I Am Not a Calculation Mistake

Like I mentioned last week, I have been doing a Bible study plan on YouVersion called Hope Heals in the Midst of Suffering. I finished it yesterday and it was awesome. It was written by Katherine, a woman who survived a severe stroke shortly after becoming a mother, as well as her husband.

The plan follows Joseph’s story, the part of Genesis I had gotten stuck on in my Bible in a Year plan. I was glad to read it now.

At one point, Katherine shares that, about a year after her stroke, she is still unable to perform many basic functions. She is still in adult diapers, unable to eat, unable to even lift up her head. Her family is having Thanksgiving dinner with her son, then a toddler. As the family are playing with her son, she wonders if there was a mistake. Should she have died from her stroke?

It was at this point that a lightbulb went off in my head. I, too, have often wondered whether my life is a mistake. A calculation mistake, to be exact.

You see, I was born over three months premature. Officially, I was born at 26 weeks 4 days gestation. However, it is quite probable given the circumstances of my conception that my mother really wasn’t yet 26 weeks along. At the time, 26 weeks gestation was the cutoff for active, life-saving treatment in the NICU.

My parents weren’t even sure I should be treated actively. At one point, when I’d suffered a brain bleed, my father asked the neonatologist what he was doing with regards to my treatment. “We’re just keeping her alive,” he said. He (or his nurse) added that my father shouldn’t interfere in my treatment or he’d lose custody of me.

In 2004, when I was eighteen, this same doctor was quoted in a newspaper as saying that he sometimes meets preemies he’s kept alive back in his early days as a doctor, about whom he wonders: “What have we done?!” I at the time tried to reassure myself that he wouldn’t have meant me. Or would he? I, after all, am multiply-disabled and in long-term care.

The devotional in the Bible plan I was reading continued. Katherine at this point heard God clearly speak: “I am God. I do not make mistakes.”

This was what I needed to hear! I have tried to find my neonatologist on Google several times since that newspaper article. However, I don’t need his opinion. I have talked to my father about his views on my quality of life several times, but it hasn’t helped. I don’t need my father’s opinion either. God chose for me to be kept alive and that’s what matters.

Grace and Truth

Also joining Friendship Friday this week.

No Shame in Hope

I have been wanting to share more faith-based posts for a while, but didn’t quite know where to start. Today, I read the second weekly meditation in Hearing God Speak, an enneagram-based book of devotionals by Eve Annunziato. It is a meditation on suffering and the everlasting presence of God through it all.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 NIV)

I have known this passage for several years, even before I became a Christian. I have probably written about it before. After all, the fact that suffering produces perseverance, really resonates with me. As Annunziato points out, enneagram type fours like me feel most alive when we dwell on our feelings of pain and suffering.

As such, Annunziato challenges us to move towards praising God and seeing His presence in a new way. As such, the line about character and hope is more important to us Fours than the line about suffering producing perseverance.

I don’t think I’ve ever even seen Romans 5:5 and that verse in particular speaks to me now. I, after all, often fear joy and, by extension, hope. I am not yet sure what it is about joy I fear, but it might be a feeling of being less alive if I’m not suffering.

God’s love, however, has been poured out into my heart through the Holy Spirit. This is something to rejoice over, not to be ashamed of.

Indeed, it is interesting that Paul uses the word “shame” in this verse. I had no idea it is this emotion I often feel when I’m hopeful or optimistic, but it is.

I mean, even when I’m doing pretty well, I still say I’m doing “okay”. I remember a fellow patient in the mental hospital did the same and he did this so the staff wouldn’t think he was well enough to be discharged. I didn’t consciously do this, but on a subconscious level, I probably did. And still do, despite the fact that there’s no reason I’ll ever be kicked out of long-term care.

Honestly, there is nothing wrong with feeling hopeful, joyful and optimistic. In fact, it is what God is wanting for us in His honor. For this reason, Annunziato encourages us to praise Him even in the midst of our suffering! Because suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope is nothing to be ashamed of, because through the Holy Spirit, God’s love has been poured out over us.

Linking up with Scripture Blessing, Let’s Have Coffee and Recharge Wednesday.

A Perfect Health Day

I can’t remember when or why I bought the book 1000 Journal Prompts That Will Transform Your Health by Sophia Ley, but today, I felt myself drawn to it. In it, one of the prompts asks us to describe a perfect health day. Here goes.

