Am I Good Enough for Jesus?

It’s the day after Christmas. Boxing day in the UK. Second Christmas in the Netherlands. I spent Christmas with my in-laws having a good time, then went to my and my husband’s house in Lobith. On our way from my in-laws to our house, my husband and I talked about faith. I noticed while talking with him that I’m still struggling with my faith. It isn’t so much that I don’t believe in God or that I, personally, don’t believe Jesus is my savior, but how can I be sure I’m saved if we’re saved by grace alone? How can anyone be sure?

Today, I decided to look up some Christian journaling prompts to get me started on my reflections on faith. The first one I came across asked us to write about our relationship with God. Is He a friend, a coach, a father or perhaps merely an acquaintance? I’d say, He’s a Father, but I’m not sure he’s the loving, caring father most children hopefully have.

It doesn’t help that I didn’t really grow up in a nurturing earthly family. I have hardly known love. Of course, I know rationally that my husband loves me, but when it comes to faith, I still sometimes believe that if he truly knew me, he’d believe I’d go to hell.

And God truly knows me. He knows I bought The Artist’s Way, which turns out to be pretty New Age’ish. He knows I used a censored swear word this afternoon, which no-one else knows because no-one was around. He knows I worried last Friday about the holiday money I usually get from my parents each year. God knows my heart, mind and soul. And I’m pretty sure that, like my earthly father, He’s going to judge me pretty harshly for it. And, whereas my earthly father could give me a beating and send me to my room for an hour or two, God could send me to hell for all of eternity.

And of course I do believe in Jesus. I admit I need him more than I need anything. But if faith doesn’t change me – and I’ve believed in Jesus for a year now -, isn’t it completely invalid? I do see a change in myself over the past year, but it’s so small I’m not sure it’s enough. Am I good enough for Jesus yet? I pray that I will be.

God, please show me Your will and help me be obedient to it. Help me let go of those things which are undesirable in Your view and to embrace those things that are desirable. Please help me move closer to You. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.

My Plans for This Christmas

Hi everyone on this rainy Thursday evening, two days before Christmas. One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week is to share your plans for this holiday season. For the first time ever, I’m not just dreading the fuss. I mean, last year, I’d just become a Christian and was kind of looking forward to the spiritual aspect of Christmas, but not really either, as I knew I still had a long walk to go in my faith. I’m about the same this year. That being said, with respect to the celebrations with family, I was still dreading those last year. This year, I’m more neutral about them, even slightly positive. Let me share my plans.

Tomorrow, we’re supposed to have day activities like normal. We had our Christmas lunch today and I got half of my Christmas hamper. The other half, my staff will bring tomorrow, as it hadn’t arrived when she left to bring the first half to me yet. The half that arrived today contained mostly treats. The other half, she said, are two silicone molds for my polymer clay. I’m really looking forward to receiving those.

Tomorrow evening, I initially thought we were going to get food delivered. Thankfully, though we entered full lockdown last week, restaurants are open for takeaway or delivery. I was not yet sure which restaurant or snack corner we would be ordering from. Then this evening I found out my staff had planned to prepare a cassrole. Not something I enjoy. I contemplated ordering delivery just for myself. Then after some texting between several staff, it was decided to change the dinner plans for Friday, Saturday and Sunday around and we’re going to have fries and chicken legs.

On Saturday at around 2PM, a ParaTransit taxi is going to arrive to take me to my in-laws. There, I, my husband and my oldest sister-in-law will have dinner. My husband teased me about the food we’d have, because I’m quite a picky eater. Really though, we’re going to have chicken roulade, which I love.

My husband is likely going to read from the Bible at dinnertime. Neither his parents nor his sister are religious, but they tolerate him reading the Bible. I loved him reading Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus’ coming, as well as the Christmas story, last year.

I may stay at my in-laws for a while after dinner and then leave for my and my husband’s house in Lobith, where we will stay for the night.

Sunday morning, which is called Second Christmas here in the Netherlands, we may watch Hour of Power together. Thinking of which, I remember now there’ll be a show on Saturday too, but I don’t know whether it’ll be in the morning or evening.

I will go back to the care facility sometime Sunday afternoon. Sunday evening, we’re going to have Chinese takeaway. This was originally planned for Saturday, but it was my favorite out of the three Christmas meals for the weekend, so I’m so happy the meal plan got shifted.

