Monday, December 28, 2009

Poem - Not Playing

So much more than "a game",
My objective's not the same. 
Much deeper than all the rest.  
Not an ego-based conquest. 

I don't want to be a pawn
In a match I don't belong. 
My mind has a will of it's own. 
Exploring territory - I've not roamed.

Still sweetness and tenderness abide
Filling the darkness inside. 
Memories of encounters so real. 
Hopes I will never reveal.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Online Group Study


New Online Study - Celebration of Disciplines by Richard Foster

Description:
Starting an online Bible Study book, "Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster, which will be starting the first week of January. This will be a great way to join together and share thoughts/experiences on this book of Spiritual growth.

Details will follow here.
Privacy Type:
Open: All content is public.

Join us!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advice for the Depressed

I am sorry you are having mood swings. I know how bad it can be when you don't feel right and you don't know why. People can ask what is wrong, yet you don't know and that can be frustrating. If I may give you some survival hints...
1. Don't believe you are any less of a Christian. Sometimes, Christians ignorantly say things like "Just pray about it." or "You shouldn't be depressed... where is your faith?" Don't even try to justify your feelings to people like this... they don't get it, they can't understand... use your energy for taking care of you.
2. Try to find people who do understand. It's hard, but there are rare exceptions. People who listen without trying to 'fix you' or expecting you to get better within a day or two. Depression and mania are continuous- if you've had 3 major depression episodes, you're a lifer, Baby. Knowing/accepting this can help you prepare for next time.
3. Know that brain chemistry has a lot to do with mental health. People who say they don't want to go on medication have that right... and not everyone needs medication. But when the feelings of hopelessness, despair, and lethargy interfere with activities of daily living, one must decide what truly matters.
4. Take it one hour at a time. Know it will pass and try not to label or analyze why you feel this way... just take it one hour at a time.
5. Know Jesus is with you. You are never alone.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sheepy Sleepy

Depression is back, my brain's out of whack,
Life is taking more energy than I've got. 
The holidays are here, along with good cheer,
But me, I'm sleeping a lot. 

Went to bed at one, finally rose with the sun,
Head dizzy from 14 hours of sleep. 
This is no way to live, so much I should give,
But for now, I am counting more sheep

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Freedom Costs

I didn’t make it to BSF, but I did meet with the pastor. I’m thankful Michele convinced me to meet with him, and I am thankful I was able to be honest with him. He reminded me talking about issues can lead to acting out. That explains why I was/am feeling like ‘the old Shelly’.

The ultimate question is why talk about issues at the risk of acting out, emotional pain, and immense guilt? Why go through that? Why not let the past be past? As David prayed in Psalm 25, Lord, forget the sins of my past…

He has forgiven my sins, problem is, I haven’t forgiven myself. And the longer I try to deny and bury them, the longer Satan has a way to make me feel like a horrible person.

I have wise friends, one of which pointed out the following:
…you're letting Satan get the upper hand by convincing you that running away from your problems (in the short term) is easier than dealing with them. The thing is, you know these issues will still be there after Christmas, then they'll be back the next holiday, and the next, and the next, etc., etc., etc. You get the point. The sooner you deal with the
issues that are causing you to run the sooner God will be glorified
through those issues. I know there is nothing easy about all this,
but I also know this isn't a battle Satan needs to win. He (Satan)
knows how much you love the Lord and has pulled out all the stops to win this battle. You, with the power of the Holy Spirit and using the
tools God has provided (the pastor), are able to win not only the battle but the war as well. Running away is only extending your pain and giving Satan a continued foothold. Satan only has the power we give him. I can't imagine how hard this must be for you, but "when you do get through it" you will truly be set free.

---
I want to be free. Freedom costs… I have to pay.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Writing!



Miss me? I’m still here, just haven’t been writing. And me not writing is, well, not me. I have to write to stay sane. Recently, I’ve been filled with self-doubt, criticism, even loathing toward who I am internally, so the last thing I want to do is put those thoughts on paper for the world to see… and judge.

But God wants me to write. Not only write, but glorify Him with my writing.

I have never been so sure of anything as I am of His purpose for me. I love writing. I love God. I love glorifying God. So what’s the problem? Satan convincing me I have nothing worthwhile to say, and things I feel may help others will only show what a terrible person I was… or I am.

So I started talking to a Pastor who is showing me I haven’t dealt with things… things I believed were all done. Finished. Kaput. Things that Satan uses to remind me who I am. Sure. These things happened years ago, but I never confessed them, never laid them at the Cross and walked away. I know Jesus has forgiven me, but I haven’t forgiven myself. Instead, I have buried them deep in my heart to take out whenever I am feeling worthless. Lately, they have been out of burial constantly and never far from my mind.

Still, I could not understand why I was unable to put words on paper. It didn’t make sense until last week, as I was walking across the church parking lot. God reminded me of those days in March after I had been released from the hospital from a Xanax overdose. My mind was crap for 6 weeks… no short term memory, frequently getting lost driving on roads I have known for my lifetime… real, serious brain damage. The psychiatrist had told me I needed to rest my brain for 6 weeks… no complex thinking, not even crime TV shows… nothing taxing on my brain. And as he promised, 6 weeks later, I had my old brain back and could write again! I was so thankful, vowing to never take writing for granted again!

Time erased that vow from my memory. After receiving an upsetting phone call recently, I took a Xanax. The next night, I did it again. And again. And again. That is when my writing stopped. A day later, I remembered a profoundly intimate encounter I had had with God back in March. Suddenly, it all made sense.

It was one of those undeniable messages from God: “Your time on earth is not finished- you are staying here. I want you to spread my message through the gift of writing I have given you. You cannot witness for me while being strung out on Xanax. So here is your choice: Waste your days being drugged up on Xanax, or write for me. You cannot do both.”

The past few days, I’ve chosen the Xanax. And each day I take one, I get a little more depressed, feeling a little more guilt. The breaking point was taking Communion the other night. I choked on the wafer, as if it was some psychosomatic message telling me I don’t believe/accept taking on the life of Christ in place of my own. It has been devastating.

But, thank God, Michele met me at Starbucks when I called her crying and we talked for a long time. She cried with me, telling me this is all the enemy trying to pull me back down. She convinced me to keep going to talk with the Pastor so I can work through this.
She also told me to lay off the Xanax.

I am meeting with the pastor today. I have not taken a Xanax. And I am writing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Checking In

Although Nanowrimo is over, I'm not abandoning my barely started novel. My goal is to work on it 5 days per week. I worked on it Sunday, skipped Monday... so you know my plan for the rest of the week. I am also working on Dillon the Dolphin series and am determined to send an assignment to CWG today or tomorrow. I can do this. I can get out of this creativity insecurity pool.

In the meantime, I keep blogging at Sufficient Grace. Also poking around the Write Anything website.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cerebral Palsy Course Strengthens CDS Curriculum as Second Disability Intensive

Cerebral Palsy Course Strengthens CDS Curriculum as Second Disability Intensive

This is great - bringing awareness to cerebral palsy. I happen to agree with one statement: "Cerebral palsy can begin in infancy or early childhood and can also be acquired at a later age when a specific part of the brain is injured." --- many professionals refute the claim that CP can be acquired at a later age. Seems what is CP at birth is usually labelled traumatic brain injury (TBI) when acquired later in life.

To be fair, I disagree with this statement: "It is a permanent condition, but it does not get worse over time." No, the brain injury itself does not worsen, but the wear and tear on the body does worsen.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Prayer by John Donne

I see your hand upon me now, O Lord, and I ask not why it comes or what it intends. Whether you will bid my soul to stay in this body for some time, or meet you this day in paradise, I ask not. Curiosity of mind tempts me to know, but my true healing lies in silent and absolute obedience to your will, even before I know it. Preserve that obedience, O my God, and that will preserve me to you; that, when you have catechized me with affliction here, I may take a greater degree, and serve you in a higher place, in your kingdom of joy and glory. Amen.



Christianity Today has a wonderful piece written by Phillip Yancey on this great poet.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Here's a Judge Pirro Interview...

Check out her shoes... and her concern for turkeys.

Yeah for GMA!