I get up at 8:30AM. I start my day with prayer. This may not be a direct physical health habit, but it certainly helps me get in the right mindset for focusing my day on what’s right. I then get showered if it’s a day I do this or else I get a quick wash.

After I get dressed, I eat breakfast. I eat yogurt with a little crunchy muesli. This may not be the healthiest food choice physically, but it is something I definitely love and don’t really feel I want to give up on. I also eat some fruit.

After breakfast, I take a little break for writing in my journal and Bible reading. Then I go on the elliptical for 20 minutes. I’m assuming it’s a weekday. If it isn’t, I can go for my first walk instead, as my one-on-one will be there. In that case, I’ll go on the elliptical during the afternoon.

When my day activities staff arrives at 10:15AM, I have coffee. I don’t have a cookie with my morning coffee.

Then I go for a walk of about 25 to 30 minutes. After this, I usually will have some time left to do some of my crafting before my staff goes to help prepare lunch.

For lunch, I have two crackers or slices of bread with peanut butter or jelly. Again, these aren’t the healthiest food choices I can imagine, but way healthier than my current choices of lunch food on most days. I also have some slices of cucumber or some cherry tomatoes and a serving of fruit. I will have another serving of fruit in the evening.

After lunch, I will spend some time doing weight training and resistance band exercises. Then, when my staff returns from their lunch break, I’ll go for another 25-minute walk. Then I’ll have another cup of coffee, again with no biscuit.

I will spend the rest of the afternoon on my hobbies, such as blogging or reading. In the evening, I will go on two more walks with my one-on-one. In total, I will reach my goal of 10K steps.

I will have my evening meal from the meal delivery service as usual. For dessert, I will have a small serving of fruit yogurt.

In the evening, I will drink green tea rather than coffee. Throughout the day, I will also make sure I drink at least two liters of water. This means I will have a glass of water after each walk and with each meal, as well as with each medication round. I will obviously take my medications as prescribed. When it’s a perfect health day, I hope I won’t need my painkillers anymore, but that seems to be beyond my control.

I will brush my teeth twice a day, morning and evening. At 9:30PM, I will start to unwind for bed. I will say a prayer. Then, I will diffuse a relaxing essential oil blend and start a soothing sound track on Spotify. I will go to bed at around 10PM. I will probably fall asleep within half an hour and have a good quality of sleep.

Looking over this, some of these things seem relatively easy to include into my day. Some are harder. Of course, I didn’t take into account the possibility of a severely rainy day when I can hardly go for walks. I’ll have to think of alternative ways of getting active then.

Disagree

Today’s prompt for Five Minute Friday (#FMF) is “disagree”. Initially, I was going to write a post about how (lack of) open disagreement with others was used against me. When my then psychologist diagnosed me with dependent personality disorder in 2016, she thought that my lack of open disagreement with many of her controversial opinions, proved I had this condition. It honestly to me proved that she was in authority even though she had no clue what she was doing.

I eventually deleted that draft and started over, but I still want to write along those lines.

In Christianity, we are often taught to not just respect, but obey authority. Children are expected to obey their parents in everything. Wives are expected to submit to their husbands.

As a survivor of childhood trauma as well as many abuses of power, I struggle with these commands.

That being said, the command to be obedient as a child and submissive as a wife, does come with its respective obligations on the part of the parents and husband. In Colossians 3:21, Paul writes for example: “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” In other words, the Bible is not a reason for harsh treatment and abuses of power. Besides, of course the Bible does not say anything about people in modern-day, informal authority positions, such as the aforementioned psychologist.

Now, five years on, I am very happy that I eventually did stick up for myself and sought an independent second opinion on that diagnosis. Then I applied for long-term care. Now that I have the right people (loving, respectful people) around me, I no longer need to fear authority. I can respectfully disagree with people, whether Biblically I’m supposed to submit to them or not. I am still working on feeling confident in my role as a grown-up woman. God and His Word help me on this journey.

Okay, this post took me much longer than five minutes to write, as I had to look up what the Bible actually said and also because I got distracted several times. I hope that’s okay.

Today Is Tuesday, June 8

I really want to write, but I’m feeling pretty uninspired. I already looked through my collections of journaling prompts, of which I have many. However, even though a few prompts spoke to me, I just couldn’t get myself to put fingers to keyboard and actually write. Until now, that is. Instead of writing an actually meaningful post, I’m just going to freewrite.

