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.

Harvesting Joy in 2012

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2012
Location: Lake Jackson, Texas

(Note: Although I wrote this in late November of 2012, I did not post it for another eight months. Please pardon my delay!)

I recently went nearly 10 months without posting a single post on our family blog.  Then, I posted 16 different posts to try to make up for the lack of communication.  Two weeks later, I began planning my next batch of blog posts.  After all, there are only two months left in the calendar year and my brain is already flowing with a number of ideas for posts.  Of course, the ideas come easily when there is so much going on at this time of the year.  Harvest activities, festivals and “hallow’s eve” kick off the beginning of the holiday season.  Just as soon as I’ve sorted through the Halloween candy, it’s already time to think about Thanksgiving plans and Christmas.  Throw in a national election and a pregnancy that is coming into the final 10 week countdown and I become a very busy momma.

So, feel free to read about our fall activities and updates. October and November have been fun months of busy activities and celebrations that I am looking forward to sharing with you.

Recent topics:

1) Grandparent’s Day Relived (Family News)
Although Grandparent’s Day was officially listed on U.S. calendars in the month of September, Brazosport Christian School (BCS) has traditionally prepared a special celebration in their honor during the month of October.

2) ACSI accreditation (Ministry)
Under the supervision of Stephen Meier, BCS recently accomplished something that no other Christian school in the United States has yet to achieve.

3) Hallelujah on Halloween (TCK Views)
A lot of churches around here have taken to celebrating “Hallelujah” night in the place of Halloween.

4) Monster Dash into the wind (Family News)
This was the second year that the Meier family participated in this Halloween-themed 5k race with special races for kids, a costume contest and a sudden dip in temperature.

5) Weather or not in Lake Jackson (TCK Views)
I grew up without any seasonal changes, so I’m not a person to be disappointed by snowless winters and a lack of a real spring blossoming or fall foliage.

6) A Homecoming Update & Prize Winners (Ministry)
At Brazosport Christian School (BCS), their annual homecoming event was supercharged this year by a fund-raising event set to deliver prizes to a few lucky participants who took the time to donate money to the school.

We hope you are doing well as the year draws to an end and the holiday season begins.  Feel free to e-mail, call, Skpye or post us.  May God grant each of you peace of mind regardless of how you feel about the national election results this year.  God is in control of everything; even the United States electoral process.

Sincerely,

Cristina (for the rest of the MK Meier family)

Stephen, Cristina, Jared, Luke, Grace and Seth-in-the-womb

Springing into Summer and Landing in the Fall

Date: October 28, 2012
Location: Lake Jackson, Texas

I can’t believe we are already three-fourths of the way through the 2012 year and I have managed to experience each of these months without a single update on my blog.  It’s definitely a new record for silence on the Internet since I created the MK Meier Family site.

I remember sitting down during the final week of January and writing down a list of topics that I wanted to write about for my February update. The entire month of February, I kept thinking I was going to sit down at some point and complete the task.  Suddenly, it was March.  Just as suddenly, March was over.  I took a deep breath as April began and I think the month was over before I finished letting the air out of my lungs.  Don’t even ask me about May.  I think I blinked a couple times and it was June already.  In desperation, I realized I wasn’t actually sitting down long enough at the computer to write anything intelligible.

By mid-July, I had finally decided that my brain was going to explode if I do not write some reflection of life’s experiences as they have occurred to the MK Meier family in the first half of 2012. Then, someone woke up from his nap early and my days blurred together without any further written reflections.

August was a busy month as I slowly prepared myself and my kids for early mornings so that I would be able to drop off Jared at school every school day by 7:45am.  Stephen’s morning schedule involves arriving at work much earlier than that, so I have to get all the kids ready to leave the house at the same time in order to get Jared to school by myself.

Amidst these mental preparations, August also ended up being  a month of illness as everyone struggled through various stages of sinus and head colds.

September was a continuation of everyone adjusting to rising early in the morning and getting Jared to school on time.  By this time, I had managed to work out a morning schedule to keep Luke and Grace busy for the hours between breakfast and when we pick Jared up from school at lunch time. After lunch, my body is usually screaming at me to along with my napping children and somehow…sitting in front of a computer becomes entirely undesirable.

Now it is October.  I am beginning to wonder if I’m ever going to accomplish this task of communicating with all our long distance friends.  By now some of you might have deleted my e-mail address from your contact book from lack of communication.  But here I go again, in an attempt to summarize the past nine months in the lives of five busy MK Meier individuals.