Good for ABC for canceling Adam Lambert's performance on Good Morning, America!
---
Adam Lambert is about to defend his perverted actions on the Early Show. They are comparing his acts with Elvis' pushing the bar back in the day. If this is going to be the new 'norm', I'm throwing out my TV.
--

He doesn't apologize - said he got caught up in the moment and kids shouldn't have been watching TV that late...
If he can't control his actions when he is caught up in the moment, how can he be trusted to perform ANYWHERE or even be in public PERIOD? Heaven forbid he have a sexual thought in public and 'get caught up in the moment'! Plus, never mind the kids, I DON'T WANT TO SEE THAT STUFF AND I'M 40 YEARS OLD! This whole thing really burns me up.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Upset by the World

You know, I give Kissimmee a bad rap, BUT I am so glad I grew up there. We were sheltered. We were raised to be God-fearing kids who went to church on Sunday and didn't dare get into trouble because our parents would beat the crap out of us when we got home. I miss those days. I thank God for those days.


This is what has me in such a melancholy mood.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Perspectives

Rachel tapped her foot to the tone sound on the speaker phone. “You’ll see, Rachel… you’ll see we are boyfriend and girlfriend!”

Hey, this is Brian, you know what to do at the beep! Chow!

Rachel hung up the phone without leaving a message. She was too mad at Misty to let Brian know her reason for calling. Why didn’t her own friend believe she was Brian’s girlfriend? Misty was just jealous! That’s it… she wasn’t happy without a boyfriend so she hated to see Rachel happy.

“Look, Rach… let’s drop it, okay? I don’t need to hear Brian confirm your relationship. If you say you’re together, that’s enough for me. Alright?” Misty gave her friend a hug and gathered her books from the kitchen table. “I gotta run to study for my biopsychology exam. It’s gonna be an all-nighter for me! ”

Rachel mumbled goodbye without as much as a glance in her friend’s direction. She called Brian again but this time, she left him a voicemail asking him to call her as soon as he got her message. They had something serious to talk about.

She sat down to work on a project for her Elementary Education Today class, gathering art supplies to design a mock classroom, which would be conducive to fourth grade learning. It was her third year at University and while most of her peers had moved off campus, she felt safer living in a dorm. The downside was the noise – students partying late into the wee hours of the morning made a good night’s sleep impossible! But she didn’t complain because every time she said anything, she was teased for living on campus with all the ‘baby freshmen’.

Now what would a fourth grader be interested in? Rachel’s mind started to wander. What is Brian interested in? I know he likes me. He jus has to!! God, please make Brian like me… please?!

Meanwhile, Brian was on his way to the Delta Delta Delta gala when he listened to his voicemail. Three messages. The first message was from his buddy, Skip, telling him he found a keg for tomorrow night’s party. Cool, Brian thought. He needed a night to let loose after spending the day with Rachel. Second message was none other than Rachel. Speak of the devil… or saint! Serious? She needed to talk about something ‘serious’? What, did she overhear someone use profanity? This girl is too much! I ain’t calling her back! Last message was from his mother. His probation officer needed to meet with him. It seems the University found out about Brian’s charges, and they were intending to expel him from school.

Chapter 4
Taylor ignored Sommer’s question and hurried in to the theater, thankful she purchased the tickets online. She just wanted to get in the dark theater, movie rolling so loud that she could process what had just happened. Thankfully, Sommer didn’t press her for details as she was preoccupied with making sure her popcorn had extra butter. By the time the two sat down, the movie had started. Just as Taylor let out a sigh of relief, her iPhone vibrated with a text.

I will call you to catch up. – Love still, Ben

The next two hours of the movie, Taylor recalled the way her life was when she dated Ben. The romance, the excitement, the love… every day was a new adventure! He introduced her to things she never knew existed, including feelings she never before had felt. Ben had made he very happy… happier than she had ever been. She loved him, and he loved her… like it was suppose to be… except it was wrong in the deepest sense.

But hey, no one was perfect, right? Everyone has their vices, their weaknesses, their strongholds. This was one area of her life where she knew she needed to change. But Ben convinced her it wasn’t as wrong as she made it out to be. “Why do you have to define everything, Taylor? Why must you try to put what we have in a box? Just enjoy…” he had told her every time she tried to break off the relationship. And it worked every time.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Poem - Warned

You thought I exaggerated when I described how I get,
Minimized my tendencies that you hadn't seen yet. 
After some time, my colors change hues. 
You'll remember my words, recognize the clues. 
Please don't be offended if you don't understand. 
Just remember I warned you of the way that I am. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dog Update

Canine for Companions called to set up a 30 minute phone interview 12/9. Then I have to pass a medical background check. Then I have a day long face to face interview. If I pass all that, they will put me on a waiting list for a dog. Waiting list is 18mths to 2 yrs. May have a dog by the time I turn 50.

Quick Story

BSF Leader "Can someone give an example of obeying Christ for the wrong reason? Me; "I use to try not to cuss because everytime I cussed, my car broke down." Her: "So I guess you quit cussing, eh?" Me: "No, I got a new car."


* Remember to visit my main blog.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cerebral Palsy Life

Consider the source: This article on aging with Cerebral Palsy is sponsored by a law firm. Still, raises some concern regarding correlating walking with life expectancy. Wouldn't individuals who ARE ambulatory be more at risk of accidents?

I learned a lifetime ago the professional's prognoses and generalizations frequently do more harm than good. Still, it helps to know some idea of what to expect... then again, do we benefit from knowing what to anticipate?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Assistance Dog?

Canine For Companions received my application for a dog and said they will get back to me within 4 weeks. Could it be a happy Christmas afterall?

Charla Nash



Am I the only one who is angered by the media warning the lady who was attacked by the chimp is so disfigured, it may disturb viewers? How rude! She shouldn't wear a veil - she's a beautiful survivor!

There are professionals saying 'she will never have a normal life', and 'it may have been better if she didn't survive'.

Sad mentality.

I have no words. Actually, I have a few: People are SO SHALLOW, CLUELESS, AND IGNORANT!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Poem - Creator

*haven't been able to do much but sleep the past few days. Fortunately, I can focus long enough to comprise a poem now and then.


You - My Creator
Created me to create. 
Nothing I've done
All from you - it's innate. 

Only the vessel
Clay in Your hands. 
Your purpose for me. 
... I cannot understand. 

Take the first step
Trust and obey. 
Believe You'll provide
Each word I must say. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stagnate

Overwhelming feelings of lack of writing ability. Paralyzed by it. Been in bed the past 36 hrs. Hoping one of these times, I will wake up "fixed". 4;42pm - going to sleep again. Maybe, just maybe, I'll wake up fixed this time. 
Stagnation stinks. 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Perspectives

Chapter 3
Taylor felt an electric chill run through her body at the sound, touch, and smell of him. He had been the love of her life, and at the beginning of their relationship, they had vowed to love each other forever. Standing outside the theater, she couldn’t remember how many years had passed since she saw him, yet she remembered everything about him, including the tingling sensation she was feeling as he touched her arm from behind.

“How’ve you been the past, I don’t know, five years or so?” He turned her around so she was facing him, the love of her life. His eyes were still an entrance to his soul, telling her things words could never express. The same eyes that pierced though her in an intensely euphoric way as if he was the puppet master of Taylor’s emotions. Getting over him was one of the hardest things she has ever had to do.

“So are you still a church fanatic?” Ben asked in his typical derisive manner. “Or is it another phase you threw aside?”

Taylor was uncomfortable with his closeness, concerned Sommer would see this older man with his hand on her arm, murmuring in her ear. He turned her around to give her a hug, yet failed to release her.

“Ben! Stop! What are you doing?” Taylor pushed him away in anger. Anger because he obviously assumed he could walk back into his former role, neglecting to consider the words, emotions, and time that had separated the present from their years together.

Unphased by her rebuff, Ben smirked condescendingly. “Is that anyway to treat ‘the only man you will ever love’?” She had described him accordingly throughout their 6 year romance. While he never claimed to love her exclusively, he had vowed to love her forever as well. Taylor foolishly believed him. She was so naïve, so stupid… so blinded by her emotions.

“That was a long time ago, Ben!” Suddenly, she looked at him, really looked into his eyes, and felt herself reverting back to the crazy thoughts she had fought so hard to divest. He still was incredibly attractive. She was still mesmerized by his charm. They did have some great times together…

“Taylor! Taylor?” Sommer appeared from out of nowhere and was alternating glances between Ben and her. “Are you ready to go in?”