Today I got my original Braille display, the one with the water damage, back. The technician also explained why this model can’t handle even a little water on it even though the old model, the one that got the cup of tea over it seven years ago, could. This model’s Braille cells are somehow covered, so if water enters them, there’s no way it’ll get out. He didn’t explain the point of creating cells like this, I mean, what would make them better than cells that haven’t been covered like the ones in the old model. I think it might even be an effort to make the Braille displays not last as long, but of course the technician wouldn’t say so.

In the afternoon, my mother-in-law visited me. We drove to a relatively nearby forest and went for a short walk. Then we had coffee and apple pie. We also drove by a supermarket, where I got blueberries and fruit gums. The fruit gums, I already consumed.

Both my mother-in-law and my husband have been asking me what I want for my birthday, which is on the 27th. I have asked my parents to order from a specific jewelry-making store which is local to them. For my husband and mother-in-law, I really don’t know what to ask for. I mean, I’ve been tempted to ask for the interactive cat my mother-in-law originally wanted to buy me last year. Then again, that thing is over a hundred euros.

In the evening, I did a little more walking and had coffee. I more than reached my water intake goal for the day. I use the Water Reminder app on my iPhone again. It’s a pretty good way of keeping track of my fluid intake, as it also allows me to track other beverages. And just so you know, yes, it actually takes away water when you drink alcohol. That makes me believe its calculation of amount of water in beverages is pretty accurate.

I also read my Bible again. I decided to pick it up in Genesis where I left off when starting to read Daniel on Sunday. I don’t expect to be reading all the boring Old Testament stuff, but for now I’m at least sticking to a Bible reading habit.

And a writing habit. See? I can really make myself create a blog post if I just want it badly enough. And I do, since WordPress is now keeping track of my blogging streaks. Yay me!

Accomplishments for the Day (June 6, 2021)

Hi everyone! I was feeling a little low this morning after a restless sleep. This afternoon, I felt even lower after I misinterpreted a comment from my husband about my (lack of) Bible knowledge as criticism. It thankfully wasn’t meant that way. Right now though, I am feeling quite accomplished. Let me share what things I achieved today.

1. Got showered and brushed my teeth and hair. Personal hygiene is a struggle of late, so I am very proud that I got these things accomplished.

2. Got weighed in. I had gained a little over a pound over the past few weeks, but I’m okay with that. After all, my diet hasn’t been too healthy lately. It could also still be the fact that I literally stuffed myself full of fries yesterday.

3. Made relatively healthy food choices. I mean, I had three meals that weren’t too unhealthy. For lunch, I had a grilled cheese sandwich at a sandwich place, but I don’t think it was very unhealthy. I had mini rolls for breakfast and my care facility’s meal service’s meal for dinner. I did have chips this evening, but I kept to one serving.

4. Broke my daily step record. This is the one thing that helped me move from feeling low to feeling accomplished. My old record was 20.2K steps. Now, I have walked 20.5K steps today. Only 200 more to go and I’ll have reached 100K steps in the past week.

5. Read my Bible. I signed up for the Bible in a Year E-mail service earlier this week. Because I had selected the start-to-finish reading plan, I’m now only at Genesis 21-23. Discussing my progress with my husband got me a bit discouraged. He recommended I, being a Christian, read the New Testament first, then got to recommend that if I read the Old Testament now anyway, I could start with Daniel. So I decided to read Daniel.

To get myself acquainted with the story, I got the Immersion Bible Studies book for Daniel, because I like Immersion. That study though combined Ezekiel with Daniel and I’m not intending on reading Ezekiel anytime soon. So I got a little confused and this further discouraged me.

Then I texted my husband in a bit of frustration. He thankfully replied that he had just meant that Daniel might be a more interesting story than most of the rest of the Old Testament. He wasn’t meaning to question my faith.! That lifted my mood again and encouraged me to study the Bible some more.

What have you accomplished today?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (May 23, 2021)

Hi everyone on this rainy Pentecost! Today I am joining #WeekendCoffeeShare once again. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would share that the weather is still quite gloomy here. Like I said above, it’s been raining most of the day. It’s also pretty cold. Man, I can’t wait for summer to start!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this week was rather emotionally draining. On Tuesday, I found out that I won’t be able to start my new medication until at least this coming week. My care facility’s physician will be back from vacation on Tuesday and should be asked to look into the topiramate then. With some luck, I will be able to start taking it later that week.