Feel free to browse through this blog to read about some of the following adventures and updates.  I tried to write them chronologically, so the newest ones are at the bottom of this list, but will show up on the top of the blog:

1) Summoned to Jury Duty in Texas (TCK Views)

2) Story Telling the Texan way (TCK Views)

3) Bats in Texas (Meier Family News)

4) Speaking of Conferences (Ministry)

5) A Trip to Waco (Ministry)

6) Stephen discovers Poison Oak (Meier Family News)

7) Bleach and Ice cream (Meier Family News)

8) Fireworks in Galveston (TCK Views)

9) Cristina Gets Stuck on Methodology (Meier Family News)

10) Jared: A Big Kindergarten Student (Meier Family News)

11) Luke: from potty training to preschool (Meier Family News)

12) Grace is walking, climbing and dancing (Meier Family News)

13) Expecting Again: MK Meier Kid #4 (Meier Family News)

14) BCS is Unstoppable (Ministry)

15) Traveling East in 2012 (Meier Family News)

I’ve tried to narrow down my story telling to the most significant experiences we’ve had so far. We are grateful to all who have kept in touch with us throughout the silence and the communication.  We appreciate your thoughts and prayers.  We offer many thanks to those who have kept in touch with us through Facebook, Skype and over the phone when we haven’t been as consistent through e-mail or standard mail.

We would love to hear from you.  Feel free to leave a comment on any of the posts you read, write us an e-mail, write on our Facebook pages or give us a ring on Skype.

Sincerely,

Cristina (for Stephen, Jared, Luke, Grace and Seth-in-the-womb) Meier

Cristina Gets Stuck on Methodology

August  2012 – For those of you who have been aware that I have been working on the dissertation of my Ph.D. for the past couple years, you might also have wondered if I ever finished it this past school year (2011-2012) as I had originally planned when we moved to Lake Jackson.

The answer is a profoundly disappointed “no.” I was staying on track for the first few months without too many setbacks.  However, I really pushed myself to finish my second chapter.  I stayed up ALL night one night to get it finished and then I got completely exhausted.  The next thing I knew, I was getting myself wrapped up in the holiday season and suddenly it was January and then February and I had accomplished very little for the third and last chapter of my dissertation proposal.  So, the school year finished off with me feeling guilty about not completing the first draft of my third chapter. This is a bit of a tedious chapter because it focuses on the methodology of my study, which is basically explaining to my audience the exact details for how I will conduct the study.

I was hoping to get some work done over the summer, but I was physically unable to do much because of all the bed rest that was required of me.  So, here I am once again starting another school year and hoping that I will be graduating in the spring of 2013.  If I do, it will be a special experience, because I will be graduating at the same time as the students that I sponsored for two years at the Alliance Academy International.  It’s hard for me to believe that those cute little eighth graders that I was teaching in a Computer 8 class in the 2008-2009 school year are now big seniors at the school.

So, I would also like to be in the graduating class of 2013.  I’ve talked to my professor.  He wants me to send him a second draft of my first two chapters before I try to send him the rough draft of my third chapter.  In that way, I can hopefully get back on track and nail down a schedule for defending my proposal, conducting my study and actually finish writing my entire dissertation to be defended later on this year.

That is my current plan.  I am hoping that the motivation I feel in updating our family blog will continue in my academic writing endeavors.  Please keep me in your prayers.

Remembering Indy

When I received a call from my younger sister early on a Tuesday morning in late November, I had a feeling that something was going on.  The feeling grew as she began to ask me if I had heard from my mom or my brother or anyone else in the family.  Then she proceeded to inform me that my grandmother on my mother’s side of the family had passed away early that morning.

Nella Dean "Indy" Whitten

It was November 29, 2011.  If she had stayed alive until December 8, she would have celebrated her 89th birthday.  Her death did not come as a shock.  She had been struggling with Alzheimer’s for over a decade and was slowly deteriorating in both mental and physical capabilities.  However, her soul remained the same.  She was that vibrant lady who loved people and wanted them to know how much God loved them too.  Her love for God and people sent her overseas as a missionary with her husband to places like Argentina, Spain and the equatorial islands off the coast of Africa.  Even in retirement, she continued to reach out to people with the love of Christ.  Even as her memories began to fade and she no longer remembered things or recognized people, she continued to seek out those who needed a little extra attention.

Stephen and I decided that we would attend her funeral, since there was less than eight hours driving distance between Lake Jackson, Texas and Jackson, Mississippi.  As I made my plans to visit, I felt a tugging in my heart to write a poem in memory of her.  As I weighed the pros and cons of taking on this creative endeavor, I began to remember all the birthdays that she would send me a personal birthday card that she had made herself, complete with her own poem.  Then, I knew I had to do it.