Ben continued staring into her eyes despite Sommer’s interruption. It took every bit of strength Taylor had to step away from Ben. Her eyes remained locked with his as he asked if he could call her sometime. When Taylor said she didn’t think that would be a good idea, Ben disregarded her wishes. “I’ll call you, Taylor. I’ll call.” And before she could respond, Ben was gone.

The next thing Taylor knew, Sommer was waving her hand where Ben had been standing moments before. “Hello?! Who the heck was that?!”

--
Kate breezed through the interview with no problem. She loved her job, loved the research, and loved knowing her efforts helped change the lives of people with disabilities. Her latest movement was to close down every last ‘sheltered workshop’ in the country. For so-called professionals to support these ‘sweat-shops’ where adults were herded in like cattle in the name of ‘self-sufficiency’ was completely atrocious! Kate made it her mission to bring awareness and education in an area so void of justice.

Three years ago, her father’s stroke propelled her in the fight for neuroanatomy research and awareness. Watching the strongest man in her life fade within a matter of hours deeply impacted her. Thankfully, his stroke occurred when she was back home so she was able to rush over to transport him to the hospital. Her dad progressively lost his ability to speak, write and remember who he was, and he had terrible headaches, making dim surroundings a necessity. While she was thankful she was there to support her father, that day haunted her constantly. The father she knew died that day.

With the interview behind her, she called her kids to arrange for a family gathering over Spring Break, to which both agreed. Then she made her doctor’s appointment. As someone who was so vocal about maintaining health check ups, Kate sure didn’t maintain her own. But she was trying to change. She had to stay healthy for her kids, and for her dad. And even for Sydney. They all needed her. As for Kate, she needed no one. She worked non-stop to make sure it stayed that way. Never again will she depend on another person… especially a man. Sydney made sure of that both financially and emotionally.

Poem - Cocoon

It's my escape, my cocoon
Free from dread, pain and doom. 
Wrapped up tightly, fit and snug. 
Safe, secure... neverending hug. 

Time of reprieve, falling into abyss. 
Oh how I crave moments like this!
Sinking, floating as a breeze blown leaf,
Enveloped in tranquility, peaceful relief. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One of My Favorite Verses

"How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?" - John 5:4

** This verse is being amplified to me this morning.

In studying John 5, I am learning about keeping the Sabbath, but even MORE about the redemption and grace of Christ. The Jews were trying to persecute Jesus for healing a disabled man on the Sabbath... I mean, serious stuff! The IVP New Testament Commentary's explanation of rules concerning who could do what when makes my head spin:
According to Exodus Rabbah 30:9 the idea that God worked on the sabbath was held by rabbis at the time John is writing in the 90s. These rabbis argued that God is exempt from the prohibition to work on the sabbath (Ex 20:11; Deut 5:14) because "a man is permitted to carry on the sabbath in his own courtyard" and Isaiah 6:3 indicates that the whole world is God's courtyard when it says "the whole earth is full of his glory." Similarly, a person is permitted to carry "a distance of his own height," and since God fills heaven and earth (Jer 23:24) there is no limit to his carrying. These arguments may focus on "carrying" because God must continue to carry the universe even on the sabbath or it would collapse. The use of carrying as a reference point in rabbinic arguments in John's day may account for why John chose this type of story about sabbath breaking--in which a man carries his mat--to stand for all the instances in which Jesus challenged his opponents' ideas about the sabbath.


What??? Sounds like those dreaded math problems - "If train A left for the station at 4:52am going 80 mph..." (I always hated those questions!)

Point is, Jesus died on the cross to fulfill the requirements of the Law. We are no longer under rules and regulations because Jesus took care of all our sin & iniquities by nailing them to the cross. For further study, here is a great site to start.

Therefore, we try so hard to meet the world's standards, our peers, colleagues, loved one's expectations, etc. that life becomes one never-ending rat race. All we need to do is work for the praise of the only God! And He is MUCH easier to please than mere man.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tallahassee Bottomed Jeans


Found an old pair of jeans in the back of my closet this morning. To my great surprise, they still fit! As if molded just for my body, these jeans are quite comfy, quite ‘homey’.

This familiar ‘homey’ feeling describes my weekend trip to Tallahassee. As always, the moment I got off I-10, I felt warm and peaceful… I felt ‘right’. The canopy trees, hills, hints of mountains, smiles of young students, mighty government offices, and of course, Florida State University is home for me. Paradise on earth.

Now it’s been 13 years since I moved away from the city, and I know things change, people change, and I have changed. Yet as I sat across from an integral friend in my life who still lives in Tallahassee, I realized I still fit in the mold.

It was the little things: a mutual understanding of words like, “proprioception” without needing explanation, the shared passion of advocacy, determination, understanding (and absolutely no judgment) my recent hospitalization, and the list goes on and on. I didn’t have to defend my choices. Instead, I was affirmed with statements like, “Why would/should you marry? I mean, unless you’ve changed greatly, you don’t want to have children, right?” Right!

In trying to narrow down what was so great about my trip, I can only explain it as follows: Tallahassee is where I first discovered who I am. In college, I embraced my love for writing, solitude, non-conformity, and being who I am regardless of societal influence. Living in Orlando, I’ve lost sight of my beautiful uniqueness. I’ve gotten clouded by societal influence.

But thanks to this trip, I’ve found the mold from years ago, the mold that felt so ‘homey’. You know what? It still fits.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Poem: Me with You

I like me when you're here
Confidence replaces insecurity & fear  
My smile is broader, head held high.
You look at me, I can almost fly.

I like me when you're around
Buried willpower in me is found. 
I like who I am, who I've become. 
With you, I feel I am "someone". 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chapter 2 -Perspectives

Taylor started the day in her usual routine; with sat her laptop and a cup of coffee. After updating her blog, she silently asked God to give her words to point readers toward Jesus. She found it a constant struggle writing inspirational material about her personal life versus being an introverted recluse. Her life hadn’t been easy as she’d made many controversial decisions that neither the church nor society understood. But it was her life, and she had no one on earth to live for, so she kept to herself. Problem was, she felt led to disclose her life, -the secret, painful parts – so people would know how a relationship with Christ changes a person. Being a Christian isn’t about following a bunch of rules, trying to be perfect and feeling constant condemnation. Instead, it’s about relationship, spending time learning who Jesus is, studying the Bible, praying and believing He is the Son of God. Taylor survived each day because of her relationship with Jesus because he gives her the power, joy, and will to get out of bed each day.

She found people expected her to be naïve, innocent, even sheltered concerning the real world. Oh, how she wished that was so! Taylor had a colorful past that would surprise even those who knew her best. The men, many men, the secrets, the drugs… not exactly things people associated with Taylor. Instead, she was known for her love for Bible study, reading, writing and solitude. She was hard to be friends with because of her mental illness, yet Taylor didn’t mind. She learned a long time ago friendships are rarely worth the investment that is required.

The vibration of her phone interrupted Taylor’s thoughts. Her friend, Sommer, was calling to invite her to a movie. “C’mon, Sommer! Me? Go to a movie? Don’t you know me at all?!”
“I don’t want to go by myself. You stay home too much! You need to go out and get some fresh air!
“Fresh air? At a movie theater?”
“Then let’s go for a walk. You need exercise.”
“I just rode my stationary bike for 30 minutes. If you need to talk, just tell me. Otherwise, I have writing to do.”
Sommer let out a sigh of disgust. “Fine. Do your writing! I don’t get you, Taylor, but do what you want.”
“Okay, okay! I’ll go. Tell me when and where…” Taylor felt like a bad friend whenever she declined invitations, so as usual, she agreed to go as bitterness and resentment welt up inside her.

