Friday, December 30, 2005


Reflecting on this past year brings mixed thoughts for me. There was so much joy: the birth of my third niece, Baby E; two of my dreams (writing and signing interpretation) beginning to come to fruition; my physical health continuing to improve…

But there is also much pain. One year ago I was at the lowest point of my life. I was fighting a battle against Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, specifically germphobia. It was winning.

I have gone through many difficult times in my life, especially in the past five years. I have helped my mom through surgery after surgery after surgery. I have struggled with one health problem after another of my own, and seen my sisters do the same. I’ve been through a painful church split and betrayal by a close friend. But through all of those and others, I had a close connection with God. I had my family. And I had my own resilient spirit.

I have always loved life. I have always loved people. But all that changed. OCD snuck up from nowhere and changed my life. Changed me. Suddenly I didn’t enjoy life. I struck out at the people I loved the most. I didn’t like myself. I didn’t know who I was anymore. The Amy I had always been was gone. I tried to find her again. Wanted her again. But I couldn’t find the strength to bring her back.

I called out to God, to my family, to doctors. The germs had taken over my life. I spent my days striving to control the germs. Instead, they controlled me. For a year and a half I spiraled downwards. I hit the bottom. Life was no life, but one tortuous day mingled into another, obsessed with germs. Then, slowly, very slowly, I began crawling back out of it.

There was no magic formula. No brilliant “Ah ha!” revelation. There was just one minute at a time.

There were, however, some things that helped immensely. My naturopath found that not only did I have mercury poisoning, and not only were my hormone levels way out of whack, but also my neurotransmitters were completely bonkers. The transmitters that keep you focused on one thing were sky high. The “feel good” transmitters were extremely low. Adrenaline was way high. I was put on some natural medicines and eventually a prescription medication. Life, slowly, was returning.

Today I am once again Amy. There are still pieces in my life of that other person. Perhaps some will always be there, lingering in the background. But I will keep fighting. Those pieces will continue to get smaller, more distant.

This year I can stand with confidence, looking back and seeing that even when I reach the point that I can only scream, “God, help me!” I can know that He will. This year I will enjoy my family. Enjoy God.

I will enjoy life.

There are many of you out there who have no idea how much you’ve helped me through this. There are a few sho know only too well how much they have helped. To each of you, and most of all to my family, I want to say “Thank You.”

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Family Time

I can tell Sis is home from college. When I climbed out of bed today the dishwasher was running. When I climbed out of the shower I could smell fudge cooking! Yum!

My family has been having a lot of fun evenings lately. We've been singing together, remembering old stories, and watching movies. I'm realizing how fast time is going... Sis will be going back to college in a couple of weeks and then we won't see her until July.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend with your families, whether they be blood relatives or family in Christ, or both. Cherish the time together. God bless.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Happy Birthday, AJ!

Today is my oldest sister Purple Kangaroo’s birthday!

Happy birthday, AJ!!!

My sisters, AJ and Sis, and I have always been close. Since we have no brothers, AJ took on the role of protector and guider when we were young. She was always ready to defend us, teach us, help us, and yes, boss us. ;-) In my six-years-younger eyes, AJ’s ideas were always the bestest, most cleverest, most down-right brilliantest ideas in the world!

AJ particularly loves animals, and she was deemed An Authority on anything to do with an animal, bird, fish, reptile, or bug by Sis, me, and it seemed the whole neighborhood. Any injured or stray living thing found in the whole area seemed to find its way to us. So AJ, with our help, nursed many a broken-winged bird, cat-caught bunny, newborn mice, and even a praying mantis. Indeed, after AJ was married she worked as a veterinary assistant for a time, putting her lifetime of practice to good use.

My sisters and I were complete tomboys and complete girly girls, having the best of both worlds. We would spend hours climbing trees (ok, so I didn’t climb very high!), splashing in the ponds or creek, building tiny mud houses for our plastic wild animals or big forts for ourselves, and playing with salamanders, frogs, crawdads, and snakes. Then we would clean up and spend hours in the kitchen making little sandwiches, petit fours, and chocolate-dipped strawberries before donning frilly dresses to serve tea to our friends.