We’ll likely have more than enough treats to last us through to February, honestly. At least, I got three packages of my favorite Christmas cookies from one of my staff yesterday and another one in my Christmas hamper. That plus chocolate, winegums and Pringles. Yum, but if I’m not careful, I’m going to weigh 200 pounds by the time I’m done with them. Then again, as they say, you don’t become fat between Christmas and New Year’s but between New Year’s and Christmas. In other words, it’s snacking all year round that really leads to lasting weight gain. This being the case, I am happy this holiday season, though it is indeed part about the food, is also about faith and family.

As for my own family, both my sister and her family and my parents sent me a Christmas card. However, I haven’t been at my parents’ house in years and they didn’t invite me. If they do want to see me, I think the spring is a more appropriate time.

What are your plans for the upcoming holidays?

Mama’s Losin’ It

How I Cope With Loneliness

Today in her Sunday Poser, Sadje asks us about loneliness. She describes the experience as the feeling she gets when her family or friends can’t celebrate something important (such as the seasonal holidays) with her. This is one aspect of loneliness indeed. I feel lonely, left out even, knowing that my sister will be celebrating St. Nicholas with my parents next week and I haven’t been invited. Okay, she has a child for whom this holiday is more meaningful than it should be for me as an adult. Still, I am reminded of the last year we celebrated St. Nicholas with my family, or rather, the first year we didn’t. That was because of me: I had been admitted to the mental hospital shortly before and my parents didn’t want the hassle of having to watch me while I was on leave, so at first they suggested they celebrate the occasion without me. That year, my sister refused and the celebration didn’t go forward at all. Now that my sister has a child, there’s no way she’s going to care about whether I’ll be included or not. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’d rather have me excluded.

Loneliness, however, can take other forms too. Like I mentioned last month, loneliness comes from within a lot of the time. That’s why you can feel lonely when you’re surrounded by people. I often felt this way in the high school cafeteria.

I find that what helps me cope with loneliness is to surround myself with positive influences, both in the form of people and activities. I mean, I could dwell on my family’s rejection of me, but I do have a loving husband and loving in-laws. I also have caring staff and nice fellow clients, some of whom I consider friends.

It also helps me to engage in fulfilling hobbies, such as writing, reading and crafts. Through my blog and Facebook groups, I feel a genuine sense of connection to the outside world. Reading helps me escape my problems, including my sense of isolation. Crafts distract me and help me feel that I can be productive in a way. All of these help me overcome my sense of loneliness.

How do you deal with loneliness?

Suicidal Ideation in Childhood: Some Reflections

Earlier today, someone online asked a group of autistic women about suicidal ideation in childhood and at what age it started. It is common knowledge that depression and suicidality are near-universal among autistics. After all, we are taught, be it consciously or not, that our autistic way of expressing ourselves is unacceptable.

I remember my first autistic burnout at age five. I don’t have clear, verbal memories of the experience, but my inner five-year-old might and I do experience somatic and emotional flashbacks. The family story about the event is that I was ill with the flu. At the same time (coincidentally or not) my parents were making arrangements for me to start at the school for the visually impaired. I started in mid-May, before the end of the school year.

At the time, I wasn’t actively suicidal as far as I’m aware. I started having those thoughts when I was around age seven. I have a vague memory of telling my mother that I wanted to die sometime around that age.

Interestingly, I never made suicide attempts. Even the times I planned my “final day alive”, I never had any idea how I was going to go about actually doing it. This fact was later used to “prove” that I wasn’t serious.

I mean, when I was 21 and admitted to the psych unit, my parents came to tell the psychiatrist that I’d threatened suicide ever since I was seven-years-old, almost adding triumphantly: “See, and here she is, alive!” They said I just wanted attention.

Then again, is it somehow bad that I, deep down, didn’t really want to die? I just didn’t see any alternative. Of course I didn’t want to die by suicide. I imagine at least most people don’t really want to; instead, they want a better life. But I couldn’t get that at that time or so I thought. Does that make me a bad person? I don’t think so.

It’s so sad that, at least in my family, the red flag of long-time, severe suffering was ignored as a sign of “attention-seeking”. As if a seven-year-old even has the capacity to use suicide threats to manipulate their parents for mere attention without anything else going on with them.

Do-Re-ME: My Favorite Music

Today, I came across Leslie’s Where Bloggers Live. This month’s theme is favorite music.

