Ramblings About People

Human beings are so beautiful. They are so complex and interesting. They are ever-changing yet constant. They are all the same yet all unique. We are all connected while also being separate. We feel the same things but we feel them differently and often for different reasons.

I have struggled most of my life with a fear of other people. This is in part (a big part) because of my own pride – my own “shyness” which is really a manifestation of my desire to be liked and even loved by everyone. I think I missed out on getting to know many people because of this fear. This small form of social anxiety often kept me from even simple things like going to the store or making important phone calls.

I’m not sure exactly when or quite how it happened, but I eventually started to realize that other people are AMAZING and I miss out on so much by being so focused on myself. God did a work in me, reminding me that all of us are of inherent value because we are disigned as mirrors of His image. That is the bottom line and that is what drove me to desire more to reach out to others than to be liked by others. The funny thing is, learning to stop caring so much about whether everyone likes me (though I will not pretend for a second that I have totally conqured this) and to just really enjoy people and find ways to connect on deeper levels has brought me more wonderful friends than I ever thought possible or even thought I had the social and emotional capacity for. Sure, there are times when I leave myself vulnerable for someone in an attempt to connect and am shot down, but after meeting and connecting with so many wonderful people, it’s definitely worth it.

Part of being made in God’s image means that we are all complex beings. Certainly not as complex as God, but complex enough that even knowing someone for a lifetime is not enough to know them fully. Though I am a very introspective person, there are times when I feel that I hardly even know myself. My personality is always changing, my taste changes, my desires and my dreams change – sometimes faster than I can keep up with in my ever-swirling mind. I think about how complex my own mind is and I wonder at how complex the minds of others must be too. This is why I think people are wonderful. There is always so much do discover about a person and it is so special when a person allows you to do so. What a privilage it is for another person to let you behind the gates.

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At Ease

I haven’t felt like this in a while and I’m so happy, I’m on the verge of tears. I feel inspired, I feel enthralled with the beauty of language, of music, of storytelling and memories, of human creativity and the reflections we are of the One who created us whether we believe in Him or not. 

I am captivated by the sounds and the air, the soft light coming through my window. 

I feel at ease again after weeks of inner struggle, sleep deprivation, and disproportionate amounts of stress.

Life can be hard but God is good and beauty is everywhere and I know that everything will be just fine.

After Failure and Repentance

Lord, you are so tender.

You see my heart as I sin against you. You see my filth, my defiance, you feel the whips and the shards of glass, the thorns crushed into your skull, the nails piercing through your hands and your feet, the agony as you struggle for breath, the cold darkness of isolation. Lord, you bear it all even as I doubt your love for me. Even as I blame you for my sin.

And you never change your mind.

You watch as I run from you and you chase after me, calling my name in the sweetest tone. And you never stop chasing me, no matter how far I run. No matter what choices I make, you keep loving me, you keep chasing me, you wait for my return, my surrender.

And when I finally turn back, you fold me into your arms and kiss my brow and not a harsh word is on your lips.

Lord, you are so kind. You are love. You are grace and mercy.

I’ll never deserve you, but I’ll always have you.

Anxiety 

Anxiety wakes me up when I’m just falling asleep even though I’m completely exhausted. It sends pains all over my neck and arms and legs and head. It makes my hands tingle and my feet go numb. It tries to convince me that I’m dying, that I’m having a heart attack, that I’m having an aneurysm. It tells me that I can’t breathe even though I’m taking long, deep breaths. It convinces me that I’m totally alone and that I’ll never get through this. It tells me that I’m not normal and that I am pathetic and that I should be able to just go to sleep like everyone else but I can’t. It tells me that if I do fall asleep, I’ll either be tormented by awful dreams or never wake up. 
I want to be well. I must conquer this. I will conquer this. 

The Something of Doing Nothing

I’ve come to a point in my life where I am not as creative nor am I as in tune with my own thoughts and feelings as I used to be. This has greatly increased my anxiety and depression as well as made it painfully difficult at times to deal with everyday situations. Writing has been, for most of my life, the main outlet for my thoughts and emotions. I have often said that I don’t know what I really think or feel about something until I’ve written about it. Since I’ve had more and more to occupy my time and have opened my journal less and less, I feel like I have lost something, I feel like I am barely holding together even though many things in my life are going well. Even when I sit down and try to write, try to unblock those rivers, my mind is cloudy and I can’t really focus; I can’t really get much more than a few drops out. I’ve realized (I’ve known all along, really) that one of the main things holding me back is the fact that I am always doing, even when I’m just relaxing. I’m always doing school work or running errands or reading something or watching videos or listening to podcasts or making plans or organizing or researching or spending time with people, etcetera. None of these things are bad, it’s just that there is something very important that I’ve stopped doing: nothing. I’ve stopped staring out of the window and letting my mind wander. I’ve stopped moving my pen aimlessly, drawing unidentifiable shapes as I explore my own thoughts and memories. I’ve stopped sitting down to write about nothing in particular, just to get it out. I’ve stopped laying on the floor and praying about anything and everything that comes to mind. These are the things that used to keep me sane. These are the things that helped me to reflect and to understand what was really going on in my head. These are the things that kept my creative juices flowing and my fictional characters breathing and my head on relatively straight. I somehow adopted the idea that it would be a waste of time to do such things, that if I was going to just sit and relax, I might as well be watching, reading, or listening to something, or I should be going somewhere. I forgot that I have to stop to really think – even if I’m afraid of what I might discover. Many, if not all, great writers and thinkers take time to do nothing, to just stare, to just think. Great minds understand the importance of spending quality time alone with themselves. I think many of us focus so much on the importance of community and of spending time with others and the importance of productivity that we forget that it is equally important to spend time in our own minds, even if only for a few minutes in our busy schedules.

PS – I have been trying to write about this for a while now, but have had trouble writing it just the way I want it. Then I saw this video talking about pretty much the same thing and figured I should just get it out, no matter how much I disapprove of the way I wrote it. Anyway, I thought I’d also share said video. Though the writer of it is not of my worldview, I agree with most of what is expressed there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lz-qrVUecE

Home is Where I Think it Is

Home is not a place. Home is a feeling.

