Fear Turned to Hope for the Second Coming of Christ

I have been making a daily habit of Bible reading for the past ten days and hope to continue this habit for a long time still. Sometimes, I squeeze in five minutes of reading just before bed, while on other days, I spend far more time reading the Word.

A few days ago, the daily story (something like a short sermon) on YouVersion was on Christ’s second coming.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:42-44 NIV)

The speaker said that this Bible passage had always instilled fear in her as a child, because she didn’t want to be caught with her hand in the cookie jar when Jesus would return. I understand now even as an adult. Indeed, some strict pastors in the past used to go to cinemas and tell believers that they ought not watch worldly movies, for what if Christ returned now?

Then again, God knows us better than we know ourselves. We do not need to hide anything from Him. In fact, this is not possible. He also knows our hearts. This does mean we need to make sure we train our minds to think more helpful thoughts.

The speaker then went on to say that this passage currently inspires hope in her. I relate this to what my husband told me a few days ago: that the people of the Old Testament found their hope in the coming of Jesus. Jesus was their light even before he’d come to the Earth.

Indeed, we as believers can trust that everything will be okay in the end. Christ may not have come back yet, but he will.

Last year, when I hadn’t become a true believer yet, I predicted that everything would be okay in 2021. I based this on the fact that mentally ill people would qualify for long-term care by then, so I would be allowed to go into a care facility then. I already moved here in September of 2019, but I didn’t know at the time that I’d still have to fight a huge battle against my inner demons.

Of course, if Christ comes back in 2021, I fear he might find me in one of my bad moments, but I do hope he’ll make everything okay for me. And I hope so whenever he returns.

I’m linking up with Let’s Have Coffee.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (December 13, 2020)

Hi everyone on this chilly, foggy but thankfully not rainy Sunday. I just had my Sunday evening soft drink, but if you’d like a coffee, who am I to object? It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote a post for #WeekendCoffeeShare, but today, I’m joining in again.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the past week was so much better than I’d expected. The reason is last week Sunday I landed in a crisis and I fully expected to be unstable all week. Thankfully I was okay early in the week and the last bit of the week was even good.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I was pretty active this past week. I got in nearly 70K steps this week, even though I only reached my step goal of 10K four times.

If we were having coffee, I’d share how grateful I am that COVID-19 hasn’t struck at our care home as of yet. Like I said yesterday, a fellow client was tested for it, but thankfully he was negative.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about my recent spiritual growth. I can’t remember whether I said this in my previous coffee share posts, but I’m finally becoming a Christ follower. I have been reading the Bible everyday this week, although I’m having to take a break from writing this post to actually do it in YouVersion. I do still sometimes squeeze in Bible reading inbetween other activities. I really need to change this. Let’s hope this post is a way to keep me accountable.

I’ve also been praying and meditating on God’s word more. Especially wen we had the COVID scare at my home, I prayed for health for this client.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my week-end was okay despite my not having gone to my and my husband’s home in Lobith. The reason for not going was the fact that, by the time we got the news of the negative COVID test for my fellow client, my husband couldn’t make it here anymore. I did enjoy some relaxed time in my room.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share about all the great essential oil blends I’ve discovered lately. I’ve discovered that I don’t like geranium EO, but there are still quite a few blends I hadn’t tried yet that don’t contain that.

What have you been up to lately?

Gratitude List (December 12, 2020)

Hi all on this rainy Saturday. I am feeling so grateful for a lot of things right now. Let me share! I was going to be linking up with Ten Things of Thankful, but then I saw the linky isn’t up this week. This isn’t holding me back though.

1. I am grateful for the staff who supported me through my crisis on Sunday.

2. I am grateful for my physical health. This should always be something I’m grateful for, but I’m specifically listing it today.

3. I am grateful a fellow client who had cold symptoms tested negative for COVID. I was very worried already when I found out he was in isolation yesterday. The staff weren’t notified of his negative test results until mid-afternoon today.

4. I am so grateful the above means we aren’t in isolation at our care home as of yet. This means that my appointments with mental health for the coming weeks can go forward (unless I or a fellow client develops symptoms suggestive of COVID, of course).

5. I am grateful for my husband, as always. We have been talking more than we used to over the past week and that’s truly a blessing.

6. I am grateful to be able to read the Bible on my phone. I now have a six-day streak on YouVersion and am hoping to get to my first perfect week tomorrow.

7. I am grateful to have found and consistently listened to First United Methodist Church of Austin’s sermons.

8. I am grateful there still was a meal I liked in the freezer this evening. I am a rather picky eater and I didn’t like what I had for dinner this evening. Then I microwaved another meal we had in the freezer, but the rice got all weird from microwaving it straight from the freezer or something. I feel pretty bad for having thrown out two meals to finally accept a third one, but well, I can’t change it now. All I can do is try to train myself to be a less picky eater in the future.

9. I am grateful for paracetamol. My feet cramped a little (well, a lot) this evening, but thankfully the pain is pretty mild now that I took some paracetamol.

