Thursday, July 31, 2008

Related Reading - Elsewhere

Since I have no exciting entry today, allow me to refer you to other's blogs related to depression:
Links to a mom who tried to kill herself while 7 months pregnant
Signs of Depression
Depression and the Arts
ADHD, Depression & Anxiety

Those should keep you busy for awhile. Oh, if there is anything offensive in these articles, forgive me. Since I am in a depressive episode myself, I am having trouble concentrating.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Persecution

During my quiet time, my long time question of why John the Baptist died such a horrible death was answered. Jesus tells us in the Gospels to expect persecution, it is inevitable. We will be persecuted so non-believers and opponents will see true Christians living, and even dying, for Christ. Persecution sifts out true Christians from fair-weather believers.
Even when things don’t go as I have planned, I will always follow him. You can take my pride, my possessions, even my happiness, but you cannot touch my spirit… it was sealed shut the day I dedicated my life to living, and dying, for Christ.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dance

Dance
We meet mid-way, causally, unplanned.
No ulterior motives, face to face, we stand.
Innocent – priceless, so rare yet so real.
Nothing to hide, no need to conceal.
Dance, we dance, together we sway,
In tempo at last,‘til one turns away.
No parting words, no explanation.
Tenderly aware of our situation.
Trying to hide, conceal short glances,
My place on the side, while another one dances.

--

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Radio Host's Ignorant Comments Re: Autism

Here are some links to Savage's comments about Autism:
Jay Bookma writes,
But last week, “Savage” went on his radio show and made fun of autistic children, calling autism “”a fraud, a racket.”

“In 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out. That’s what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they’re silent? They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron. You’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.’ ” ..

Now the parents of autistic children are striking back. At least one major advertiser, AFLAC, is pulling out and radio stations are canceling the show, which is silly. They knew the kind of garbage “Savage” spews, and they put him on the air anyway because they thought he could make them a buck. Pulling out now and claiming to be shocked, shocked!! is hypocrisy.

Oh, and “Savage” now claims he was taken out of context. Poor little misunderstood Mikey.

Cry me a river. Or as someone once said: “‘Don’t act like a moron. You’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.’ ” ..


Video Coverage on YouTube

Media Matters Article with video

ABC News

Unbelievable ignorance

Americans: Rather Die than Live with Severe Disability

More than half of Americans would rather die than live with a severe disability, according to a recent nationwide study by Disaboom (DSBO:0.55, 0.00, 0.0%) ( www.disaboom.com), the premier online community for people touched by disability

Believe THEN See

Do you ever wonder why God does not reveal himself more clearly to the world so people know he is real? Believing in Jesus would be a whole lot easier if we could visibly see and tactilely touch him! Why is it that some people feel, see and hear Him in non-conventional ways?

One of the disciples asked Jesus this very question in John 14:22: “…But Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus explained that he reveals himself to those who love him and follow his commands. When we love him, the Father, Son, and Spirit comes to live with us, revealed in ways the ‘world’ cannot see.

Adam Clarke interprets Jesus’s explanation (14:23) accordingly:
Will make his heart our temple, where God, the Father, Son, and Spirit, shall rest, receive homage, and dwell to eternity. Thus will I manifest myself to the believing, loving, obedient disciple, and not to the world, who will not receive the Spirit of the truth.

Just another reason to believe and accept Jesus into our hearts… it is so much more than securing your eternity in heaven, including a real relationship with Him on earth. We have to believe in Him in order to see him.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cutie with CP

Mountains, not Molehills

Several weeks ago, when I was not speaking to God, a friend made her monthly phone call to me. There was a time when we would talk several times a day, but she has wandered away from her relationship with Jesus. She still believes, but she no longer has the passion she once had for him.

As she asked how I was doing, I shared how I was going through a hard time and not talking to God. She was surprised and asked if I was still reading the Bible. “Nope, haven’t read it for 8 days now”

Interestingly, she wanted to hang out again. Phone calls started daily again. She wanted to pal around like we used to. At the time, I was even more anti-social than usual, not answering the phone, wanting to isolate, so she eventually gave up. She called again yesterday.