That afternoon, Taylor stood outside the Cineplex waiting for Sommer when a familiar voice called her name. He was coming up behind her, putting his hand on her shoulder before she could turn to face him. He leaned into her ear, saying in almost a whisper, “Well, well, well… look who it is…”
----------
As the plane took off from the runway, Kate laid her head back to rest her eyes. She had been averaging three hours of sleep per night and it was catching up to her. Oh, I need to check on Dad… and I must get to the doctor for my annual physical (which she hasn’t had the past two years)… She couldn’t get her mind to slow down and her chest felt like her heart was about to shoot out. Check on Dad… call Dr. Reeves…

“Excuse me – Ms. Richards? We’ve landed…” The attendant gently nudged her arm. “You have slept the entire flight…”

And so she was up again, headed to another studio. She read up on the latest news updates from her iPhone, checked her email for any schedule changes, and made a note to call the doctor for an appointment. A quick call to her dad reminded her she needed to go see him soon. She promised him she’d visit this weekend and made a mental note to add it to her calendar… right after she called Dr. Reeves.

The limo driver’s face lit up when he saw her approaching. “Good day, Ms. Richards. Wiley Studios as usual? Or is it one of your other stations?”
“Wiley– thanks.” She slipped into the long back seat with her designer sun glasses dimming the brightness of the mid-day sun.” Kate felt a headache coming on when she awoke from her short nap and was reflecting on her phone conversation with her father. She really needed to visit him more. He was so lonely since her mother passed away a decade ago. He had told her she was working too hard again and Kate wondered if there was an undercurrent of him wanting her to visit, thus take a few days to stay at his beach house. When? Maybe she could arrange for a family visit when the kids were on Spring Break.

“Ms. Richards? Are you listening?” The driver’s eyes were peering at her in the rear view mirror.
“I’m sorry, Bennet… what was that?”
“I asked if you had been in the sun lately. You look radiant, I mean, more than usual…”
“Oh, thank you…” She refrained from answering with details as she had too many things on her mind to engage in small talk, yet she made certain she smiled graciously back in the mirror.
“You know, all the drivers drool when we see you get off your jet… you’re one sexy…”
“Bennet – there’s my stop. It was good seeing you and say hello to Mrs. Bennett for me…” She interrupted his complimented. It wasn’t that she didn’t like being complimented, rather she wished men would see and compliment her inner qualities. Besides, her stomach turned whenever she sensed a married man was fantasizing about her in a sexual way. No one took marriage vows seriously anymore. Kate knew that first hand. Sydney made that very clear when he brought his women ‘friends’ around her during their marriage.

He had told Kate if she would spend more time at home, he wouldn’t need to look outside the marriage. That is when she took on the next step in her career, demanding even more of her time in the office. A few weeks later, the rumors started trickling…
-----
Rachel giddily danced around her apartment as she told her friend about her afternoon. “I’m telling you, Misty… we’re a couple… Brian just hasn’t said it out loud.”

Misty had heard all about Brian over the past year and was often curious as to whether he even existed. He never came around, never called Rachel during the times when the two girls hung out. Yet Rachel referred to him as her “boyfriend”, claiming she would not even look at another man out of faithfulness to Brian.

“Why haven’t I met him if you two are exclusively dating? He hasn’t even held your hand, Rachel, much less kiss you!”
Rachel became defensive. “But he spends time with me and invites me to his house.”
“I spend time with you and invite you to my house!”
“Why are you trying to ruin this for me? Why don’t you want me to be happy?” Rachel quickly became irritated. “I’m going to prove to you I am his girlfriend!”

Rachel grabbed her cell phone, dialed Brian’s number, and tapped the ‘speaker’ button with Misty listening.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chapter 1 - Perspectives

Nanowrimo 2009

Taylor reminded herself she didn’t have to do this alone. She had a strong faith, believing in a Source most people considered outlandish. But ‘outlandish' was a compliment in Taylor’s eves as she went out of her way to circumvent the beaten path taken by the majority. She’d rather swim upstream than passively float the mainstream. People are too difficult and needed to be distanced for her to maintain any sense of sanity. Deep down, she knew it was impossible to fulfill her life purpose of encouraging others if she remained a hermit thriving in solitude. That’s where her writing comes in.

Writing had been her means of coping since 3rd grade when Mrs. Salt had taught her to write cursive. In 4th grade, all she wanted for Christmas was an electric typewriter. She got one – in fact, it was tucked away in her office closet. Maybe someday, it would be worth a lot of money. Maybe someday, she would be a successful, published author. That is, if she ever actually finished a task such as marketing her numerous articles, poetry, blogs, etc. Even as a loner, Taylor found herself easily distracted. She simply found her imagination more appealing than reality, so she became more of a ‘visitor’ to society, and a permanent dweller in the remoteness of her mind.

Maybe that’s why she felt so close to Jesus. He was always with her so she rarely wanted the company of another. He was her Rock and she truly could do or be nothing without the power of God. She worshiped Him in the quiet, pre-dawn hours, feeling no mandated reason to be in church every time the doors opened. She did her ‘giving back’ and serving through her writing.

Speaking of writing, she needed to focus on getting some type (pun intended) of organized meaning on paper. She was wasting precious time thinking of ‘what could be’. It was time she set her dreams into goals.
---
What was she thinking?! Kate did not have time to figure out scheduling conflicts. She was booked to appear on New York Today at 1pm – the same time as her luncheon for the upcoming charity event. Zooming out to view her monthly appointments gave her a sense of purpose, accomplishment, satisfaction; it was the current week view that frustrated her. There was never enough time to accomplish all she needed to do. Hell, she barely had time to think! Somehow, not having time to think made her the woman she is today.

She had seen too many people miss opportunities because of their emotions. Too many girl friends threw their careers in the pooper because of marriages to men who never came home at night. “But I love him…” they would claim as they repeatedly called at all hours of the night for her support. Of course, she’d always support her best friends. And Kate, of all people, knew the pain caused by loving a man. She left Sidney after the kids moved out, yet she still worried about him, even loved him, after all the shit he had put her through.

“Brandy? Can you come here real quick?” Kate called out when she heard her assistant laughing outside her office. Brandy appeared before Kate with her iPhone, ready for instructions. “Hun, I am flying to New York in the morning and I see you penciled in the luncheon… call Teresa and tell her I am unable to attend but of course, I will make up for my absence in a generous donation. Anything for animal rights, you know.”

“Yes, Ms. Kate. I’ll take care of it,” Brandy slightly bowed before turning to leave.
“Brandy? Did you just bow? How many times have I told you…”
“Sorry, Ms. Kate. Did it without thinking… respect and all.”

Brandy admired Kate, as did most people. Men wanted her, women wanted to be her, yet everyone respected her. Kate made sure of it.
--
Rachel carried her Forever 21 bag under her arm while retrieving the Bible from her purse. Her best friend, Brian, was challenging her claims of God will bring her husband into her life without requiring any effort from Rachel. She quoted Phillipians 4:19: And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

“But you don’t need a boyfriend! That says ‘needs’”. Brian sometimes wondered how he could be friends with such a religious freak like Rachel. How could she believe in something unseen? And that Bible she was always quoting from! How could Rachel use some book as some type of a definitive crystal ball?

Brian met Rachel 3 years ago at a community beautification event where he was required to help pick up trash in local parks. Everyone believed he was volunteering out of the goodness of his heart, not knowing it was a stipulation to his maintaining a clean record. Of course, Rachel had no idea Brian had been involved in criminal activity and Brian intended to keep her in the dark, which shouldn’t be a problem since she was so naïve. He also would never let on how he was using Rachel to get his parents off his back. After months of his mother nagging him about finding a sweet girl to date exclusively, Brian claimed he was dating Rachel, and befriended her so she would join him for occasional family dinners. Brian reminded himself of his scheme whenever he was tempted to tell Rachel she was a complete lunatic.

“Oh, Brian… you know God wants all women to marry. I need a husband, God provides for our needs. Who knows, maybe God brought us together to meet each other’s need for a spouse! Wouldn’t that be just like God?”

Rachel knew Brian had a crush on her even if he never asked her on an official date. Why else would he invite her to family functions? His mom treated her as if she and Brian were an exclusive couple, which led Rachel to assume Brian had told his mom of his feelings, yet was too shy to admit his crush to Rachel.

Spending three hours with Rachel was nerve-wracking enough, but having to listen to her claims that God wanted them to marry, that was the final straw! Brian opened the passenger door to his sports car as Rachel tossed her new outfit in the backseat and sat in the front. Brian shut her door as she obediently latched her seatbelt. She tucked her Bible back into her purse as Brian got in and started the engine.

