Saturday, December 24, 2016

Letter to those who have had suicidal thoughts

I'm proud of you.  We're proud of you.  You feel weak, but in fact you are brave and incredibly strong. It feels like weakness when you struggle even to breathe, but the fact that you are still fighting shows your strength.  I know it is so so hard.  Sometimes it is too hard, but you're still here and so are we.
And to all of you who have left us this year: we ache for you, for what you went through. We miss you and we won't forget you.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Party

NOTE: I wrote this a week ago and didn't publish it right away.

I have just spent a wonderful evening with a fun group of women.   A few months ago I hadn’t met most of them.  They included me, and I am glad.
We laughed and ate and played games.  We talked babies (there were 3 of them present, and several on the way) and potty training and cooking. 
It was wonderful to laugh and have fun like that.  I was so tired beforehand, so drained from 3 days in a row of listening to loud kids and answering numerous questions and just trying to function on not enough sunlight.  But I was determined to go to this Christmas party – I’d been invited and included.  The women seemed very nice and I wanted to spend time with them and get to know the people in our new church.  I went, and I am so glad I did.  The tiredness seemed to melt away in all the laughter.  Sometimes happiness is contagious. 

So tonight I am uplifted and grateful.  And tired.  Goodnight! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It's the Shortest Day of the Year

I feel a little bit like things are slipping.  I’m trying to keep a grip on things but it’s either fading or slipping away.  There are plenty of hours to get everything done, just not enough mental or physical energy.  This would be an awful feeling except for one thing: it is the shortest day of the year!  Soon the days will start getting longer!!
I have been reading a LOT of books since my last “What I’ve Been Reading Lately” post.  Right after we moved in September I got a library card so I’ve been discovering new books in different genres.  We don’t have internet at home, so that gives me more time to read.
Fun Books:
Vinyl Café Diaries by Stuart MacLean
The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery
The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by ___
The MacDonald Hall series by Gordon Korman
Schooled, also by Gordon Korman
More Serious Fiction:
Open Secrets and Runaway, both by Alice Munro
The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth
Child and Youth Work Related Memoirs:
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
The Boy No One Loved by Casey Watson
Deliver Me From Evil by Alloma Gilbert
Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
Currently Reading:
The Contemporary Catechism of the Teachings of the Catholic Church by ____
Kids are Worth It! by Barbara Coloroso
I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris
Federal Husband by Douglas Wilson
I’ll only comment on a few since it’s a long list.  I enjoyed The Secrets of Midwives because it reads like a mystery/crime novel but without the murder.  I am drawn to that genre but always end up with nightmares from the violence described, so this was a nice compromise.  I would consider it an 18+ novel because of some of the content.
The child and youth work related memoirs were eye-opening and horrifying.   They are books I would tell you to read “if you have to”. By that I mean read them if you are interested in understanding or helping people who have been abused or have experienced trauma.  If you are looking for an interesting new book, these aren’t for you.  But if you think the Children’s Aid Society or Child Protective Services are unnecessary, READ THESE. 
Vinyl Café Diaries is so much fun.  I took the book camping in October and ended up reading some of the stories out loud to Michael.  I couldn’t tell him what was funny without retelling the whole story, and Stuart MacLean’s words are just so much better than mine!
I just finished Jesus Feminist.  I am still processing it, so I don’t have much to say except this: while Sarah Bessey presents a lot of ideas that are foreign to my upbringing and church background, she does it in a gracious and thought-provoking way.   She isn’t an angry feminist at all – she is a woman committed to following Jesus and caring about people.
Wishing you all a good shortest day of the year.  Here’s to all of us who have made. it. by God’s grace.  Things are looking up.  We got this.  Here’s to sunshine and later sunsets!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Research Project Announcement