I am a kid of the 1990s, so, though my parents had a record player, I mostly grew up with cassette tapes and CDs. I remember my father (who was a stay-at-home Dad until I was thirteen) would also often have the radio on in our living room. He generally listened to public radio stations, which didn’t play the latest music and generally were more talk-focused anyway.

As a child and preteen, I was clueless about pop music. I remember the odd ’80s or early ’90s Dutch song, but I had no idea what was “hot”. My parents, aside from public talk radio, listened to 1970s protest songs.

When I was eleven in 1997, my mother encouraged me to develop an interest in music in order to “fit in”. For this reason, I pretended to be into the Backstreet Boys, even though I’d never consciously listened to any of their songs. In reality, I continued to listen to children’s songs for years. In fact, when I went to summer camp in Russia with a group of other teens at age fourteen, I was made acutely aware that listening to children’s songs was definitely not appropriate for someone my age.

I got a stereo player for my twelfth birthday in 1998 and I did buy the odd CD to play on it. I was mostly into ABBA or its upbeat cover band the A-Teens (which I spelled “eighteens” for years). Once I got into mainstream high school in 1999, I occasionally bought CDs recommended by other students in the school newspaper. I still to this day love The Corrs.

I eventually started listening to commercial radio stations at around age fifteen, but I never quite developed a truly defined taste in music. I still like to listen to all kinds of music. Some days, I’m into Dutch songs, usually dialect rock (such as Normaal or Mooi Wark) or truck driving songs. Other times, I’m into Celtic folk, country (usually 1970s songs such as by Bobby Bare or Buck Owens) or southern rock. Still other times, I’m into contemporary Christian music. Sometimes, quite the opposite. I even have a “Punk etc.” playlist on Spotify with songs from the likes of Cock Sparrer. I don’t really listen to that anymore though. Occasionally, I’ll revisit an old favorite genre of mine: world music.

When my now husband and I first met, he asked me what kinds of music I liked. I replied that I liked world music. Once, several years later, I played a favorite CD of mine with Latin music on it, which I’d had in mind at the time. He was glad he hadn’t known back then that this was what I’d meant or he might not have decided to meet me again. He, by the way, was the one who introduced me to most of my current favorite genres and artists.

To Clone a Cat

One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week is an interesting but rather hypothetical one: if you could clone a favorite pet from your past, which one would you choose and why? Now I have absolutely no idea about the science behind cloning and zero interest in looking it up, but I’m assuming from the question it could be a now-deceased pet. As such, I’m assuming the real question is really about bringing back to life said animal.

I must admit here that I’m not that much of a pet lover. I’ve had cats pretty much my entire life, but I can never seem to truly tune into their needs. It could be that I’m not a cat person, but I don’t think I’m a dog person either.

The only pet I’ve had that I seemed to be somewhat attuned to, was Morse. My parents and I brought him home from the shelter when I was fifteen. He was a Norwegian forestcat crossbreed of about three to four months old when we got him.

We named him Morse after Inspector Morse from the TV series, because he immediately started investigating his surroundings when he got home with us. I remember wanting to name him Amor (Latin for “love”), because I was in grammar school. However, my father vetoed that, saying it sounded weird to call for “Amor” in the backyard.

Before we got Morse, we’d had Pluk. He was rather scared of me stepping on his tail accidentally because of not seeing him. Morse didn’t seem as scared.

Morse got sick with the cat flu right out of the shelter and always seemed to keep a weak respiratory system. He was very thin for a Norwegian forestcat crossbreed. Nonetheless, he made it to fifteen-years-old. During his last year of life, he declined both physically and cognitively, but my parents decided not to let him be put to sleep. He finally crossed the rainbow bridge on July 30, 2016. If I could revive any pet from the past, it’d certainly be Morse. I really loved his mischievous, adventurous and investigative nature.

If you could clone a favorite pet, who would it be and why?

Mama’s Losin’ It

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 14, 2021)

Hi everyone on this beautiful Saturday! The weather is much better than I’d expected yesterday that it’d be. It’s partly cloudy but warm and dry. I like it.

Today, I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare again. I just had my afternoon coffee, as seems common when I write these posts. However, I’m pretty sure there’s still some coffee left. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, firstly I’d share that I finally went to Lobith last weekend. It was good being there. As I mentioned yesterday, we got pizza (takeout). Other than that, we just chillaxed. Is that even a word?

