The Story that is My Life

My life as it has been and as it continues to unfold is a story. One story made up of many stories. One complex, yet simple story. One sometimes messy, but so beautiful story. One story that I wonder if it might be interesting to be told.

This blog is my attempt to put part, or parts, of that story into words, pictures, or whatever form my mind can wrap itself around or create from within myself to express what it is like to be the one inside Cindy's Story. This is an exploration on my part and on yours in reading, and seeing, and maybe even hearing. It is not necessarily chronological. It might not always make sense, but it is my expression. It is me.

You are invited to see how my story unfolds.....

Saturday, July 11, 2015

the beginning of the downward spiral

The following are sections of emails written to a friend in August 2001.  This was at the beginning of my spiral into depression.  I know it is sad, but I include it on my blog to show that even Christians who desire to be close to God can get depressed.  Sometimes we can't get out of it on our own.  We need help from outside ourselves.

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Saturday, August 25, 2001
me

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me, i am still just here................
.................................................... life continues...what can I say?  i can't make sense of it right now.
sorry, i'm just trying not to think about some things...................
God, this is hard.  why must it be this way?

p.s. i am okay most of the time.  it is just when i think about things that the weariness, ache, and fear grips me, and i have to turn away.  i don't know how to do this.

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Sunday, August 26, 2001
so lost

i'm sorry about my silence.  i do still need help and encouragement and good words at this time.

it is just that i don't want anyone to have to go through the stuff that i put myself through.  sometimes it can be like a dark cloud floating in front of my eyes,
or walking through a river upstream.
other times (like last night) it is more like a lightning bolt that strikes me,
and i find myself collapsed on the bathroom floor in tears from the force.

after time, i know God brings me out the other side.
so i just wait.

i don't know how God wants me to do this.
....forgive me.........................please............

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Monday, August 27, 2001
Personality test weaknesses results

My personality is Melancholy.
My weaknesses include:

  • Easily depressed.  I have a hard time realizing that I control others by my moods.  I tend to take everything too personally, and I frequently look for trouble.  I spend too much mental energy dwelling on negatives.
  • Low self-image.  Because of my inborn negative inclinations, I focus my judgment most harshly upon myself.
  • Procrastination.  Because I am a perfectionist, I often refrain from starting certain projects because I am afraid I won't do them right.
  • Put unrealistic demands on others.  Because I have high standards I do everything to perfection, but when I impose my standards on others, this trait becomes a weakness.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2001
Weakness Results

well, i guess now you understand a bit better some of the things that are a constant struggle for me.  i don't know what answers i have other than to live my life the way i believe God wants me to, to try to live for God and other people so as to try to forget about myself.  maybe now you see why I try so hard and put myself through so much, and maybe you see how I do get frustrated with and depressed with life.  it is very hard not to.  i am just glad that my real home is not here, but in heaven.  otherwise, I could not live.  Jesus is my hope.

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Once I began this spiral down into depression, the only way that I came out was through friends reaching in to help pull me out, medications to help my brain chemistry, counseling to talk through my fears, the prayers of my family to give me strength, and even a hospital stay now and then to rescue me from death or harm.  As a Christian, I was ashamed.  But, it turns out that the illness that came over me in a mental and emotional way was not a struggle to be ashamed of.   It was a struggle that taught me what love is: from God unconditionally and from his people who are in this struggle called life with me.  

If you find yourself in this struggle of depression as a Christian.  Do not be ashamed.  Reach out for the help that God has provided in friends, medications if necessary, professional therapy and talking, prayer from others, and even with emergency measures.  God loves you unconditionally.  Your brothers and sisters in Christ love you as well.

Jesus is still our hope.  Thank you Jesus.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Arriving Home; Writing Back to Kenya

I am including the following as an entry in my blog for my own memory's sake.  I wrote the following two messages to my friends in Kenya who I had just lived with for an entire year.  This is about the moment I arrived home, back in the States.  I want to remember the joy I felt when I was surprised with the excitement and love from so many people welcoming me home.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2001
In the USA

Bwana asifiwe!
Praise God!