As long as Michael and I have been married, we’ve had this ongoing discussion around gender roles, feminism, marriage, and the Bible.  There are so many voices out there, so many opinions on this rather wide and controversial topic.  There are some things we have definitely agreed on, like any extreme is probably not right and your ideology has to work in the real world.  There are also many areas in which we don’t agree 100% with the ideas we were raised with.  The concern now is, are we starting to believe what sounds good to us?  Or are we genuinely finding the truth?  I know that the Christian life is not supposed to be easy.  It is about self-denial and learning to be holy.  I suspect that some of the ideas I like are not in line with the Bible, because I know that as a human it is easier to follow what feels good than what is right. 
For a bit of background, my husband and I were both homeschooled.  We grew up in a fairly conservative church community where it was sort of taken for granted that the husband is the head of the family, that wives are to submit to their husbands, and that children are to obey their parents.  This was definitely not Christian Patriarchy.  However, through the magazines, blogs, and books I read as a child and as a teen, I was exposed to the ideas of the patriarchy movement and was in some ways drawn to it.  By nature I see the world in a black and white way, so the clearly laid out rules and apparent possibility of achieving perfection really appealed to me.  As I became an adult, however, things changed.  For one thing several leaders of the movement have been exposed for sexual misconduct.  For another, I am an independent person who doesn’t like to be told what to do, and for another, I started going to school for child and youth work and realized that patriarchy’s idea of keeping our families pure and unaffected by the world leaves no room for caring for the hurt and broken in society. 
I know patriarchy and complementarianism aren’t the same thing, but I also have found that a lot of people who come out of patriarchy also reject complementarianism.  It’s hard not to be affected by these ideas.  I’ve also always believed or at least absorbed the idea that feminism is a bad thing, that it is destroying families (and thus destroying society) and that it is responsible for the deaths of millions of babies through abortion.  This may be true, but at the same time isn’t feminism responsible for my ability to vote?  And wouldn’t feminism be a good thing for women in countries where in the judicial system a woman's testimony is only worth half of a man’s?
In light of all this, I have embarked on a research project investigating these topics.  This is the purpose statement I am starting out with:
“The purpose of this research paper is to examine the topics of gender roles, the place of women, family structure, etc., including subtopics like modesty, child raising/training, feminism, complementarianism,  egalitarianism, patriarchy, the patriarchal evangelical homeschool movement, dating, courting and so on, in order to form a well-grounded philosophy for my own life and family.  I take as absolute authority the word of God.  Beyond that I hope to examine many sources, taking the good and leaving the bad.”
In the last week or so, I have fallen down a massive rabbit hole of reading blogs written either by people who have left patriarchy or left Christianity all together, or who are stay-at-home daughters or wives.  The problem is remembering to take notes and keep track of sources…

I have a big pile of books I plan to use as well as blogs and websites to look into.  I am also open to suggestions.   In fact, I strongly desire suggestions.  Give me your suggestions!  I’d also like your opinions, provided they are stated respectfully and without the use of profanity. 

*note.  this research project is being undertaken as a hobby/ side interest, not a work project.  It may take me a long time to finish it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Fitness Update

A few months ago I wrote that I was reading books about healthy food to glean tips to use in my life.  Since then I have also read some books about fitness and exercising.  I’ve come up with some goals:
-          Exercise at least twice a week, and do a ten minute stretch on a couple of the in-between days.
-          Eat vegetables twice a day
-          Try to eat bread products at only one meal per day
I can’t say I’m succeeding at any of those.  I’ve eaten pizza for supper twice in the last three days.  I went to the gym yesterday and did a small workout at home today, but they were the first in two and a half weeks.  The veggie goal is my most successful.  I like veggies – they taste good and they are easy to pack in my lunch or chop up for supper.  Michael has also gotten into the habit of eating more vegetables, so if I don’t get them out, he does.  And as for bread products… most days I eat them at two meals.  Occasionally I eat them at three.  It is rare that I only eat them at one meal.  I like eating grains because they are filling, and breads are the easiest to grab.  I’ve been trying to eat quinoa for lunch on a regular basis and to have rice for supper.  This has met with less than moderate success.
A question I don’t often face is “Why should I care about my fitness and nutrition?”  Common answers I read or hear from people through blogs, Instagram, podcasts, etc. are “So I will live longer” “So that if something bad happens like a cancer diagnosis, my body will be at its best to fight it” “To keep myself well and able to live to my full potential.” 
 I don’t like answering the question about why I should work out and eat well.  My depression says, “I don’t want to live longer.” And my anxiety chimes in, “Everyone has to die sometime, so isn’t it like thwarting God’s will to try to beat cancer or prevent heart disease?”  Then I start wondering if people who work out for those reasons will be in denial when their time comes to die.  My mind wants to tell me that if you have any will or reason to live your death will be horrible and hated even if it is at a ripe old age; even if you know you are going to be with your Saviour.