I told her how I am much better, closer to Jesus than ever before, reading the Bible incessantly, and no longer in a deep depression. She asked if my financial situation had improved, and was surprised when I told her it was worse because I lost my job and had no secure income. So how was I still glorifying God??

Because I know God is in control. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that whatever happens, He will never leave me. I imagine if I were married, it wouldn’t matter where I was as long as my husband was with me, I’d be okay. That is how I feel about Jesus. I am still scared, still concerned, yet I am secure knowing God is in control.

The enemy hates that. Just as my friend wanted to hang out when she saw I had turned away from God, Satan likes to mess with us when he sees our faith being shaken. Temptations, lies, and deceit appear more believable when we waver in our faith.

If we have faith, and do not doubt, we can perform ‘mountainous feats’ (Matt. 21:21). Get ready… you are about to witness some mountains move in my life!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not Having Steady Income... PRICELESS

God has taught me this is the best way to keep me on the right path, always being in a survival mode, aware of time passing and resources waning. This morning, I read how Jesus sighed when he healed the deaf man (Mark 7:31-37) because he knew the temptations the man would now face. My commentary states:

He sighed; not as if he found any difficulty in working this miracle, or obtaining power to do it from his father; but thus he expressed his pity for the miseries of human life, and his sympathy with the afflicted in their afflictions, as one that was himself touched with the feeling of their infirmities. And as to this man, he sighed, not because he was loth to do him this kindness, or did it with reluctancy; but because of the many temptations which he would be exposed to, and the sins he would be in danger of, the tongue-sins, after the restoring of his speech to him, which before he was free from. He had better be tongue-tied still, unless he have grace to keep his mouth as with a bridle.

I’ve always known God protects me with my cerebral palsy, keeps me out of trouble by keeping me at his side. I’m realizing He is doing the same thing in this ongoing season of financial uncertainty. This past month;
· I have watched my family and friends help me yet again even though I haven’t paid them back from last time, and the time before that.
· I can’t ‘waste my time and money’ since all I have must go into finding another income source.
· I can’t isolate because I need my friends to encourage and love me.
· I am motivated to reach out to others in need since I can empathize with them.
· I am so thankful for my healthcare now that I’ve been faced with the possibility of not having insurance.
· I see how true friends can handle much more than I ever gave them credit for.
· Since I have to save gas, I spend much more time reading Scripture, which is so soothing when I begin to worry about tomorrow.
· I realize, more than ever before, how rich I am with Jesus. From the bottom of my heart, I now know as long as I have Him, there is nothing I cannot go through. Heck, I am even open to the idea of getting a roommate now! I was even willing to move in with my parents!!! Because I watch how God provides what I need, even when he has to take things away to show me how rich I am… and that’s priceless.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Remember- Wherever you find yourself today, God is in control. He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows your enemies – the unreasonable boss, the pesky bill collectors, the annoying neighbor. He created everyone and everything. He has a plan to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future. God is in control.

Shelly’s Rendition of Psalm 139

You search me and know me,
I was formed by Your hands.
What intricacy You used,
I cannot understand.

You know me completely-
Secrets no one else knows.
Yet knowing all my dark sin,
It was still me You chose.

Before I existed,
You formed me in the womb.
And You’ll be there forever,
Even after the tomb.

No place can hide me,
Even darkness is light.
In the depth of the ocean,
I’m still in Your sight.

You know every thought
That’s conceived in my head.
Every syllable I will utter,
Even before it is said.

You search me and know me,
Lord, show me sin hidden.
Reveal things not of You,
So that I can be forgiven.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What Was I Thinking?

My internship was working at a psychiatric hospital for teen boys who were victims of sexual abuse, which led to their repeating the cycle and violating others. They were not allowed to walk alone outside of the unit. Whenever I would pass them in the hall, the counselor would continually repeat “focus your thoughts… focus your thoughts…” to remind the boys not to make inappropriate comments. The boys had been prostituted from a young age so all they knew was sex as a means of socializing. Their treatment centered on reprogramming their thoughts.

