Featured Character in Shrouds Over Eden: Salome by Helen Khan

We were able to connect with featured character, Salome in her home in Sardarpur. She graciously agreed to talk to us about her life. If you have read Shrouds Over Eden, then you would have first met her there. I’m looking forward to hearing from her.

Assisting me today is Alizeh Rasheed who is fluent in both Urdu and Punjabi, plus, she tells me, she also speaks several local dialects as well. She is my translator.

Me

Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you and where do you live? Do you own your own home or rent?

Salome

I’m 27 years old and live at home with my parents in a small town called Sardarpur. I have a brother and two sisters. I used to be married but not anymore and I don’t have any children.

Me

Are you divorced or did your husband pass away?

Salome

I am separated from my husband. It is not easy for a woman to get divorced here, especially a Christian woman. My father asked his friend who is a lawyer about getting a divorce for me. He said, at one time that would have been possible, but one of our former presidents changed the Christian Divorce Act. The government is currently changing the act to include violence but it will be a long time before it happens. Besides, maybe my husband will change some day and I can go back to him.

Me

Who is the most important person in your life? And why?

Salome

The most important person in my life is my father. He has been my biggest support through all my difficulties, with my ex-husband and with my illness.

Me

What is your greatest fear?

Salome

I’m afraid to eat. Eating is very painful for me as my esophagus is damaged.

Me

What happened to you?

Salome

I don’t like to talk much about it, but I did it to myself. I was so depressed about my mom and sisters calling me names because I am not with my abusive husband. My mother is ashamed of me and couldn’t face people in the community, so she started to verbally abuse me, as did my sisters. All of this made me depressed so one day I drank Sweep. The acid burned my esophagus and stomach. But my father found me and rushed me to the hospital and now I am alive.

Me

Who is the person you respect the most, and why?

Salome

My father, because he loves me and he has supported me through everything. He is a very special father, especially in my culture where fathers don’t love their daughters the way my father does. Most men want sons, not daughters, so my father is an exception.

Me

How do you measure success?

Salome

Success would be having enough money to pay off all our debt.

Me

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Salome

Perfect happiness would be to be married to a good man and to have sons.

Me

Do you work outside the home? What is your occupation?

Salome

I work in people’s homes, cleaning and doing laundry and other chores. I am not educated so the only job I can get is cleaning.

Me

What quality do you like most in a man?

Salome

Kindness in a man. And hard working. I wish all men were like my father.

Me

What or who is your greatest love of your life?

Salome

God is my greatest love. I spend a lot of time reading his Word. I wanted to know so much about him that I learned to read by myself, even though I am not educated. Not everyone in my family believes the way I do. Black magic is commonly practiced here among women. They feel it gives them power. I get my power from God. He saved me from trying to kill myself.

Me

And my last question, is a fun question. What is your favourite colour?

Salome

I like red colours, bright reds.

Thank you, Salome, for the wonderful interview. I know you were nervous at first because your interview will go all over the world. But you did very well, and I am so delighted to have been able to interview you today. If any of you readers would like to read Salome’s story, click here to preview and purchase Helen Khan’s book Shrouds Over Eden.

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Runaway by Helen Khan

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 139: 7

As a child, most of us have, at least, threatened to run away from home. Things don’t go right; either Mom or Dad says you can’t do this or that; or you got disciplined for something that you did wrong. At the not-so-mature age of eight, you make the big announcement, “I’m going to run away from home.” You expect Mom and Dad to crumble and beg you to stay but they don’t. You pack a little bag, make it as far as the end of the yard and head back home. Going out on our own can be a scary thing.

Now I just described a rather normal, mild case of running away. But for some, they wish they could really run away, or maybe they do because life at home is painful. Maybe parents are abusive, neglectful or dysfunctional. Maybe your spouse is violent, controlling and jealously watches your every move. Life is volatile and you just want to escape a harsh dominating overseer. So, you run away, or try to run away. But where do you go? Life gives no easy roads for you.

So when you read the verse above; if you have been watched, dominated and controlled at every moment of your life, the idea of a God that watches over you where you cannot escape his presence, might not fill you with joy. It might even be an unbearable idea.

So when you read the verse above; if you have been watched, dominated and controlled at every moment of your life, the idea of a God that watches over you where you cannot escape his presence, might not fill you with joy. It might even be an unbearable idea.

God is not man. He doesn’t think like man, there is no comparison. A harsh earthly father doesn’t equate to God. A violent controlling husband is not the bridegroom of heaven. They don’t compare.

I would like to share an image from a book in the Bible called Hosea. This image of God embraces me and quietens my heart. God says that even though his child Israel went away from him, he loved him, he called him. It was God that taught him how to walk, took him in his arms and healed him. He gives us an image of a father lifting his child to his cheek and then bending down to feed him. He looked after him with cords of human kindness. All this to a son who wasn’t perfect! Unconditional love. All of us could do with a bit more of that kind of love!

For me, I don’t want to run away from this kind of Spirit. And even if I could, the Psalmist says I can’t flee from it, because it is always present. He knows where I am all the time. Furthermore, if the God that is described in Hosea exists and I believe he does; I want that kind of God with me all the time. I don’t want to go from his Spirit. In fact, I want more of it.