I know that all of that is ridiculous.  Having a will to live is great!  Wanting to prevent heart disease is wise!  And isn’t living well and fully one of the best ways to prepare to die?  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November and Seasonal Affective Disorder

November is wearing me down.  It is my least favourite month of the year because of the short grey days.  Each day is imperceptibly shorter than the one before until the cumulative affect suddenly catches up to me.  It wouldn’t be so bad if it was sunny out, but November tends to be cloudy and dreary.  Even in summer I lack energy on cloudy days, so now I am really getting low on energy.  No matter how much sleep I get or how much coffee I drink, that grey fog of tiredness never leaves my head.
Thankfully, I am still able to function.  I am doing way better than last November.  I am working 25-30 hours a week and still managing to get things done at home.  It helps that my husband is in school right now so he is home more than he was when he was working full time.  Between him being home more and me being home less, the dark days aren’t long and lonely this November.
December is just around the corner.  December means pretty coloured lights, cheerful parties and get-togethers, extra church services, candy canes, and hot chocolate.  Even though it is probably the darkest month of the year, I prefer December over November because of all the Christmas events.  Whatever your theological or philosophical views about Christmas, I am thankful for it because it is like the light at the end of the tunnel for me.  It’s like a reward at the end of the shortening of the days, and after Christmas the days start getting longer again.
So what am I doing to cope?  Since I’ve been aware of this pattern of low energy in winter for about three years now, I have perspective on it.  I know that in a couple of months, my energy will start to pick up again, the Lord willing.  I’m kind of settling into hibernation mode, conserving my energy for things that need to be done, like working, housework, going to church, etc.  I’m not bothering to read deep books, research interesting topics, or tackle jobs like decluttering or deep cleaning.  In past years I have felt guilt for this and was afraid there was no point to life.  It felt like the greyness would last forever.  The perspective I’ve gained from going through this cycle multiple times is allowing me to cut myself some slack. Thankfully. 

As my sister pointed out the other day, it is now less than a month until the shortest day of the year.  We can do this. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Productivity Ramblings

This post has been running through my head for a while, and it has had many potential titles.  I’ve thought of calling it “Saying Yes and Saying No”, “Creativity”, “Getting Stuff Done”, etc.  I’ve settled on “Productivity.”
I’ve been listening to a podcast called Beyond the To-Do List.  The host, Erik Fisher, interviews different people about their productivity strategies and practices. This has got me thinking about how I can be more productive.
There are two apps on my phone that I started using.  One is the calendar.  I always mean to use a calendar, either the one that hangs on the kitchen wall or one that I’ve drawn out on lined paper in my binder. Neither one lasts for long, but without it I start to feel a bit panicky as I feel like I’m going to forget an important event or appointment.  Last week I started using the calendar on my phone, which is great because it is almost always with me and when I open my phone I can immediately see the events of the next few days.
The other app is Keep.  I don’t know where it is from because it was on my phone when I bought it from my dad.  It is a note-taking app.  When I got this phone, I thought there was no note-taking app on it because the Keep icon has a light bulb on it so I thought it was a flashlight app.  However, my dad showed me that it was a note-taking app.  It’s actually really cool.  You can write notes or make lists.  The lists have check boxes which is fun.  I love being able to check off the items.  There is also the option of adding labels to the notes and lists which is really handy for organizing.
I’ve also been streamlining how I do things.  I’m trying the uniform system to minimize time trying to decide what to wear.  My current “uniform” is jeans and a t-shirt with a hoodie or cardigan.  At work I wear a t-shirt and jeans or sometimes shorts, while at home I wear jeans and a t-shirt with warm socks and a thick sweater.
The main thing I find helps with productivity is being purposeful/focused in what I do.  I feel much more productive if I do things like going on Facebook or reading a book after I DECIDE to do them rather than doing them because I FEEL like doing them instead of doing something else that I have DECIDED to do.

