I Can Rest in Jesus

A few weeks ago, like I’ve mentioned before, my husband pointed out that I cannot and should not do life alone. I at once cannot and do not need to rely on myself alone to solve the puzzle that is life here on Earth. I have God to help me.

That same day, John 15:5 was the verse of the day on the Bible app I use. It has been on my mind ever since and could easily be one of my favorite verses so far. Oh yes, I know the Bible wasn’t originally written in chapters or verses and the wider context is important too. I will get to that.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 ESV)

This is good news! My husband was initially worried that I would be disappointed by the rest of this chapter, because, well, it is good news only to those who will listen. This verse, to me, however, captures both the positive and the negative message that the wider context of the chapter reveals: Jesus is the vine, while we are the branches. If we abide in him, we will prosper; if we don’t, we will perish.

Today, as I was thinking of what to write for my blog, I opened Bobby Schuller’s book You Are Beloved and saw him discuss this exact chapter. Schuller says that, in Greek, the word that is translated as “abide” in English, is “meno”. There is no literal translation for this word in either Dutch or English (the Dutch Bible translation I use says “remain in”). Meno, according to Schuller, means something like coming home to a warm place after having been in the cold for a long while. We can come home to Jesus.

I loved the imagery Schuller evoked. As regular readers of this blog might know, I have never felt that I was truly “home” anywhere. No, not even in my current care facility. I didn’t feel very safe with my parents and, after I moved out, have been in so many places that were all temporary. Now that I can stay here, still, I struggle to believe it. Regardless though, in Jesus, I can rest and be home.

Schuller also makes it very clear that we can only truly love one another if we know God’s love for us. Through Jesus, we are loved in all our sinfulness. If we realize that God loves us, imperfections and all, we are able to extend this love to other people.

In my experience, this isn’t even a fully conscious choice. God’s grace extends to us, and due to that we are able to extend our grace and love to others. I am reminded, as I often am lately, of my music teacher’s telling me and my fellow students about a show on Dutch TV at the time called “God changes people”. Because the first several syllables of this phrase are the same as those in a Dutch swear word involving God, I was tempted to start cussing with God and then change my wording mid-sentence to “God changes people!” I still use God’s name in vain at times, but each time now, I am reminded of this. I credit God’s work in me for that.

I am linking up with Faith on Fire and Grace and Truth.

When I Was Fifteen

One of Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop prompts for this week is to explain how a parent or sibling would’ve described you at the age of fifteen. What an interesting thing that Mama Kat should mention age fifteen!

I turned fifteen in June of 2001. By August, looking back, I was close to insane mentally. This was the summer when I first realized I had alters inside of me, although I didn’t know what they were at the time. I just heard some type of voices that were and at the same time weren’t mine.

Neither my parents nor my younger sister knew this at the time. Still, they did realize something was up, if for no other reason, then because I didn’t care about school. I had always been a pretty studious kind of child, but this changed by November or December of 2001.

In addition, I was a rather angry, moody child. I had suffered from depression on and off since age seven or so, but it was particularly bad at age fifteen. I even made suicide plans several times during that year. My parents, being the type to dismiss mental health issues, felt I was just attention-seeking, of course.

My life turned around in a sort of positive way a few weeks before my sixteenth birthday, although no-one saw either the change or how positive it was at that point. On June 16, 2002, my father called me autistic as an insult. This led me to search the Internet for autism and to discover I may be on the spectrum myself. Although it’d take nearly five more years before I was diagnosed, in part because my parents and teachers didn’t believe me, I see this as a pivotal point in my life.

The day after this, June 17, I finally disclosed to my teacher what had been bothering me over the past year. I sugarcoated it a little, not mentioning the voices or suicidality or autism for that matter. I did tell him I was struggling with being blind in a mainstream school and that I realized I had been less than good of a student lately.

My father, at the time, worked at my school. My teacher told him that I had disclosed something to him, but he refused to tell my father what it was. This led to a really traumatic experience, because my parents demanded to know too and they weren’t kind about it at all. I am pretty sure they just tried to gain fuel for their idea that I was one giant attention-seeker.

Many years later, my parents used many of my struggles at age fifteen to “prove” this very point. I can see their perspective, sort of. Thankfully though, my current professionals don’t go along with it.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Flash Fiction: Depression

I wake up. Another day. Another depressing set of moments in my life. My back hurts. My shoulders are pushed down by the weight of my mood. Today, like sometimes, the great bones of my life feel so heavy. I’m not sure I can take this much longer. So I pray… God, have mercy on my soul. Relieve me from this burden that is the intense sadness of living in the world of 2021. Let me live again, rather than just exist. In Jesus’ name, Amen. I feel better already. Maybe life isn’t so dark after all.