“I just realized how late it is, Rachel, so how about I drop you off real quick?”
Rachel grinned as she looked out her window. “Sure… so you don’t deny the possibility?”
“Huh? What possibility?” Brian wondered how long he had tuned out her voice.
“The possibility God put us together for marriage? Wouldn’t that be just like God?”
Brian refrained from laughing at her stupidity, “Sure… just like God…”
---

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nanowrimo Day #1


Okay readers... this blog site is going to be smokin' for the next 30 days. It will be my platform for Nanowrimo 2009 - writing a novel in 30 days. I can generate 17,000 words a day, right? Sure! I've already started... let me know what you think of my intro to the next American novel:

Taylor reminded herself she didn’t have to do this alone. She had a strong faith, believing in a Source most people considered outlandish. But outlandish was a compliment in Taylor’s eves as she went out of her way to circumvent the beaten path taken by the majority. She’d rather swim upstream than to passively float the mainstream. People are too difficult and needed to be distanced for her to any sense of sanity. Deep down, she knew it was impossible to fulfill her life purpose of encouraging others if she remained a hermit thriving in solitude. That’s where her writing comes in.

I'll be needing lots of 'you can do this' talks so I'm counting on YOU to keep me going...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Response to Why I Chose Not to Marry

Recently, I was asked why I am not interested in marriage. Here is my response:

In BSF, I learned how weddings were week long celebrations, people took off work, and partied all week. From this, I assume Jesus values marriage, especially if people took off work, etc. So yes, I know God intends man and woman to become one. I respect that for others.

But for me, there is no benefit to being married. I have no desire whatsover to marry. My relationship with Jesus is more than enough.

I’m happy with the way my life is now.  But that’s just for me.
--

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dog Application Almost Complete

Two months later, I finished my short bio for my assistance dog application. Now I have to attach a few photos of my abode, and get this package in the mail. Here's the bio:
Shelly Weiss
Autobiography for Assistance Dog
 
I am a 40 year old single lady who lives in a 2 bedroom villa. While I have had Cerebral Palsy (C.P.) since birth, I have lived independently since attending college in 1993. My speech, walking and motor skills are impaired by C.P., yet never to the degree of impairing my ability to perform daily living skills until a few years ago when I started falling and having trouble with fine motor tasks (such as picking things up).  Last month, I fell and was unable to get back up due to lack of balance and coordination, and now I am scared to leave my home for fear this may happen again. I see a psychiatrist for anxiety and clinical depression, both of which would be greatly helped if I had an assistance dog. I love animals and am always uplifted when I see friends’ dogs, especially golden retrievers! For 12 years, I owned a golden retriever and he was one of the best friends I have ever had. Hopefully, I will be able to have an assistance dog to have a mutually rewarding companionship with.
 
Thank you,
Shelly

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

No Telling

Spent much of the day reading journal from last year. I wanted to die much of 2008, wrote things like ‘I hope I finally see Jesus and Seminole in 2009’ and “much sicker… and miserable… want someone to care. Despite what I say, I want someone there…”

Fortunately, my perspective has greatly improved. I’m not paralyzed by depression, I can wait for God to call me home… I know when it’s time, he will take me.

I’ve learned I was blaming others for things that were actually in my power to control. Telling my secrets to people, inappropriately… secrets aren’t as bad as I believed. I thought if I had to hide something from my closest friends, I was a. a deceitful friend and b. doing something I shouldn’t be doing if I had to hide.

Now I realize I am in control of what I share. I kind of like having parts of my life to myself. Maybe it means I no longer feel the need for others validation. Funny, I seem to feel more validated when I hide who I am..

Maybe in a perfect world, I can share whom I am dating or my latest coping strategy that keeps the depression away. But this isn’t that perfect world. My relatives buy me a gravesite and say they wish I was never born, I fall down now and have trouble getting back up, and I have several other issues weighing on my heart.

But it’s okay. It’s my life. I can handle it. There’s no telling how resilient I can be.

--

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Praying

Prayer was on my mind last night so I listened to Phillip Yancey’s audiobook, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference? while drifting of to sleep. Yancey points out that Jesus felt compelled to pray so we should pray. Jesus, the Son of God, who knew things we will never have the ability to comprehend, spent entire nights praying. Therefore, although sometimes praying may feel silly and ineffective, Jesus’ actions prove otherwise. Besides, being a Christian means being Christlike… Christ prayed, so I pray.

Yet prayer is a weak area in my life. I don’t ‘be still and know that he is God’ (Psalm 46:10) nearly as much as I’d like, which explains why prayer has been on my mind.

This morning, I opened my Bible to Job 11:13-15, which reads:
Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear.

The Hebrew word for ‘hand’ in verse 13 is kap, signifying the flat part of the hand. In Exodus 9:29, the same word is used to indicate ‘the hands being spread out in prayer’. Prayer!! I did not know Job 11:13 referred to prayer until I looked it up in my Lexical Aids Bible!

Why do we neglect to spend quality time in the Word? God never fails to profoundly speak to my heart if only I put Him first. And when He speaks, everything and everyone else is put into proper perspective. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1). Not only was the Word at the beginning of all creation, it needs to be the beginning of each day, night, conflict, conversation, mission… the beginning of everything.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Poem - Returning

I'm sorry I've been distracted,
Not too proud of how I've acted.
Feeling You tugging at my heart,
Illuminating we're apart.
Now returning afront your throne.
I focus on You alone.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sharing

Sometimes it hurts to share
Sometimes I hate to care. 
But God's given my life a voice
Sharing my writing's no choice. 

As long as I continue to live
A voice to my heart I'll give. 
It's not what others say
But glorifying God I pray. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pray for Me

Please pray I will develop the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 1 Peter 3;4

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Missing Nothing

What exactly am I missing? He never really was what I thought. 
I believed so long he'd be there, his absence was never his fault. 
Perhaps the part which saddens me is admitting what is true. 
I'll never be part of his family regardless of what I do. 
If I had a family of my own, I wouldn't long to be included.  
But it's not fair to him, so I must leave... is what I have concluded. 

More On Friendships

Warning: When you decide to end a friendship, be prepared for the ramifications.
People will react to the changes they see and the words they hear from you.
I neglected to consider the additional heartbreak experienced upon seeing those with whom I’ve severed friendships.
I’m learning, albeit painfully, that it’s not easy letting go of people because I believe they do not care about me. As hard as it is to have an unrequited friendship with such people, it’s even harder to have no connection at all.

Should we apologize and beg for forgiveness for ending the friendship? After all, isn’t any relationship better than nothing?

Or should we stick to our guns, and not only maintain our decision to end these friendships, but never let anyone in again, thus avoid being hurt so deeply in the future?

Actually, I believe there is a middle ground. If someone repeatedly (whether intentionally or not) causes more pain than love, for your sake and theirs, move on. Remember the blessings from your connection, let go of the pain, and be thankful for the season you had them in your life.

Then recognize season’s end. Sad, but this is what indicates growth. When one season ends, another begins. New friendships, fresh new beginnings! Embrace them!

Let go of what you outgrow. Never settle. Always be open to love.



Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cry

Waking this morning with puffy eyes
Reminds me instantly of last night's cries. 
Severing the relationship of a valued friend
After admitting the fact it had to end. 

He helped me grow into this shell of mine,
Taught me life lessons in 4 years time. 
My path no longer crosses his,
Lack of substance validates this. 

I wish him well as I wave goodbye,
And turn before once again, I cry. 

Friday, October 2, 2009

Not Avon

3 ladies of 'another religion' come to my door AGAIN!
Them: "Good morning! We are talking to people about the Bible..."
Me (pointing at my opened Bible on the couch): I know all about the Bible... Thank you, but I'm firm in my faith..."
Them: "But can we talk to you? Maybe give you verses to read?"
Me: "No, thank you... I read them all..." (trying to shut the door).
Them: (All 3 ganging up on me) "Just let us leave some information..." (pushing info in the door)
ME: "Alright, leave it in the basket right there..." (trash can outside the door. Their mouths dropped as I shut the door).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What Problem?

If I wasn’t the main character of the Shelly Weiss Life Story, I’d believe it was fiction. I’d think the author added drama here and there to make the story entertaining. Actually, I wish that was the case, but it’s all true.