I’d love to hear your productivity strategies! (Or podcast suggestions.  I’ve discovered a love for podcasts, especially investigative or documentary style podcasts.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

One Year

Today it's been a year since I ended up in Emerge in the middle of a mental breakdown.
A year ago I was afraid to be around people and afraid to be alone.
A year ago I couldn't handle reading bad news stories.
A year ago I was afraid to go for walks alone.
A year ago I was afraid of turning on the lights at night in case someone would see me from outside and shoot me.
A year ago I was afraid of my own hands.  I was afraid of myself and what I might be capable of.
A year ago I knew I had depression and anxiety, but I didn't realize how much they had affected my thinking and changed my behaviour.  I didn't realize I could relax and spin around in circles in my own house without being a target in someone's gun scope.  I didn't even realize that I was rigidly tensing up and walking in certain ways for fear of my life.
A year ago I felt (not thought, just felt) like if I wasn't a perfect wife and housekeeper all the time, my husband would hate me and want to separate.
That Sunday evening when I couldn't stop crying and I was so, so afraid, I felt the love of God so strongly.  There in the ER He answered my prayer that "Please could there not be a long wait."  When we arrived there were not many people in the waiting room.  The nurses were so caring and compassionate.  The meds they gave me made me feel so much better.  In the nurses compassion and the effectiveness of the medication I recognized God's care for me.  He hadn't left me in the dark terror of my head and heart.
Through the days that followed I continued to feel God's love in the support of my family.  First when my husband didn't mind me waking him up in the middle of the night when I was too scared to be awake alone. Then when he took me to the ER and was so supportive.  Then in the next few weeks as he worked his normal long hours and then came home and made supper or cleaned or did whatever needed to be done.  Also when my mom came and visited and brought candles and books.
I felt God's care through the Christian counselor I saw.  She listened to me and helped me see that some of my thoughts were ones I didn't need to listen to or believe.  She helped me see the boundaries between myself and the rest of the world and between myself and my illness.
Today, I am doing so much better.
Today, I am on meds that help me to function.
Today, I know that I am not a threat to myself or the human race.
Today, I know that if I am feeling or thinking badly, I can get help.
Today, I know that bad days happen.  I know that it is ok to not get everything done.
Today I know that I can walk down the street or curl up on our living room couch without being guaranteed to become a victim of crime.
Today I am learning to fully appreciate the good days, because I know a bad day is just around the corner, but I am not going to let it ruin the good days.
Today I remind myself that while life often seems hard and pointless, it has a purpose.  If I can't see the purpose, that's ok.  God knows what it is.  I just need to live today.
I know that this better health might not last forever.  I know that someday I might again have to quit work and spend my days taking naps and trying to breathe.  But that's ok.
I also know that one day all of this burden will be behind me.  One day everything will be light and joy.  One day there won't be anything to be afraid of or even cautious about.  One day I shall be with the God who has shown me so much love and care.  No matter how low I go in this life, He who sent His Son to die for me so I might live with Him is able and willing to also care for me so that I can live with Him.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