I’ve heard the phrase, “home is where the heart is” all my life, but I didn’t really internalize it until I went through a series of changes that forced me to adjust to new normals and new places of living, over and over again. I always thought of home as just the place where my stuff was, where I slept, where I showered. Home was just the place I left from and returned to more often than anywhere else. When that physical place of home became more and more inconsistent, I had to revisit and reconstruct my idea of what ‘home’ really means.

It’s weird to hear other students living on campus talking about “going home for the weekend.” It throws me off because this is home for me. This is where I live right now; this is the only place I live right now. There is no ‘home’ for me to go back to over the weekend or over winter break. There is no bedroom with my furniture set up, waiting for my return. If I’m not staying here, I am a guest in someone else’s home. I can see that my life is made up of frequent adjustments to my ever-changing normal. My ever-changing sense of home. And I’ve gotten good at it. Adjusting. Making a place feel like home instantly because I need it to be home for me. Holding loosely to things and to my station, knowing it can be easily lost or changed at any moment. I never thought my life would be like this and I certainly never imagined I’d like it so much.

The more unstable my physical place of residence is, the more I see that home is something I can take with me. Something I must take with me – must create for myself – if I want to stay sane. Home is wherever I choose for it to be. Home is that feeling of belonging, that comfort and security of knowing where you are and not ever needing to ask or answer the question of why you are there. That feeling of home can be in a number of physical spaces. When I visit those little places I used to go with my mom, I’m home. When I’m having dinner at my Dad and Stepmom’s house, enjoying the sounds of my wonderfully woven-together family, I’m home. When I am curled up next to my boyfriend, watching documentaries or silly comedies, I’m home. When I’m outside and the sky is covered in clouds, but the birds are still chirping, I’m home. When I’m sitting in my dorm room, in this most temporary of living spaces, remembering how far I’ve come, how far the Lord has taken me, I’m home. Home is everywhere and nowhere. Home is where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going. Home is where I think it is.

So…My Brother Got Married…

This post is a little late… I was going to post about my brother getting married like… maybe a day or two after the wedding… the wedding was January 31st so….

I’ve been trying to figure out just what I wanted to say and I’ve been having a bit of trouble. It’s weird but it’s not. It’s different but it’s comfortable. And then there are all these other things… well… See I already spent a considerable amount of time writing about how I feel about my brother and his bride, etc. because I had the privilege of giving a toast at the wedding. Let me tell you, getting up in front of all those people and crying like a baby while trying to read what I’d written was not easy. People later told me that it was good that I cried. I cried because I meant it. I cried because I felt it. I cried because I love my brother.

Anyway, I pretty much said everything I wanted to say in my toast, so that’s what the rest of this post is going to be. My toast.

It’s really difficult for me to say with words just what my brother means to me. God has blessed me tremendously by giving Daniel to me as a brother. He has been with me through the most difficult times of my life as well as some of the most fun times. While we certainly don’t get along 100% of the time, we have a uniquely close relationship that I treasure immensely. From the little things like our dumb, repetitive jokes or silly noises and dances, to the more meaningful things like telling me the truth when I need to hear it, even when he knows I might not receive it well, or hugging me when I’m crying even if he doesn’t know why, I will always treasure our bond and the kind of friend that he is to me.

Watching the Lord pull Daniel up from darkness and into the light of salvation has been one of the most awe-inspiring experiences of my life. I remember praying for him for so long and feeling so hopeless, but the Lord saved him when I least expected it, and I had the privilege of watching it unfold first-hand. Then, to watch him grow and mature so quickly afterward was such a great testimony of God’s power and faithfulness. When I really think about it and look back to who he once was and who God has changed him into, I am often brought to tears. It is truly amazing and I am so thankful for God’s work in his life.

I am also thankful for how Daniel has taught me and cared for me over the years. Even in my more difficult and unyielding times, he has stuck with me continued to speak truth to me. Because of this, I am confident that Daniel will make a good husband – he is faithful and he never gives up, no matter how difficult things get.

My friendship with Bekah has been an interesting one. It took quite a bit of time for us to get close and I believe we are still working on that. I think she will agree that the Lord has placed us in each other’s lives to teach us a lot about understanding others and about loving those who are very different from ourselves. I mean honestly, what better way to learn about those things than to be placed in such close proximity to our polar opposites? I have learned a lot from Bekah and greatly appreciate the times when she has shared hard truths with me as well as the times when we can just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. I know that we still have a lot to learn about each other and I look forward to times of bonding in the future.

My brother is a very unique person and I never imagined he would find someone who has so much in common with him – but here she is. God orchestrated this so well, as He always does. Daniel and Bekah are certainly well-matched.

Daniel, If mom were here today, she would be so happy to see the man that you are becoming and she would be crying her eyes out and talking about how her baby has grown up so fast. I know that she would be so happy for you and she would be eager to welcome Bekah into our family as her daughter.

May the Lord give the two of you strength and continue to equip you with faithfulness and diligence and every other tool that you will need in order to create a marriage that glorifies Him and paints an accurate picture of Christ and His church.

I love you both.

Let’s raise our glasses to Daniel and Bekah!

 

Beautiful Wedding <3

Beautiful Wedding ❤

My brother and Me

My brother and Me

My New Sister-in-law and Me

My New Sister-in-law and Me

After my Toast... couldn't keep it together :P

After my Toast… couldn’t keep it together 😛

I Never Thought I Would…

Going back to school has been interesting for me. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed school. It’s nice to be a student. It’s so weird that I’m in this place again. As I go thought my classes, I keep thinking over and over, “I can’t believe I’m actually doing this.”

When I earned my AA and left school in December of 2011, I walked away convinced that I would never return to school. I certainly didn’t believe that I would ever decide to earn a higher degree. The more I think about it the more I realize how much my heart has changed over the past couple of years. There were so many things that I never thought I’d change my mind about, but it has happened. My tastes, dreams, desires, and ideals (for the most part) have changed drastically. Like, if my past self saw me now, she would be utterly shocked and maybe even angry. I would hardly recognize myself.