Since we were all homeschooled, I also have many memories of our school days together. History textbooks apparently repeat every six years, so AJ and I were often studying the same time periods at the same time. This meant we could do a lot of fun projects together! AJ also taught me and a group of other home schooled high schoolers a speech class. I loved that! Each week she asked us to describe something beautiful we had seen. I still remember many of the speaking tips I learned.

I also have special memories of the three of us sisters singing together, reading together, and playing piano together. I remember AJ making up stories to go with classical music (either her own piano music or radio music) and we would act it out or dance to it.

Speaking of stories, AJ has had a huge influence on my own writing. AJ also writes and she has been a great encouragement and role model for my writing aspirations.

But AJ has been a role model for more than just writing. She has struggled with health problems through most of her life, and now that I too, am struggling with my health, it is an encouragement to cry, laugh, and pray with a sister who understands. Everything AJ does, she does wholeheartedly, despite her health. She has never let it stop her from living life to the full. It is an honor to see how she lets God use her health troubles to honor Him and to encourage others.

AJ, thank you for being more than a sister. Thank you for being my friend.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Joys of Home Businesses: Phones

As most of you know, my family has two businesses out of our home. My dad has been building homes for about 30 years and developing land for about 15. L & C Wiley, Inc is very much a family run business with first Mom, and then us girls as we got old enough, doing the book work and many, many other odds and ends.

Four years ago Mom started a gift basket company, Forget-Me-Not Gift Baskets. I’m not much involved it that one anymore, because we are so busy with our other business and me with my signing and writing, but I help with it, too.

Most of my life I have answered the phone, “L & C Wiley, Incorporated.” (try saying that really fast…Ellensee Wiley…). Well, when we started getting calls for the gift basket company, things got a little complicated. For a while we tried, “L & C Wiley, Incorporated and Forget-Me-Not Gift Baskets, may I help you?” Now that is a mouthful and generally you’ve lost the person halfway through the L. So now I stick to saying in as professional of a voice as I can, “This is Amy, may I help you?” Often the person will respond, “Umm, is this….? uhhh….” And I just have to sit there and wait for the poor person to think of the name of the company they were trying to call, because if I try to help them out they just get more confused. “Gift baskets? Huh? No, I was calling a builder.”

But my favorite part of phones and having two businesses is our high tech transferring system. Mom’s computer is in the school room (the room name is a hold-over from our home schooling days) and it is directly above my office. So when I get a phone call for her, I say, “One moment, please.” put them on hold, and then, then I bang on the floor really hard with my heels! She hears and picks up the phone. “Hello, may I help you?” LOL

Then there is the whole deal with my Dad as my boss. Now most of our subcontractors have been working with us for many years and know that Lynn’s daughters do his office work. But some of them don’t know and most of our suppliers don’t know. So I have to try to figure out whether to call him Dad or Lynn when I’m making phone calls. Half the people can’t figure out what in the world the secretary’s dad has to do with anything and the other half wonder why I’m so rude as to call my dad by his first name.

Now with all this different stuff going on, it can be quite difficult to remember who I am. I dial and when they answer I say, “Hello. This is Amy with L &--” no wait, that’s not who I am for this call… “Er, this is Amy with Forg--” No! “Uh, this is Amy Wiley, I was, uh, calling to make an eye appointment…”

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Test Update

I was feeling very sick yesterday, but right before I started my test my head cleared. I’m quite certain it was because so many of you were praying. Thank you!!! I think I did all right on my final. I know I didn’t come close to acing it, but I’m sure I’ll pass.

Haha, my carpool friend and I headed to the cafeteria to eat dinner right before class. Well, they have new winter hours and close at 1:30 in the afternoon. Okaaayyy. So we went for the vending machine. Thankfully they have one of those cooler ones with sandwiches and stuff in them. So I pushed the button to turn the shelves around so that the yogurt I wanted was in front, put in my money, opened the window, and took my yogurt. I was looking around for a spoon when my friend pointed out the fact that there was a spoon in the now relocked shelf by where my yogurt was.