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I texted my sister on Monday. She’d called me last week because her daughter had been referred to the orthopedic doctor for a leg length difference (her left leg is shorter than her right leg). Apparently, my niece also used her left leg less than her right. My sister wanted to know about the reasons I wear (or should wear) an AFO. I explained about the fact that I had a brain bleed and it’s from that, without mentioning cerebral palsy of course as my parents never mentioned that to me even though I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s called.

As it turns out, my niece has mild hip dysplasia and will be seen by a child orthopedic specialist in Amsterdam someday. Please all pray that the wait won’t be too long. My niece is nearly two-years-old, so it’s pretty late for corrective wear or so I’ve been told.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been doing quite well over the past week. I have mostly felt able to cope with my current situation okay. On Thursday, a fellow client was screaming for almost an hour on end. She does this every once in a while, yet for the first time I didn’t have an impulse to run away. I did get a little threatening towards the client, but the staff were able to calm me down.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I have been rather crafty of late again. I didn’t finish many projects, but I did practise polymer clay a lot. I also did make a melt and pour soap and massage oil for my friend who lives a few care homes down the road from me. It was her birthday yesterday. I came by at around 10:30AM to give her her presents and was invited to sit down in her garden for coffee and apple crumble. This was really nice.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that tomorrow, I’m going to Ikea with my one-on-one to buy some new furniture for my room. My dining/crafting table is rather wobbly on its legs, so I want a new one. I also want a new second chair for my staff. My staff currently sit on a very clunky office chair with armrests, which for this reason can’t be pushed under the table. I want one similar to my own chair. I’m pretty sure I’ll be successful at finding both a desk or table and a chair. I’m also going to look at a mini fridge, as you may remember I wanted to buy one for in my room too. I don’t intend on actually buying it at Ikea, but I want to take a look at what it’s like so that I know if I have the right picture in my mind. Then I want to order it online next month when I get some extra money with my benefits.

How have you been?

Jewelry-Making #WotW

Hi everyone. Today I’m once again joining Word of the Week. I already shared some of my experiences from the week with you all on Friday. Today, I want to focus on an important positive aspect of the week: jewelry-making. Like I said last week, I got a lot of supplies from my parents for my birthday. I also bought some new supplies later this week.

The actual jewelry-making process is still sometimes hard for me due to my being blind and having mild cerebral palsy. I am making progress though in figuring out what works for me.

First, on Wednesday, I made a bracelet for my day activities staff. She had her birthday that day so was off, but my assigned support staff from the home came to sub. I did all the threading by myself and tried to tie the knot too.

On Thursday and Friday, I was even busier making jewelry. I made my first necklace in a long time. It didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped and I don’t have a photo, but it is nice enough.

I also made a football bracelet for a fellow client. I originally wanted to make something in the colors of his favorite club, but I didn’t have red and white beads. Instead, I chose green for the grass and added a football charm. This client has his birthday next month I think, so I already decided to make him something in the club colors then.

Lastly, I enthusiastically decided to make a necklace for my niece. She is 21-months-old and I had no idea what the appropriate age for wearing jewelry is. I also added acrylic charms that I later realized she might pull off and put into her mouth.

I texted my sister and she said two to three years is the recommended age for necklaces. I thought of keeping the necklace for my niece’s birthday, but eventually decided to give it anyway when my sister and her family visited me yesterday. I’m confident my sister will be able to keep it safe until my niece is ready for it.

How would you sum up your week?

Word of the Week linky

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 2, 2021)

Hi everyone! Can you believe the first half of 2021 is over already? I certainly can’t. Today, I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I just had my afternoon soft drink. If you want one too, I bet there’s still some left in the fridge. I can also make you a Senseo coffee if you want it. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first I’d talk a little about the weather. It’s okay. Most of the past week, it’s been raining, but I still got time to go outside inbetween rainfalls. It was a bit chilly for summer early in the week. Today and over the weekend, temperatures are supposed to rise to above 20°C.

If we were having coffee, I’d also tell you that most of the pandemic restrictions were lifted last week. They however had only been lifted a few days when news got out about the delta variant of the coronavirus soon becoming dominant. Thankfully, the Netherlands has quite a high vaccination rate, so I have my hopes up we won’t enter a full lockdown come September. After all, my husband and I celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary on September 19 and we really want to finally be able to do something fun.