I think that just about everyone comes to this point in their lives (perhaps several times) where they realize that their life is suddenly full of things they never thought they would do or think or say. We grow and change and become the people we never thought we would, better or worse or just…different. I imagine a past version of myself rolling her eyes at the little changes, like the style choices I make or the music I listen to. I see her confusion at the way that I deal with negative emotion. I see her fear and disapproval at the life goals that I have set for myself as well as the goals that I have decided to let go of or alter. I see her lack of interest in many of the things that I am passionate about. Sometimes this past version of myself sits on my shoulder and makes me question everything I do and think and feel. I have to remind myself that I don’t really like that girl. I like who I am. I like who I’m becoming. This is something that I don’t believe all the time, but those times that I do are so freeing. I think one of the most stark contrasts between past me and present me is that I’m no longer trying so hard to be something in particular. I’m not trying to fit into a category. I’m not trying to be something that I’m not. I’m not trying to be flawless or hide all of my flaws. This might sound terribly cliche and cheesy, but right now, I’m just being me. And I like being me. I can grow and change a lot but I will always be this person that God has created me to be (and after all, He directs my steps).

This post kind of got away from me…anyway, I can’t seem to think of a way to conclude this one other than to say that a life full of “I never thought I would…” can be a great life to live. There are so many things that we never saw coming and things yet to come that we might never predict and I think that’s exciting…and a little bit scary.

Best Friends Aren’t For Everyone

Over the past few years, a lot of my friends have been getting married. As is customary, each of these friends has had to choose someone to be the maid of honor or best man. This led to me thinking about who I might choose to fill that role in my own (currently hypothetical) wedding. Thinking about this brought me to a realization that, at first, was a bit distressing. I have plenty of really good close friends, but I don’t actually have a best friend anymore. There is not just one friend who I spend the most time with or who knows the most about me or whatever it is that makes a best friend a best friend. There is not one friend who I feel closer to than all other friends. There are definitely friends who are closer than others, but there is nobody in first place. Nobody who stands just slightly higher than the rest. I’ve had best friends in the past for sure but over time, due to whatever circumstance, we grew apart or just came to a point where we weren’t quite so close or involved in each other’s lives. And that’s fine, really. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s sort of how life goes.

But I remember when I was younger, I thought that having a best friend was essential to life. Other people had best friends – that friend who had almost everything in common with them or that friend who had known them, like forever or that friend that had just always been there in the difficult times, etcetera. But that’s just not something that I can find in any one person anymore. Not currently anyway. When I came to the realization that I don’t have a best friend, it really bothered me. I started to think that maybe there was something wrong with me. I started to think it was really sad. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized: best friends aren’t for everyone (at least not for everyone while they are single… I would hope that married people would consider their spouse to be their best friend… that’s the ideal, anyway).

I had to ask myself if I was really lacking anything in terms of friends. Did I really need a best friend? Wasn’t it enough to just have a few really good friends? Honestly, when I look at the friends that I have, I am so thankful and so satisfied with who God has placed in my life. I like the fact that different friends can relate to me in different ways. I have some friends who have just been in my life for a really long time and have been with me through so much that we have a deep bond. I have other friends who totally get all my geeky/nerdy things and we can just be super weird together. I have friends who understand my creative side and we can encourage each other and talk about our creative process and other things of that nature. I have other friends who fill other parts that I don’t even know how to put into words. And having a varied group of friends also means that I have friends who relate to each part of my rather wide-ranged sense of humor and my varied taste in music, movies, books, etc. And I know my relationships with all of them go even deeper and can be even more complicated than that, but I don’t even know how to explain that here… you probably get it without me having to spell it out. The more I thought about all of these things, the more I realized how well off I am in the area of friendship. I have so much. I am so wealthy in this regard that it is absurd for me to think that I am missing something.

Some people do have a best friend, and that’s great. A best friend is a special thing indeed. But, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we all have to have that one person that fits that label in our lives. It is not essential. As stated before, best friends aren’t for everyone. Right now, having a best friend isn’t for me. I’ve had them in the past, maybe I’ll have one in the future, but I’m not going to think about it too much. After all, I’m pretty dang happy with the close friends I’ve got. I don’t like one friend better than another, I like them each differently. I love them each uniquely for who they are as individuals and I am so blessed by how each one of them has made my life better.

Midlife Cri-…wait…no….Quater-life Crisis?

My brain does this thing every so often. Sometimes it’s once in a month, sometimes it’s every other week, sometimes it leaves me alone for about three months and then starts up again. I’m not entirely sure how to describe this thing but it is something like panic…very close to an identity crisis, but that’s not quite what it’s about.

It starts either with one little comment from someone else or with a thought from my own mind, apropos of nothing (well…maybe not nothing). It starts with a comment like “If you could be doing anything and money were no object, what would you be doing?” or “man, I love my job,” or “I really have a passion for [insert hobby/job].” Or it starts with a thought like, “I love writing, but I don’t really do it like I used to,” or “what is a writer without any ideas?” or “I already finished school and I’m nowhere near starting a family yet; what on Earth should I be doing with my life?” and so on and so forth. That’s when it happens. My mind begins to flood with all these semi-toxic thoughts until I begin to feel dizzy and worthless and utterly confused. And then the weight comes. This horrible, heavy monster that likes to plop himself right down on top of my lungs, and he sort of grins this fuzzy brown grin while he’s doing it. It is at this point that I start to wonder if I’m going completely insane.
After a while of this sensation, my slightly-more-logical side decides to show up and starts to re-think things, but all my crazy just starts to shout abuse at her until she just throws up her hands, sighs loudly and sits down, beginning to feel numb. It is at this point that my head goes quiet, I stop thinking about the matter of what I should be doing with my life altogether and proceed to go back to the way things were. [Sluggard that I am]

[[Usually, about a week after this fiasco, I again realize that God is sovereign and that my life should be lived completely for Him. I remember that I just need to keep trusting and serving Him and moving forward, but I still have that nagging feeling that there’s some turn in the path that I’m just missing outright. Like if I He gave me the skill and love for writing, shouldn’t I be using it?]]

Maybe someday I’ll actually get somewhere with this. Oh well…

Remembering (…or not)

I sort of have a bad long-term memory. Like, if I haven’t used the information in the last few years, I’ve probably forgotten it. Since I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about my childhood, it has all become a blur with arbitrary moments of clarity. Here and there, I’ll remember little details and facts about my past (like the little games my dad used to play with us, or baking cookies with my mom) but I never have many actual stories to tell. Whenever people ask questions like, “what is your favorite childhood memory,” or “what were you like as a kid,” I get really frustrated and kind of sad – I usually have to rely on things that my dad has told me or pictures I’ve seen or little fragments of memory that may not be wholly true.
As I am growing up, this is beginning to scare me a bit. It makes me feel like I’ve lost something huge. Something important. I know that things happened in the past and they have contributed to who I am today, I just can’t really remember what they were. But there are things that seem really valuable, really essential, like memories of my mother or things that I learned in school – as these things slip further and further into the past, they become things that are still sort of a part of me, but I don’t actually have them anymore. Not really. I feel like humans are in the business of making memories, but what happens when those memories just disappear? Some say that you only remember the important things or the things you want to remember, but I’m really beginning to disagree with that (For instance: I want to remember everything about my mother, but I still forget).

