on the mission road. My great grandmother had trained us to kneel direct on the rough  floor for hours. Those were the days when we sat on the rugged floor of the church that had no pews. Over the years I have seen churches have comfortable warm cushions for sitting as well as kneeling.
Now again over the years I see churches with no kneeling pads at all. Kneeling  is becoming slowly a thing of the past.

Walked towards  my shoes, I have miles to go before I sleep.

The birds were lazily walking around with tummy full of fish..

As I left foot prints on the sand I was reminded of the story where a man was constantly comforted seeing two sets of was his and the other was God's footprints always walking alongside of him. At one point in the journey when it had been the  most hard,  he noticed that there were only one set of footprints. He had asked God as to where He had been as there was just one set of footprints, and God had replied that He had been  carrying him at those hardest times, which account for just one set of foot prints!! This story is written in wall hangings and so on, and it is so true, that when I am weakest then I am strong as the Lord IS my strength. Footprints forever remind me of this little meaningful narrative. This has given solace to many a soul ...

As we travel on the mission road wherever it may be, may God's peace fill you and may the Grace of God keep you.
Please do pray for the needs of all those who are on the road now. Isiah 52:7: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
Until we meet again
Lots of love
In Christ