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Too Good to Be True by Helen Khan

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! Psalm 139:6

Maybe you long to be loved, to be noticed by someone who is special and treats you special. You think you are the “Plain Jane” type, no one will notice you; no special guy that is. Then comes along the most wonderful person in the world. He is beyond anything you can imagine. He makes your heart flutter. But surely, he is too good for you, he will want someone more beautiful with a cooler personality. Then boom, he looks at you, talks to you, pays attention to you and even asks you for a date. Life couldn’t get better. It is too good to be true, wonderful beyond description. Your heart and mind can scarce take it in. You have been noticed. You are seen.

Or maybe love never comes, at least not unconditional love. You didn’t get it from your parents, your friends or the person you are married to. Maybe disappointments in life have damaged your self image and you feel unworthy of love. Or maybe love comes at a high cost. It isn’t comfortable. You need to earn it.

But there is One who notices us, every moment, every day. He is called the bridegroom of heaven; the fairest of ten thousand, the bright and morning star, the sunshine from on high. He is the lover of our soul; the one who loves us beyond compare. That knowledge is too overwhelming for me. It’s intoxicating that God would bend down to earth and take notice of little old me.

Compared to God, I am “Plain Jane”, unworthy of such attention, unequal of such love. He lifts me up from the dungeons of depression and despair.

If God says to you, I think about you, I bless you, I know all about you, I care about you so much, I know everything you do; how does this change your self-image? If he says, to you, I am always watching you and thinking about you, doesn’t that answer our heart’s cry? If you know the God of the universe, the one who created you, Almighty God cares for you, what does that do for you?

To have Almighty God think about me is beyond comprehension, too wonderful for me, too good to be true. But it is good, and it is true.

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Oh, Father Bless Me Too by Helen Khan

You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Psalm 139:5

It was Esau’s cry 4000 years ago and that cry still goes out today. Children who are abused, who are abandoned, children who have never received their Daddy’s blessing cry out. Some parents have never been blessed, so they don’t know how to extend a blessing to their child. Or maybe they are not around to love their child, validate them the way a child needs validation from both their parents.

In some countries, girls are considered a curse, a liability, they are unwanted. I know a dear young lady who wished desperately that she should have been born a boy because she never received a blessing from her father. He would beat her, call her names and curse the day she was born a girl. She even considered death sweeter than living life as a girl.

But then someone pointed her to Psalm 139. She learned that God loved her, and he had her life in his hands. When his love washed over her, she felt his hand of blessing upon her head. She got from her Heavenly Father the blessing her earthly father could not give her.

Maybe you are one that has felt the curse of man upon you. Maybe you feel that no one loves you. Maybe it’s a parent that doesn’t love you, or a spouse. Maybe you are abused, emotionally abandoned. Well the Lord of the universe, the Almighty puts his hand of blessing upon you.

In the part of the world where I live, hand blessing is common. In our locality there was an old man, around 100 years old who would often walk his water buffaloes to and from fields. Or he would (meet) us on the road as he was walking, or he would drop by our house for a visit. The greeting always included a blessing. We would dutifully lower our heads so he would place his hand upon our heads and invoking the name of God (in his case Allah), he blessed us. Mind you, my husband and I are in our sixties, we are not little children. He even said his buffaloes prayed for us. (Well, I doubt that, but that was his way of blessing us.)

And so, it is with God, when we bow our heads before him, he puts his hand upon our head and blesses us. We humble ourselves, give him all our worries, anxieties, ourselves and he blesses us, extending the hand of blessing.

I want it, don’t you?

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I Know What You Are Thinking by Helen Khan

Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. Psalm 139: 4

We all do it; try to read people’s minds. Some people do it better than others, but no one gets it right 100% of the time. And do we really want someone to read our mind?

A battered wife thinks her abusive husband can read her mind, that he knows what she is doing even when he isn’t around. She lives in fear, walking on eggshells. It destroys her mental and emotional equilibrium.

An argument between husband and wife starts over mindreading. Either he thinks he knows what she is thinking or why she said what she said, or vice versa. Miscommunication – it happens lots in close quarters where one prides oneself in reading another person’s mind. Protective walls go up!

Or maybe you think no one thinks about you at all. You are not even on the radar screen of someone’s thoughts, let alone having them read your mind. No one remembers you, thinks about you, cares about you. You are all alone in the world. You think maybe it would be better to not be in it.

But the One who made you thinks about you all the time. He knows you intimately. So intimately he knows what your thoughts are even before you voice them. And because he is God, he knows the heart of man, he gets it right every time. And it’s not even intrusive knowledge. You still have your space. Cool, huh!

God’s hearing is symbolic of his knowledge of us, his understanding and love for us. And because he knows us so intimately, understands us so well, he knows what we need and when we need it. And unlike that spouse who only thinks they know why we said what we said, God knows why because he looks at the heart. He knows the heart of man. He knows when we are in turmoil and when we are happy and all is in order. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we are going to say, even before it is said.

