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30 Things, 4 Years Later: Day 27

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That being said:

30 Things to Accomplish in my 30s:
#27. Visit Ireland. And Iran. And India. And Iraq. And maybe even Afghanistan. I want to go to Ireland because I’ve always been fascinated with the beauty, and I want to go to the other countries because I feel so much compassion for the women and girls who are in bondage because of religion and culture.

This illustrates why this hasn’t happened yet:
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And, here is a solution to this problem:
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(I didn’t say it was a good solution!)

A serious look at the feasibility of international travel:
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For me, it would be slower going than that because I only spend $10 or more on a meal maybe 3 times a year. I never get drinks and I don’t think I’ve ever had more than 4 meals out in any given 7-day period, unless I was traveling.

But, if I cut those 1-4 weekly meals out, I might be able to save enough for a ticket somewhere once a year. Maybe.

At any rate…. I’ve been thinking about why I listed the countries I did.

I mean…. Iran? Iraq? Afghanistan? Seriously?

When I wrote the original list, ISIS hadn’t become a thing yet.

I’m not as daring today as I was then.

My heart still breaks for the mamas and the little girls in those countries who are property, not people. My heart aches for the young boys who are brainwashed into believing that blowing themselves up is somehow a good idea. I weep for the mothers who have to watch their babies train for suicide missions.

It’s so wrong on so many levels.

So, no, I haven’t traveled. I won’t get to the Middle East any time soon. I may never go anywhere. Who knows what will happen?

Now, to commence with the eating at home thing so I can go to Canada so I can check out the Hot Springs and see Aurora Borealis.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2016 in 30 Things

 

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Broken Glass

In prayer this morning, the Lord reminded me of John 8:36, which talks about freedom. If the Son (Jesus) sets you free, you are free indeed.

Indeed. If you’re on Jesus’ team, you’re free of whatever obstacle, problem, past experience, other people’s opinions, fear — whatever stands in your way. Those things have already been absolutely shattered.

We see all those things as closed doors. But they aren’t. They are more like panes of glass that cross our paths. And because of grace, Jesus flung a giant stone labeled TRUTH at every pane of glass in our way and the past experiences, the problems, the lies we believe, our fear — all of it lies in a pile of shattered glass at our feet.

Sometimes we see something that we really want and we might lean over that pile of shattered glass and touch the dreams we treasure in our hearts.

I have always wanted to be a mommy. I’ve leaned over my pile of shattered fears and I’d pick up my friends’ babies and snuggle them and sing to them and play with them and I’d be the best second mommy to those babies I could possibly be.

I leaned over because I didn’t believe that Jesus had shattered my fears.

I’ve always wanted to be a nurse and I’m particularly interested in midwifery. I’ve leaned over my pile of shattered “I can’ts” and I’ve touched it.

But I haven’t pursued it fully because I didn’t believe that Jesus had shattered my “I can’ts.”

I’ve wanted lots of things and I’ve leaned over many piles of shattered glass to briefly touch things that I so desperately wanted but didn’t believe could ever be mine.

I wasn’t believing that Jesus had already broken the things that made it feel impossible.

In the past several months, after beginning to realize that I’m already free, I took some giant leaps, hoping and praying that I’d clear the pile of glass and avoid the cuts that seem inevitable if we land in the wrong spot. I bought a house so I’d have a safe place for sweet babies to sleep and play. I became a foster parent. I can do this. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:14) I can be a mommy and the lack of husband is only a pile of shattered glass on the road in front of me.

Those leaps are difficult. I know they are. But I want to leave you with this piece of encouragement:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

He’s given us tools to help us step over the piles of broken glass in our way. The belt of truth. The breastplate of righteousness. The gospel of peace. The shield of faith. The helmet of salvation. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

He’s broken the things that stand in our way and He’s given us the tools to move forward with courage.

My prayer for you is that you will stand firm in what He’s done and who you are because of it. My prayer for you is that the mountains you see in front of you would be transformed in your mind to what they truly are — pitiful piles of broken glass. My prayer for you is that you would know the grace and peace of Jesus as you walk your path.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Grace For Even This

A long time ago, I loved to write.