On Anxiety

*Note: I wrote this a week or two ago. I am talking here about the medication I take occasionally for panic attacks. It makes me really sleepy which is why I don't like to take it. I am not talking here about the meds I take on a daily basis - they are even more necessary but they don't make me sleepy so I don't mind taking them.
I don't like to be drugged, but sometimes it is better than not. Anxiety sucks. Anxiety tells me when I loose my yarn needle that I am worthless, that if my husband has to help me find it he should be mad and kill me. Anxiety tells me that anything good I do for anyone will make them resent me. Anxiety tells me that doing my job well will get me fired because my bosses will hate me for doing something they wanted to do. It tells me if I don't do my job well then they will be displeased with me and grumble about me behind my back, but at least I would deserve that.
Anxiety makes me tense up till the muscles in my back ache. It makes me cough loud, hacking coughs.
Sometimes I try to beat the anxiety by taking care of myself, doing things like eating healthy food and exercising. Sometimes it works. Sometimes the veggies and fruit go bad in the fridge. Then the anxiety makes me avoid looking into the fridge because I feel so guilty throwing it out. Then it starts to rot and I don't want to look in the fridge because I am embarrassed that I am such a horrible person that I could let anything in my house get like that.
I have a jar of some expensive powder that's supposed to be a heavy metal detox thing but it tastes bad and I didn't find a way to make it taste ok. Now I wish I never bought it.
I feel guilty every time I go grocery shopping because I hate to spend money and I know that there is food in the cupboard. My common sense tells me that it is fine to buy milk and eggs and produce every week, that I can't live on dry pasta and onions and salad dressing and lard. But anxiety tells me not to go to the store even for necessary things because if I spend money I am a bad person because there are so many people suffering who need and deserve it more.
So yes, sometimes taking the drugs is worth it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Our Home

Our house is half packed up.  We are preparing for a new adventure.
This old house, with its wide floorboards and high baseboards, is my dream house.  It is sociable, comforting, forgiving. It is a house that is used to being a house; it is content with its duty of sheltering people.  It has heard secrets, seen sorrow and joy, but it does not tell. It has encompassed many people before us and it will encompass many people after us.  I like the thought that this place is not "ours"; it is merely a resting place on the path of our life.  Our time here is coming to a close.  We have added stories and character to this house's legacy.  It is time for us to move on and others to come.  I am glad.  This place is a people place.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Managing Change

We are moving.  In 11 days. I don't like change.  I like learning new things and exploring new places, but ultimately I like to come back to the familiar things again.
A lot of things are going to change next week: new town, new church, new routine, new home.  However, I keep reminding myself that there are a lot of things that will stay the same: same furniture, same food off the same plates, same blankets to pull out of the closet and curl up on the couch with.  Keeping this mindset has helped me not to become overwhelmed by the big life change we are facing.
Knowing that I don't deal with change well is knowledge that is giving me power.  I know that I am going to have negative feelings about moving, not because it is a bad thing to do, but because I need time to adjust.  Taking time to adjust isn't wrong, it just is.  Knowing this helps me to accept my anxious feelings for what they are and not take them as signs that I should stay in my comfort zone at any cost to myself or others. I also know that there are things I can do in order to manage.  Some of the things I do in order to manage change are:
Have a crochet project on the go.  Normally I like to do quick projects that will be finished within a day or two, but right now I am working on an afghan.  This is giving me continuity day to day even though the house is looking more and more packed up.
Read a book.
Listen to music that I know I can still listen to after we move.  This will give an element of familiarity to our new home right away.
Use the same dish soap and laundry soap.  I am sensitive to smells so this is another area where I can establish continuity.
Carry a familiar object.  You'll laugh at me for this, but when my sisters and I stayed at a hotel for a girls weekend last month, I brought my teddy bear.  Having that familiar softness to hold onto as I was falling asleep helped SO much.  It tied that night in a strange place to all the other nights in my life.  (And a teddy bear is easier to carry than a pillow.)
Most of all, I know that God will never change.  All the other things can change, no matter how I plan or set things up.  But God won't.  Because of this, I am confident that it doesn't matter where we go or what happens, we won't be suddenly hanging in limbo or totally alone in the world. God always is, and He is always in control.  This is what gives me courage to face change.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Operation Eat More Vegetables

In my quest for healthy eating, I have been on a "lower sugar intake" mission for the last year or so.  This has involved adjusting my muffin recipes, training myself to like coffee with just cream, and buying less sweets.  I am pretty much satisfied with where we are at with sugar now, so it's on to the next thing!

