Lord, Please Lead Me: A Prayer Poem

Lord, please lead me on this journey,
guiding me every step of the way;
so that I may not wander,
and I may not run astray.

God, I will follow You wherever
in this life I’m supposed to go,
but please take me by the hand
and show me what I need to know.

I pray I will find comfort (at last)
in Your loving arms.
Please show me I am right to trust You;
Show me You are the God of warmth.

God, I feel so lost and lonely,
like no human soul sees what I truly need.
In Jesus’ name, I ask you,
will you help me when I take Your lead?


This poem was written for this week’s Six Sentence Stories link-up. I have no idea whether any other Six’ers are believers, so I was initially going to post this at the top with a note that my poem is Christian in nature, but then I decided the title should speak for itself.

A Child Called “Baby”

Today, Emilia of My Inner MishMash asks us about our name. How do you feel about it? Do you know where yours came from or why your parents picked it?

I probably shared this before. In fact, I did indeed write about this topic in 2019. I didn’t bother to actually look up the post until finishing this one though, so well, here’s the story again through a 2023 lens.

When I was born, my parents didn’t have a name picked for me yet. The reason is the fact that I was born three months prematurely. As a result, for a few hours, the name plate on my incubator read “Baby Van Woerkom”. According to my mother, my father was so displeased with this that he quickly came up with a name (or picked one from the names they’d been discussing among each other). And thus I was named Astrid.

Of course, my parents do have a story of why they named me Astrid. Apparently, I am named after Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Similarly, my sister was named after Sigrid Undset.

I do like my name, sort of. I like its relative uniqueness. I don’t like the fact that it’s hard to pronounce in English, but I do like the fact that in English-language literature for this reason I hardly come across characters named Astrid. I avoid books when I know they have a character named Astrid in them.

I don’t have a middle name and yet, I always wanted one. As a teen, I’d pick random middle names that bore neither an etymological nor a linguistic similarity to “Astrid”, such as “Elena”. Now if I had to choose a middle name, I’d go with something that also has its origin in northern Europe but is relatively easy to spell and pronounce in Dutch and English, such as “Kirsten”. I liked that one back as a teen too but didn’t use it as often. The name “Kirsten” is Christian in nature though, while “Astrid” has Pagan connotations. However, I don’t really care. The combination might actually signify the importance of the Christ, as the name “Astrid” means something like “beautiful God”.

God Created the Stars

Yesterday, I started for maybe the fifth or so time in a Bible-in-a-year plan. However, this time, unlike any of the other times, I didn’t just try to read the Bible cover to cover. In fact, I’m not reading it cover to cover at all. Yesterday’s assigned chapters included Psalm 1, Matthew 1 and of course Genesis 1. The plan also included commentary in the form of a devotional. The verse I want to talk about now is in Genesis 1.

“God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.” (Genesis 1:16 NIV)

The part the plan writer highlighted, was the last bit about the stars. He commented that there are literally billions of stars in our galaxy alone. I had no idea! However, isn’t this fascinating?

Whether the Biblical account of creation is literally correct, is beside the point. It isn’t about when or how. It is about who and why. And the “who” in the Bible is God.

I think it’s quite amazing that God created an entire universe, complete with constellations and constellations of stars, and put humanity at the center of it. He could just as easily have chosen anything else. Maybe if He’d chosen another living creature, it wouldn’t have ruined the planet and beyond as much as we do.

But God has His reasons for having chosen us. And having allowed us to mess up. I’m not yet sure what they are. Maybe I’ll never find out. It’s a fact of life though that we – all of us – mess up. That’s why we need Jesus.

And maybe God’s reason for having put us at the center of the universe and yet having allowed us to mess up massively, isn’t about us at all. We tend to make everything about us, after all, both individually and as a species.