Last night, I was absolutely devastated to be told by an integral person in my life that s/he wished I had died at birth because I am less than ‘bright’ and have a miserable life. Hearing her/his confession had me literally kneeling at the toilet, barfing up my dinner. I ended up reaching out to Twyla, who had me laughing within 30 minutes. (proving I am wrong about believing no one is there for me).

Still, I thought I would be unable to sleep/write/stop crying for days…

Again, I was proven wrong. I am actually in a good mood this morning and keep forgetting what took place last night. Instead of analyzing the conversation, I went right to my Bible, reading Psalm 10:14b, 16-18:
he victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

Hallelujah! God’s got us. The saved are on His side, and though the battle is fierce, He not only defends us, He has promised to win the battle so that the enemy may terrify us no more! By believing God’s promises and living in full reliance on Him, our momentary problems become a far off memory… even if they happened just last night,

Finally, these words from Inner State 80 beautifully elaborate on a life of faith:
Pastor Joel Hunter writes,
Genuine faith consists in building one's life upon the Lord Jesus Christ. It involves placing one's trust in the salvation that He won, and then acting on that trust in the way we live each day of our lives...

But until we depend on Him to hold us up, until we lean on Him to the point that if He lets us go, we will fall, until we base our entire lives upon the promises He has made, all our beliefs that He is trustworthy are nothing more than guesses.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Xanax Can Be Good

*Xanax is getting such a bad name. It has saved my life.

I've been on Xanax since 1994. Most years, I took 2 pills - that's it. In fact, I always threw most of the pills out because they expire after 2 yrs. Knowing I had some in case of an emergency kept me functional. When I don't have any, on top of the anxiety, I have a Crohns attack (losing control of my bowels) and an asthma attack, which exacerbates my anxiety. Feels like I am going to die. That's why I stay home alone. I need Xanax. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall

Ouch!I fell today and couldn't get back up, which led to an anxiety attack & asthma. Now I'm depressing.

Blog on Mackenzie Phillips  

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prayer

I pray to ask God for things I believe need. He has been using prayer to tell me what I actually need.
My BSF leader asked for my prayer request – here is what I told her: discernment; I signed up for 3 Bible studies and it feels like too much, yet I feel guilty when my close friends are heavily active and I basically stay home all day. My leader’s summary to our group: Pray for Shelly to know how God wants her to use her time.
Then the leader of my Beth Moore study and I had the following email correspondence:
Her: We missed you today at bible study. Me: Not sure I will stay in the class... I am in 2 other Bible Studies and it is too much. Her comment on the group’s prayer list: Shelly – praise – she has three bible studies to choose from! Pray for discernment as to where she should be spending her time right now. (we hope to see you back Shelly!)
This morning I read from Pastor Joel Hunter’s newest book, Inner State 80, how our ambition should be not to run around trying to get things done. Rather we should strive to ‘live a life that is quietly meaningful and productive…’
I think I know what God wants me to pray for.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9-11

A day our country will never forget. September 11th, 2001, our nation changed forever. Everyone has a story of where they were when they heard the tragedy… my story reminds me of how our circumstances determine perceptions.

One of my best friends had just found out she was pregnant. I had been with her the night before when she took her THIRD pregnancy test. To put it mildly, she was in shock.

At the time, I was in full time private practice, no co-workers, only 4 to 5 clients per day. When the first plane attacked, I was doing my insurance billing when Katie Couric reported on the tragedy. I called my friend:

Her: Hello, Shelly (caller ID)
Me: A plane just hit the World Trade Center!!!
Her: Yeah?..... So?
Me: They think it’s terrorists!
Her: Okay… (silence)…. What do you want me to do?

I felt stupid making such a big deal out of it, so I hung up and went back to billing. Then the second plane hit. I called my friend again:

Her: Yes, Shelly?! (sounds of disqust)
Me: Another plane just hit!!
Her: Shelly, what do you want me to do? I have bigger problems right now! I have no control over New York City!!! Don’t you have work to do?

Okay… so I turned off the TV and went about the day, convinced I was being overly dramatic. When I finally understood the magnitude of what had happened, it reminded me – what is a major deal to one person may be minor to another person. Therefore, we shouldn’t compare our life’s circumstances to others. People may think I have a tough life having disabilities, when I view friends who have a marriage and children as having a much tougher life than mine. It’s all relative.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Social Security Phone Call

The Social Security - Disability hotline is voice activated. Keeps telling me it can't understand me... HELLO!!?? I wouldn't be calling IF I DIDN'T HAVE A DISABILITY!!!!!!! stupid people.

Wonder if they recorded me:
Prompt: "I'm sorry, I cannot understand you."
Me: "You should be!"
Prompt: "Please spell your first name."
Me: "M-i- c-h-e-l-e"
Prompt: "Was that 'N-w-o-p-k'?
Me: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
Prompt: "I'm sorry, I cannot understand you. Please spell your first name."
Me: "This is ridiculous! IT'S SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY! I HAVE A SPEECH DISABILITY, YOU STUPID RECORDING!"
Silence for 10 seconds...
Prompt: "I'm sorry, I cannot understand you."
ARRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

White People, Green Room, and Heaven

*written in general terms to protect parties involved.

I grew up in a narrow minded environment. Once, my ‘circle’ was asked how I was different from the rest, and the answer was “Shelly’s not prejudice; she sees all people as equal.” When I became an adult, I brought a friend from college home and was lectured sternly. My friend wasn’t Caucasian. I was told to stay with my own kind… even in friendships. One day, I boldly stated heaven is not going to be all white people. I was informed when they get to heaven, they will tell St. Peter to take them to the all white section…. My response? What if St. Peter isn’t white?

Needless to say, my ‘circle’ is far from pleased with my lifestyle.

Now I find myself in a different ‘family’… my church family. Several years ago, I gave part of my testimony to Northland’s congregation of approximately 12,000 people. Since I don’t do good interacting one on one with strangers, I hung out with the Worship Team the whole weekend. They instantly took me in as ‘family’ and has been loving me ever since.

Looking around the Green Room, I am soooo out of place! I couldn’t be more mismatched. My pastor is internationally known, even called regularly by President Obama for prayers and counsel. He is probably one of the top 3 influential pastors in America. Then there’s half of Avalon, the Christian Contemporary band, who call Northland their church home. The team has sung/played with such talents as Disney, Phil Collins (including going on tour as his back up singer), Hank Williams, Jr. and many other entertainment venues. Let me just say that some influential people – preaching, singing, playing, etc – hang out back stage. Yet you would never know it by being a fly on the wall. Not one of them acts better than the other… they all share a common desire and purpose – to live for Jesus. Maybe that’s why against all odds, I feel welcomed in their circle.

And maybe that is what will make heaven so glorious… every tongue, tribe, nation, disability, ability, etc. will feel welcomed, all sharing the running thread of being children of God.

6Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. – Rev. 14

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Thank You for the Discomfort


My bible is marked with dates and incidents next to verses I have meditated on. Since I change bibles frequently, the bible I’ve been using this past year has a theme reflecting clinging to Jesus instead of seeking comfort from others. Even I notice a chip on my shoulder in the markings of this bible.

Second Timothy 4:16-18 is etched in my heart because I’ve read it over and over… savoring each word with tears and praise. This morning, I read it with a new perspective.

17But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed…

I had no one to turn to except the Lord, no one to strengthen me but Him…

Matthew Henry writes, “ If the Lord stands by us, he will strengthen us in difficulties and dangers, and his presence will more than supply every one's absence.”

What blessings would I have missed if things had gone as I wanted? How often do I forsake the Lord’s strength and presence for the sake of comfort and social acceptance? What could be better than His strength in difficulties and danger, and his presence which more than supplies every one’s absence?

I know the answers to these questions… my problem is I forget to practice what I know.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Isaiah 50:4

The TV was taken out of my bedroom. Books are going back in my writing room. And the shades have opened.

These are clear signs I am out of my most recent depression. The blinders of despair and anhedonia have been removed and sunshine basks on the tiled floor.

I can’t look away from God, though. I can’t look at my social commitments, nor can I dwell on the empty planner pages of the past 14 months.