I like vegetables but I don't like the work involved, especially when I am hungry and looking for a quick snack to grab.   Here are some of my solutions to that problem so far:
-buy peppers, spinach, etc on sale; cut them up and freeze them to throw in soup, chili, or spaghetti sauce.
-buy mini cucumbers that can be eaten whole; these also make a great option for packed lunches.
-buy baby carrots.
-buy radishes; I love radishes and apparently they have a high nutrient content.
-buy lots of veggies and few snack foods like chips and crackers so we are forced to eat veggies.

 What are your veggie-eating strategies?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

My Hope Bracelet

Let me tell you the story of my hope bracelet.

Every couple of weeks I have a couple of days when my anxiety, or my depression, or both, hit hard.  This week it was depression by itself.  I felt like there was a dark black blank wall about 6 inches in front of my face.  Everywhere I went, this wall was between me and the world. The wall was blank, but it spoke to me.  It told me, "Life is pointless." "You're a failure at being a human being." (Stupid depression, that's impossible unless all the DNA in every cell in my body changes at once, and that ain't happening!) "Your husband would be better off without you." "Nothing is worth doing." 

The other night, I was laying in bed feeling this way.  Feeling sad.  When I feel sad, it feels like there is a big, hollow, sore spot in my chest.  Along with that, my left wrist throbs.  All my life I have felt my sadness in my left wrist.  I was laying there thinking all these negative thoughts, and thinking that it makes sense why some people cut their wrists.  Maybe they feel the throbbing too.  Maybe cutting helps.

Then, almost suddenly, I remembered something.  I remembered that Jesus Christ died on the cross so I can have life.  If He did that for me, then my life is worth living, and what's more, I am worth living that life.  I thought, "I need a visible reminder of that."

I have these sparkly purple beads I bought a couple of weeks ago.  I wanted to try crocheting with them, but hadn't thought of what to make yet.  I decided to make myself a cuff bracelet with a beaded cross on it.  Now, whenever I feel sad, I have the visible sign of the cross right there, covering the sad place. 

  My photography skills are not as good as these make them look.  I do know how to use Picasa though. :)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Introverts Date Night Ideas

I was recently inspired by Bailey's post, Every Summer Festival, Ever to write a post on date ideas for introverts.  My husband and I are both introverts.  Here are some of the things we enjoy doing together:

1. Go out for coffee.  There is a large grocery store close to us that sells THE BEST COFFEE EVER in their "ready made foods" section.  We go there occasionally.  If you go there between 8 and 9 pm there are almost no people in the seating section. It is a great place to sit and look out the window.

2. Go for a hike or a walk.  This is great if you enjoy nature (which we do).  You can stop for ice cream first or pack a thermos of hot chocolate to share.

3. Sit on the couch and play endless rounds of the card game Golf or get really competitive over Carcassonne

4. Go to bed early just to hang out. (Not to be intimate [you should be intimate, but that isn't the point of this date idea.])  Play 20 Questions or Truth or Dare, have a pillow fight, tease each other, ask each other about funny/sad/embarrassing childhood memories - you name it.  I always found growing up that the best "talking time" was in bed, where there is nothing else to do and no distractions.  There is something about being tired and laying in bed that seems to loosen inhibitions and make people more talkative. :)

5. Do a puzzle together.

6. Get a couple of puzzle books.  You can race each other to see who can finish their book first.  Our race has been going on for months.  We ripped out the answer sections and stuck them in the closet first, though.  Occasionally we will pick one particular page and race to see who can finish a Sudoku or cryptogram first.

7. Read a book together.  Each week, each of you should read one chapter, and then set aside an evening to go over it together.  This can be a Bible study book to deepen your faith, a marriage/relationship book, or a book on a topic you both are interested in.  To be honest, we haven't done this since we got married, but it still sounds like a good idea to me.

