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.

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?

Gratitude List (December 26, 2020) #TToT

Hello everyone and a belated merry Christmas to you all! As usual on Saturdays nowadays, I’m writing a gratitude list. I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Enjoy!

1. I am grateful for Jesus! I’m so grateful I became a Christian this year and this time hopefully for real. I say this because I’ve been a progressive believer for many years but hardly took my faith seriously at all. I still could take it more seriously and I’m praying God will open my heart and mind to him even more.

2. I am grateful for my family. My parents sent me a Braille-typed Christmas card and my sister sent me a card too. This reminds me that, even though we don’t have the closest relationship, I still matter to them.

3. I am grateful for my husband and in-laws.

4. I am grateful for great Christmas meals. Yesterday, my husband and I made use of the fact that people can legally have two (actually three on Christmas and boxing day) visitors and celebrated Christmas with my in-laws. We had a delicious dinner.

Also, the bakery in a nearby village sent the entire care facility a Christmas lunch of freshly-baked buns. Normally they give it to the day center in that village, where the clients help package their goods. However, that day center is closed due to COVID. Most clients from my care facility don’t work at the day center there, but some do and the bakery was so generous as to give us all the lunch.

5. I am grateful for my psychiatrist. As we wrote on Tuesday, she completely validated us. I haven’t yet needed my new PRN medication.

6. I am grateful the days are getting longer again. Ugh, how I hate the dark days!

7. I am grateful for the motivation and focus to be able to read again. I’m reading a middle grade novel, but that’s okay.

8. I am grateful for uplifting, Christian music. My husband has some on in the car and I discovered some on Spotify.

9. I am grateful for sausage rolls this morning. My husband joked that he was going to eat them all if I didn’t make it downstairs soon enough. I guess I did though.

10. I am grateful for a lie-in this morning. My husband didn’t get up at 7:30AM like usual on Sundays (maybe because it’s Saturday today), so I slept in longer than usual too.

I hope you all had a very happy Christmas. What have you been grateful for lately?

A Favorite Childhood Gift

One of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompts is to share about a favorite Christmas gift you received as a child. Here in the Netherlands though, Christmas isn’t that popular for gift-giving. Instead, we celebrate St. Nicholas on December 5. I can’t remember that many gifts I received for St. Nicholas and the entire celebration was one big stressor once I no longer believed in St. Nick. We celebrated it until I was 20 in 2006. Then in 2007 I was in the psych hospital and my parents didn’t want to risk inviting me. That’s how the tradition ended.

The other major gift-receiving opportunity was and still is, of course, my birthday. It is on June 27, so pretty much as far from Christmas as you get it. Still, I’m going to share about a favorite gift I received for my birthday as a child. Mama Kat twisted the prompt too by listing several things, so oh well.

I can’t remember whether I had invited anyone to a birthday party when I turned eleven. After all, I was pretty much friendless at the time. However, I did celebrate it with my family. The main gift I remember getting was a Barbie doll with aerobic attire. I named her Teresa. I loved the doll, even though I knew already that eleven was a little old to play with it.

Later that summer, my mother took me on a “mother-daughter walk”, which was mainly an opportunity for her to tell me the school had recommended I go residential there. She claimed the reason was that I had behavior problems, which she attributed to my having too many toys. I can’t follow that train of thought other than through some idea that I was so spoiled I somehow felt entitled to have tantrums. That wasn’t true, for clarity’s sake. In any case, my mother regretted having given me the Barbie doll.

I cherished Teresa even more from that moment on. When, during the following school year, I’d have a meltdown, my mother would often pack a random number of toys and claim to throw them out. (In reality, she hid them in her room downstairs.)

The followign year, when I turned twelve, I felt so ashamed for still playing with Barbie dolls that I claimed they’d aged with me, so it was okay. Most of the dolls are still with my parents, I think. I think at one point I broke Teresa’s leg though and had to actually throw her out.

