My Seven Years of Silence

I can remember when I started this blog in February of 2009.  I was so excited to begin my new journey as a “blogger.”  It’s not that I hadn’t written anything prior to this endeavor.  My dreams of writing began when I was about eight years old.  It began with a short fictional tale and ranged to silly rhymes, serious essays and even some heart-felt poetry.  I began journaling about my life’s experiences when I hit my teens, and I kept a journal faithfully throughout high school, college and graduate school.

Life took an interesting twist when I graduated with my master’s degree in journalism from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA.  I made the decision to reject the traditional career approach which would include teaching journalism or working at a local television station as a journalist. Instead, I accepted a one-year job position in an English-language kindergarten in South Korea.  Up to this point, I had collected quite a list of e-mail contacts from people with whom I shared a mutual desire to stay in contact. As I shared my news with them, they all wanted to hear about my new adventure.  And so began the “Cristina Cobb Newsletters” that I would write at least once a month to tell of my adventures in South Korea.  My first year turned into a second year which eventually became four years before I left Asia to return to the U.S. to become Mrs. Stephen Meier. My writing continued as I converted the Cristina Cobb Newsletters into the “Meier Wire” newsletters.  These newsletters were always sent by e-mail until I decided to try blogging for the first time.

If you took the time to click the link listed above, you’ll see that Stephen and I were already living in Ecuador at the time.  We had two children and we were both working at the Alliance Academy International in Quito.  Besides being a mom and a wife and a secondary teacher (two high school and two middle school classes) while trying to study for my qualifying exams in my Ph.D. program, I somehow managed to find time to write regular blog posts.  Sometimes, I struggled to write something simply to get words onto the screen.  Other times, I could feel my thoughts flow like a fluid stream through my fingertips as my typed words appeared on the screen.  It brought me such joy write about our family adventures and to find an outlet for my journalistic endeavors.

Time went by.  I passed my qualifying exams and was approved to begin the REAL work on my dissertation.  I had another baby.  We left our three year home in Ecuador to move to the “unknown lands” of southeast Texas.  I stopped working to stay at home with my three growing toddlers.  Stephen had his first position as an official head of school.  He would come home and ask me almost every day, “Have I told you that I love my job?”

I kept writing my blog.  Then I had another baby in early 2013.  I began in earnest to complete my dissertation.  The promising doctorate degree in communication always seemed to loom somewhere in the foggy, far-off future.  Sometimes it felt like it belonged in a galaxy far, far away.

During that time, the importance of blogging began to fade to the back of my wishfully thinking mind. I was a stay at home mom.  I should have had plenty of time to write.  But I was tired.  I had so many great story ideas that would come to me as I was changing a diaper, or making a meal or driving my kids around town.  By the time I would find myself sitting in front of the computer, my brain was numbed by exhaustion and the heavy weight of all that I needed to do to finish writing my dissertation.  I. WAS. TIRED.

Yep.  And so I jotted down notes here and there that never quite got far enough to become blog posts.  Hence came my final blog of 2013, which reads more like a bullet list you might find on Facebook.  Okay.  It’s actually a bit too long for a typical FB post, but you get the general idea.  That was when I took a break from blogging.

Fast forward two more years, and I finally graduated with my Ph.D. in Communications.  Since I had so much free time on my hands and I had three of my four children attending school, Stephen suggested that I try a part-time job working in the after care program at school.  We also suddenly realized that we were going to have to find a new home to live in, because the owners of our current home of four years were making plans to sell the property.  The door opened up for us to start hosting international students (most of them were coming from China).  We agreed to take in three teenage boys (one in middle school and two in high school).  We moved to a two story house within a few blocks walk from school.  It had a huge master suite that would work perfectly for our international students to share.

The 2015-2016 school year was now upon us and I was busy taking care of seven kids ranging from the ages of 2 years to 17 years old.  Somehow my dreams of carving out time to write didn’t quite pan out the way I envisioned.  Piles of unfolded laundry and seven sets of empty lunch boxes would call out to me each night.  And, yes, I was still tired.  VERY. TIRED.

The kids grew.  They went to school and learned “stuff.”  We traveled, visited and experienced the Texan culture that surrounded us. We had “Texas-sized” adventures on weekends and holidays.  Our lives were full, but my blog was not.

The next school year would be the first time that Seth would attend school.  He was the first of our children that I would even consider sending into Pre-K 3.  I kept my oldest at home with me until he started kindergarten.  Luke and Grace both started attending school when they were in Pre-K 4.  But Seth was desperate to catch up with his siblings and he really didn’t like being left at home “alone” with mom.  He wanted to be in on the the “education” action.  So, I gave in and enrolled him to start in the 2016-2017 school year.