Being introverted means you probably won't be having "Instagram" worthy dates, but that doesn't mean they can't be fun or significant to the two of you!  And after all, that's what matters, isn't it?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What I have been Reading Lately

I usually have a bunch of books on the go, and it takes me a while to get through any of them.  I don't tend to spend a lot of time reading, but I still value reading and want to do more of it.  Here is some of what I have been reading lately:

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
Food Rules, also by Michael Pollan
Trim Healthy Mama by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L. Wilson
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
I've been reading/skimming these titles and taking notes as I try to formulate a "philosophy of eating" for my husband and I.  We are both interested in healthy eating.  I am trying to find a balance that works for us - balancing time spent in food prep, enjoyment of food, and healthiness of food.  For example, right now it works for us to make kefir and kombucha to drink regularly.  I am looking for things like this that we can easily incorporate into our daily routine.  One thing that isn't working for us is switching to homemade sourdough bread.  We aren't fond of the taste, which means we don't like to eat it and it just ends up going moldy if we don't force ourselves to use it up. 
The Little People by David Wilkerson with Phyllis Murphy
This one is a short, but hard and sad read.  Wilkerson writes about his experiences with Teen Challenge and about the children he sees growing up in big-city slums.  I read it in one afternoon, and I think it should be recommended reading for anyone who will be working with children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
A Tangled Web by L. M. Montgomery
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (on audiobook)
I have been reading these titles, trying to figure out what separates a great author from a poor one.  The questions I want answers too include, How do the great authors use the same English language to such great effect that poor authors manage to butcher?  What is it that makes some love stories inspiring and others sappy and boring? How can I write well?
Return by Karen Kingsbury
Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma
These two I found quite sappy.  Return is the third in a series of five which I have slowly been working through.  They aren't my favourite, but they satisfy the occasional desire for a light romance novel.  Apparently there are a few more series's after this one that follow the same family.  I don't think I will read them because at the end of the third book I am already getting tired of the characters.  They don't have a lot of depth to them and seem to either be doing everything perfectly or suddenly having their entire lives fall apart.
Snow on the Tulips annoyed me enough I didn't finish it.  It is set in the Netherlands in World War II.  Being from Dutch background myself, I felt that the book was much too sappy and mushy compared to what I know of the Dutch people and their character.  It felt forced and not authentic.  Also any book that talks of someone "strolling" across a room to bring something to someone (or anything along those lines) reminds me of Grade 5 language arts and having to come up with interesting words in place of normal ones.  Interesting words are all fine and dandy when they add to the story, but when they force your notice to the grammar instead of the narrative, they are too much!  I was disappointed that I didn't enjoy this book because I borrowed it from my husband's grandmother who enjoyed it.  She is a dear sweet lady and I don't want to tell her I didn't even finish it.

Books I want to read:
A food memoir.  It sounds like an interesting genre, and I love autobiographies and memoirs.
The Diary of a Journalist: Later Entries 1890 - 1910 by Sir Henry Lucy.  There is an interesting story of how I picked this one up, but it will have to wait for another time.

What are you reading?  What would you like to read?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Happy Wednesday

I am tired and discouraged.  Consequently I am sitting on the floor eating a carrot and chocolate.  However, I live with mental illness.  Being tired and discouraged is normal for me.  In fact I would consider today a good day.  To keep my mind off the tiredness, I am going to list today's good things:
I did the groceries.  It took less than an hour! 
I did the dishes.
I went for a walk.
I posted some stuff for sale on Facebook.
I crocheted.
I am alive!
Some day we will be in heaven and we "shall mount up with wings like eagles, [we] shall run and not be weary, [we] shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)  This is a great promise.  I can't even imagine being out of bed for more than an hour without getting weary!
So, today is a happy Wednesday.  Or at least, a positively focused one. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016


How do you, in one morning a month, even begin to communicate God's love to a child?  How do you, in a week of VBS, share the good news of Jesus Christ when all He is to them is a swear word?  When you have kids threatening to kill each other or themselves, what do you say?  How do you spend 45 minutes a day teaching math to a child who has been hurt so bad that his mind is blocking memories and doesn't function normally?

I need God's help.  We need God's help.  If we are to reach these little people, it begins with prayer.  Today I don't even have the words to pray.  Today I just beg God to take care of these kids, knowing that He knows what I mean, and that He cares infinitely more than I ever could.