God has brought me safely to the US.  I am now at the office in Pearl River, New York before heading the rest of the way home to Oregon.  My Kenyan clock says 2:50am, though the time here is 7:50pm only.  I only got about three or four hours of sleep total on both of my flights, which means I have had about four hours sleep in the last 40 hours.  S, I think that I will go sleep now, but I wanted you to know that I am safe, though I am already missing everyone in Kenya that I love and hold close to my heart.  I could not stop thinking of all of you that I left at the airport, and tears came to my eyes more than once.  I miss you already.  I thank God that He holds you in His hands.

All my love,
~Cindy

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Friday, August 3, 2001
Oregon

I'm home!

Wow, it was so great arriving in Oregon last night after flying all day.  And what a surprise also awaited me!  When I got off the airplane in Portland where I was to have a three hour layover before flying the remaining short distance to my home near Redmond, there was my grandma holding flowers and ready to give me a big hug!  I was so surprised because I had not even told her when I was coming through.  She had also brought with her one of my aunts and a cousin, as well as the new wife of my youngest uncle who is my age.  I had never met her before.  They took me out for a nice meal, then I returned to the airport where I met my sister.  I missed her so much and we shard a few minutes together before I had to fly out again.  I will see her again tomorrow though so it was okay to only get a few moments together.

Upon flying the rest of the way, I got off the plane in Redmond and was greeted with hugs and flowers and a balloon from my parents, only then to realize that it was not just them.    They had brought a whole group of people who had all been praying for me over that past year I spent in Kenya, to greet me at the airport.  One guy was even taping the event with his video camera!  My arms were full of flowers and hugs and my heart full of smiles.  God is so good to me to have given me such wonderful and caring people in my life and to have kept me safely up to this point where I can join with those people that I love again.  So, thank you for your prayers.  Keep in touch.  As you can see, I hope to still be very present in your life, if not in person , then in words.  I miss you all.  Seeing these people that I love cannot help but remind me even of the people that I love that I had to leave behind for now.  You are in my prayers.

God bless and keep you.
~Cindy

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p.s.  Thank you to everyone mentioned above.  I still remember your love and prayers for me.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Glance of the City Market

Friday, May 4, 2001
Nairobi, Kenya

Dear Family,

Jambo.  Hi, how are you today?  I am doing well, and about ready to go back to Muthyoi(the village) tomorrow morning.  I have packed all my things back up, though my bags are a bit tighter because I seem to collect things every time I come into town.

I had a lot of fun this morning.  A group of six of us "white foreigners" went to the city market in downtown Nairobi.  This is always interesting because as soon as they see white people the African sellers quickly gather around us saying, "Friend, friend come look...don't buy, just look.  It doesn't cost to look."  Then, as soon as you go into their section to look, it becomes difficult to get out.  They try so hard to sell things to us.
I remember the first week I was in Nairobi, and we went to the market.  I was so overwhelmed by it all, so many things to buy, and so many people surrounding us and pestering us.  But now I have gotten used to it, and I feel quite comfortable going there.  I am not bothered by the many people trying to sell me things at high tourist prices.  I think I got some good deals in my bargaining (an African dress, a purse, a belt, etc...).  I found myself laughing at the whole process and the things some people do to try to get us to buy their things.

I thought that you might like to experience a snippet of what it is like to live here in Africa.  Love you all.

Mungu Akubariki,

~Cindy

Monday, July 6, 2015

Five Songs to Get Me Through Kenya

As I sit here in an air conditioned coffee shop in America, on a hot day in mid summer, drinking my Carmel Ribbon Crunch decaf Frapuccino, it is hard for me to feel the same feeling that I felt 14 years ago in Africa.

I had been living in a village in Kenya in East Africa for nine months.  I was 25 years old, single, and very far from home on my own.  I lived in the village of Muthyoi with an African family.  I was a missionary to the people there and my desire and job was to share the good news of Jesus with them.  I wanted to live in such a way that my foreignness was not a hinderance to the message I had to share.  Because of this, when I arrived in Africa, I did not bring with me things or technologies that might bring extra attention to myself.  My white skin stood out enough when surrounded by all black faces.

For six months, I was the only "Mzungu" (white foreigner) in this village, then for six months another single gal, who was just out of high school and from another country, joined me in the village.  There was no electricity or running water,  no vehicles or paved roads, no coffee shops with air conditioning or specialty drinks.  It was wonderful in many ways, but it was very difficult in many overall.

