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?