Once I told my mom about it, she suggested at once that I read it at the funeral.  So, without further ado, here is the poem I read for on December 2, 2011 at Nella Dean “Indy” Whitten’s funeral.

Lost and Found Memories
By Cristina Meier

I can see her now walking as she once was,
an excited girl figure on the edge of the shore
She’s young now and walks so lightly
Having recently entered the land of legend and lore

 Her hair is vibrant red, tumbling down her back
Blowing and reflecting the sunrise before her
Her eyes are dancing, full of laughter and light,
Her smile is a radiance of joy, steady and sure

 She picks up a shell lying close to her feet
It’s one of many on the sands of vast memories
Scooping up a handful, she takes a moment and
Sighing she whispers, “These are my memories.”

 Joyfully she fills the basket beside her,
digging her toes deep into the warm, moist sand.
She stops periodically to stare at each shell
turning them over gently in the palm of her hand.

 Some of them bring smiles and periodic giggles
Some bring a sigh and an occasional tear
But each memory is a treasure to her
Each moment…each hour; each day…each year.

 “Oh, yes, I remember now,” she says,
Each empty space filled to the last strand
Like long-lost treasures slowly found
Forever mysteries she can now understand

 And she finds that she is not alone here
Looking over at the person walking her way
Jumping up she runs to meet him
She’s never met a stranger in her day.

 She pauses for a brief moment, looking up
And the man smiles down at her.
His arms stretch out to share a greeting;
A gesture to quickly welcome her.

 She looks carefully down at the strong hands
Each bearing the scar of an old Roman nail.
The bruises each tell their own story
Grasping them eagerly, she knows of their tale.

 “Do you remember me, child?” he asks.
“Yes, Lord,” she says, “I do.”
“For your love has been a part of me
And part of everything that I knew.”

 “Welcome, home, my daughter!”
His voice rings loud and clear,
And that’s how the story should end
Without shame, free of pain and fear.

 Hand-in-hand with her Savior
She skips along at his side.
In her free hand hangs her basket
Collected memories gleaming inside.

 Together they pause at the edge of the shore;
Together they lift up the basket to the sea.
Tossing shells out to the oncoming waves
Sending them back to where they’re meant to be.

 For nothing is lost that has now been found.
Her treasures are far greater than we can know.
She has found them all in love everlasting
Within the arms of Him who loves her so.

© By Cristina Meier

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!

A “Published” Principal

Soon after the school year began, our school’s director approached Stephen with a project.  He had been asked by the “Christian School Education” magazine if he would write article about bullying to be put into their spring issue that would touch on topics regarding school safety.  He decided it was one thing that he didn’t have time for and asked Stephen if he might be interested.  He had told the editors of the magazine that he recommended Stephen to write it because he is the secondary principal who deals more with the issues of bullying and that is wife is a journalist and could help him to write a good article.

That is how I got drafted into editing Stephen’s article about his experiences dealing with bullying at Christian schools.  Being a busy man, Stephen waited until the morning that the article was due to have me edit the article.  He woke me up early one morning in November that I could edit it before he had to fax it to their main office.

As Stephen got our boys ready for the day, I read through his article while trying to ignore all the activity going on in the house.  Finally, I gave the article back to him and he sent it in.  Several months passed by.  Last week, Stephen received a box in the mail from the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).  In the box was five copies of “Christian School Education,” Volume 13, Number 3, 2009/2010 and a letter thanking Stephen for contributing in their most recent edition of the magazine.  The title of the magazine on the front cover was, “Are Christian Schools Safe?”

Also on the front cover were the titles and authors of four of the articles to be found within the magazine.  The last title was “Confronting Bullying Using Justice and Love” with Stephen Meier’s name underneath. 

That was a special moment for Stephen and worth getting up early in the morning to help edit his writing.

The Struggling A.B.D.

Ever since I passed my oral exams for my Ph.D., I have been struggling with taking the next step in writing my dissertation.

The rest of life that I had put aside to study now came rushing in on me. My growing children demanded more of my time. The school’s schedule was now filled with more grading that I had faced in the early days of the quarter. I keep finding myself sitting in front of my computer and staring off into space wondering if I’ll ever get my dissertation written in time to graduate this year.

I got an official letter from my university in late November. The letter congratulated me for passing my exams and stated that I have now officially become part of the group of people who have finished everything except the dissertation. They called me an “A.B.D.” which stands for all but dissertation.

Now, I must decide whether or not I will settle for these initials at the end of my name or move on to complete my Ph.D.

I actually did start writing my dissertation a few days ago. My saved word document on my computer boasts of three pages. It’s a small start, but I’m hoping that I will be able to complete writing it before the end of 2010.

Cristina takes a moment to hang out with Luke and Jared in the playground.