As a child and teen, I had no outlet except for the blank page, and I filled many hundreds of pages with scribblings. Letters. A story now and again. Pain. Trauma. Loneliness. Desperation. Longing.

For a period of time, every single day, I wrote
God, give me patience!
in big letters on every single page, many times on each page.
I also wrote it in small letters, backhand letters, right slant letters, drunk-like scribbles, chicken scratch, beautiful swirly letters, block letters, angry letters, desperate letters. Broken letters.

I was going through some of the most difficult days I’d ever had.

God, grant me the serenity….
Ah, serenity. I could use some of that.
To accept the things I cannot change….
To accept… everything?
Courage to change the things I can….
Is there really anything I can change?
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Is there a difference?

When I got to be about 17 years old, my life was a mess. I don’t remember much from that time, except that I delivered newspapers twice a week and I made my first attempt at writing, editing and publishing. Those things were the…. happy times.

There were dark times. Many, many dark times. Times when I was paralyzed by fear. Anxiety rolled me up into a little ball and I’d spend most of my time curled up on the floor behind my bed or just laying on my bed, thinking. Depression gripped me. The two — anxiety and depression — gathered me up in their icy fingers and pulled me behind a translucent curtain that allowed me to see only grey shadows of all the wonderful things everybody else was experiencing while the voices of desperation and panic and fear eerily whispered in my ear.

That was then.


I didn’t know how bad it could get.

As days turned to weeks and weeks into years, experience piled on top of experience. Pain upon pain. Sadness upon pain and worry and loneliness. Desperation on top of sadness and depression on top of disappointment.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
Every hope was deferred.

Tears upon tears, wounds wound with bandages that served only to keep the pain in and the outside out.

A decade turned into two.
Heart-sick and broken.
Words came no more.
What had once been delightful ideas, hopeful thoughts and beautiful pictures turned into two word sentences, repeated over and over again.

Help me.


Help me, in backhand. Help me! in curly-qs and swirly letters. Help me! in desperation, in brokenness, in pain. Help me! because there were no other words that my brain could put together.

Just.
HELP.
ME!

Hope deferred.
It makes the heart sick.
It makes the mind sick.
It makes the body sick.

I have a mental illness.

Looking at my history, it makes sense that I would.
My other grandma was crazy enough that I was scared of her.Childhood trauma often leads to mental illness of one kind or another.
And, of course, hope deferred makes the heart sick.

Five years ago, I had it all together. I worked. I paid my bills. I budgeted and paid off thousands in loans. I went to church. I was involved in ministry at church. I sang, I prayed, I served, I loved.

And then my world collapsed.
When my world collapsed, my already fragile psyche teetered one more time before one by one, the support beams came crashing down.

I was so “down” that I was down and out.
I was down in the dumps and out of commission.

But I tried. Oh, how I tried.
I did well enough that only two people suspected that something was off. One was a man I knew very briefly and the other was my best friend. The man was the first one to confront me. He told me to go get help. I saw a psychologist who referred me to a medical doctor for a prescription.

I was terrified to take it. Because demons. Because spiritual sickness. Because it was all my fault. Because addiction? Because unknowns.

The day I filled the prescription, I prayed that it would work. I took the first capsule, drifted off to sleep and the next morning, I woke up and noticed that the sun was shining and the fact that the sun was shining made me happy.

I couldn’t remember the last time something actually made me happy.

I lay in bed for several minutes with a goofy grin on my face, then I got up and went about my day like being happy and having a peaceful mind were something I did every day.

It worked for a while.

Then stress. Then desperation. Then pain.

Everything I had experienced before was magnified by 10.

Then more stress. More pain. More unknowns.
(Another magnification by 10)
Medication change, additional medication, an as needed medication added.

Every change helped — for a while. But eventually, I’d revert back to where I had been before. Many times, I’d hit an uncontrollable downward spiral.

That is where I am right now.
I had the most recent medication change in April, and by August, it isn’t working so well anymore.
True, I can at least put words together again. That’s a comfort. It means that in some ways I’m better.
But….
But- the sadness and fear linger.

I worry.