Mama’s Losin’ It

#WeekendCoffeeShare (December 20, 2020)

Hi #WeekendCoffeeShare people, and everyone else too of course! Today is a cloudy, relatively mild day. I, as usual, just had my last drink for the day – just water today. If you’d like a cup of coffee, that’s fine by me though. Regardless, let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you my sister and her little family visited me on Monday. They were originally supposed to visit yesterday, but the prime minister was expected to announce a strict lockdown Monday evening. Spoiler alert: he didn’t. While all non-essential stores are closed, people are still allowed to leave their house and visit others. The care agency pandemic team also didn’t close my care facility.

The family consists of my sister, her husband and their 15-month-old daughter Janneke. Janneke was really cute. She isn’t walking or standing yet, but she does crawl around a lot. She can also say some words and is almost completely potty trained. My sister is really proud of her for that last thing.

We got takeout pizza for us adults and a bit of French fries for Janneke. I loved my salami pizza.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I had the first “therapy” appt with my nurse practitioner on Thursday. It didn’t really go well. Not that I’d expected it to, but I had hoped for a little less trivializing and rationalizing of my symptoms from both our sides. I know, we will maintain the status quo on the nature of my insiders until or unless I ever decide to get an assessment. It is pretty likely my nurse practitioner doesn’t even think I need one. After all, he said that considering my insiders to be an extreme form of doubt is a little off, but there’s no need to compare my symptoms to anything anyone else experiences. Well, honestly, yes, there is or we won’t be knowing where we’re headed at all. I think though that most of us prefer not having a clue what we’re doing to being told we’re all products of an attention-seeking, manipulative imagination.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I went to Lobith yesterday. I had some conflicting feelings about it, but I was happy to see my husband. It was good. My husband and I talked faith extensively and he encouraged me to grow in my belief. My husband knows far more about the Bible than I do and he explained some about how to interpret various passages.

What have you been up to lately?

Gratitude List (December 19, 2020) #TToT

Hi everyone! This isn’t going to be a very long post I think, as I’m in Lobith and don’t have my computer with me. For this reason, typing is a little hard. I am going to try to write a gratitude list anyway. I think Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) is back, so I’m participating in that.

1. I am grateful for my external keyboard. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to type this post at all. It may not be as convenient as my laptop, but it’ll do.

2. I am grateful I can still go to my husband’s and my house in LObith despite the lockdown. The “strict” lockdown was announced Monday evening but it hardly has any consequences for me. After all, i didn’t go to stores or the like at all.

3. I am grateful my sister and her family visited me on Monday. They were afraid the lockdown would apply to care facilities too, so they visited me before it was announced.

4. I am grateful to have seen my 15-month-old niece. I hadn’t seen her (or my sister for that matter) in over a year.

5. I am grateful we could get pizza takeout when my sister visited.

6. I am grateful for hamburgers. We cooked those at day activities on Wednesday.

7. I am grateful I was able to E-mail my nurse practitioner. I had an appt with him on Thursday, which didn’t go too well. I am grateful I was able to explain why I had negative feelings about it.

8. I am grateful for myhusband’s encouragement. He was very firm with me after my appt with my nurse practitioner, but I am so glad he helped me get my positive mojo back.

9. I am grateful for chocolate. My husband and I paid a quick visit to my in-laws on the way to Lobith and they had some. Of course, I am also grateful to have seen the in-laws themselves.

10. I am grateful for my ability to talk faith with my husband. Today, he was able to answer some of my questions that have led me to doubt my faith.

What are you grateful for?

Gratitude List (December 5, 2020) #TToT

Hi everyone. I hope you’re well. Last week, I said I’d like to make gratitude lists a weekly habit again. Here goes. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. My mood being slightly better than it was last week. I seem to be slowly climbing out of the pit of depression and overload. I am still in crisis multiple times a week, but it’s no longer an almost-daily occurrence.

2. St. Nicholas. This is celebrated today here in the Netherlands. Usually, kids get gifts then. We no longer celebrate it in our family and my niece is probably too young to understand the concept too. We don’t really celebrate it in the care facility this year either. However, we do have lots of special St. Nicholas candies.