One day at a time. Holding on to His hand as he leads me to better pastures. As we set out for a new territory, he gives me a desire to share through my writing, an instructed tongue to teach. No longer is He carrying me, yet forever he is leading me.

The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. Isaiah 50:4

Stormy Prayer

 
Finding myself back in the storm,
Insecurity within events have formed.
Smooth waters I've treaded without wakes,
Now waves are stirring from my mistakes.
I'm sorry I left, took my eyes from Your face,
Ran up ahead instead of following Your pace.
God, help me learn so this makes me much stronger.
Without you is a feeling I can't endure any longer.   

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Friends Forever















Fanning through forty years of life,
Laughs & tears, good times & strife.
Friends I lost and found again,
Comparing memories of way back when.

When did our bodies and health decline?
When did ‘when I was young…’ become our line?
We resemble our mothers in ways we despise,
Seems funerals keep happening along with ‘good-byes’.

So we’re now middle aged, hairs turning gray.
Yet in our hearts we’re the kids who’d gather and play.
We’ll always be young when we’re together..
Just as we promised, we are friends forever.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Talk Therapy

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study. --Chinese proverb

A few people have told me I am too smart for my own good in the area of psychology. I know what to say to doctors not only for them to prescribe the medications I want, but also in a way so they think coming up with the drug was their own idea. Have been doing that for 15 years. With psychologists, I know too much about cognitive therapies, psychopathology, and counseling techniques to present myself as a clean slate. Therefore, I haven’t been to counseling for years.

The past few days, I’ve experienced two epiphanies, which came out of nowhere. The first was during an initial Bible study when I was asked if I had a perceived failure that weighed me down. Without thinking, I said, “I’ve always said I have great faith in God and can do all things through Him who strengthens me, yet I surrendered to my depression. Not only am I a Christian, I’m a licensed mental health counselor who had to give up my private practice because I was paralyzed by depression!” Whoa… where did THAT come from?!

The second epiphany happened when I was having a Starbucks date with my friend, Michelle. We were discussing family problems, to which I told her certain relatives of mine have called me a snob since I was in middle school. Yet the same relatives criticize me for not sharing their mindset, which is pure prejudice. Again, without thinking, I said, “I’m sick of feeling guilty for having a college education! I worked my butt off studying, not sleeping, etc. and I’m tired of minimizing it! I am proud of what I’ve done!” Whoa, yet again!

Evidently, I’ve some conversations to have and hidden wounds to uncover.

Writing... Again

A reader named, Lisa, just posted a comment on my last post saying Jesus is the only one who can be there the way we need Him... I knew I had to post the blog I wrote yesterday. I hesitated because it isn't as well written as I would like... but Lisa's words convinced me to jump back in to blogging... here we go:
--
After taking a break from writing this past year, God is showing me I am in a new season. My depression is under control and every area in my life is arranged for me to jump into full time writing.

I’ve learned some great lessons, some of which I am only realizing after coming out of the darkness and living in the light again. Depression can really distort your perspective. Let me share just a few realizations:

Jesus is the only one who truly can carry you through the storm.
I didn’t know what I needed, so how could I expect others to know? When too many people heard lies and rumors from a devious person, I told everyone to leave me alone. Everyone did, then I was upset no one checked on me!
Realizations:
a. Don’t generalize all people based on the actions of individuals who are more interested in drama/gossip/feeling superior to you.
b. Jesus is always there for you. He will listen to you, comfort you, speak to you, and even make you laugh. You’re not in this alone – He wants to go through it with you.
c. Jesus has experienced sadness, disappointment, rejection, agony… so He not only understands the pain you feel, He chose to experience the torment and devastation for you.
d. Sometimes, in fact, most of the time, you have to let go and start a new chapter. For me, many of my actions and words were prescription drug induced. It took awhile for my body to adjust to medication changes, and now I have little or no recollection of what took place. Therefore, how can I hold a grudge against people?
e. Thankfully, God’s mercies are new every morning. And since Christians are called to be Christ-like, well… what does that tell you?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crazy, Crippled Success

You tell me there is no God, or that you only pray when there is a crisis.

I’ll give you a glimpse into how a personal relationship with Jesus can impact your life.

I am truly going through the worst season of my life. Two weeks ago, I was hospitalized – against my will – for taking 17 Xanax. Yes, 17 Xanax. Doctor’s cannot believe I am still alive. I had to stay in the mental hospital for 3 days for fear I may have seizures going off Xanax abruptly. Let me back up…

I was born with cerebral palsy but didn’t realize I was different until I went off to college where I knew no one. My mom (in God’s wisdom & plan) is a nurse who has physicians consulting with her because she is so medically gifted. My mom went against the schools, the doctors, and anyone who tried to give me a different life. She insisted I be treated like all the other kids, and the other kids did just that. They treated me like everyone else.

I grew up in a Baptist church where I always knew Jesus was Lord. I got saved with my brother, Mark, when a pastor said “if you leave this building and die in a car crash, you will go to hell if you haven’t accepted Jesus into your heart”. I got saved to secure my place in heaven – nothing more.

Fast forward 15 years when I went to Florida State because I wanted to start all over. I knew no one, and that’s how I wanted it. However, since no one knew me, I had to prove myself all over again. School was hard, people treated me ‘disabled’ and I was homesick. The first summer, I became severely depressed. Although I was studying to become a psychotherapist, I am still human. All the techniques and therapies in the world won’t help when you reach a certain pit. The church was of no help, saying things like “just pray about it” or “you don’t have enough faith!” My childhood pastor told me I needed to get married and he was sure SOMEONE would marry me because ‘even circus freaks find someone to marry them’.

Even though I had a lot of friends, I was empty. I didn’t know what to believe anymore but I ALWAYS knew God was there. I remember reading how suicidal people can go to heaven because the only unforgivable sin is not accepting Jesus into their heart. That was all I needed to know. I could handle cerebral palsy and Crohns Disease which had me hospitalized yearly. But the depression, no. I remember the therapist telling me “Go home and watch ‘Friends’” when I told her I wanted to die. No one knew how to handle me being suicidal. So I took lots of pills, and ended up in a psychiatric hospital for almost three weeks. They told me when to eat, when to sleep, when to poop.

All the friends I had left me, saying ‘we don’t know what to do or say, so we can’t be your friend anymore.’ Fine. I swore I would never let anyone get close to me again, and for almost 10 years, I kept my promise. My cats were/are my best friends, all that I needed. I stayed in the house, and started reading the Bible from scratch. I put away all that I had learned in church and started over… looking at everything from Catholicism to Judaism. Soon, the words became alive, jumping off the pages and into my heart. The more I read, the more I wanted. For the first time in my life, Jesus was an ever-present part of my life. I got to know Him. I wanted to be like Him.

But I had secrets. One was I took Xanax whenever life got too hard, which sometimes was daily. My mom knew, but no one else did. My mom told me how dangerous it was, but I shrugged her off, thinking “she just doesn’t understand’. Another secret was dating the wrong kind of men… men who were safe and wouldn’t get too close to me. Men who I could write off without any emotion.

I became successful in my field, asked to participate on more committees and panels than my calendar had space for. I was paid to speak all over the country. And I was a great therapist because I never told my clients to just pray or go watch TV. My life was perfect… just me, my cats, and Jesus.

Then the ‘latest’ man I fell for was a member at the church I went to on holidays. I started attending regularly so I could see him. I was asked to give my testimony, which meant I spent the weekend backstage with the Worship Team. God started showing me how life is about serving others and how He wanted to share my struggles with others so they could see Jesus in my life. So I began sharing my secrets and my weaknesses. And people began speaking more candidly with me, sharing their own experiences.

I began letting people in again, trusting and loving others, and through what can only be the grace of God, people liked me and wanted to be my friend in spite of my revealed secrets. But I still had one secret no one knew: I was becoming a drug addict. Xanax became more important to me than God. Instead of praying, I took pills. Then I was put in a job where my boss yelled at me over my speech. She set me up for failure. Co-workers told me they thought I was a freak because of my cerebral palsy… counselors with Master’s Degrees discriminated against me. I gradually became more depressed, and eventually suicidal. My brother came down and stayed until I could get to a psychiatrist.