I worry that no man will ever want to love me.
Should I even entertain the idea of hoping for romance?
I worry that something will happen at work and I won’t know what to do.
Should I even be a nurse at all?
I worry that I won’t be able to pay my bills.
I should never have bought a house.
I worry that if by some fluke I get married and get pregnant, I’ll go off the deep end.
Maybe I could just give up that idea.
I worry that people will hate me because I’m scared.
Is isolation a better choice?
I worry that my car will break down, my food will make me sick, I won’t be able to afford lunch, my doctor won’t know how to help me, pastors might exploit my willing and generous spirit. I worry about the kids I love, about bird flu and cancer and the possibility of having a horrendous winter.
Oh, how I worry.

This is my life. This is what mental illness is like. It’s hard. It’s awful. It’s terrifying.

The past few days, I’ve been thinking specifically about romance and babies and laughter and happiness.
It all seems so elusive to me.
It’s really not fair to ask a man to love me. Not with all the cray-cray in my brain.
It’s not fair to ask him to choose between living with an unstable and moody woman for 9-10 months while she gestates a baby or giving up the possibility of having biological children. How would you even make that decision?
It wouldn’t be fair to the child if I were to take medication while pregnant — because birth defects.

Who would even want to love somebody like that????

I stewed over this for a couple of days. I thought about possibilities for alternative treatments. I thought about lots of things. I studied gene mutations to see if maybe that could be “it.”
Because I want to be better.
Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have a peaceful mind!

After work today, I sat down to read a few scriptures before going on to the next task. I thought about all the things I’ve looked into and all the problems and issues I have and how happiness is so far out of my league. I thought about a lot of things.

And then I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me….
But you try.
I do.
You know what it is and you are learning what your triggers are.
I hope so!
You are always trying to find answers and you’re willing to do whatever it talks to get better.
Yes! I don’t want to be another version of the other grandma!
You aren’t simply giving in to it like so many others do.
Gosh, I hope not!
It’s ok.
Oh, how I hope so!
Grace covers even this.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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A Year of Ambiguity

(And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming….)

Toward the end of July of the year I finished home school, I found a job in a bakery at a grocery store. It was the first in a long string of food-related jobs that I’ve had. And I’ve never liked working with food. Yuck.

I was a terrible employee. Not because I had a bad work ethic or was a crabby, mean person. It was just that I was clueless in so many ways and that made working with me not so fun for some people and way too much fun for other people.

I thought I had to have permission to do anything. For some people, this manifests as slacking off and not doing anything. I’m not that type of person, so I was constantly pestering my boss, asking what I was supposed to do next, and should I do this or that? After a few weeks of this, my boss said, “You don’t need permission to do your job. If you see something that needs to be done, do it.” Well dang…. Who knew pleasing the boss could be that simple?

The consequences of that new rule was that sometimes I would start doing something and the boss would ask me to do something else instead. And every time I was redirected, I thought she was mad at me and I’d get so stressed out I almost couldn’t function.

My cluelessness provided a lot of entertainment for my male coworkers. They would make sexual jokes about me and since I was clueless about the fact that their comments were sexual in nature and the fact that this was harassment, they kept on making jokes.

After I’d worked there a few months, my boss told me that they had hired another person who would be working the same shift as me, and it was going to be my job to train her. My response to this announcement was “Are you sure about that? I don’t even know what I’m doing. How am I supposed to train somebody when I don’t know what I’m doing?” My boss gave me a funny look and said, “You’re kidding, right? You learned this job faster than anybody I’ve ever trained.”

My response to this was, “For real?”

I had been convinced I was an imbecile. This was the first time anybody had ever given me a reason to rethink that conclusion.

I began to train my coworker.

My new coworker was a middle-aged disabled woman that I’ll call Ginny. (Name changed.) Ginny had been brain damaged at birth, had never graduated from high school or learned to drive a car and sometimes she couldn’t remember how to count to 24. It was a challenge, but I loved every minute of it. We would finish our work and then we would role play with me being the customer and Ginny taking my pretend cake orders.

I told my coworker bits and pieces about myself as the weeks went by, and after a while, Ginny started to ask questions. One of the observations she made to me on several occasions was, “You’re so smart…. If I were as smart as you, I’d get my GED. Then I’d take Driver’s Ed and get my driver’s license. And after that, I’d go to college.”