Due to the disappointment about this and due to other triggers, I was intensely dysregulated Tuesday evening. Same yesterday. Thankfully, during the rest of the week, I have been able to stay at least out of crisis.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’m contemplating seeking a re-assessment and possible therapy for what I think may be dissociation. I mean, I’m still unsure whether I’m making the alters up or not. Of course, on some level, I made them up regardless of whether I’ll be diagnosable with a dissociative disorder or not. What I mean though, is I’m not sure whether they are trauma-based or some result of escapism. I’m not even sure my “trauma” is real. I mean, of course it was real, but maybe it wasn’t as bad as I feel it was, or shouldn’t be affecting me as much.

I E-mailed my nurse practitioner about this on Thursday and am hoping to discuss it at our next appt.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I went to McDonald’s for lunch on Friday. I had a crispy chicken burger and fries. It was delicious!

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I was touched to the core by today’s edition of Hour of Power NL. Bobby Schuller’s sermon was on the Biblically-originating saying “Your days are numbered”. It really got me inspired to try to make a regular habit of Bible study and prayer again. I mean, I’ve so far lost only one day in the YouVersion app, two weeks ago, over the past five months. However, I notice that I’m not taking the Bible as seriously as I should and would like to.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that my husband would’ve come to visit me this weekend, but he has a headache. I hope it’s gone soon. Tomorrow is a holiday too so he can come then if he feels better.

How have you been?

Five Daily Actions for Wellbeing

A long time ago, I read somewhere that doing five small things for your health and happiness each day, will get you started on a journey towards the bigger goals. Today, I came across a journaling prompt that explained that not all goals have to be big and asked what small goals you’re working on right now. I’m pretty sure I listed my five daily actions already before, but cannot find it right now. In any case, if this is a repeat, I’ll no doubt have changed something from when I did this before. Here are five daily actions I can take, and in many cases am already taking, to improve my health and happiness. Most of these are focused primarily on my mental and spiritual wellbeing, but the mind, body and soul are interconnected. This means that, ultimately, I’ll hopefully feel more physically healthy too.

1. Read the Bible. I am currently on a 142-day streak in the YouVersion Bible app. It’s not always easy to commit to reading my Bible, but I am motivated by both a wish to please God as well as my stats. I have found that I don’t do well reading the Bible in order and I have no intention of reading the entire Bible in a year. Instead, I started with a Bible reading plan and, when I finished it, started another. That way, I am not just reading the Bible as if it were a novel, but truly paying attention to its meaning. I just completed my thirteenth plan on YouVersion today.

Bible reading helps me feel connected to God. I really want to connect to other people on the app too, so that we can study together. That’s my goal for the upcoming month: find people to fellowship with.

2. Pray. This is something I really need to get woven into my routine. My husband prays the Lord’s Prayer each morning as he gets up and maybe I should do the same. I do pray almost everyday, but not at set times.

3. Journal. I have the Day One journaling app and really like it. Even so, I struggle to write in it each day, even though I have two reminders on a day: one for the daily prompt and one just to write. Last week, I resolved to write at least a few sentences each day, but I didn’t really follow through. I am pretty sure though that, when the A to Z Challenge of April is over, I’ll want to continue writing everyday. Since I’m not requiring myself to blog everyday then, it’d really help if I wrote in Day One everyday.

4. Be more mindful. This is a less measurable goal, but I can include some simple breathing or body scan exercises into each day. Not doing this at the moment, as some of them feel contrary to the Christian faith. Scratch that and insert another excuse that isn’t holding God responsible. Breathing exercises and body scans aren’t anti-Christian. I guess I just feel like this, like prayer, is something I struggle to find the discipline for. It also feels kind of scary, I guess, but I trust that will get better with practice.

5. Gratitude. Another less measurable goal, but I really want to be more appreciative in life. Now that I’m going to use Day One each day anyway as I journal, I could just add a simple gratitude list (or one grateful if I can’t make a list) each day too.

In addition, I would really like to improve on my expressing kindness and gratitude towards others. I will get to thank my staff and others for what they do more.

What are some daily practices that will enhance your wellbeing?