This piece of flash fiction was written for yesterday’s Prosery. The idea of Prosery is to write a piece of flash fiction in 144 words or less (not including the title). It must have a beginning and an end and not be poetry. In addition, you are required to include the line of poetry provided. This week’s line is:

“Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy,”

As you can see, I altered the punctuation, but I did include the entire line.

This piece is partly autobiographical, but still, it is fiction.

Gratitude List (January 17, 2021)

It’s nearly 2AM and I can’t sleep. I woke up about two hours ago after only an hour or two of sleep. I’m kind of worried. To calm my mind, I decided to do a gratitude list. I can’t find the Ten Things of Thankful link-up, but that doesn’t keep me from being grateful.

1. I am grateful for my one-on-one support. I’ve been a bit stressed lately and thankfully, they help me manage it.

2. I am grateful for a financial positive. I won’t believe it till the money is actually in my bank account, but if I’m correct, I won’t have to pay a higher long-term care copay this year. This means my net paycheck will be higher than it was last year.

3. I am grateful that I felt comfortable ordering some new soaping supplies. I ordered almond oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, beeswax, Dead Sea salt and some water-soluble colorants for my soap and other bath and body products. I am hoping, once they arrive, to be able to make bath melts with the oils, butters and beeswax and bath salt with the Dead Sea salt.

4. I am grateful for heart-shaped candies. Last Monday, my staff had a team meeting and one of them brought these, then put the leftover candies in a box with my name on it. The other clients, after all, can’t eat hard candy.

5. I am grateful for cookies. Like I said yesterday, my one-on-one helped me bake those. They were really good.

6. I am grateful for Mexican bean wraps. My day activities staff and I made those for lunch on Wednesday and they were good.

7. I am grateful my bath bomb turned out pretty good. I will have to check whether I placed the image correctly in my last post, but oh well. I didn’t end up taking a bath last evening, but I might today or sometime next week.

8. I am grateful for a lot of Christian self-help books. I’m still struggling with my faith, but they definitely help me realize that I can’t and don’t need to be alone.

9. I am grateful for a nice phone conversation with my father. I was a little stressed about it at first, as I hadn’t spoken to him in a few months. However, it went really well.

10. I am grateful that I have the right to vote. I am not yet sure whom I’ll vote for, but I’m so glad I live in a democracy.

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 16, 2021)

Hi all on this grey Saturday. Today I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. I just had my afternoon coffee about half an hour ago. If you want a Senseo though, I can make one for you. Let’s have coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first I’d ask you how your weather is. Ours is pretty cold, but the newspaper said it isn’t even really freezing. I guess I don’t really like winter if I consider this cold. Snow is forecasted for tonight, but I doubt it’ll even create a dusting of white. That’s fine by me as I don’t like snow.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I guess I shouldn’t have said on Thursday that I am glad to live in a stable democracy. After all, the Dutch government collapsed on Friday. It’s totally justified though and no, it’s not about COVID. It’s about parents pretty much randomly being labeled as fraudulent childcare payment recipients and made to repay sometimes tens of thousands of euros that they didn’t have.

If we were having coffee, I would share that my father had his birthday yesterday. He considered the government collapse to be a welcome present, as he doesn’t support the rather conservative parties making up the government.

I phoned my father yesterday and he told me he’d also gotten some type of signal converter, so that he can read the status of his heating on his computer. I sent him a Kate Rusby CD, but it isn’t due to arrive until like the 25th.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I have been quite creative lately. I made a bath bomb on Thursday. I might take it with me into the bathtub later this evening.

My one-on-one staff also helped me bake cookies yesterday. Well, she did most of the prep, as the dough was too sticky for me to handle. That was a bit frustrating. The cookies were delicious though.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had a long phone call with my husband yesterday. I am not going to go to our house this week-end, but I loved to hear his voice instead.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that I’m hoping to get an AFO (ankle foot orthosis) for my left foot soon. The physical therapist already E-mailed the orthopedic equipment maker, but we haven’t heard back from him. Walking is still doable without the AFO, but when I go for long’ish (like twenty minute) walks, my foot drags. This is a little painful. It also causes my shoe to get damaged quite easily. In fact, even though the orthopedic shoemaker had already put some type of buffer thing on it, the shoe was almost beyond repair after three weeks. Anyway, I’m hoping the AFO gets here soon and will be helpful.

If not, my father mentioned that, back when I was little, the doctors had mentioned surgery to lengthen my calf muscle. That probably comes with its own risks though. Besides, as long as the pain and discomfort are manageable, I don’t think any doctor would want to operate on me just to save me buying a new pair of shoes every month.

What’s been going on in your life lately?

A Fresh Start in Jesus

Today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “Fresh”. I couldn’t quite think of something to write on this topic at first. Then I read Kate’s original post.

She wrote that she took some fresh breaths of air before having to put on her face mask. Now I rarely wear a face mask, as I hardly ever go to public places. That being said, I definitely enjoy the fresh air. That’s why I went for three walks today despite my shoes getting damaged due to my having drop foot.