Maybe by Godly standards, we aren’t as important as we think. In fact, I’m pretty sure that most of us overestimate our importance and underestimate our shortcomings precisely because we measure ourselves by human standards. At least I do. And yet by Godly standards, only one human (Jesus) met the bar. My defiant side says this isn’t fair. Yet it only isn’t fair if we put ourselves at the center of the universe. If we put Jesus at the center, it is most definitely fair.


I am joining in with #JusJoJan, for which the prompt today is “constellation”.

I’m also linking up with Inspire Me Monday.

My Hopes for 2023

Hi everyone and a happy 2023 to you all! Regular readers of my blog know that I don’t do resolutions or new year’s goals. Instead, I call them hopes. Whether that isn’t just the exact same but worded slightly euphemistically, is up for debate. However, I found that, many years ago, when I did lists of resolutions, they didn’t work out. Now that I call them “hopes”, I usually probably subconsciously stick to them more. I say this every year as an introduction to my hopes.

This year, I haven’t actually thought of many hopes I have. That is, I do hope to achieve many things, but secretly I do think my “hopes” do need to be somewhat realistic in order to make it onto my new year’s list. Doesn’t that make them just like goals? Oh well, I guess so. With no further ado, I’m just going to write down the things I hope to achieve in 2023.

1. Get to a healthy weight. I never dreamt of writing this when I started my healthier eating journey at the beginning of 2022, but I lost over 10kg in 2022 and I’m only 3kg above a healthy BMI now.

2. Keep up my movement routine. I have my movement goal on my Apple Watch set pretty low at 300 active calories a day. I’d really like to surpass it regularly.

I would also like to improve on the parameters of my physical fitness level, such as my heart rate variability. These are all really low right now.

I am hoping to start actually exercising in other ways besides walking. I’d love to start swimming here on institution grounds.

3. Get to a more stable place mentally. In 2022, I hoped to remain stable mental health-wise, which got ruined by my choice to move and its consequences. Now, I’m hoping to get back to a place of relative calm again.

4. Further lower my antipsychotic dosage. I really hope the move to my current care home doesn’t mean I’m on 25mg of aripiprazole forever.

5. Get to a meaningful day structure and day activities. Okay, I have the new day schedule, which is better than the one my support coordinator gave me, but it’s not what I’d hoped for when I came here. I am really hoping to explore day activities beyond my room, beyond 60 minutes at a time and beyond one-on-one.

6. Write regularly. This is another thing I was pretty awesome at in 2021, hoped to maintain in 2022 and lost track of due to the move. I even only wrote five blog posts during the month of November. I am really hoping to get back into the writing groove this year.

7. Further explore my creative side. I’d really like to find ways to do part of my polymer clay work independently, so that I can actually do more complicated things with my 60-minute time slots of supported activity.

8. Socialize more. This was one of the main reasons for the move, at least according to the behavior specialists involved. Indeed, it is a positive aspect of my current home that wasn’t there at my old home. I honestly don’t know whether I can socialize much with the people at my home, but I can at least try and, if that doesn’t work out, there are almost 400 other residents here at the main institution. I’d really love to talk to some of them more.

I’d also love to connect to my peers in the cerebral palsy community more. I’ll hopefully attend the countrywide cerebral palsy day again in April and also hopefully join the online meetings more often. I’m also hoping to get in touch with the Eye Association more. I know this was something I hoped to achieve in 2022 but didn’t.

9. Get serious about the basics of my faith. I had a discussion about faith with my husband yesterday and the bottom line was that I tried to run without having learned to crawl, so to speak, because I was watching John MacArthur videos, which are deeply theological, even though I’m really still a new believer. I mean, okay, I’ve been a Jesus follower for two years, but I’m still struggling with the basic concepts of the Christian faith. That’s probably why I call myself a “progressive Jesus follower” rather than unapologetically claiming my identity as a Christian. I really hope to move closer on my journey towards God in 2023.


I am linking this post up with today’s #JusJoJan post, for which the optional prompt word is “resolution”. I am thinking of writing another post about resolutions in a different sense, namely the Model European Parliament debating contest I participated in during high school. However, it’s past 9PM so I don’t think I’ll have the time or energy for another blog post.