Jesus said what comes out of a man is what makes him unclean (Mark 7:20). I can definitely attest to that! Even when we don’t share our thoughts and feelings, whatever we harbor within reveals itself to others.

In attempt to clean out my hard drive and the paper clutter in my office, I’ve been compiling a chronology based on blogs, journals, poems, and emails. Many of the emails written just two years ago embarrass me as I cannot believe the issues that concerned me! It is easy to forget how far we have come, how much we’ve matured without comparing life then versus now.

Our wicked thoughts and affections, words and actions, defile us, and these only. As a corrupt fountain sends forth corrupt streams, so does a corrupt heart send forth corrupt reasonings, corrupt appetites and passions, and all the wicked words and actions that come from them. A spiritual understanding of the law of God, and a sense of the evil of sin, will cause a man to seek for the grace of the Holy Spirit, to keep down the evil thoughts and affections that work within. - Matthew Henry’s Commentary

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Just A Poem Today

Jesus, Sweet Jesus
Please stay by my side,
Despite selfish pride.
Despite when I stray,
By my side, Jesus, stay

Don’t let me forget-
So many regrets.
The times I was weak,
For failing to seek.

Why do I move?
What must I prove?
Why do I waver?
When your presence I savor?

Help me remember-
Your mercies so tender.
You’re more than enough-
You, Jesus – I love!

-- by SW

Monday, July 14, 2008

Road Warrior

I have a very important appointment this morning regarding my immediate future.
While things have miraculously been working out in my favor, I still wonder how present dilemmas will be resolved. Some would say it is wrong to question God and I should just have enough faith to trust Him. After all, He knows my needs, my resources, and my situation, so why even talk to him about it?

Because He wants us to talk to him about anything and everything. That is part of engaging in relationship with Him. The Bible says in Mark 6:30, “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.” Jesus knew what they had done and taught – He’s omnipresent and all-knowing! Yet the disciples must have wanted to ‘debrief’ and share what had happened on their journey. I imagine Jesus engaged in the discussions, listening and reacting as if he knew nothing of what took place.

Whatever matters to us matters to God. Sure, he knows what happened and he knows what is about to happen, yet He enjoys our company. He will listen even though he knows how the story ends. And just as he understood when the disciples questioned how they could possibly feed 5,000 men with 5 loaves of bread and two fish, he understands when we question how the impossible will be possible.

Impossible dilemmas is where we see God work his miracles. It’s okay to question ‘how’ as long as we trust Him enough to go where we cannot see the end result. One step at a time, He will not only lead the way, but He will also be your traveling companion.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Don't Go Alone

When Jesus sent the 12 disciples out to practice what he had taught them, he wouldn’t let them take anything on their travels. He sent them out in pairs, and they were to stay with anyone who would welcome them into their home.

Fellowship, not materialism, is all they needed. Fellowship provides companionship, accountability and encouragement through which God supplies all we need for the journey. As my friends know, I would be very happy staying isolated in my house for weeks. That is just how I am wired. But I have realized not only does God want us to fellowship with others, in the long run, I am so much better off.

One of the reasons I am uncomfortable with relationships is I feel I have nothing substantial to contribute to the friendship. I don’t want to be a burden to others, which is why (I believe) I have been in circumstances where I have to reach out to my friends. I can’t travel life’s journey without friends, and frankly, I don’t want to.

In effort to give back to the Body of Christ, I have started making handmade cards as my way of serving my church. The recipients will never know I made the cards, which is the best part. I don’t want praise for the cards, I want to do it in obedience to Christ’s command to serve. That in itself feels really ‘right’.