Anyway, this is becoming more…serious (for lack of a better word) than I meant for it to be, so I think I’ll stop there …I never quite know what I’m really thinking and/or feeling about something until I write it out 😛

…And maybe this isn’t even a big deal. Maybe this is all just part of growing up. Maybe this is normal.

Questions of Identity

Recently, I was working on a trial-run-basis for a small business as a receptionist. I worked for them for about a week and a half (I didn’t end up getting hired, but I’m not going to go into that because that is not what this post is about). While I worked there, I worked full-time almost every day of the week. Since I was spending so much of my time working there and it was so different from how I had previously been spending my time, I noticed that I started to feel…different. And not in the way that I would have expected. I started to see myself differently – not better, not worse, just different. I felt like I was a different person, but only just. Like my identity was somehow shifted because I spent a good amount of my time being a receptionist rather than, say, a writer, or a cook, etc. And I started to feel a bit strange. I started asking questions of myself that I didn’t really have time to answer, nor even really think about. The main question was this: Am I really defined by what I do? By how I spend my time? If I am spending my time doing something different, does my identity change? (okay I guess that is more than one question…but hey, teachers do that all the time…).
After I found out that I didn’t have the job, I started to think seriously about what I really want to do with my time. Should I really push to do something that I have a passion for, or should I simply find something that I am qualified to do that helps me pay the bills? Should I save my passions for the things that I do outside of the workforce? I don’t really think there is an easy answer for those questions.
Is my identity defined by what I do or by how I do them? Or, perhaps I should ask: How is identity defined? What is my identity, really? As a Christian, there are some easy answers: I am a created being made in the image of the Creator; I am a child of God, chosen and saved by grace; I am a part of the church, the bride of Christ; and so on and so forth. Then there are the relational answers: I am a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger, a subordinate. Or the general: I am a human, a female, a 22-year-old, an American of European decent, a college graduate, an introvert, a redhead. But we know that there is more to a person than these things. God is complex and creative and  He made us complex and distinctive. So what else is it that defines us? How do we really say who a person is? And, moreover, does it really matter? It feels like it matters, but that doesn’t mean that it does.

…I realize that this post is very unsatisfying and is basically one gigantic question-mark… but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to post a comment or communicate with me by any other means. I am especially interested in any scripture references that might speak to this topic.

Quick Snapshots: Serving With Joni and Friends

Last month (April 1-6), I had the privilege to serve as a Short Term Missionary (hereafter referred to as STM) at the Joni and Friends Family Retreat at Wonder Valley. Honestly, when I first agreed that I would do this, I wasn’t really giving it much thought…I just knew that I had the time, would probably be able to raise the funds, and could be of service to someone who needed it. I had heard about this camp before, having written about it for my church newsletter a while back, and I was interested in the things that they were doing there. So, I went into it thinking, “this could be a neat experience.” Let me tell you now, “neat” was a gross underestimation.

[I’ve broken this up into parts because that’s kind of how my brain works…]

Part 1: Leading up to camp

Wonder Valley

Let me start off by telling you a bit more about this camp, in case you are not familiar with it. Joni and Friends Family Retreats are week-long (roughly) camps for families who are affected by disability (whether it be physical, developmental, etc). Typically, it is one or more of the children in the family who have a disability, but the rest of the family is affected by this as well. Caring for these children is not an easy task and these families are on the job every single day. These retreats give these families the opportunity to have a vacation. Not only do they get time together as a family doing fun things that may or may not usually be accessible to them, but they also get some time to be around their own age groups, kids playing with other kids and adults spending time with other adults, and generally getting to be around people who can relate to them. One of the major ways that these retreats make all of these things possible is by assigning trained volunteers (STMs) to each family for the purpose of serving and aiding them throughout the week.

As the week of camp drew nearer and nearer, I started to think about what serving as an STM would require of me. I became a bit worried as I started to realize just how self-centered I am and how much I am used to taking care of my own wants and needs before considering others. This is a troubling thing to begin with, but it was even more disturbing to me as I knew that I was entering into a situation in which I would need a selfless, servant-hearted attitude in order to accomplish what I had signed up for. I did not want to be a poor representation of Christ to whomever I was assigned. I wanted to please the Lord by reflecting His character, and I knew that I would not be able to do so by my own strength and “will power.” Humility and servant-heartedness are things that do not come naturally to sinful mankind, but are only accomplished by the grace of God. And so, I prayed for God to change me, even if it were just for that week, into one who regards others as more important than myself (Phil. 2:3).

Part 2: Training and Preparations

The group of STMs from my church. We bonded together as we served over the week.

Arriving at camp, the STM’s had about a day and a half of training to get through before the families arrived. We bonded together, learning about various disabilities and how to deal with different things that we might encounter and so on and so forth. Something that really meant a lot to me and remained with me throughout the week, and indeed, after that week, was that in order to serve in such a way that would display the love of Christ, we must constantly come to Him in prayer and depend completely on the grace of God.

All throughout the first day (the day before the families arrived), I was nervous, not knowing which family I would be assigned to. I kept thinking that once I knew who my camper was and what disability my camper had, then I would know, more or less, what I was going to be dealing with and could start preparing my mind and praying more specifically about my assigned family. That night, when we got our assignments, I learned that I would be caring for a 4 year-old boy who had autism. My first thought was, “now I still don’t know what I’m dealing with.” As you may or may not know, autism sort of ranges from mild to severe and the affects of it vary from person to person. So, all I could really count on was that I would have to adapt and learn as I went. And so, I began praying even harder for the week to go smoothly and for my assigned family to be able to relax, enjoy themselves, and really experience the love of Christ. It was nice to finally be able to pray for them by name.

Part 3: Meeting my Camper/family and getting started

Left to Right: Fellow STM Rebekah, my camper Nathan, parents Edie and Bun, Rebekah’s camper Gabriel, and me.