Well, there was no way I was going to pay another 85 cents for a plastic spoon, so I reached through the grated gate on one of the shops and managed to get a straw. I just hope the security cameras caught the fact that it was only a straw I stole… Anyway, by tipping the yogurt up and sort of encouraging the yogurt into my mouth (and all over my face) with the straw, I was able to get most of it out of the container and go into my test with something in my stomach anyway. But next time I think I’ll just look for the spoon...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Good Weekend...

This weekend I’ve been cramming for my final sign language test and stressing a bit over that, and didn’t even have time to do a challenge story, but you know what? I had a great weekend! I’ve been in an especially happy mood the last couple of days--I guess just enjoying my family and friends and writing and signing. I got to do all of that this weekend.

On Friday I planned a cyber party for our Faith Writer group. We met in the chat room and had a lot of fun. People popped in and out for over four hours!

On Saturday my family went to see The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe with Lauren and some of her family and a whole group of friends. It was great! The movie followed the book remarkably well. The beginning surprised me by starting off with scenes from WWII--setting the scene nicely. It was so fun watching it with three rows of people we knew! One scene was startling and I actually yelled out-loud. Lauren’s like, “Are you okay?” He he he.

On Sunday a friend of mine from sign language came over to study with me for the test. We got kinda overwhelmed at what we were having trouble with…lol But got some good study in too… Numbers are really throwing me… It takes me too long for what I’m seeing to register in my brain as the said number and by then I’ve lost the next four numbers! Wednesday is our final test, so we would love prayer.

Then on Sunday evening my sister and brother-in-law dropped off my oldest two nieces while they went to Narnia. We had fun reading and reading and reading some more to them! LOL

On Monday I got notice that the last week’s writing challenge entry had gotten first place. This is my tenth short story to be published. This week is the end of an era for me… Not only is it the last class of the semester, but this was the first week I didn’t get a challenge story in (besides between quarters and when I was judging) since April. I have decided to concentrate on my other writing and not necessarily enter a challenge story every week. It has helped my writing tremendously, and now it is time to work on some of my longer writing. I’m excited to see what comes of it.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Whining... ;-)

*sigh* I had a test for sign language tonight. We were video-taped doing a conversation with a classmate and I did awful! For some reason lately I have been using the sign TREE instead of MANY (they are kinda close...well, sorta... lol). We get paired up with someone for the video and we get five minutes to practice with our partner before doing the actual video. So, I used the sign TREE instead of MANY and my partner corrected me. But a lot of good it did because I promptly went up and did the same thing for the test and the teacher had to stop me and go "huh?" But that's not the worst of it!

We were supposed to talk about our family history and what country our families came form. In the practice I told a story about my great-great-grandfather. He was the son of royalty, but fell in love with the milkmaid and was disinherited. Well, my partner indicated she understood the story, so I used it in the test. The teacher stopped me several times trying to figure out what in the world I was talking about. I got him to understand milk lady, but he couldn't figure out what I meant when I was talking about the disinheritance... But my partner was still responding like she understood. So after the video, I asked her (still in sign, we can't talk in the class room) if she had understood it. She said no. "Then why didn't you tell me that?" *sigh*...

And I can't even just not worry about it anymore. I have to review the tape and write a whole critique on it...

But on a good note, I was one of the last people to record my video test, so I got lots of practice for the final next week done. All of us waiting worked in groups together on numbers and the stuff we would be doing in both the video test and next week's test.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Smile, girls!

I think it would be fun to start posting random memories occasionally. So here’s a story my grandma told about my older sisters (Purple Kangaroo and Sis) this Thanksgiving:

“One day when the older girls were quite young, the flowers were blooming out in my front yard and looked so nice. I thought it would be pretty to take a picture of the girls with the flowers in the background. So I called them out and took the camera.

They stood obediently, staring at the camera with somber faces. I waved and smiled at them, trying to get them to smile. Finally I told them, ‘You can pick a flower, if you want.’ I thought, surely that will make them smile. They both swooped down, grabbed a flower, and stood abruptly up again, expressions never changing.

Well, then your mother came out of the house with her camera. The girls posed, just like before--no smiles. She lifted the camera to her face and said, ‘Smile, girls!’

And just like that, they smiled.”