The Wednesday HodgePodge (December 14, 2022)

Hi everyone. It’s Wednesday again, so I’m participating in the Wednesday HodgePodge. Not that I do so each Wednesday or that Joyce even hosts them every single week. For example, next week there won’t be one. This week’s HodgePodge is mostly Christmas-themed. Here goes.

1. What does Christmas mean to you?
The birth of Jesus Christ, of course. I am a progressive Jesus follower. That being said, I don’t follow the faith nearly as deeply as I should. Each year around Christmas time, I usually experience a deepened connection with God, but I’m not feeling it this year yet, for which I’m sad.

2. What’s your favorite cozy holiday activity?
Eating cinnamon stars near the Christmas tree. Cinnamon stars, a type of cookies, are my absolute favorite Christmas treats. Last year, I got four packets of them from my day activities staff and used up the last of them in early March.

3. Is all your shopping-wrapping-baking done? Tell us about your holiday plans.
Yes or no, depending on your perspective. After all, we don’t really do Christmas presents in my husband’s family and I don’t see my own family for the holidays at all. I don’t usually send out Christmas cards either, although my husband does on my behalf too.

For Christmas, my husband is going to pick me up at the institution and take me to my in-laws’ house near dinnertime. That way, I hopefully won’t have to endure too much of the Christmassy buzz but my husband’s family will be able to enjoy my company. My sisters-in-law will likely be joining us for dinner too. Then, I’ll spend the night at my husband’s.

4. If you were Santa what treat would you like to have left for you (it doesn’t have to be milk and cookies!) What sweet or savory treat do you most look forward to indulging in around the holidays?
Leave me with some hot wings please, yum! As for my most looked forward to holiday treat, other than the aforementioned cinnamon stars, I love oliebollen at New Year’s. Do those count? By the way, for my American/English-speaking readers, oliebollen may look like what’s left over when making holes in donuts, but they taste very differently.

5. Next Wednesday is the first official day of winter (in the northern hemisphere). How does that make you feel? Tell us what you love most about winter?
I don’t like winter, the cold, shorter days or snow for that matter, so the official start of winter to me signifies the shortest day of the year and hence the fact that days are getting longer from then on. The one thing I do love about winter are its associated holidays, such as St. Nicholas, Christmas and New Year’s and the opportunity to indulge in special holiday treats these occasions provide.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I got a lovely Christmas hamper full of sweets, cookies and chips from the care agency this evening. There was no room in my bin in the locked storage room for it, so I have everything with me now. Let’s hope this doesn’t end in a massive binge.

The Wednesday HodgePodge (October 19, 2022)

Hi all. I’m joining the Wednesday HodgePodge again. This week’s questions are truly random or at least I cannot see a common theme to them. I don’t mind though. Here goes.

1. What’s something you wish you’d figured out sooner?
That I am the beloved of God and that it really doesn’t matter what my family or anyone else thinks of me in the end, God will ultimately judge my heart.

2. Something from childhood you still enjoy today?
Swimming, playground equipment (when it’s strong enough to carry adult me, such as here at the institution), children’s books.

3. Are you a fidgeter? What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word fidget?
I am a definite fidgeter! The first thing that comes to mind is hair twirling. I’ve done it since adolescence. When I was 21, my autism diagnosing psychologist in fact told me I really had to unlearn it because it was a “serious social handicap”. Thankfully, the only people who agreed were my immediate family, who had more or less abandoned me by this time anyway.

4. Your favorite fall vegetable? How do you like it prepared?
Broccoli! In fact, about a month ago, I was discussing with a former staff what vegetable I’d choose if I could eat only one for the rest of my life and I picked broccoli. It is such a versatile vegetable. I love it cooked plain or with a creamy sauce, stir-fried or even raw in a salad. Next up are carrots. I eat them raw as a side to my lunch almost everyday.