The word “fresh” also made me think of a fresh start in God. As regular readers of this blog know, I became a Christian only a little over a month ago. God gives me a fresh start.

I am constantly reminded of a metaphor my husband explained to me last week. He explained that, as humans, we are all on a train ride to hell, but Jesus stands outside to command everyone to get off the train and be saved. I like to imagine Jesus standing on a platform at every station.

Another metaphor is the team building exercise in which one person is supposed to fall backwards and trust the other people will catch them. That’s what faith is like. Maybe that proverbial train is moving, in fact. Ouch, how scary! I probably still have one foot on it.

God, thank you for your presence in my life. Thank you for your everlasting love for me. Please help me gain the confidence to jump off your proverbial train into your loving arms. Help me get a fresh start in the fresh air of your presence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Self-Care During These Weird Times

Okay, it’s been quite the week. Here in the Netherlands, the government are discussing curfews and other stricter lockdown measures and even without those, the current lockdown will last till at least February 9. I’ve even heard some pandemic management gurus say the measures need to be in effect till the summer. Ouch.

Still, I am very happy that I live in a currently stable democracy like the Netherlands. As much can’t be said of the United States. I really wonder how all of my American friends keep their spirits up. Today, for Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop, I’m sharing some ways I take care of myself.

1. Prayer and Bible reading. As my husband says, in unprecedented times, people turn to religion. Now he predicts worse times are still to come for us, although we can never be sure. It’s important to know our life’s purpose if we want to keep afloat. For me that purpose is Jesus.

I have almost a 40-day Bible reading streak on the YouVersion app. I also make sure I pray everyday.

2. Avoiding the news. I know some people have come to watch more TV over the past ten months or so, but I experience the opposite. I look up an overview of what’s been said after each prime minister’s speech. Other than that, I only briefly skim through the news.

3. Doing things I enjoy. I try to write everyday, even if it’s not on this blog. I also look into developing my creative side in other areas, such as soap and bath and body product making. Today I made my first bath bomb in nearly a year. I also try to walk everyday. In this respect, the pandemic certainly helped, because now that the day center is closed, I can go on more regular walks.

4. Relaxation. When life gets to me, I try to relax. I lie under my weighted blanket, turn on a nice playlist on Spotify and diffuse some essential oil in my diffuser.

5. Gratitude. My husband doesn’t want to scare me when he says things may get worse, but he’s right. Most of us in the developed world still have food and shelter. Most of us in Europe have access to health care. Here in the Netherlands, we have a government that tries its best to care for the people. I have Internet access or I wouldn’t be writing this post. Things may get worse, but right now, they are still pretty much okay. I at least can handle the current situation.

What do you do to stay motivated during these weird times?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Also linking up with Grace at Home.

Truthful Tuesday: This or That

Good evening all. I am finding that I struggle to keep the motivation and inspiration for so-called quality content. That doesn’t matter, as it’s my blog and I don’t write for my stats. That can’t keep me from being slightly frustrated by it though.

Today I’m participating once again in Truthful Tuesday. The questions this time are a series of rather lighthearted this-or-that choices. I like that! After all, we just heard here in the Netherlands that we’re in lockdown at least until February 9 and curfews or other harsher measures are being discussed. Still, I am so lucky to live here.

Anyway, here goes. I’ll explain some where I can.

1. Coffee or Hot Tea?
Coffee! I do like hot tea on occasion, but only green tea without lemon or other yucky additives.

2. Soda or Iced Tea?
I’m assuming that soda is always carbonated, so then I’d say iced tea. I prefer non-carbonated soft drinks though.

3. House or Condo?
House just because that’s what my husband and I have at the moment. I don’t mind living in a condo though.

4. Pie or Cobbler?
Pie! I had honestly never heard of cobbler and the first translation Google came up with had nothing to do with food. However, the second one made it pretty clear to me I prefer pie. In fact, I can’t stand cobbler.

5. Cornbread or Biscuits (The US kind)?
Cornbread. I have no idea what U.S. biscuits taste like, but I do like cornbread.

6. Computer or Smart Phone?
I honestly can’t do without either. Does that sound weird? I mean, of course I can do without them, but if I want to accomplish everything I do on a daily basis, I certainly need both.

7. Hotel or Camping?
Hotel for sure. As a child, I often went camping with my family, but it got harder the more sight I lost. Now I don’t really think I can do it.

8. Swimming Pool or Ocean?
Swimming pool. I can swim in a lake or the ocean, but I don’t like it nearly as much as I like swimming in a pool.

9. TV Shows or Movies?
TV shows. I don’t have the attention span to follow a movie.

10. iOS (iPhone/iPad) or Android (Samsung, LG, et. al.)
Definitely iOS. It’s far more accessible for blind people than Android, although Android developers are making progress too. I started using a smartphone before Android could be used by not so tech savvy blind people. Though I might be able to make the transition to Android now, I just won’t.