Joining in with the Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop and Let’s Have Coffee.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (April 24, 2021)

Hi everyone! After writing this afternoon’s quick post, I felt I really wanted to write another post today, so I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare on Saturday. I’m pretty sure I’ll have something else to share with you tomorrow. Either that or I can take the day off blogging for a change. Anyway, I just had my soft drink and chips for this evening, but there is no doubt still some left. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first, as usual, I’d make smalltalk about the weather. It’s mostly been sunny and dry, but windy and quite chilly. How is yours?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been struggling with foot pain when walking for a while now. I don’t know why, but it seems worse when I wear my AFO (ankle foot orthosis). The physical therapist – not my usual one, since she was off sick – came by yesterday. I can’t remember all that she said, but it came down to my having muscle tension in my feet or something. Massaging my foot before putting on the AFO may work. Other than that, she basically told me that the AFO takes some getting used to. I interpreted this to mean I just need to push through for a bit. That, I think, makes little sense, since I’ve had the AFO for at least a month, probably two, and was fine most of that time.

I was pretty frustrated and depressed when I could barely walk with the AFO on yesterday evening. I immediately catastrophized that I may as well get a wheelchair. Another possibility, and I know my staff don’t buy that one, is that I just need to lose weight. I do, but my staff don’t believe that’s causing my pain. Honestly, neither do I, as I’ve been a lot heavier in the past and then didn’t have issues with pain. My foot also does stand in a weird position when not forced into a 90-degree angle by my AFO. Well, I’m not wearing my AFO for now and we’ll see what will be next.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that on the walk without my AFO this evening, I heard a stork making that clattering sound storks do. We were near the neighborhood supermarket, so at first, my staff didn’t believe me and was convinced it was something else. Then she spotted a stork nest.

Stork

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ve been reading a lot lately. Some of it involves me exploring the enneagram and other personality-related topics. I’ve also been reading a little on attachment styles and trauma. However, I’m also reading for enjoyment. I am currently reading the foster care memoir A Sister’s Shame by Maggie Hartley.

If we were having coffee, I’d also tell you that I’ve been writing a lot again. Of course, I’m still blogging everyday, but I’ve also picked up my journaling app, Day One, again, and am aiming to write at least a few sentences each day.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I’m finally able to benefit fully from the YouVersion Bible App and Bible.com. I discovered the note-taking feature yesterday. Today, I finally downloaded the Common English Bible translation. This translation’s publishers require a valid E-mail address and I had initially signed up with my Apple ID and a hidden E-mail address. I thought it should be easy to add my actual E-mail address to the app, but not so. Turned out I also had an account, a different one, with my actual E-mail address. Thankfully, I was able to sort it out. I’m fully enjoying my Bible reading again.

What’s going on in your life?

Knowing God When I’m at a Fork in the Road

Yesterday, I finished the First steps with Jesus Bible plan on YouVersion and I immediately wanted to start a new Bible reading plan. I looked through the most recently added plans and found one called: Hey God, Can We Talk? I’m at a Fork in the Road. I clicked on it and apparently loved its description, although I can’t remember it right now. So I decided to start the plan.

The plan walks us through Jacob’s story. For the first day, we were asked to read the verses in Genesis 28 where Jacob leaves for Bethel after Esau plans to kill him. I had no idea about this. I mean, I thought the idea that Jacob would receive Isaac’s blessing rather than Esau had been mutually agreed upon. That’s how my father explained it once when we ate lentils for dinner: that Esau voluntarily swapped his firstborn’s right for a bowl of lentils. He then personalized the story to my younger sister and me. I probably thought to myself that my sister could keep her yucky lentils and eat mine as well.

Anyway, apparently not. Rebekah had urged Jacob to escape the family home and go to her brother. This, the plan author compares to us leaving home to go off to college. Except, she says, Jacob didn’t have his family to support him should catastrophe strike. This hit home to me.

When I lived independently in Nijmegen in 2007, I didn’t have my parents’ support either. That is, when I wasn’t coping, they made it very clear that I wasn’t to rely on them. I had my community support staff, of course, but they too had their conditions for supporting me.

At one point while resting in Bethel, Jacob has a very important dream. In it, the Lord speaks to him and promises him the land on which he lay. Okay, fine by me. I don’t need land. but I do need comfort.

The plan then goes on to highlight verse 16: “When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.'” (Genesis 28:16 NIV)

This, then, was comforting but also slightly scary to Jacob. This is so relatable! In 2007, I had no idea there was even a God, let alone that He cares about my life. Now I do know, but it’s sometimes scary too. Maybe because I am not used, with the exception of my husband (and I doubt that all the time), to being loved unconditionally.

Of course, Jacob’s story takes place long before Christ. However, the God of the Old Testament, unlike what some atheists told me when I first learned about religion, isn’t a horrible dictator. He is still the same and He was with Jacob. I love this. Do you, too?

Linking up with Grace and Truth.