5. What’s something you find mildly annoying, but not annoying enough to actually do anything about? Might you now?
My headphones (the cheap Chinese brand ones I bought six months ago as a replacement for the Bose QuietComfort 45 ones that broke within three weeks of me having bought them) being basically useless as wireless headphones due to the battery draining very quickly. I have been intending to replace them for a few weeks, but can’t decide for sure on a new model. For now, I’m using my AirPods with my iPhone, but this is indeed slightly annoying.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I’ve been in the main institution care home for two weeks today and it’s going pretty well. We had some issues early on, among other things with my medication, but all has been sorted now.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 2, 2022)

Hi everyone on this first Saturday of July. Wow, can you believe the first half of the year is over with already? I certainly can’t. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I just had my afternoon coffee, but the other residents are probably still having theirs. Let’s have a coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d start out by asking how you are. How’s your weather? Ours has been mixed. Right now, it’s about 23°C and partly cloudy, but we’ve had daytime temps as high as 29°C and as low as 19°C and a mix of sun and rain and thunderstorms.

If we were having coffee, I would share that this week was a mixed bag. I’ve been struggling quite a bit with all the new staff being introduced to me over the week. Now I hear you say what my staff have been saying too: isn’t that better than temp workers? Yes, it is and, thankfully, I didn’t have any temping staff all week. However, on some days, I had two staff introduced to me in a day and this generally meant at least one of them was orienting to my one-on-one shift. This means they’re with me literally all the time and this means I have two staff with me all the time, who are sometimes chatting among themselves about their kids or whatever (sometimes under the guise of the new staff telling me about themself). That cost me a lot of energy. By the middle of the week, I had thankfully been able to get it through to the staff that I don’t like this.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been struggling a bit with the discrepancy between my emotional development and my intelligence again. I have been reading up on emotional development as it relates to people with developmental disabilities and, though the theory makes perfect sense to me, this does actually create intense turmoil inside of me. This specifically relates to the situation in which staff confront me with my challenging behavior, trying to let me know it’s unacceptable. I am not even always rationally able to see their point, for example when it relates to the temp workers and new staff, but even when I am, it is sheer impossible for me to grasp it emotionally.

If we were having coffee, I would share that, on Monday, some evangelicals were handing out flowers near my neighborhood supermarket. As a progressive Christian, I agreed with a lot but not all of what the woman doing the evangelizing to me said, but I didn’t feel like challenging her. After she started challenging my staff’s Catholic beliefs and all of us noticed the conversation became awkward, I accepted the flowers and moved on. I do feel that this, odd as it may seem, came at the right time, being that it was my birthday and I’d just had a really hard appt with my nurse practitioner. At least yesterday, the flowers still looked quite good.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you I’ve been very crafty lately. The creations I shared yesterday, I had finished late last week. This week, I’ve been experimenting with the plunger cutters I got from the new student staff on Wednesday, as well as with my extruder. I didn’t actually create anything using the extruder yet and I might’ve broken it already after all. Today, I did create a sort of Earth charm. I originally wanted to do the continents much like they are on the real planet, but that didn’t work out.

How have you been?

Rebirth

I remember reading a story some years ago in the book Preemie Voices by Saroj Saigal. This is a collection of autobiographical letters from people who were once premature babies in the university hospital NICU Saigal worked for. I, like the contributors, was a preemie.

In this particular story, the author shared how she felt she has three birthdays: one, her actual birthday, the second, her original due date, and the third, the day of her rebirth. In this author’s case, her rebirth meant being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (her choice of words).

I haven’t experienced one such pivotal moment in my life. I mean, I too could choose the day I was diagnosed as autistic (March 16, 2007). Then again, my diagnosis has been removed and reaffirmed so many times that I could just as easily choose the last time I was diagnosed (May 1, 2017). Besides, self-diagnosis is valid too.

I could choose the day I was given long-term care funding (June 4, 2019). Maybe that is the most pivotal moment in my life, but it didn’t exactly mean I was reborn.