As far as socializing – believe me, it is still hard to force myself to connect with even my closest friends. Yet I know they are investing in our friendship, so the least I can contribute is my time, love, and fellowship. I realized I needed to do more than merely declare how undeserving I feel to have the great friends in my life… I need to put that declaration into action. I need to put my selfish desires of introversion and isolation aside for others. Just one more way to strive to be like Jesus.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Born for this Job

Yesterday, I received my birth certificate in the mail and instantly imagined the scene occurring when the signatures were inked on the document. I was born at 2:05 am (always have preferred being up at 2 am…) My mom signed as the official representative, which made me smile knowing how my dad always preferred for her to deal with paper work. When she signed, she wouldn’t have known I had cerebral palsy yet, but this 25 year old mother of 3 would have just endured a roller coaster of emotions, and the fun had just begun!

When I called her yesterday, Mom told me again what took place August 24, 1969… both of us almost died, and she begged the doctors to focus on me… save her baby, don’t worry about her. She asked them to pray, along with her family and friends in the waiting room, so people stood around me, praying for my survival. From how she describes it, mom dedicated me to God right then and there, promising she would let him use my life as proof of his miraculous power. “So every day that you’re alive, Shelly, you are a testimony to the world of what God can do”, she said as we ended our discussion.

During my Quiet Time (at 2:05 this morning!), I read how Jesus healed the “insane hermit” (Mark 5:1-15) who begged Jesus to let him go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he had had mercy on you.”

That is where I find myself now that I have left that oppressive job. Through my writing, I long to share how much the Lord has done for me and how he has had mercy on me. Although I tried to go to Jesus, he had a different plan for my life. He has called me to use my life to glorify God by completing the work he has given me to do. I am ready to give it my all.

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.
-- John 17:4

--

Friday, July 11, 2008

Love that Hurts

When I was a little girl, my mom used to stretch my legs every night per recommendation of my physical therapist. I hated it. I would tell her she was hurting me and beg her to stop, but she continued with tears running down her face, saying “Shelly, I need to do this so you can walk… one day, you’ll understand.” She also told me to ‘walk straight’ when I lived at home, all the way until I went to college. The doctor had told her my secret – I could walk straight, I was just too lazy. I would get so mad at her for constantly ‘reminding’ me, “walk straight, turn your feet out, Shelly, pay attention to your walking!”
Drove me crazy!

Recently, I had a breakthrough, realizing I was mad at God for not protecting me from numerous hardships in my life. Because of all I endured as a child with cerebral palsy, a teen with Crohn’s disease, then a woman with major clinical depression, I felt like it was time for me to be rewarded for my determination. So when crisis after crisis rolled in, I was angry at Him for not intervening. These words came out of my mouth in a prayer just 4 weeks ago: “I thought I was a “friend of God”! I couldn’t stand by and watch my friends go through what I am going through. Where are you?!”

Fact is I exceeded my doctor’s expectations because of the storms and afflictions. I walk today because my mom refused to shield me from pain. I am independent today because God took me through darkness, where my only option was to completely surrender to him. God never promised us an easy life, but he promised grace, forgiveness, and love until the end. As I close with words from J.C. Ryle, let me just add, “Mom, you were right. I do understand.”

If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other men. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory at the end,—all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that. By affliction He teaches us many precious lessons, which without it we should never learn. By affliction He shows us our emptiness and weakness, draws us to the throne of grace, purifies our affections, weans us from the world, makes us long for heaven. In the resurrection morning we shall all say, "it is good for me that I was afflicted." We shall thank God for every storm.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Not Disney's Magic Kingdom

Was it just a month ago that I was ready to give up on life, feeling like a complete failure?
Unbelievable how my heart has changed.

I met a friend at Starbucks yesterday and shared a way she inspires me. She has been married to the same man for approximately 30 years, yet whenever his name enters our discussion, her face lights up like a school girl’s. Not only have I never heard her insult him, I’ve never heard her say anything but praise, admiration, and love for him. He is very much a part of who she is as seen by ways he helps her be who God created her to be. I think the secret to their success is loving God more than anything and followed by their love, commitment, and devotion for each other.
The way she talks about her husband – with an undeniable glow – is the way I want to be with Jesus. I want others to see how much a part of me He is through my words, expressions, and behaviors. When people think of me, I want them to see me as a woman who is becoming all God created me to be through my committed relationship with my First Love – Jesus. When I compared my friend’s relationship with her husband as an inspiration for what I want with Jesus, she said, “I think you already do that.”