3. My mother-in-law. She visited me on Thursday, which was good. I really had a good time.

4. Reading. Like I said earlier, the second novel in Kenneth Oppel’s trilogy is out this week and I immediately downloaded it off Bookshare. It’s a true page-turner.

5. Playing cards. I love to play the game of mau-mau or “bullying”, as it is called here.

6. A rainbow-colored ball. I can’t remember how I got it, but it’s among my toys. I have been loving throwing it back and forth with the staff.

7. The snoezelen® equipment we got at the home now. I may have said before that there’s an empty room that the staff had turned into a snoezelen® room when the day center closed. Then we got a client temporarily placed in that room, so its sensory equipment had to be removed. That client left though and it’s unlikely we’ll get a new placement anytime soon. So our staff bought some more sensory equipment. We now have a special sensory bed with speakers installed in it. I lay on the bed yesterday and loved feeling and hearing the soothing music.

8. Getting to the psychiatrist sooner than expected. Originally, I heard me appt isn’t till sometime in January. Thankfully though, the psychiatrist had a cancellation or something, so I was fitted in for December 22. Though my mood is slowly lifting, I am still glad I can see her.

9. Essential oils once again. Okay, I’ve shared about those before, but I keep discovering new blends. Yesterday I had one that included geranium and I hated the smell. I quickly emptied the diffuser though and then tried another blend.

10. Sleep. I haven’t had nightmares in a week or so. At least not ones that haunt me during the day. That’s definitely a win!

Yay, I got to ten. I know some are repeats, but that’s okay. And at least I didn’t include a ton of food-related thankfuls.

What have you been grateful for lately?

An Okay Day

I once again want to write, but am not too inspired to write anything more than a diary entry. That’s okay though. After all, when I first created this blog, I intended it to be my personal space to share my feelings and thoughts.

Today was a relatively good day. It was better than yesterday at least. Yesterday evening, I landed in a bit of a crisis. The extra staff who had been having dinner with me in my room, said that, while I’d do stuff on the computer, she’d be back “in a while”. That confused me and my first response was to elope. Thankfully, the staff foudn me pretty soon, as it was freezing cold outside.

I talked some to her about my needs and wants re extra support and what they’d do with me. She suggested I get a daily or weekly calendar that has activities on it for me to do with the staff. She also understood that her being unclear about when she’d be back, was confusing for me.

Thankfully, today, I feel okay. I went for a walk in the morning. Then at 2PM, my mother-in-law came by. We had a cup of coffee in my room and then went for a walk. I got in over 13K steps total today, even though in the evening, it was raining so I couldn’t go for another walk.

My mother-in-law offered to buy me an interactive stuffed cat. It’s not really a toy, as it can’t be handled harshly, so isn’t suited for young children. It was specifically developed for adults with dementia. The cat makes soothing sounds, purrs and moves a little when stroked, meows, etc. It obviously has an on/off switch. I am not sure how crazy this would be, as it’s obviously not a real pet. However, I think I’d really like it. I seem to remember at day activities there was an interactive dog, but I’m not sure that one was the same sort of thing as the cat my mother-in-law is thinking of buying.

The evening was okay. I played some card games of mau-mau with the extra staff. I also helped her make coffee or tea for my fellow clients. That is, I told her which cups everyone uses and whether they drink coffee or tea. I actually enjoyed myself a little being in the communal room.

I started reading Hatch, the second book in Kenneth Oppel’s alien invasion trilogy, which came out last Tuesday. So far, I am totally rooting for the main characters. I mean, I hardly even care whether the aliens wipe out all of humankind if they leave our heroes alone. That may be a bit weird, but I at least know it isn’t real.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (November 8, 2020)

Hi all on this sunny Sunday! Okay, it’s past 9PM here and the sun has set already, but it was sunny during the day. I should really have taken a picture.