You would think that this would be the year for me to jump back into writing with a huge splash.  Instead, I avoided the blogging pool altogether by agreeing to teach Spanish at the school my children and international students were attending.  My contract to teach elementary Spanish soon became an agreement to also teach middle school Spanish.  All my classes were crammed into the morning hours so that I could take my three year old, Seth, home after lunch every day to take his nap at home.  I thought I might have time to write during those precious few hours of down time.  However, I soon realized it was the only time I could prepare dinner.  At 3pm, I had to get Seth up from his nap so that we could go back to school for the after school program where I was also working.  Our three international students were involved with school sports or getting help with their homework and our four children attended the after care program with me.   The program ended at about 6pm; which was just in time to reheat the dinner I had prepared a few hours earlier.

It was the busiest year I have ever had in my life so far.  Exhaustion crept into my life like a dense fog that wouldn’t let go.  I found myself working in automatic mode, sleeping less than four hours a night for weeks at a time.  I found I couldn’t write anything worthwhile or creative.  I just tried to survive.  For the first time ever, I started experiencing migraine headaches. Stephen and I attended a weekly Bible study that I barely stay awaked in enough to appreciate fully. If I slowed down or sat down too long, I would fall asleep.  I. WAS. EXHUASTED.

Then, Stephen began talking about a school in China that was interested in him.  In February of 2017 (eight years after I started my blog in Ecuador), he told me that he really wanted to move to China to work at this school.  My exhausted mind could not handle the idea of moving.  My frayed emotions rejected the change in pace it even though we both knew I desperately needed it.

We moved to mainland China in July of 2017.  Stephen and I were both working at the same international school that our four children attended.  Learning a new culture, and new language and getting our bearings in a new country was a time consuming task.  The lack of individual freedom of expression made a constant impact.  The “great firewall” of China kept us from using Internet sites we had taken for granted while living in the U.S.  Any site connected with Google was completely blocked.  Video and audio streaming was severely limited.  All social media sites created outside of China was blocked.  We found ways to work the system, but there were times when we were disconnected from the rest of the world.  It just didn’t seem the time to start adding to my blog again.  I was also a bit paranoid about “big brother” hacking into my computer and tracking my every written word.  It’s not hard to feel paranoid in a country that is constantly adding more and more face-recognition cameras in every public venue and tracks individual cell phone use for its citizens.

Our time in China ended with a door of opportunity opening for us in the middle East.  I finally wrote a blog from my home in B.J., China as we wrapped up our final days living there. Then I wrote a couple posts about our big move to Ankara, Turkey.

And here I am now.  Stuck with the same emotions I have been feeling over the past few years.  The same questions swirl around in my head as I read through the paragraphs I’ve typed so far.  Is this what I really want to say?  Does it really matter anymore?  Who really cares what I have to write about anyway? Insecurities sneak in to steal my confidence and sense of accomplishment.

Then, I remember how much I love writing.  I remember the thrill of painting a verbal picture of a specific moment of time that might catch someone’s interest and fill them with wonder or inspiration.  Now, I don’t think all my posts are quite that impactful.  Some of them are just plain silly.  But every once in a while, I will find something to write about that really shines like a jewel among the rest.  And that’s enough motivation for me.  For those of you who took the time to read this whole thing through, thank you for joining me in this small journey through the history of my excuses for not writing.

Yes, I think I will make it official. This is the end my seven years of silence on WordPress.  Hello, 2020.  I’m coming your way.

All I Really Want for Christmas

I love listening to Christmas music during this time of year.  I have some of the classics, but I also have a lot of albums made by Christian contemporary artists.  In 2005, Stephen Curtis Chapman wrote a song called “All I Really Want” describing what an orphan would really want for Christmas.  I thought the song was sweet, but the words never hit so close to home as they have this year. These words have taken a new meaning for me:

“All I really want for Christmas is someone to tuck me in
A shoulder to cry on if I lose, shoulders to ride on if I win
There’s so much I could ask for, but there’s just one thing I need
All I really want for Christmas is a family.”

© By Stephen Curtis Chapman

This Christmas a little girl is getting that Christmas wish.  She may be too young to understand it.  After all, she’s only nineteen months old.  But one day she will understand.  She’ll find out how her parents, Philip and Chrissy Cobb, began praying for direction in adopting a child.  When the door closed for them to adopt a child from Ethiopia, they didn’t give up.  They moved on to another adoption agency and were introduced to a little girl in China who was in need of a permanent family.