10. I am grateful for the sounds of nature CD I listened to in the sensory room this evening.

So what are you grateful for?

Gratitude List (November 28, 2020) #TToT

Hello everyone. Like I mentioned yesterday, I have not been more grateful than I am now in a long while. Part of the reason is my recent depression, but part is also my increased attitude of gratitude. For this reason, I am trying to make posting about gratitude a weekly habit again. As always, I am linking up with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. Quiet dinners in my room. Last week and early in the week, I was very stressed out about needing to eat in the communal room with the other clients. This has been a stressor for me for a long while already. I was given the opportunity to eat in my room if I didn’t cope in the communal room, but was struggling to say I didn’t cope on time. For this reason, me and the staff decided I for now will always have dinner in my room. Yesterday, a staff noted that I eat much slower now.

2. Extra staff. I may’ve mentioned this before, but there is now an extra staff member to support me in the evenings. I am not yet sure how they will cover this financially, but we’ll see. Today, I thought there wouldn’t be an extra staffer, but thankfully there was.

3. Podcasts. I’ve mainly been listening to church services. I am so grateful for my podcast app that enables me to listen to church services from all over the world. Oh and of course also other podcasts, like the Parcast Network originals.

4. The YouVersion Bible app. I have only a three-day streak so far, because I missed one day of Bible reading on Wednesday. I am determined to make this streak much longer though. Right now, I’m on day six of a seven-day devotional on forgiveness.

5. Soaping supplies. My day activities staff ordered 3kg each of white and clear soap base as well as a few micas (powdered colorants). She already ordered them early last week, but they finally arrived last Thursday. In addition, my husband brought my Christmas tree soap mold. I am really looking forward to soaping again.

6. Cake decorating. In addition to the extra staff in the evenings, there’s an extra staff in the morning on week-ends. The one who had this shift today, asked me earlier in the week whether I’d like to decorate cupcakes with her today. We ended up using regular slices of cake, not cupcakes, because these are easier to decorate. I loved it.

7. Beautiful skies and sunsets. I regret not having taken a photo of the pink sky we had on Monday. I didn’t really see it, but did see some and loved the staff’s description. Also, on Sunday, I saw the sunset. This was really cool.

8. Eating lunch in the car. My husband came by this afternoon to take me out to lunch. Since all restaurants and such are closed due to COVID, we drove to a Subway drive-through. We each had a chicken teriyaki wrap. It was delicious!

9. Homemade wraps. Okay, they weren’t as good as the Subway chicken teriyaki one, but they were good too. We made wraps with chicken and lettuce on Monday and, because we had some wraps still left over, made some more with minced meat and beans on Thursday.

10. Good talks with my husband. He keeps me interested with his knowledge of theology in particular.

What have you been grateful for lately?

Grateful for Love

Today’s Five Minute Friday (FMF) prompt is “Grateful”. It truly speaks to me, even though I, being from the Netherlands, don’t celebrate Thanksgiving this week. In fact, all I do for it is look all over the Internet to see whether the Apple Watch I want is on sale for Black Friday (it isn’t).

That being said, I haven’t felt more grateful than I feel now in a long while. Here’s why…

I feel so immensely grateful for my husband. He loves me and cares enough about me to show me his love multiple times daily even though we don’t live together. He must miss me, but rather than turn around and find someone else to live with, he tells me he loves me too many times to count. In fact, when COVID hit here first, we weren’t allowed to see each other for three months and yet he still loved me.

Last week, I wrote about grieving the loss of my “normal”, functioning self. Today, I am so immensely grateful to be loved for who I am. Not just by my husband, but by God as well.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV)

I have been meditating a lot on this Bible passage and somehow come across it almost on a daily basis when reading about Christianity. It was the start of the Bible reading for the First United Methodist Church of Baton Rouge, LA sermon I referred to on Tuesday. More than commanding me to be Godlike, it speaks to me in that my old self doesn’t matter. I am loved by God just the way I am.

Okay, this took me longer to write than five minutes, but then again it usually does. Sorry about that. In fact, I took probably about five minutes to find, read and copy/paste the Bible passage. Well, at least I tried to keep it short.

Expressing Faith By Expressing Anger

Last week, for some reason, I felt called to listen to a church service. When I do, I usually listen to United Church of Christ services, though occasionally I check out Protestant Church in the Netherlands services locally too. The service I ended up listening to was delivered at Mayflower Congregational UCC in the Oklahoma City area. It was titled “disorientation”.

The topic was how many Christians think they’re not healthy or whole enough to attend church. Many Christians are taught to believe that we shouldn’t show our distress or be angry with God. Though I grew up in an atheist home, I too was taught not to complain or be angry. “Gets angry easily” was often written about me in psychological reports. This may have been so, but anger in itself isn’t bad.