I want to provide a home for these kids.  I want to take them home with me and hug them and feed them, play games with them and tell jokes and tuck them into bed at night.  I want them to feel safe, to be able to act out and get mad and cry so that they can work through their deep down hidden inside traumas.  I want them to learn words for their feelings, for their thoughts, for their needs.  I want them to know with every fibre of their beings that THEY ARE WORTH IT.  They need to know their own value before they can learn the value of love, morality, structure, goals, education, faith.

I do not think I am up to this task.  I am a slow, tired person who can barely take care of this household of two.  We are moving soon, and my husband is going to school.  But I pray that God will use us in a small way wherever we are, and will some day use us in a bigger way for the good of the children.  So let me see the value and personhood of every child and every adult I come across.  Let me treat each human with dignity.

Life Lessons Courtesy of Netflix

I love Netflix.  It keeps me sane.  My brain exhausts me on a daily basis so having something to distract it for a while is amazing.  I just love watching people experience drama that doesn't matter and that will invariably be solved in 45 minutes.  That being said, there are some basic common sense lessons that people on TV just don't seem to get.  Here they are:

1) Tell your significant other things before you tell others.  Don’t expect him or her to understand when they hear about something important in your life through the grape vine.
2) Listen before you talk, especially with your kids.
3) Never say, “He or she doesn’t need to know about this.” Inevitably the person will find out and will wonder what else you are keeping from him or her.
4) Never hang out with a member of the opposite sex when you are upset with your significant other.
5) If you tell your kids to do what feels right for them, be consistent.  When they do something wrong or stupid and the only reason they can give is, “I didn’t think.” or “I had good intentions!”  you have to accept that.
6) The people you spend time with will be the people you are close to.  Don’t spend more quality time with your coworkers than with your family if you want to be close to your family.
7) Your ideas are not more important than those of your spouse.  Decide together what is best for your family.  If your spouse seriously disagrees with something you want to do, it's probably wise not to do it.

Do you have any to add?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Experiences of a Synesthete

I am a synesthete.  Basically what this means is that I have some wires crossed and I perceive things with more than one of my senses.  For example, to me numbers, days, and letters have colour.  Numbers have personality.  Sounds have shapes, colour, and movement.  Smells have texture.  Some movements have feeling and taste.  Flashing lights have sound.

When I was a kid, I got it into my head that this is a symptom of schizophrenia.  Several weeks ago I was sitting there worrying about it, and I decided to Google it.  (I know, good old Dr. Google.)  I found a Wikipedia article (I know, I know!) about synesthesia which explained the way my brain works – and reassured me that no, I most likely don’t have schizophrenia!  I was so excited and sent my mom the link via Facebook because she had always kinda given me a weird look when I started talking about things like the colour and personality of numbers.

Having synesthesia means just about everything in life is a multi-sensory experience.  In many ways this is a great thing.  It fuels my creativity and gives me a fountain of secret beauty to enjoy.   It also helps me to be good at spelling, math, and remembering dates and phone numbers.  After all, who’s going to get a stuck up pink goody-two shoes like 4 mixed up with gruff navy 5?  And who’s going to get bland, pale follower 6 mixed up with creative, mysterious, red-brown 7?  I’ll always remember that my sister’s birthday is June 7, not June 6, because she was born on a day with a nice number, not an annoying one.

However, the downfall to synesthesia is sensory overload.  Picture you are in the mall.  Around you are clothes with price tags, people moving around and talking, music playing, and the barcode scanner beeping.  Now imagine every number on every tag has a colour and a personality.  The talking is dark grey and shaped like a cloud that is filling the room at about ear level.  The music above you has round black drumbeats, light brown peaks and valleys like the screen of a heart monitor, and a woman’s yellow voice getting larger and smaller with its fluctuating volume.  Through everything are the round red beeps of the barcode scanner.  Now try to make a decision on what to buy!

I love being a synesthete and I am very glad I found out it is an ok, semi-normal thing.  It is interesting now because I found out some of my siblings are also synesthetes, though for them numbers and days have different colours than they do for me.  When we were discussing this, I said, “We should make a club!”  and one of my brothers (who is not a synesthete) said, “What are you going to do – sit there and argue about what colour each number is?”   He had a point, but it is still a pretty neat ability to share with some of my siblings.