As the time (the second day) for me to actually meet my assigned camper and family drew nearer, I became more and more nervous. Thankfully, I had many brothers and sisters in Christ around me who could encourage and pray for me. When I finally laid eyes on my precious little camper and his equally-as-precious twin brother, my excitement and joy won-out and my nervousness was no where to be seen. To my delight, the mother and father of my camper turned out to be very kind and loving people and I felt a connection with the whole family almost instantly. I quickly learned about my camper and his twin brother (who also has autism – he was assigned another STM and we worked together a lot of the time), their little quirks, cleverness, character, and the differences between them. By the end of that first day of serving my camper and his family, there was already so much love in my heart for them; all I wanted to do was spend time with them and help them with whatever they needed or wanted. I couldn’t keep from smiling as I realized that there was literally no place in the world that I would rather have been at that moment, than right where the Lord had placed me. The Lord had, indeed, already answered my prayer.

Part 4: The rest of the week/concluding thoughts

My camper, Nathan (right), and his brother, Gabriel (left), loved the wagon 🙂

All throughout the week, my days were very busy, and I noticed that I had a lot more energy and stamina than usual, which could only have come from the Lord. I remember feeling so blessed. It was so satisfying to spend my entire day serving someone else and not focusing so much on myself. I enjoyed watching the parents of my camper relax and enjoy themselves, having extra hands to take care of things. I loved looking around and seeing so many families in such a happy state, in which they did not have all the usual troubles weighing on their shoulders. It was so neat to be in a place where everyone could just be themselves. If a child began screaming or doing other things that would usually be considered “disruptive” or “rude,” it was received with understanding and grace rather than judgmental stares and ignorant whispers. If ever a parent felt overwhelmed, there was someone there to help lighten the load. All of us STMs worked really hard throughout the week, but it was some of the most satisfying work we had ever done. I know from my own experience, and from talking to other STMs, that we left that camp feeling as though we were more blessed by the families we served and the work that God had done in our hearts than we had even anticipated. I really did not want to leave that place. I had grown so attached to my camper and family as well as the overall environment of the camp – so much so that I had a good cry as I was leaving the camp to go back home.

It was truly an eye-opening experience that I will not soon forget. My whole outlook on service has been altered for the better, as has my understanding of families affected by disability. The Lord has used this experience to grow my desire for service and my love for others. I would urge everyone to prayerfully consider trying something like this at least once. I promise you, it will be an unforgettable experience that you are likely to carry with you for the rest of your life. And, if you are like me, you will quickly decide that this is something you want to be involved with every year.

If you would like to know more about Joni and Friends, you can visit their website at: http://www.joniandfriends.org/

Please feel free to ask/talk to me more about the camp if you feel so inclined 🙂 I was not super specific in this blog because I didn’t want it to be too long and also because I wasn’t sure how detailed I should get about my particular family and whatnot. However I am open to talking about it on a one-on-one sort of basis. 🙂

Precious boys ❤

Lacking Control

Something that has become more and more evident to me through the things I am experiencing this year is that I am not in control. Of anything. Sure, I have responsibilities, I have my own domain over which I have some authority, but ultimately, I have no control. Something else that I have learned is to be thankful for this simple fact. I am not in control, but I know the sovereign God who is. I am so glad that it is He who is in control of my life and not me. What a mess I could make of things.

So, of which experiences am I speaking? Well, there have been a number of things, but I’ll give you the one that seemed to spark the flame that started this wildfire. Earlier this year, I was sitting in a plane staring out the window. My flight was late at night. The sky was completely black and, looking out, I could see nothing, unless I looked down at the man-made lights below (until, of course I was too far up to even see those). It gave me such a feeling…it is difficult to explain. But just looking out there, seeing nothing and knowing that if we were to fall, nothing would catch us…knowing that I was in this improbable machine that is just so heavy it seems like it should never be able to fly up in the sky…knowing that I could not control the plane, but had to trust a stranger to pilot it…knowing all of these things and really thinking about them made me feel strangely free. I felt calm, yet also exhilarated, especially when I realized that my whole life is like this. I am not the one in control. I could plan to fly to a specific destination at a specific time, but the plane could arrive somewhere else entirely at a time that I deem undesirable, or the plane could fall out of the sky and crash to the ground. It is not in my hands. And I know that wherever my plane may land (or crash) is right where it was intended to go all along. It is the right place for me to glorify God in whichever way He has ordained. My attitude toward this should never be anything but thankfulness, reverence, and joyfulness.

What about the things that I do? The things that I have a knack for? What about creativity? Yes, God is sovereign over that, too. I can’t just turn it on. When I want to write something, I can’t just flip a switch and have all my creative juices ready to flow when I need them. In fact, creativity and being able to create things only exist in us because we are made in the image of the original Creator; the one who had the brilliant idea to create everything we see (and don’t see). He invented creativity. He even created the things that we use to create other things.

Since I am now finished with school (have been since mid-December!), I have expected that I would have more time to write and that I would be working on some new project by this point in the year. Sure, I’ve scribbled down a few ideas here and there, but nothing that I’ve really felt the urge to develop. I’ve tried various tricks that usually spark my creativity and imagination, but the things I’ve come up with have been utterly dry. When my friends have asked me if I’ve been working on anything new, I’ve had to sheepishly inform them that I have not. I kept wondering what was wrong with me. Maybe I’m not a writer after all…maybe it was just a phase that is now over. Just letting that thought cross my mind stung horribly. I knew it couldn’t have just been a phase because I still had a passion for it. Then I realized…my talent, my creativity, my abilities do not come from me. The only reason I am ever able to write something worth reading is because God has granted it to me. When I stopped focusing on myself and what I could be doing to fix the problem, I resolved to stop worrying about it. If God wants me to write, I will write. If He wants me to have ideas, I’ll have ideas. He is in control. He calls the shots. And when my mind was finally in that place, where writing wasn’t about me and didn’t come from me, I still had writer’s block, but I was okay with that. And when I finally had an idea that I wanted to run with, and I finally felt like that word drought was being washed away by a gracious rainfall, I knew who to thank and who to continue to depend on. And it most definitely was not me.

Image

May I always depend on the Lord for the ability to fill those pages!

