Thursday, October 11, 2007

Daria B.

Hi again, y’all—It was really wonderful getting the updates from you and reading about the good things in your life (especially, your beautiful spiritual journeys! Yay!! ☺ ) and seeing the totally adorable children ☺ so many of you have! I thank our Heavenly Father for those gifts in your lives.

Most of my time and energy the last five years has been taken up with doctoral studies in Human Development. I specialize in how family relationships (including the effects of divorce) affect development of coping and the development of suicidal thoughts and behavior across the lifespan. I balance this sad stuff with looking at how we can grow and develop in positive ways from adversity, as well as with volunteering as a core member of A Child's Heart.

Before grad school, I worked with adults in crisis—those facing domestic violence, sexual assault, and suicide. I worked with young children wrestling with learning disabilities, and with hurting-but-wonderful teen girls struggling with problems of abuse, violence, school failure, drugs, suicide, and teen pregnancy. I then ended up doing some science policy work at the National Academies related to suicide prevention. I also helped care for my increasingly disabled, chronically ill mother until she died in my late twenties.

This long-term role (first taken on as a young teen) has been the defining role in my life thus far, along with that of “big sister.” = ) I have never forgotten what dear Mr. Sciacca told us in Bible class: “People are important. *People* are what matters in life…” One thing my mom showed me through her amazing, difficult life is that our work—regardless of whether it’s a recognized profession or whether it’s the unpaid work of something like parenting and home-making, whether it’s explicitly about “helping” people or whether it’s something like scrubbing toilets, crunching numbers, or fixing leaky roofs—can always be done as a gift to God and others. ☺ This continues to challenge, guide, and encourage me...

As always, I love to travel, do nature things, and be with my family (click here for more on my interests and travels).

Here’s a photo of me at Crater Lake, Oregon (definitely worth a visit! ☺)

...and showing you that I do still hug trees—haha ;-) (here, a massive Sierra juniper)...

, with my dear sibs last Christmas at my German grandparents’ couple-centuries old straw-thatched-roof house (yes, we Germans use real candles on the tree…)

In closing, I want to say that since getting the first class update, I keep thinking of those of you who didn’t respond (as well as of the many unspoken things in some of our short replies). Maybe too busy, maybe simply didn’t care to—but maybe, some of you feel you don’t have good things to report. That life has been hard, and sad. Or kinda empty.

Life is hard. It’s why I didn’t say much when Brandon first asked us for an update, because my life is rich with both tremendous blessings and devastating suffering, so describing it isn’t very straightforward for me. We’ve all reported to each other the high points in our lives, but…the low points may outweigh the good times in some lives. So, if that’s you, I want to hold out Hope to you~

Some of you know just how differently I could tell my full story of these last 15 yrs., but here’s what I really want to leave you with: What I have gleaned from my times of sorrow, times in the Valley of the Shadow, times of being sunken into the “pit of miry clay,” is an abiding hope. ☺ I know Jesus is real. I know God is good, that God never leaves us—never forsakes us. Even when we’re sitting at the bottom of the slimy mud pit of a really pitiful, sorrowful life, Jesus is there, ready to help pull us out and put our feet back on solid ground. And I know now that, no matter how smashed and brokenhearted we become in life, no matter how much toxic waste gets dumped in our soul…Jesus can heal, and heal to the depths of our being. God can redeem even the worst in our lives. As much as I love the good and beautiful things in life, I’ve decided that the only real reason and only real way to keep going in life is to walk it with God.

God is a loving, pure, mind-boggling Being who really is worth knowing.

So, I wish you all the very Best—I wish you Jesus!

Daria : )


Stephanie said...

Thanks so much for your comments and your sweet note in my email Daria! It's amazing - some people think of AL GORE when they think of being "GREEN". I think of Daria B. :) You were really the first introduction I had to being environmentally aware! I remember it was all the rage to have a recycled paper notebook back in high school. I haven't seen one of those in a LONG while. Oh well - at least I recycle! I am trying to do my part ALL THESE YEARS later!
Best wishes to you today D. You're such an incredible person!

Elena Cruz Cunnings said...

Thank you so much for your comments!! Thank you for your transparency and honesty. Life can be so hard. MOst people don't post it and I respect anyone that is that much in touch with themselves. I miss your family. I am so sad about your mom. Jeez...intense. YOur faith is giving you amazing strength. Where are you now? Where do you live?


Amanda said...

Hi Daria,
It was so thoughtful of you to leave comments for each and every person! The thing I remember most about you from high school is that I couldn't have made it through chemistry without you! Science was definitely not my forte!

Thanks for sharing so much about your life. I appreciate your transparency and your desire for others to know Jesus!

Daria said...

Stephanie, thank you--you have the gift of encouragement, for sure! This was really great to read. = ) It's so nice to know that something I worked on so long ago (sometimes in such haphazard fashion ;-) ) and that is still so on my heart did actually have some kind of long-term meaning and impact! Yay : )

Elena--Thank you for the sweet comment about my family and my mom (tears). I get amazed, too, to see the strength that Jesus has given me to keep on going and to even grow from everything. "only by Grace" is true!! I tried emailing you, but it bounced. ? you can email me at (yeah, that address name is an animal joke ;-) )

Amanda--Thank you for your comment. I had completely forgotten about chemistry, actually! Transparency is definitely scary sometimes, but I do find it the best way to go, in the end. = ) I heard someone say once that being in the "real" is so important, because that's where God is--waiting to meet us in the real. And that's where we can meet each other's hearts in a way that matters, too, you know?

New Year's blessings to everyone!