Ginny was convinced that she was perfectly capable of doing all those things — even though she sometimes got lost on her way to 24 as she was counting cookies. Day after day, I’d hear, “I’m going to get my GED. I’m going to take Driver’s Ed. I’m going to college….”

* * * * *

Meanwhile, back at my Tuesday morning church gig….

I had been working with home school kids on Tuesday mornings, but when the new school year started, somebody decided not to do the home school kid tutor thing anymore, so they asked if I preferred to work with the toddler group or the baby group instead.

I asked to be placed in the baby room. Babies are the best.

I began to work with a mom-type woman that I’ll call Hannah. (Name changed.) She had lots of experience being mom to several kids and foster mom to (literally) dozens of others.

In the beginning, I didn’t say much. I changed diapers and soothed babies. I rocked babies to sleep and played peek-a-boo. But I never said anything to the other people I was working with unless it pertained to the babies.

(I want to take a moment to say that this was the most rewarding and fun job I’ve ever had in my life. There’s nothing quite like being the center of the universe for 6 squealing, squalling, rambunctious little people who all want your attention at the same time, but they all want you to be doing something different. It’s quite a challenge — but you always know if you’re doing a good job or not, and if you aren’t, you have infinite re-dos. It’s awesome. I love hanging out with little people.)

After I’d worked there for about 4 months, Hannah started asking questions about my background. I don’t remember a lot about the conversation, but I imagine my responses were probably one or two words. I was painfully shy. Somehow, the conversation turned to my plans for the future.

I didn’t have plans for my future. I was told my plans for my future were that I was going to get married, have babies and then home school those babies and live happily ever after as a stay-at-home mom and wife. What no one (absolutely no one) knew was that I had been questioning the plausibility of that plan since I was 3 years old. I was convinced that even though this was the “plan” for my life, there was no way this was going to happen. I was so convinced that one time when I was in the midst of one of those parent/kid interactions where the parent says, “When you have kids….” my response was, “I’m not going to have any kids.” And I was completely convinced that this was the gospel truth.)

Of course, I didn’t explain all that to Hannah. I just said, “I don’t know.”

Hannah and I went back to tending babies.

After a while, Hannah said, “I have an assignment for you.” She told me that she wanted me to think about what I would like to do with my life, and the next Tuesday we would talk about it. She said she wanted to know what kind of job would make me just as happy as I could possibly be.

This kind of thinking was completely new to me. Thinking in terms of possibilities and thinking about the possibility of doing and being something other than what I was told to do and be was a little beyond my comprehension. But I thought back to when I was about 3 years old when I had a strange fascination with nurses and everything medical. Sometime in the seven-day period between shifts with Hannah, I decided that I wanted to work in the medical field and that I was specifically interested in becoming a nurse-midwife.

It only took me 7 days to come up with that cockamamie scheme. Once someone told me it was ok to dream, I began to dream big.

I told Hannah what I wanted to do and she told me exactly what I needed to do to get there. I hadn’t officially graduated from high school. When I told Hannah this, she asked why. I said, “Because I’m stupid. I’ll fail the GED test.”

* * * * *

Throughout the next few months, my conversations with Ginny and Hannah centered on the importance of graduating from high school. They both worked very hard to show me that I was smarter than I thought. But I was scared. Very, very scared. I had always tested well above my publicly and privately educated peers, but somehow, I was convinced that somewhere between 8th and 12th grade, I had lost everything I’d ever known.

Hannah must have been praying about this. Finally, toward the end of April, I decided to bite the bullet and get it over with. (Knowing myself like I do, I can assure you that this never would have happened without fervent prayer.) The worst I could do is fail, and if I fail, I would have still won, because at least I wouldn’t be disappointed about it. (I know — strange way to look at it, but that was the way my brain worked.) I reserved my spot to take the GED test in early May.

Back then, you took 5 different tests during the course of one full day and then you would go home and wait for 2-3 weeks for your results. I don’t remember what my thoughts were as I was taking the test, but when I was done, I was sure I had completely bombed the whole thing.

Fortunately for me, I went to work every day and Ginny and Hannah reminded me of it constantly. They wanted to know everything, and they weren’t going to let me get by without letting them know if I had graduated or not.