Little Reminders

Arriving home from a short vacation, I had so many plans for the week ahead. There are people to spend time with, projects to finish and a messy bedroom to clean. But just before I left to head home, I began to feel sick. I didn’t feel too terrible at first, thinking I would probably feel better soon and would still be able to go about my week with all the things that I was so confident I would be able to do. But the illness got worse upon my arrival home and the next morning I felt more sick than I have in over three years. I became useless, not being able to stand for very long and not having the strength to do anything that wasn’t a sedentary activity.

I am reminded, here, of a few different things. First off, there is nothing like illness that reminds me so well of the effects of sin and the utter weakness of mankind. Second: Proverbs 16:9 which says “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” and James 4:14-15 which says “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'” I am reminded that I don’t have as much control of my life, as I often think that I do. God is sovereign over everything. I had planned to do so many things, but He planned for me to slow down and realize my dependance on Him. He has reminded me that I am but a feeble human and the only way that I can accomplish anything is by the strength that He gives me.

I find joy in the fact that the Lord can bring all of this to my attention by simply allowing me to catch the flu (or whatever this is).

I may be procrastinating…

I’m . . . back?

So . . . this is awkward. My last blog post was posted three months shy of a full year ago. A lot can happen in that amount of time. Unfortunately, I somehow managed to decide that none of that was worth blogging about. And now I am out of practice. Let me clarify: 1. There were many blog-worthy events that have happened during this silent era and 2. I have been writing, just not blogging . . . there is a difference.

I’m wondering if anyone is going to read this, since it has been so long, and everyone who read it before probably suspects that this page is cold and buried. I do miss doing this and really want to start doing it again more regularly, but I need to get back into the swing of things. So this is sort of a test run for me to see if I can still do this style of writing.

Goodness, this must be a boring read. I apologize. You have my permission to fix your attentions elsewhere. Perhaps you are waiting to hear back from a friend on Facebook, or you’re wondering if the Vlogbrothers have posted a new video on Youtube today. Go right ahead. Click away, this is merely a practice post. I’ll think of something more interesting to talk about next time. Perhaps tomorrow. No . . . I’ll be finishing the homework that I’m supposed to be doing right now.

Speaking of homework . . . That is probably the main contributing factor to my absence here. Especially this semester. I am taking a Creative Writing: Creative Non-Fiction class. I have been reading a lot and working on a piece for this class. I am writing a memoir-style short story. I am estimating that it will be 15 to 20 pages long. That seemed daunting at first, but the more I get into it, the more it seems that it might actually be longer.
I’m not really sure if I’m actually enjoying writing it. Not that I’m hating it, or anything. It’s just . . . difficult. I’m writing about the experience of losing my mom. I’ve told the story to various people before, so I thought it wouldn’t be that hard. But it is. It most certainly is. I’m hitting so many road blocks that I can’t really imagine reaching my destination anymore. I will, but it’s not going to be easy. It’s a hard place to revisit and my memory has been failing me in certain areas where my story is begging for details. I have to be vigilant in my constant struggle against explaining my emotions and coming off as whiney and pathetic. I definitely think that this class is growing me as a writer. There are so many things that I didn’t even take into account before. Like showing rather than telling and trusting my audience.
I have to keep reminding myself why I am writing this story. It is not necessarily for sympathy. I am writing it because I sort of need to write it. I’ve gotten it out verbally, now I need to get it out textually. I understand my thoughts and memories better when I have written them out. I am writing this story because I don’t want the pictures to fade as they are already. I am writing this story because revisiting the sight reminds me of the things that I have learned. I am writing this story because it could possibly have a positive affect on someone else . . . not that I’m necessarily going to let everyone read it 😛 .  But anyway, I’m not sure if this is a story that needs to be told or needs to be heard (or read) but I am compelled to write it nonetheless.

So, anyway, that was a little glimpse of what my mind has been going through over the past few months. I hope it was slightly interesting to read. If you’ve read this far, thanks for sticking with it 😛 . As mentioned before, I’m just trying to get back into this because I miss it.     . . . also, I was having trouble with my homework and needed a break 🙂 .

Hopefully I’ll keep at this.

New Light on Easter Weekend

Part One: Good Friday

On Good Friday I woke up a bit late, I hurried to get ready for a 12 PM church service. As I was finishing up with styling my hair, I imagined my mother knocking on the door and asking if I was almost ready. It struck me that this was going to be my first easter weekend without my mom. I thought back to last year: this time last year I had no idea that my mom would be gone in a little less than a month. I began to tear up. We should be going to this service together, I thought. My dad was at work, so, in my house, I was completely alone. The silence was really starting to get to me. I began to feel more and more upset, wanting so badly to have my mother there with me. As I continued to get ready for the service, I continued to cry about it all. I kept on praying for God to take my mind off of it. I asked Him to comfort me and help me to focus on what Good Friday was all about, because, clearly I did not have things in perspective. Then He brought a comforting thought to my mind: I’m celebrating Good Friday, the day that Christ died for our transgressions so that we can one day go to heaven and live in paradise with Him for all eternity. My mom is in His presence right now because of what He did for her…and someday I will be there too. How amazing it must be for her, to be with our Lord face-to-face! After thinking about all of this, I no longer wished that my mother was still with me. I became overjoyed for her. She made it. She’s there. Every follower of Christ yearns to be in His presence, and she’s there! What a blessing! With this in mind, I headed off to church and the Lord continued to bless me throughout the day. 

Part Two: Easter sunday

Waking up on Easter Sunday, again I began to feel depressed. I pictured my mom in her blue summer dress, asking me to help her pick out jewelry to wear with it (She used to always call me her “fashion consultant.” 🙂 ). I tried to cheer myself up by reminding myself of the things God showed me on Good Friday, but it only half worked. Holidays will always be hard for me. At church our pastor spoke of the meaning of Easter, which definitely helped me put things into perspective. I was reminded that the resurrection is proof of the accomplishment of the cross, and the deity of Christ. Something that I was also reminded of is that, because Christ rose from the dead, we too can rise and meet Him in heaven.
Sometimes we still get mail addressed to my mother. If it is anything church or ministry related, I take it and open it. A few weeks ago, a newsletter from a ministry called Hope for Today came in the mail for her. I went to my room and opened it. The things that I read from it were very encouraging. It was talking about how we, as christians, have hope beyond the grave. When we die, our spirits will rise to be with the Lord in paradise, just as Christ rose from the dead. It talked about how, if the rapture happens in our lifetime, those who have died in Christ will rise first, and then we will be taken up to join them! (1 Thess. 4:13-18). We will meet with them in the heavens! This brought great comfort to me. Another comforting passage that it listed was this: Revelation 14:13b- “‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors and their deeds follow with them.'”   -My mother is in a place of rest! And she is rewarded for her deeds!