I just had my last drink for the day. However, the beauty of virtual coffee shares is that people can join in whenever they want. So grab a cup of coffee, green tea or water. I’m pretty sure there are also soft drinks in the fridge, but I rarely drink those now. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up. As usual, I am linking up with #WeekendCoffeeShare.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this whole week, the weather has been beautiful. It was a little chilly some days, but not as cold as you might expect in November. In fact, today, I even took a walk with my husband without my coat on. I did of course wear a fleece vest. It was sunny and almost warm.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I canceled my sister’s visit for this week too. The reason this time is a combination of the stricter COVID-19 management rules and my husband wanting to celebrate his birthday with me this week-end. With respect to the former, for example, my sister could be visiting with her husband and daughter, but three adults are not allowed together outside. This would mean my brother-in-law wouldn’t be able to go on walks with me and my sister. As if the risk of contracting COVID is higher outside than inside.

Also, I wouldn’t be allowed to go to my husband’s after they visited. Or maybe strictly speaking I could, but it’d be against the spirit of the lockdown. My husband felt pressured by me to let my sister and family visit, but eventually it became clear he’d really like to have me over for the week-end to celebrate his birthday. His birthday is on the 12th, by the way. So since my husband’s birthday is more important than a random visit from my family, we’re going to reschedule that sometime after the worst of the lockdown has ended.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I gave my husband an Airfryer for his birthday. He made us both thick fries in it yesterday. Even though I’m pretty sure he didn’t salt mine, or at least not as much as I’d have done, they were still delicious. My husband joked that we’d have vegan fries (duh!) but to make up for it, we would eat real hamburgers. They were great too.

If we were having coffee, lastly, I would tell you that I was in a bit of a crisis this evening again. I got majorly triggered by a staff raising her voice as she commanded me to go to my room. She had intended for me to seek the quiet of my room, because I was rapidly becoming overloaded with all that was going on with the other clients. Her wording that I’m not the only one (I’m pretty sure she didn’t say it that way, but that’s how I interpreted it) triggered me to feel that I wasn’t allowed to feel the way I did and was attention-seeking. This then quickly spiraled out of control. Thankfully in the end, I was able to talk it through with the staff and also write down my feelings. I did take a PRN lorazepam, but that’s totally okay.

What’s been going on with you lately?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (November 1, 2020)

Oh my, it’s November already! Can you believe it? I feel this year is going both really fast and really slow. How about you?

Today, I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. I’ve had three cups of coffee already today and it’s not even time for my afternoon coffee yet. Then again, I was up at seven o’clock this morning. I’m thankfully not too tired as of yet. Let’s have coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that the weather is surprisingly nice. We were supposed to get a lot of rain this week, but so far, it’s been raining only some of the time. This means I’ve been able to go out for walks everyday. I didn’t get in my minutes in active heartrate zones, because most of the time apparently I walked too slowly. I also went on the elliptical once.

If we were having coffee, I’d ramble a bit about my idea of restarting the polymer clay hobby. I did this for a bit some years ago, but never got beyond a child’s level with respect to my sculpting abilities. Then again, maybe if the day activities staff help me read tutorials, I’ll be able to progress somewhat further. I’m not yet 100% sure I’ll actually invest in yet another hobby that might turn out to lead to massive failure. Okay, I’m not a failure at soap making, but I’m not a success either.

If we were having coffee, I would moan a bit about my diet. I’m not sticking to it 100% of the time, but maybe I’m doing an okay job of it. I don’t know, since I haven’t been weighed in yet. I, however, try to remind myself that everytime I make a healthy food choice, I’m doing a good job of caring for my body.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my sister, brother-in-law and one-year-old niece were supposed to visit yesterday. However, on Friday, I had a slight cold, which wasn’t fully gone yesterday morning. I also had felt slightly out of breath Friday evening. That’s probably just stress, but I canceled the visit anyway. Today I’m feeling as well as possible. We’ve rescheduled for next week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that tomorrow marks the thirteen-year anniversary of my mental crisis. I still find the month of November hard for this reason.

I also have been struggling with the end of daylight saving time. I’m more tired than usual and find myself going to bed very early and getting up early in the morning too. My Fitbit has noticed, as it said I seem like a morning person. I’m not. That is, right now, I’m mostly hibernating, in that even though I get up early, I sleep a lot during the day. I can’t wait for spring!

What’s up with you lately?