There could be no greater compliment…

Looking at my life, the world would view me as a failure, a quitter, damaged goods whose life has soured. Even I felt that way a month ago. But you see, I have a much greater measurement of success after my recent downfall… success for me is having the world see Jesus as my partner, my companion, my best friend. If that is happening, I don’t mind being a ‘failure’ to the world… I’d prefer to be a success in the Kingdom.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

THISability

Politically correct language has never been a sore spot for me the way it is for many people. While I understand the rationale behind people-first language, the focus can be more on the wording instead of the intent.

During my speaking engagements, I put a disclaimer up front that I do not always use ‘the right language’ because it changes all the time. Plus, I don’t want people to be so concerned about mixing up words that their focus is diverted from our interaction.

On the other hand, labels do provide insight into the speaker’s perceptions. I notice my own wording changes depending on the subject matter. Most of the time, self-descriptions include disabled, ‘I have C.P.”, and even ‘handicapped’ (occasionally) when presenting myself. I will ask friends if they told so-and-so I have C.P. before they meet me, mostly out of consideration for the other person. There aren’t many adults with C.P. walking around so exposure to someone like me cannot be assumed.

My wording changes when I am feeling particularly self-conscious and insecure. For instance, I am baffled by my friends’ understanding, patience, and love for me. I am not the easiest person to get along with, although (through healthy relationships) I am getting much better at letting people in - removing walls of protection. When discussing my social life, I have told close friends how I don’t know why I have so many friends - the only thing I can ration is they use me as a ‘community service’ project or volunteer experience, writing “friends with a crippled girl” on their resume. (Ultimately, I know these friendships are from God, having nothing to do with any merit on my part, but that is another issue...)

With all things considered, as a society, we tend to have a glass-half-empty mentality. Labeling me as disabled versus individual with a disability is really synonymous as both focus on my ‘flaw’. Yes, I walk and talk differently from the norm - but there are so many more positive, ‘un-flawed’ components that become negated by the word ‘disability’. Why can’t we focus on people’s abilities? Every individual has unique skills and talents no matter their level of disability. It could be something as simple - yet exceptional- as being a loyal secret-keeper or always making people feel welcomed when they enter the room.

Imagine a world of optimism and ‘glass-half-full mentalities’, a world of acceptance and compassion, where differences are valued. The change begins in our heart, not in our words. Change the heart and the words change along with intent.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. - Luke 6:45

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Path to E.T.

Many years ago, my brother took me and 2 friends ‘behind the scenes’ at Universal Studios. We went from the bright sunlight into a pitch black setting where you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. Mark went first since he knew the way, and I held on to him while my friends held on to me. We 3 girls were scared at different deqrees: none of us knew what to expect, but I at least knew my brother was there to protect me. We went around curves surrounded by unfamiliar noises, tripped over a trash can (all 3 of us!) until finally, small opening of light appeared at the end of the tunnel. The further we walked, the brighter it became landing us next in line for the E.T. ride. It took courage and trust to take the unfamiliar path, but in the end, it was incredibly worth it (saved us 2 hours standing in line). Yesterday, I was reminded of this as I began to see where God is leading me, and noticed the similarities between the E.T. ride and living as a Christian.