They first announced to the world that they were looking at adopting a little girl in China in early May of 2011.  Although they had been told the process could take well over a year, they were able to fly to China on December 8 of this year and are now finalizing the paperwork in order to fly back to Florida in time to spend Christmas together with their new daughter, Li Rose.  They are due to arrive in Gainesville on December 21.

It has been quite an adventure.  Find out more about their story by visiting their blog: http://hobnobwiththecobbs.blogspot.com/

Philip with Josh, Chrissy with Li Rose

Just Another Busy November

Date: November 5, 2011
Location: Lake Jackson, TX

The MK Meier family has finally settled into life here in Lake Jackson, Texas.  During the past month, we’ve seen the weather go down from the 90’s range to the 40’s. We’ve watched the mosquito armies bring on a late summer attack for a couple weeks, just to die off every time the temperature dropped below 50.  We went from using air conditioning on a regular basis to needing to use heat. We’ve settled into a routine that keeps the boys busy (and Mamma from going insane).  She also been quite busy attempting to potty train Luke and to get Grace to eat some of her first solid foods.

If any of you have been following the blog, you’ll note that I’ve actually been adding posts a little at a time over the past month.  However, if this is the first time that you’ve visited the blog since the past update, here are the stories you will find:

1) Our two big prayer requests (probably our biggest stressors at this time)
2) My 25 hour day (thoughts on what Cristina should do on the day that daylight savings ends)
3) Halloween alternatives (how the MK Meier family celebrated Halloween for the first time)
4) A Trip to Chicago (find out why Stephen left Lake Jackson for three days to attend a conference)
5) Remembering Smashed Potatoes (discussing some of the cute phrased the boys have said)
6) The Lake Jackson Speed Trap (owning up to Cristina’s first time caught speeding)
7) Texan invadors (dealing with the Texas mosquito population explosion)

Feel free to read through the blog and enjoy!

Meier’s May Updates

Date: May 9, 2010
Location: Quito, Ecuador

Greetings to everyone from the family who had slipped out of e-mail contact for a month or two.  We are still alive and well and enjoying a relaxing afternoon on this Mother’s Day of 2010.  I manage every once in a while to open Facebook and try to see how all my FB friends and family are doing.  Some of you have been so gracious to send us messages by e-mail or Skype and have been very patient in waiting for our response.

So, here I am to write a quick update about our lives as missionary educators in Quito, Ecuador.  Please use the links on this web blog to find out about the following:

1) Updates in the ministry at Alliance Academy
*Read our current prayer requests
*Our upcoming summer trip to the U.S. is now available! (July 3-24)
(Ministry Link)

2) Adventures with the Meier Family
*Find out how our sons, Jared and Luke, are progressing in their young lives
*Read about their adjustment to a new nanny in this past month
*Read about what Stephen has been doing lately
* Find out why Cristina is still struggling with procrastination and motivation to finish her dissertation and earn her Ph.D. in Communications
(Family News Link)

3) Fun Adventures in Quito, Ecuador
*Learn about the 21st Century ants that moved into our home
*Discover the new meaning for “did you have your coffee this morning?”
(TCK Views Link)

We continue to covet and appreciate your messages and notes of encouragement, as well as your love and prayer support.  It is amazing to see God work in the lives of the people we work with.  We are grateful to him in the ways that he continually provides for our needs at just the right time.  We hope our correspondence with you provide you with some encouragement as well.

Sincerely,

Cristina, Stephen, Jared and Luke Meier

May Mentions

Date: June 2, 2009
Location: Quito, Ecuador

I know it seems that we’ve fallen off the face of the earth.  When I sent out the last Meier Wire on the 11th of March, I had no idea that it would be over two months before I would have the chance to write another Meier Wire or update our newly created blog.  I started writing this update at the end of April.  That slowly became the end of May.  And now it is already the first of June.

Playing at the park

Playing at the park

Once my maternity leave ended on March 30th, all my free time disappeared into caring for two infants, teaching three classes, grading papers and trying to keep up with the daily tasks of life.

So, I am very glad to be able to announce that our family blog site (the MkMeier’s Blog) has been updated with the events and happenings for the past few months.

Go to the category links to find out:
Under Ministry
*How Stephen and Cristina were able to decide to stay in Quito one more year
*Their upcoming summer trip to the U.S. (June 23-July 16)
*What keeps students busy after school on Wednesday afternoons
*Why the Meier family skipped a week of school to go to the beach
Under TCK Views
*The results of Ecuador’s recent national elections & some funny signs I’ve only seen in Ecuador
*The uncanny adventures the Meier family has had with their appliances in the past nine months
Under Family News
*What new words Jared can say and how Luke is progressing as he nears 5 months of age
*What is keeping “Mamma” soooo busy these days
*Six signs to look for among those who watch too much “Dora the Explorer”