Part Tree: Conclusion

So overall this past weekend, the Lord has blessed me in taking the basic things that I’ve known to be true and caused me to see them in a new light. My mom is an example of why Jesus did what He did, and having this example helps me to understand what that means for me. The gospel message has become more real to me now than ever before. Praise the Lord! 🙂

Parents and Children

Lately, I’ve been thinking about parents. There is something I find quite interesting:

When a couple has a child, it becomes their duty to raise them in such a way that they will contribute well to society and be a decent, respectable person; a person living a purposeful life. They go to great lengths to raise this child in the right way and often worry about whether or not the child will love them. Parents often feel that flaws in their child reflect flaws in their parenting. Meanwhile, this child is always seeking the approval of its parents.  We all just want to be certain that our parents really love us. We all long to hear our parents say “I’m proud of you.” Probably even more so the older we are. So, if you think about it, it’s like a strange cycle: parents are hoping to gain the love and approval of their child (as well as approval in how they raised their child), and children are hoping to gain the love and approval of their parents. This is all in a general sense, of course. There is something there between a parent and child. We need each other. We need each other until we have that final answer: Did I do a good job? Did my child turn out well? Did I make my parents proud? I think it is interesting that we find so much meaning in the answers to such questions. 

Even when a parent has died, as my mother has, one of the main things that floats around in the child’s mind is the question, “Did I make my mother/father proud?” To know that you did, makes all the difference in your coping.

And with parents that are still living, even if they have assured you that they are proud of you, you need re-assurance. Well I know I do, it may be different for others. I think it’s because things seem to change so much, we fear that nothing is constant. 

I don’t really have a point in all of this, it’s just something I was thinking about. I’m not really sure how to wrap this up… Well, if you have any thoughts on this, leave a comment, I’d love to read your thoughts. (by the way, I’m pretty sure  you don’t need to be signed up with this website to leave a comment, so go ahead!)

Why, Hello Again

I don’t really have a plan for this post. I just feel like I hardly ever post new blogs anymore. I used to put them up at least once a week, but now, I think I’ve either run out of things to say, or I’ve lost confidence in my ability to write. I think it’s mostly the second one. I probably am not so sure of my writing anymore because I spend less time reading than I used to. I don’t have as much free time to do so, and when I do have free time I spend it doing other things. More often than not “other things” includes, wasting a lot of time on YouTube. I used to spend my free time either reading a book, writing, spending time with friends or watching television, but now I spend a considerable amount of my time watching new videos from my favorite YouTube channels. Pathetic. Waste. Of. Time. Don’t get me wrong, there are many brilliant and entertaining things on YouTube, but I just don’t think it is very good for someone, such as myself, to spend such a large amount of time on it. But alas, I’ve become addicted. I sign in to YouTube at least three times a day to check if any of the people I am subscribed to have posted a new video. I currently am subscribed to about 52 different channels and I now join in a collaboration channel with some of my friends (no, I will not give you a link to it because, frankly, I am embraced of my lack of speaking skill, or any ability to be interesting…it’s a wonder anybody reads these blogs). There is, however, an upside to my compulsive YouTube-video-watching, I am learning about people (not just specific people, but people in general). It is interesting to see other people’s points of view and how different they are. It is interesting to see what people outside of America think about certain issues. It’s a bit refreshing to look at things from different perspectives.
          But anyway, I guess now I’ll tell you how school is going. That seems to be one of the first things that people ask me about whenever I talk to them. How’s school? Well, it’s going good. This semester is definitely better than last semester. I find all of the subjects that I’m taking to be very interesting and I am learning a lot. It’s also nice that this semester I actually have friends in my classes; It does really make a difference to have friends there. My only complaint about school right now is the reading. Oh the reading! So very much reading! Now, most people are aware that I love to read, but I love to read novels, not textbooks. It is so hard for me to just sit down and read a textbook. Many times I find myself sitting down to read my textbook then a novel catches my eye. “Andrea…” it seems to whisper, “why waste your time with that boring textbook when you could be reading something entertaining.” Seriously. More often than not, I give in the the novel’s tempting whispers and end up not being prepared for class. Go figure. Maybe I should lock up my novels until the end of the semester. Oh, but then I’d lose my sanity!

                     [That second paragraph seems to somewhat contradict the first one….oh well. You can figure it out.]

         There was another thing I wanted to talk about: spring break. Yes, spring break is coming up next month. That wonderful week where I normally just relax and pretend that it’s summer. This time, I’m going to be going up to northern California to visit with some family. I will be riding on a plane by myself! Well…there will be other passengers of course, but by myself in the sense that nobody I know is traveling with me. I’m not afraid of flying (I’ve flown before) so I’m actually rather excited. Then I will get to stay with my aunt and uncle and visit with my cousins. It’s been so long since I’ve actually gone up there, They are normally the ones to travel down here. So, that’s exciting 🙂

Well, I’m pretty sure that’s all I have to say for now. I just thought I’d type out another blog. I forgot how much I enjoyed it. Plus it’s nice to communicate in some way, as my mouth is really numb at the moment (I just got back from the dentist) and I can’t really talk without sounding like I have some sort of speech impediment. I’m so hungry but I can’t eat! AAAAHHHHH!!! Okay, I’m done now. 

Until next time. 🙂

Christmas Eve To The New Year

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog but I’ve been feeling rather uninspired and have had trouble getting my thoughts together. I spent most of today reading though, so I feel like I can possibly post something worth reading today. 

Where to start….ah christmas eve. 