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Where Girls (or Boys) Don’t Matter by Helen Khan

You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Psalm 139:3

When our friend’s child was born, he celebrated. There was great rejoicing in the home, for a son was born. He immediately called friends and relatives to announce the arrival of his son. This was followed by a box of sweets sent to everyone he knew. Everyone rejoiced with him.

About a year later, his wife was pregnant again. But the due date came and went without any notice. There was no fanfare to announce the arrival of their second child. We wondered if something had gone wrong. Upon inquiry, he dejectedly said, “We had a girl.”

Not everyone can relate to this story. But many who come from a society where boys matter more than girls; it is an everyday reality. And many more may relate to being called an accident or an afterthought. Maybe your arrival was unplanned and now, you are painfully reminded of it everyday.

Maybe you think that whatever happens to you isn’t important because you really don’t matter to anyone, not even your parents or spouse. Maybe you are suffering because of abuse, domestic violence, being abandoned by a spouse or parent. Do you feel that you don’t matter to anyone?

Have you ever lost something that was precious to you? Perhaps it was a ring that had significance, like your wedding ring, or something of great value. How did you search for it?

I once misplaced my wedding band. I felt sick. Where could it have gone to. I looked everywhere, under the bed, pulled the sofa apart, retraced my steps. It had to be somewhere. Surely it would be found, surely. That ring was more than just a piece of jewellery. It had meaning, intrinsic value was tied up in that ring. It just had to be found! It mattered that I should find that ring. And eventually it was.

You matter too. Just like that ring, but even more so. Imagine yourself lost, or unwanted. Or maybe it isn’t imagination. Maybe you feel lost, insignificant, maybe you are unwanted. You feel like you don’t matter to anyone. But you do matter, very much.

What if there was someone who searched you out? The word used in today’s verse is searched, but a closer translation is compassed. Compassed means to go around in a circular course, to encircle you, seeking you out. It is a very determined and deliberate seeking that finally encircles you and embraces you. That is how much you matter to the One who created you.

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Unnoticed by Helen Khan

You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. Psalm 139: 2

Sometimes as wives we feel like the household drudge. And in some societies or dysfunctional families, that is what the wife is. As long as the food is cooked (To perfection, just the right amount of salt and spices please!), the dishes are done, the laundry washed, hung, dried and put away, the in-laws and children cared for, life goes smoothly without tension or abuse. Maybe you rise early, work all day and fall into bed exhausted. No one notices you until you don’t measure up to unattainable standards. Then everyone notices your failings.

Or maybe you have a quiet nature. If you were to give yourself a name it might be Introvert. You wander through school hallways and classes unnoticed. At home, you don’t seem to get the same attention that your siblings do, or maybe your parents are so busy in their careers or own life that they don’t have time for you. You feel like a nobody.

But, I would like to share with you that you are noticed, very much. There is One who knows when you sit down and when you stand up. He knows your every movement. He knows the number of hairs on your head. No parent or spouse knows that! And even when you are not thinking about God, he is thinking about you. His thoughts are always on you.

If you don’t really think about God, or know him, this might not be significant to you. You might want someone to come to you in flesh, put their arms around you and tell you how important you are, that they love you, intimately. But before you run away from his love, check him out. He has a father’s kind of love, that takes you in his arms even when you don’t know it. He longs to lead you with bonds of kindness and love, he longs to lift burdens from you and bend down to feed you. He wants to teach you to walk with confidence.

Will you give him a chance to heal you and turn your sorrow into joy?

Click Here to read Shrouds Over Eden by Helen Khan

The Value of Being Known by Helen Khan

O LORD, you have searched me, and you know me.” Psalm 139:1

I have been there. There, is the place of feeling valueless and unappreciated. There, is the place of longing for someone I love to understand me, talk to me, love me for who I am. Have you ever been there? Or maybe there, for you, is a deep, dark valley that is impossible to climb. Maybe there is a place of running away from friends to hide your pain and lash yourself as worthless and undeserving.

Maybe how we feel and the opinion we have of ourselves has been shaped by someone in our life who should love us but doesn’t.

For women, it’s important to have those intimate conversations with our husband. We want him to understand us, to meet us emotionally, mentally and spiritually, not just physically. And some husbands fall short of that. Some feel emotionally abandoned, some may even be abused and so having an intimate relationship is non-existent.

Abandoned children will also suffer feelings of worthlessness, loneliness and may even have episodes of depression.

Yet there is One, who has searched us, he knows us. The term he has searched us, doesn’t mean he has searched for us. No, it goes much deeper than that. He has searched us, our inner most being, our hearts, our minds, the depths of our souls. He knows who we are. He doesn’t know about us, he knows us.

The idea of the Almighty taking time to search me tells me that I am valued, I am wanted by God. He has invested personally in me. I am not just a number to God. He longs to have a personal relationship with me.

He is cognitively aware of me personally. He knows my beliefs, feelings, experiences, pains and sorrows. He understands me very well.

This is an encouragement to me, as I hope it is to you. That the Almighty, the God of the universe, cares enough about us that he would search me out and know me, tells me that my worth is more than what man might say about me. I am precious to God and in him I can find my worth.

That is where you can find your true worth.

Click Here to read Shrouds Over Eden by Helen Khan