I could, of course, choose the day I became a Christ follower (December 7, 2020). Many people in the Evangelical Christian community say they are Born Again and indeed, rebirth in Christ is a common Biblical concept. However, I am more of the opinion that, as Christians, we are on a continuous path towards God. I believe that, each time I consciously pick up my Bible, or the cross my husband gifted me and which I use for prayer, or each time a message from God truly enters me, I am transformed a little bit. I don’t believe that I will be made fully new until the day of Jesus’ return.

All that being said, I do believe I am not the exact same I was a year ago. I am not even the same I was yesterday. Or when I started writing this post. In my view, every single moment is an opportunity for rebirth. Every second we are given is another second chance.

This post was written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge, for which the prompt this week is a theme: rebirth.

Poem: The Book Called “Me”

Endless streaks of time (or so it seems)
lie ahead of me,
as I turn page after page
in this book called “Me”

Until one day (possibly still far from now)
I will have reached
the page I pray concludes
with a happily ever-after

In six days, I will turn 36. I am hopeful that I am still not halfway through my life yet, but then again I recently learned that the life expectancy for someone born in 1960 was 52. I just Googled the life expectancy for my birth year, 1986, which was 74.8 years. If this is true, I am just under eighteen months shy of midlife. I am not the healthiest either, so to be fully honest, I probably can’t expect to live that long.

I didn’t want this poem to be fully about doom and gloom either, because, as a Christian, I do believe in eternal life for those who are saved. This is why I ended this poem on a positive note.

I am writing this poem for this week’s Twiglet, which is “turning page”, as well as the Go Dog Go Cafe Tuesday Writing Challenge, which is to start a poem with the word “endless”.

Being God’s Beloved Child As an Enneagram Type Four

Today, I read some about the Enneagram again. As regular readers of this blog will know, I’m a type Four. Type Fours’ core motivation is to be fully understood as their unique and authentic selves. As such, Fours often focus on their being different from other people in some fundamental way. I am no different (pun intended) in this respect.

When I was in the early days of my psych hospital stay, my parents came to talk to the psychiatrist. They told him that, ever since I’d realized I am different because of my blindness at roughly age seven, I had tried to make it look like I was different in a ton of other ways. For instance, I identified as autistic (with which I was eventually diagnosed), thought as a teen that I was a lesbian (I am not), etc. Indeed, identity confusion was quite a common experience for me. According to my parents, this was all because I refused to accept the fact that I am blind, rather than because, well, I felt different in some rather interesting, somewhat impalpable ways.

Today, as I read the Day 1 section of The Enneagram Type 4 by Beth McCord, I realized I’ve always focused my attention on how I am not just essentially different from everyone else, but in some fundamental way more defective than everyone else. In reality, this is not true.

I am reminded in this respect of a sermon or something I once heard about a king having two daughters who both got lost in a shipwreck and stranded with farmers or something. Years later, the king found out that his daughters were still alive and he sent out some men to track them down. One daughter believed she was the king’s daughter, while the other didn’t. To whom does it matter? Of course, to the one who believes. This is probably what it is like to be a child of God: we are all children of God, but only those who believe it will delight in His kingdom. I find this comforting to my non-believer friends, realizing that God does not somehow condemn those people or something. Of course, there is the difference that God is all-knowing and all-powerful, so He could’ve made everyone believe.

However, my point is that there is nothing that makes me less of a child of God because of who I am or what I do. I am also not more defective than anyone else based on any of my differences, be it my autism or my blindness or whatever. Neurodiversity and disability rights are clear on that. No matter how fundamentally different I feel as an enneagram type Four, or as an autistic, multiply-disabled trauma survivor, or as just plain ol’ me, I am still God’s beloved child and I do not need to – cannot even – attempt to earn that status any more. After all, Jesus Christ purchased that status for me on the cross.

I am linking this post up with Inspire Me Monday.