If we were having coffee, I would share that this week was a truly mixed bag mental health-wise. I did enjoy some activities, like jewelry-making. Last week was my 35th birthday and I got a bunch of supplies as a present. When being engaged in creative activities, I do genuinely feel some level of contentment, if not happiness.

However, there have also been times when I felt incredibly left out and hopeless. Like I said two weeks ago, the manager indicated that I cannot get more support than I’m getting now. Sometimes, I’m okay with this, but at other times, it really frustrates me.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ll finally start my topiramate this coming Sunday. The longer it takes, the less hopeful I am that it will actually help. We’ll see though.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, on Wednesday, some type of staff support person came to observe and help the staff with some situations with other clients and with me. She offered some ideas for easing transitions for me. When I’m doing okay or sort of okay, they help, but when I’m very distressed, they don’t. I’m still unsure as to how I can ease the many transitions I face during the day.

If we were having coffee, I’d update you all about my situation with the possible UTI I talked about two weeks ago. Well, it isn’t a UTI. What it is, no-one seems to know or care about. I was told to take naproxen and paracetamol and, when this week I reported that they helped some, was just told to continue taking them for another month. A month! I mean, seriously?! I feel quite frustrated about this.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that my sister and her family are visiting me and my husband in Lobith tomorrow. My husband gave me the choice between taking a ParaTransit taxi and him picking me up at 10AM. Since my sister won’t visit till 3PM, I decided to take the taxi. I still have my entire kilometer allowance, since I haven’t felt comfortable yet using the taxi due to COVID-19. My taxi should arrive here in Raalte by 12:30PM. It’s normally a little under a ninety-minute drive to Lobith, but the taxi service might be late and/or combine my ride with someone else’s. However, if I schedule my ride earlier, I won’t be able to have lunch. Fingers crossed the taxi won’t be late.

How have you been?

Birthday #WotW

Hi all on this beautiful Sunday! It’s already 8:30PM as I start typing my post. It’s my 35th birthday today and I spent most of the week stressing about it and the weekend celebrating it. For this reason, I’m choosing “Birthday” as my word of the week, even though the week is practically over already.

Early in the week, I talked over my birthday with my husband. I had already invited my parents to come over to Lobith today. They hadn’t seen the house since we’d bought it, or the inside of it at all for that matter. My parents need to drive over two hours from their home to Lobith and I’d asked them to drop me off at the care facility in Raalte on their way back. For this reason, I pretty much felt obligated to invite them over for dinner in Lobith. However, this also stressed me out, as it would mean I wouldn’t be in Raalte till like 8PM, by which time my one-on-one would’ve left.

My husband told me I could text them with a time proposal for them to arrive, like early afternoon. That way, they still had some hours to be with us and could still be dropping me off in Raalte and arrive home at a reasonable time. My father doesn’t text and my mother doesn’t drive, so I texted my mother to ask her if this was okay with both of them. It was.

Yesterday, my mother-in-law picked me up in Raalte and we drove to my in-laws’ house. It was good to be there. I in fact had only been there once since the pandemic started. Before then, and especially before I went into long-term care, I’d be at my in-laws’ at least once a week on average. I always loved walking their dog, a black lab called Bloke. My mother-in-law and I walked him again yesterday.

For dinner, we indeed had lasagne and indeed without celery. It was great! I also had a Magnum Billionaire ice cream for dessert.

I also got lovely presents. One of my sisters-in-law had been sent shopping for the largest Rituals gift box she could find. I think it’s amazing!

Today, like I said, my parents visited. I don’t have the greatest relationship with my parents. Like usual, my father kept infodumping on his interests, which he was able to relate to our house in Lobith, since he practically renovated my parents’ house on his own. I could hardly get a word in, but my husband seemed interested. I made some smalltalk with my mother.

The presents I got from my parents, were great though. I had asked them for a surprise box from my favorite beading shop, which happens to be local to them. Aside from that package, I also got another box of jewelry-making supplies they’d found at a thrift store, a turtoise soft toy and fresh cherries and strawberries.

When I returned to the care facility at about 6:15PM, I had dinner: noodles another client and staff had cooked this morning. It was good.

Overall, the day was good. So was the rest of the week for the most part. I seem to slowly be crawling out of the dark pit of emotional dysregulation I was in last week. I’m relatively calm considering the fact that my birthday is a trigger for my C-PTSD.

How was your week?

Word of the Week linky