Rev. Lori Walke, in her sermon from May 10, talks about the psalms, nearly half of which are psalms of lament. In one of the psalms she discusses, psalm 13, David cries out to God in anguish:
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.” (Psalm 13:1-4 NIV)

Rev. Walke goes on to recite the rest of the psalm:
“But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6 NIV)

This expression of anguish shows, according to Walke, that David deep down still has faith. After all, if he didn’t believe his anger would do anything, what good would there be in expressing it? As such, those who hold their anger inside and keep silent, usually are more hopeless than those who cry out.

This is why Walke invites us all to take our troubles to church. We don’t need to put up a happy face all the time. Indeed, in our expression of anger, we also show an expresssion of faith.

This totally struck a chord with me. I was taught as a child not to express my anger. Like I said, it was said about me that I was angry too easily. When I landed in the mental hospital at age 21, I even for a while had the unofficial nurses’ “diagnosis” of “angry and dissatisfied”. While there definitely was some truth to this, stuffing my anger only fueled my hopelessness. It was in my expressing my despair that I also showed that deep down I still believed in a good outcome.

Joining in with Let’s Have Coffee.

Quotes, Sayings and Affirmations for Self-Care #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my Letter Q post in the #AtoZChallenge. Man, how time flies! We’ve just entered our sixth week in “intelligent” lockdown here in the Netherlands. Tomorrow, prime minister Rutte will hold another press conference to determine whether any restrictions will be lifted on April 28. I doubt it, but oh well.

Today I want to talk about using quotes and inspirational sayings in your self-care routine.

Quotes may seem a little cheesy to some people at first. Then again, maybe you haven’t found the right one yet. If you find a quote that truly speaks to you, it can definitely set you off in the right direction.

I for one love quotes and not just the deep ones. Anna Borges’ first self-care strategy is called “A.A. Milne” after the author of the book Winnie the Pooh. There are lots of funny quotes in that book and in the Disney movies based on it. They may actually make you laugh and inspire you at the same time.

I do also love deep quotes though. My favorites come from Helen Keller, Tori Amos and Madeleine L’Engle. However, I enjoy quotes from a ton of different people.

For those of us who are religious, Bible or other sacred text verses can also certainly speak to you. I am a true cherry picker where it comes to the Bible, picking out random passages to use for motivation. That’s totally okay if you ask me.

When you find a quote or verse that speaks to you, you can use it as a mantra or affirmation. You can also create your own affirmations. The key to getting affirmations to actually do good for you, is believing in them. I mean, I don’t believe in Law of Attraction-like ideas that say anything you set your mind to can come true. Affirmations need to be useful to your life right now. For example, I use the following affirmation: “I love, accept and respect myself exactly as I am right now.”

There are a number of different apps that can be used for focusing on affirmations. I use ThinkUp and Mantra on my iPhone. Both are free but come with ads and an in-app purchase to get premium features and remove advertising.

What are your favorite quotes, sayings or affirmations?

Something Between Me and God

So Christmas is over. My own family doesn’t care about it much. We didn’t visit my parents this year. My sister, brother-in-law and three-month-old niece saw our parents for a few days before Christmas. My husband had to work, so we didn’t have time to come over then. We could have come over today, but I personally don’t like visiting my parents if my sister and brother-in-law aren’t there too. All of us live in different corners of the country and my sister and husband both work irregular hours, so ideally we find a day when we can all be together. That doesn’t have to be at Christmas. It helps that my family aren’t religious. My parents are both atheists.

I am not an atheist, but I prefer not to subscribe to organized religion. Yes, I derive meaning from reading Christian devotionals and listening to Christian music. I also sometimes pray. I no longer attend church and never attended regularly. I take the Bible with a large bucket of salt. Yet I feel very touched by the nativity story.

Recently, when going through my Facebook profile and privacy settings, I chose to delete my religion off my profile altogether. It listed “progressive Christian” up to that point, but really I think it’s none of my 500+ friends’ business. My husband says religion is something between him and whatever higher power he believes in or not. It is not that I don’t want to share – I am doing that now -, but I don’t want to label my belief system. Maybe in some respects I’m still a seeker.

And yet, sometimes I wish I subscribed to an organized belief system. I mean, I love to connect to spiritual and religious bloggers, but it’s hard to find this connection without sharing their doctrine. Am I truly being honest when I tell a Christian blogger that I agree with their spiritual message even though on fundamental matters of doctrine, we most likely strongly disagree. I mean, my husband at one point read me the Nicene creed, on which all Christianity is based and I didn’t agree with some points.

Then again, it’s not up to the humans who wrote that creed to judge me at the end of times. They may kick me out of their blogging communities, but they won’t ultimately decide whether there’s an afterlife and if so, how I get to spend eternity in it.

I love to derive meaning from all sorts of spiritual sources. Most are either Christian or New Age-based. I don’t think believing in God and Jesus contradicts belief in one’s inner spiritual power. I don’t think I need to take the Bible literally or even semi-literally to consider myself religious. Like I said, my spirituality is something between me and God.

I’m joining in with RagTag Daily Prompt, for which the word today is Spiritual.