* * * * *

I graduated, alright, much to my astonishment.

I walked to the testing site and I told the receptionist my name and asked if I had passed or not. She found my file, looked in it and smiled at me and told me I had. That was the first big shock of the day. I waited while she copied the information for me. She handed it to me and said, “Congratulations.” I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to look at my scores.

When I opened the envelope, my first thought was, “there has to be a mistake.” I asked if she was sure these were mine. She said she was sure.

I had somehow managed to score higher than 88-98% of people who had taken the test in 4 out of 5 subjects. How was this even possible?

Was it possible that I might be smart after all?

* * * * *

The first thing I did was run to work to show Ginny. I think we were both crying all over the place as we examined the sheet with my test scores scribbled on it. Ginny gave me a huge hug and said, “If I was as smart as you, I’d go to college.”

“I am.” I said.

The decision was made. I was going to college.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2013 in My Story

 

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And Then There Were Two

Before there was Me: Part 5

My second brother, Andrew was born nearly two years after Jonathan.

Today, I’d say my favorite part about Andy is that he’s daddy to a special little 2-year old girl and a precious 3-week old baby girl. And of course, husband to a wonderful lady.

Another thing I love about him is that he knows everything there is to know about air conditioners. This came in very handy about a month ago when I was in the market for one.

But that is today.

Andy is a typical “middle child.” I could go into a lot of family dynamics about how this works, but I’ll spare you. It’s true that middle children seek outside relationships more than oldest or youngest children because they’re constantly in the shadow of the doted-on oldest and the doted-on baby of the family. This was true of Andy. He has always been the social butterfly of the family.

In a lot of ways, Andy is an initiator. He was the first one to get a paper route. The first one to get a real job. The first one to pursue a romantic relationship (not a courtship!). The first one to permanently leave home. The first one to graduate from college. The first one to get married. The first one to have a baby.

My brother has a lot going for him.

But it came with a price.

He had to choose to live his life rather than the life that was chosen for him. That takes a great deal of strength; a great deal of conviction; a great deal of courage. Making that choice was tough. But once he made the choice, he never wavered.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2012 in My Story

 

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On This Day in History

On this day in history in 1969 the Woodstock Music Festival opened in Bethel, New York.

And, on this date in history in 2012, this girl took a not-to-terribly exciting class on how to diffuse and deescalate physical and verbal crises. (Just wanted to throw that out there….)

And, on this date in 1912, according to Google.com, Julia Child was born.

And also, on this day in history, my mum and dad welcomed their first baby — a tiny little boy — into the world.

Jonathan was tiny because he was born several weeks ahead of schedule.

Last week, my mom and I were examining the newest baby in the family, who had been born 2.5 weeks before her due date. I pointed out the soft fuzz on her ears and my mom told me that this is normal for babies that make their appearance before they’re fully cooked. (Ok, so I’m employing poetic license there — she didn’t say “fully cooked.”) She also told me that next time I look at my brother’s newborn pictures, I’ll be able to see an example of what it looks like for a baby that was born even earlier.

I don’t know anything of interest that happened in Jonathan’s babyhood, but I can tell you that he turned out to be a lot of things:

  • A “first-born child” with all the characteristics of a typical first-born: very conscientious and independent.
  • He is very intelligent. He’s probably read more books than I have — and I’ve read a lot!! He also began to learn Greek in high school, something that none of the rest of us even attempted. He also got the short end of the stick — because he was the oldest — in that he had to try a bunch of different “extra” curriculum that got ditched before the rest of us got a chance to use them. (One year, he did consumer math in addition the the regular math he had. That sort of thing.)
  • It’s appropriate that he was born on Julia Child’s birthday. Jonathan was the bread-baker in the family. He did an awesome job at it!
  • He was the quiet one of the family and is (to this day) the most laid back of any of us.
  • Jonathan is probably the most generous person I know.

Jonathan is the one that has truly figured out what it means to be a big brother. He teases. He does everything he can to get a reaction out of me.

But if anyone else would dare to try to do the same thing to me, he’d beat the crap out of them.

So, if you know my brother, give him a call and wish him a happy birthday. Cuz he’s awesome like that.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in My Story

 

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