An Intense Monday

I’m not really sure what I want to write today. I started writing this blog post several times, only to delete it again halfway through. I intended on doing a food diary, then realized I wasn’t intending on sharing it here. (I did write a food log in Day One, my diary app, for today.) I then tried to do a more general health and wellness log, only to realize these don’t make sense if I don’t do them regularly. Then I started writing a post about today.

Today was, indeed, rather intense. Not really because of the food journal. I did okay on that one and it helped me make some healthy choices without becoming obsessive about it.

In the morning, a staff made a phone call to the assistive tech company. Yeah, my Braille display is once again broken, for the fifth or so time in eighteen months. I can still work around all the stuck dots, but I really want it repaired.

Then in the afternoon, I had an appt with my nurse practitioner. I can’t remember exactly what we talked about. I mean, yes, he shared about the bus metaphor. This is a metaphor in which a person is like a bus driver and all their thoughts etc. are passengers on the bus. I had already commented last time that my bus has multiple drivers, in that, if I hear a voice commanding me to do something, that voice (ie. alter) can take over the wheel too. Now I am hesitant to use words like “alter”, because I know my nurse practitioner doesn’t believe I have a dissociative disorder. This is my blog though so I can do with it what I want.

Today we somehow got talking about this metaphor in relation to emotions. Sometimes, you see, I get an emotion or urge or whatever and have no clue why. Honestly I can’t remember how this relates to the bus metaphor, but oh well. Oh yes, I told my nurse practitioner that Astrid is the bus with all its passengers and drivers. The body, then, is the bus.

Later, in the evening, we had an emotional reaction to a minor situation. After I calmed down, I talked it over with the staff who’d seen me have the reaction and it turned out I had no memory of it. I can now sort of see how I probably had that reaction, but I still can’t remember it as my own reaction.

This makes me feel kind of freaked out. I know that amnesia is part of dissociation, but didn’t we agree that I don’t have a dissociative disorder? Besides, whenever I do claim to have an undiagnosed dissociative disorder, it’s OSDD1B, which means having alters without significant amnesia.

I knew from previous experiences that I do experience what’s called emotional amnesia, where I can remember something but not the feels that go with it. The incident of amnesia that got my former psychologist, back in 2010, to suspect DID, was, in fact, emotional amnesia only. I know this because I claimed that I’d not remembered what went on in our session, but I clearly must’ve remembered something as otherwise I wouldn’t have known to tell her.

I know I don’t need a diagnosis right now. I can function okay’ish most of the time. Or can I? After all, when I’m functioning, I can’t remember that sometimes I am not and when I’m in severe distress, I can’t remember what it’s like to function normally. Or maybe I can, on some level. This is all so confusing.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 10, 2021)

Hi lovely blog friends! I’m so excited to be joining in on this week’s #WeekendCoffeeShare. It is newly hosted by Natalie and I’m so glad to see so many people have joined in already. I really need to write my coffee share posts earlier in the future, but oh well. At least I haven’t had my last cup of coffee for the day yet.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the weather is pretty good here. At least for winter. It does drizzle a bit every now and again and yesterday the pavements were a bit slippery from the ice. I thankfully could still go for a walk.

If we were having coffee, I would proudly tell you that I got in nearly twice as many steps over the past week as my sister. I also broke my active heartrate zone minutes record, which was at 405 for the week of November 9, 2020 and is now already at 426. I plan on going for another walk later this evening, so I’ll add more to it.

If we were having coffee, I’d say that I’m planning on keeping a food journal from tomorrow on. I for now don’t intend on sharing it here and I’m not intending on consciously changing anything about my eating as of yet. It’s just so that I can be completely honest about the foods I eat and how I feel about my choices. I have some type of overeater’s journal and it appeals to me.

If we were having coffee, I’d like to ask my fellow Christian bloggers to pray for me. I’m struggling a bit with my faith in relation to my bad habits, including overeating. Basically, I’m stuck on the rules of Overeaters Anonymous and the like, such as three meals a day and nothing in between. I feel resistance to admitting I’m not in control, even though I know I’m not. I may not be making as unhealthy choices in my life as I was a few months ago, but I really need to credit God for this and relinquish my control over to Him.

In a similar way, I’m struggling with admitting I’m a sinful human being. Remember when, a few months ago, I wrote about grief? I felt like I was intensely wicked on some deep level then. Then I learned about Bobby Schuller and his book You Are Beloved and I wanted so badly to believe it, but the enemy keeps telling me I don’t need Jesus for this. I am struggling to realize that, before I believed in Jesus, I was stuck on feeling wicked. Please, if you’re a Christian, pray for my continued spiritual formation.

What’s been going on in your life?