• The more familiar you are with your leader, the more risks you are willing to take.
• If you don’t hold on to His hand, you will lose your senses and become disoriented. Hold His hand as if your life depended on it because it does.
• There will always be unexpected ‘trash cans’ on the journey, but the closer you are to your Leader, the less disturbance you’ll have in your stride.
• Yes, the crowded way is less intimidating, but the back way is more exciting. You save a lot of time by following, trusting, and clinging on to the Leader as long as you stay right behind Him.
• The next time you walk a dark, unfamiliar journey, it will be easier, knowing how the Leader led you before. The more you walk with Him, the more faith you have and the swifter your step.
• It helps to have friends join you in the journey, but only He knows the ultimate destination.
• Maintain continual contact with Him – Phone Home.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. – Deuteronomy 31:9

Monday, July 7, 2008

Roof Top Friends

As I read Mark 2:1-12, where the paralytic man was brought to Jesus by his friends, I couldn’t help but personalize the story. My own friends carried me to Jesus when I was paralyzed with hopelessness and depression. They didn’t have to go through a roof like the 4 men in the passage, but they did have to work together to surmount obstacles in getting me to Jesus. When I could not find my way to Him, my priceless friends found a way for me. Having believers pray for me made all the difference in the world. When I stopped believing, Jesus saw their faith, which carried me through the darkness. At one point, I would cringe when people said “I’ll pray for you,” feeling like it was a cop out, a way to convince themselves they were helping. I underestimated the power of prayer.

I believe my friends are the reason I have hope again, and am connected more deeply with the Lord. Friends truly carried me out of the pit, into the lap of Jesus. Amazing friendships are one of the many blessings in following Christ. Their impact on my life has been “through the roof”.


Greater love has no one than this, that he lay his life down for his friends. - John 15:13
--

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Keep Fighting!

*I’m challenging myself to blog in order of my journey through the Bible starting with Mark. As I was making my coffee, I prayed God would speak to me with words that are applicable to readers instead of just me. He brought enough things to mind to write five pages! So for the sake of brevity and time, I am outlining a few in hopes He will personalize the points for your current situation:

The second half of Mark 1, beginning in verse 14, John was put into prison as Jesus began his ministry in Galilee. John, the man who prepared people for Jesus’ arrival and baptized him, was put into prison. He did what he was created to do yet still ended up in prison. Jesus did not try to rescue John for Jesus had other work to do. God’s will for our lives may be to end up in oppressive, deplorable states. Imagine John’s prayers – did he question God, saying, “I did what you told me, so why am I in jail? I thought you were a fair God? The God of justice??”

See, this is getting too long to make points, so you will just have to read tomorrow for the continuation of Mark 1. Until then, think about how unfair life seems sometimes, and no matter what you do, it feels like God is against you. Compare yourself to others and you will likely conclude there is no justice in this world…

You are right – there IS no justice in this world… But there will come a day when God will make everything fair, everything right… and He will remember how you responded to injustice, how you persevered even when life was unfair. And if John the Baptist were here today, I guarantee he would tell you it is worth it… to keep fighting, because nothing we go through on earth compares to heaven. God will settle the score.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Are You Ready to Rumble?

A new month, the beginning of the second half of 2008. How is this year going for you? Are you where you want to be on your journey? As I read through the Bible, today’s study was on Mark 1. Mark’s account of Jesus’ life focuses on action, including Jesus as the “Perfect Servant”. Reading how Jesus served others is astounding… the way he would deflect from himself to focus on loving and serving others is humility in its truest form. For instance, although Jesus was sinless – thus, having nothing to repent of- he still was baptized by John.

My Bible notes say Jesus was baptized for several reasons, including supporting John’s ministry and to model a servant lifestyle for us. Makes you see how selfless he is, being baptized instead of saying, “No thanks, I don’t need to go there…” As we strive to be more like Jesus, we need to do things simply because ‘it’s the right thing to do’. In addition, we need to draw on the power of the Holy Spirit instead of trying to go alone. All the good intention and effort in the world will not be effective without God’s acceptance. Right after being filled by the Spirit (Mark 1:10-12), he faced Satan in the dessert, where he successfully used God’s word to resist temptation.

Isn’t it comforting to know God offers everything we need to live a life following Jesus? Between prayer, the Holy Spirit, and God’s Word, we have the most powerful weapons in the Universe! And the more we use these weapons, the more skilled we become at using them victoriously.


Regardless of what your battle is today, you will win as long as you use your weapons. Fight the good fight of faith and put on the armor of God!