One of the things that I did not bring with me to Africa was any type of music.  I did not have a radio, or CD player, or even a cassette tape player.  In the small brick house that I lived in, it would become very quiet once the sun went down at 7:00 each night.  I was left alone to eat my dinner that the house girl had cooked for me over the fire in the mud hut that was the kitchen.  I could read by karosene lamp light or play solitaire with my deck of cards, or plan for what I was going to teach the next day at church or at the primary school, but the quiet of the evenings left time for my mind to play tricks on me and bring me down.

Growing up back in the U.S. I had listened to music constantly.  The type of music that I listened to could often indicate the mood that I was in at the time.  I also played the piano, which was a way of expressing my feelings.  Out in the African village, I did not have my outlet for expressing how I felt.    I did not have anyone from my culture to talk to, so any difficulties I had understanding the culture or doing my job of teaching, etc...stayed stuck in my head.

By the time six month had passed of living this way, I decided that, for my sanity, I needed music and a voice from the outside world.  So, next time I went to the city, a fellow missionary lent me a world band radio and the high school girl that came to join me in the village brought with her a portable CD player run on batteries.  This was sooo exciting for me!  I went to the only Christian music store in the city and bought one CD.  There were not many options.  I chose one by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers.  This CD I listened to over and over again for the next months.

I felt that many things were weighing on me in Kenya.  They were draining my energy and making me sad.  So, I have written this all right now as an intro to share the words to five of the songs from the Brooklyn Tabernacle CD that encouraged my soul at that time in Africa.  At that difficult time when I had many reasons to be unsure about myself and my circumstances, this music of Jesus helped me hold on.  I found these words of the songs written in a letter to a friend of mine from May 4 of that year I spent in Africa.

Put All Your Trust in Jesus Today
Jesus has promised to love and care for you.
No matter the pain or the problem, He'll be faithful to see you through, if you...
Put all you trust in Jesus today.  You'll find rest when His will you obey.
He will answer whenever you pray.  So put all your trust in Jesus today.
My friend, don't be discouraged when problems come your way.
Just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, and he'll give you a brighter day, when you...
Put all your trust in Jesus today.  You'll find rest when His will you obey.
He will answer whenever you pray. So, put all your trust in Jesus today.

Jesus Will Make a Way
I've been tested and been tried, tossed by winds on every side,
Faced mountains in my way, couldn't see the light of day,
In my desperate hour, I just called on His name, and found that Jesus He made a way.
Jesus will make a way.  Jesus will make a way.
Through every dark cloud, through every day, I know that Jesus will make a way.
I've been tired and so afraid, been discouraged and so down,
Was tempted to be loved, and felt so ashamed,
But the day that I looked at Him, and I called out His name, I found that Jesus He made a way.
I know that Jesus He'll make a way.

God is Able
The decree came down to all the land, to the people in the kings command,
Bown down to the dusty ground when they heard the trumpet sound
But the children of God refused to kneel.  They defied the king with a firey zeal.
They were thrown in the flame that day, but you could hear the children say...
God is able.  God is able to deliver from the fire.
He will rescue those who serve Him when the flames are burning higher.
Don't you know that some things never change, and the firey trials are still the same.
The saints of God must face the test if you can stand above the rest.
Take courage friend and walk on through.  The Lord will face the fire with you.
Stand with the saints and say... My God will provide a way.

Hiding Place
The Spirit of the Lord is in this place.  Our hearts are warmed by His embrace.
All our doubts and our fears we find erased when the Spirit of the Lord is in this place.
Hold me, hold me.  I'm in the midst of the storm.
Jesus hold me, hold me.  I'll be safe in my Father's arms.
You are my hiding place.  You are my hiding place.
In the shelter of Your presence I find I'm safe.  Lord, You are my hiding place.
I'll be safe in my Father's arms for You are my hiding place.

God is Gonna Finish Just What He Started
God is gonna finish just what H started, even though the waters got to be parted.
Lift up your hand, don't be broken hearted.  God is gonna finish what He started in you.
He who began a good work in you is able to complete it.
God is gonna finish what He started in you.

These songs were such an encouragement to me.  It was good to know that God was going to finish the work that He started in me.  I could put all my trust in Jesus those days, knowing that He was able to deliver me from anything that could come against me, and have confidence that He would make a way for me.  He was my place of safety.  I knew then, that I could always hide in Him.

I hope this encourages you as well.