Part One: Christmas Eve

Every year my family (mom’s side of the family) has a get-together with the grandparents and the aunts and uncles and whatnot. We all met up at my uncle’s house and we had dinner as usual and enjoyed each other’s company. At these family get-togethers there are two tables: the large dining room table and the small foldable card table. You guessed it, the smaller table is the table for the kids, we always refer to it as “The Little Table.” For my entire life I have always been seated at The Little Table. I was always the youngest grandchild until I was ten years old and my cousin, Christian was born. Then three years after him, his sister heather was born. You would think that now that I am considerably older than the two youngest grandchildren, I would be promoted to The Big Table. Nope. I am still seated at The Little Table, making sure the kids eat all their vegetables and listening to their imaginative stories. Every time we have a family get-together, I think that maybe I’ll sit at The Big Table with all the adults (especially this past year since I finally  turned 18 last June) and become slightly disappointed when I realize I’ve been mistaken. But always after sitting with the kids for a while, I am glad to still be seated at The Little Table. It gives me a chance to see what’s going on with the little ones and to see how they’ve grown. I especially appreciated it this year. You see, my late mother adored children. She loved children more than pirates love treasure. She especially loved those children. She played with them, she took care of them, she taught them, and she pretty much helped raise them until she died. When she was alive, I always knew what was going on with the kids because she would always get updates from my aunt and pass all the news on to me, or she would go babysit them and tell me all the cute things they said and did. 
      So, on christmas eve this year, as I filled my plate with christmas dinner hoping to sit at The Big Table, I glanced at my little cousin, Heather and she smiled and eager smile and said “Andrea! Sit by me!” as she tapped her hand on the place setting next to hers. I smiled back at her, while inside I was a bit frustrated. But as I sat down, I remembered my mother. Well, it’s not like I had forgotten her or anything, but I remembered her…more. I remembered specifics. I remembered how thrilled she would be to sit there next to that little five-year-old girl. I remembered all the time she invested in her, and in me. I sat there and conversed with Heather, listening to her small voice as she talked about princesses and her school friends. And in that moment I felt that I was in the place of my mother. I felt her loving emotions, I thought her caring thoughts, I listened intently just as she did. It was such a peaceful feeling. 
     We finished our plates and the children ran off in a hyper excitement, staring at the presents under the tree. I walked over to The Big Table and sat next to my great aunt. We all watched as the kids opened their gifts. Then it was the adults’ turn. One of my aunts had given some presents that were to multiple persons and one of those was to my father and I, so I moved to a seat next to him which was more toward the back. We opened the present at the same time that everyone else opened it (we all got the same thing from her). It was an ornament with a poem. It was supposed to be like a letter from my mom to us from heaven. I found it to be extremely depressing and cried for a while. That night, it seemed that most my presents had to do with my mom. It was like they thought I had forgotten and wanted to put it all back in my face. I know the intentions were good ones, but I think their way of dealing with things are different from mine. To me it seems that they keep dwelling and drowning in their sorrow, while I am just doing my best to keep moving forward. While I do like to remember her, I don’t think it is a good idea to constantly morn for her.
     While we were finishing up with the presents and talking to each other, my phone rang. It was my brother! If you didn’t know, my brother is a marine and he is in Japan right now. It was so good to talk to him! I passed the phone around so everyone else got to talk to him too. So it was kind of like he was there for a little bit. 
     When all the relatives had left except my father and I (and of course my aunt, uncle and little cousins who lived there), my dad went outside with my uncle to have a cigar with him, my aunt went to her room to get ready for bed and I stayed and played with the kids. Heather and I played Barbies while Christian used his action figures to “attack” us. It had been so long since I had really gotten to spend time with them. I don’t think I’ve actually played with them since my mother died. Here and there, Christian would mention my mom and it made me feel good. I’m so glad that they remember her.

Part Two: Christmas

On Christmas day my dad had to work at the fire station. He works out in the desert so it’s about an hour and a half drive. When he works at the fire station he works 48 hours straight, so he leaves early in the morning and spends the night and whatnot. He worked last christmas too, so last year it was just me and my mom on christmas morning (my brother was in Japan then too). Since this was my first christmas without my mom, I decided to go to the fire station with my dad so I could be with him for christmas. I originally planned on following him there when he left for work at around 5:00 a.m. but when he woke me up I was exhausted so I decided to just drive there myself later on in the morning (mind you, I went to bed at 1 a.m. prior). I left the house at around 9:30 a.m. The drive was a long one for me as I usually only have to drive to places 15 to 30 minutes from my house. The weather was horrible too; the winds were strong and the rains were hard. I had to really focus. I listened to Sufjan Stevens christmas music the whole way there, I think that really kept me going. When I finally arrived at the station my dad walked me around and introduced me to people I already knew (haha). I talked with some of them for a while then watched them do their gift exchange. When they finished, my dad and I went into his room and gave each other the gifts we got for each other and just talked for a little bit. Then two of the firemen’s wives came and we all had dinner together. It was a rather odd christmas. It really didn’t feel like christmas at all; it just felt like I was visiting my dad at work for no particular reason. I started the drive home at around 4:30 p.m. The weather had gotten a lot worse. I struggled to keep my vehicle in my lane. I had to drive slow in order to keep control. I got home at around 6:20. That drive was ridiculously long. When I got home I felt like I never wanted to drive ever again (the feeling wore off in a couple of days, thankfully).
      I had planned on visiting my friends Sarah and Miguel after I got back from my dad’s work. They wanted to go to the movies and, much to my relief, they said they would drive me. It was so nice to see them again. So we went to the movies and saw Bedtime Stories. It was a cute movie. Then when we got out of the movie, I was feeling extremely tired even though it was only about 10:00 p.m. I felt like an old lady when I told them I was tired and wanted to go home for the night. 

Part Three: New Years eve

I didn’t really have much planned for new years. A lot of my friends were going to church, but my friend Jen had to work and got off at around 8:00 p.m. So I decided I’d just go to her house after she got off work so we would both have someone to hang out with for new years. We basically just stayed in her room and talked the whole time and didn’t even really celebrate the new year when it came. But it was nice to talk to her and whatnot. My other friend, Karen (Jen’s sister) came home sometime after midnight and the three of us just clowned around until I decided to come home. 
      I don’t really understand all the excitement about new years. It has no real meaning, it’s just a marker in time. We don’t celebrate new months or new weeks, so why do we celebrate new years? Some people say it’s a fresh new start, but I don’t see how that could be. Just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean the last year is erased. The new year is just a continuation of time. And by the end of this year, you’re going to be hoping for another “fresh start” in the year after that. So what is the point? We get all excited for a new year when we have no idea what the new year will hold. I certainly didn’t expect all the trials that came with this year. I hate to be a downer, but I really don’t get it. …..Happy New Year! lol