Once again, friends walked away for ‘not knowing what to say.’ I had to quit my job, knowing I couldn’t put the needs of my clients before my own. That would be unethical and I just could not do it. So I quit with no income, no plan. Things worsened, I got mad at God and stopped speaking to Him. I told Him I wanted nothing to do with him. Praying is so much a part of my life, that I kept catching myself praying, and then would remember, “Oh, nevermind, I am not talking to You.” That lasted three days. That showed me what hell will be like. That made me realize, I can go through anything as long as Jesus is with me. I never want to be separated from Him again, and He reminded me I was the one who walked away… He never left and never will.

Two weeks ago, I was exhausted… I just wanted to sleep. I took a couple Xanax, then a couple more. I don’t remember anything that happened that night, but had texted someone “I am having trouble breathing… will you Google “17 Xanax” and see if it interferes with breathing?” I ended up in the hospital. This time, I had no Xanax. When friends walked away (as they did before), I had no escape. I had nothing to lose, so I began sharing my experience online. People thanked me… people told me they started going to church, wanting to know this “Jesus” I live for. Someone told me I light up when I talk about Jesus, and when they look at me, they see Him.

That is what life is all about, reflecting Jesus to others. As embarrassing as my life is, I will not hide what He has carried me through. I am His, and everyone can ridicule me, and walk away, but as long as He is pleased with me, none of that matters.

THAT is my God… knowing Him allows me to get out of bed each day. My relationship with Him makes life worth living. Despite popular belief, the Christian life is not easy. Depression is not a sign of weakness. Success is not measured in money or possessions. Success is living so that others want to know how you are at peace during a crisis. Success is loving others in a way that can only be explained by a relationship with Christ. Success is laying down your own life to live for Him.

I am still depressed. I still face poverty and homelessness. I still want to live in isolation, selfishly staying just with Christ. Yet I am no longer suicidal. Instead, I want to do all He has created me for, touching as many people as I can with how my Father carries me… everyday. The world may see me as crazy or crippled or too revealing… but I bet Jesus calls it ‘success’.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I Can Write Again!

I can write again! My penmanship has been unreadable since I had my Xanax incident. Writing and reading are my life! I always have colored pens, a notebook and my Bible with me. I’ve been truly devastated at my inability to do either one. A neuropsychologist friend of mine explained what is happening in my brain. Xanax slows everything down and since I have cerebral palsy, my brain wiring is incredibly sluggish right now. He told me I need to let my brain rest – watch funny TV shows, day dream, whatever, but avoid intense conversations, don’t drive, etc. Evidently, what I do the next several weeks will determine whether I have a full recovery.

So what do I do, laying in bed all day? I talk to Jesus, guilt-free… turn my phone and internet off, lay there for hours and converse with Him. You know, it’s nice to be free to be with Him… and I think He likes it too.

One prayer request: My Crohn’s Disease is acting up, so I have been dealing with gastro-intestinal problems too.

And a praise request: unbeknownst to me, 2 people from Facebook got together, found out what electric company I have, AND PAID MY ELECTRIC BILL! Thank you, Jesus… Thanks you.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Update

I just spoke with the neuropsychologist, telling him I am having more trouble everyday (can’t read, write, or drive). He explained the Xanax slowed down my whole system including my lungs which should have killed me. He said my brain needs to rest – the more I use it now, the less chance I will go back to myself. He said even heavy tv shows are bad, and just stay in bed for a few weeks... I need to rest. So I have another form to fill out – maybe Michele will help me.

God is good,

Friday, March 27, 2009

Not So Good

Not doing so good. I get lost when driving, can’t find my way home.

All the problems I had before I went into the hospital, I have them plus more. End of the month, bills are due again. Social Security sent me a letter back in December saying they were holding April and May’s payment to me because of an overpayment back in college. I sent a letter appealing their letter a couple months ago but haven’t heard back. We’ll see if I get a check 4/2. My bank called, telling me I need to bring my account out of negative $600, to which I assured them a deposit would be made by Social Security on 4/2. My electric will be shutoff if I don’t pay by 4/3. Not sure about other bills. My account is negative because I HAD to pay COBRA. Then I told the bank my church would be sending a check for my car payment. Things were delayed so the bank tried taking payment for my car out of MY bank account a couple times, racking up $100 worth of bank fees.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Poem- Post Hospitalization

Bills are due, neurotransmitters construed,
Unable to focus and remember.
Penmanship’s crap, can’t seem to adapt,
Feeling vulnerable, weak, and tender.

But what hurts the most, what keeps me engrossed,
Are two relationships that I’ve lost.
Must trust fully in Him, to live once again,
Forgetting the pain this did cost.
- Shelly Weiss 3/21/9

Contemplating Depression


What follows below is from IVP New Testament Commentary on Phillipians 1, and basically says he would rather die and be with Christ, but for the sake of those around him, he chooses to live so he can continue praising God, glorifying Him with His life. MY opinion: People who say suicide is selfish only sees one side of the equation... I believe (and I know I will get a lot of disagreement on this, which is okay BECAUSE THIS IS MY OPINION.) My opinion is what is even MORE selfish is people who expect you to suck it up, 'be happy' and go on living without understanding the hell you go through, sometimes minute by minute. Or people who promise to stick by you but walk away when they don't know what to do... leaving you in your own pit of despair, that to me is selfish. But since we are descendants of the fallen man, we are all selfish. So I CHOOSE to believe depression is a blessing in that it forces me to talk to Jesus about all the things no one else would understand, not even I can understand. Life is about denying oneself for the sake of serving others. If my transparency causes all my friends to walk away in discomfort while even just ONE person comes to Christ after hearing my testimony, then it will all be worth it. One day, Jesus will smile at me, hug me, and say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Welcome home!"
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Why I am here: Phillipians 1
19for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[d] 20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

The striking words "to live, Christ [Christos]; to die, gain [kerdos]" epitomize Paul's life since Damascus. Once Paul was apprehended by Christ Jesus (3:12), Christ became the singular pursuit of his life. Christ--crucified, exalted Lord, present by the Spirit, coming King; Christ, the name that sums up for Paul the whole range of his new relationship to God: personal devotion, commitment, service, the gospel, ministry, communion, inspiration, everything. Much of what this means will be spelled out in his story in 3:4-14. Such singular focus does not make Paul otherworldly; rather, it gives heart and meaning to everything he is and does as a citizen of two worlds, his heavenly citizenship determining his earthly.
... Death, after all, because it is "ours" in Christ Jesus (1 Cor 3:22), has lost its sting (1 Cor 15:55)… Paul now begins a personal reflection on these two alternatives, whose point seems easy enough. If he had a real choice between the two, he would choose execution, for clear christological and eschatological reasons.

Verse 22 is a clear follow-up to verse 21. Picking up on the first clause (to live is Christ), Paul assesses what its outcome will mean for him in the body (literally "flesh"), namely, fruitful labor. But rather than follow that up with a similar sentence ("if it means death"), he jumps ahead to reflect on what he might do if he in fact had a real choice in the matter. "I simply cannot say," he says; indeed, I am torn between the two, since it means Christ in either case.

The tension arises between Paul's "on earth" passion of serving Christ on behalf of others ( fruitful labor) and his personal desire finally to be with Christ "in heaven." After all, all of present life is given to "knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (3:8) while at the same time pressing "toward the goal of winning the prize" of knowing him finally and completely (3:14).
Thus for Paul personally, to depart and be with Christ . . . is better by far.

… In any case, Paul understood death as a means into the Lord's immediate presence, which for him and countless thousands after him has been a comforting and encouraging prospect. Very likely he also expected such gain to include consciousness, and for most believers that too has been a matter of encouragement--although such a conclusion goes beyond the certain evidence we possess from Paul himself. Life Is to Their Advantage (1:24-26) Although verse 24 is grammatically part of verse 23 (remain is in contrast to depart), with these words Paul first of all returns to what he began in verse 22 (to live in the body means fruitful labor). Paul clearly expects to remain in the body, precisely because that is more necessary for you. How so is what he takes up in the concluding sentence (vv. 25-26). In the end he yields to "divine necessity," which is also a way of saying that God's choice.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Progress

I am going to see my doctor today at 11:30. I am doing better with long term memory, but much worse with short term memory. Yesterday, I argued with Don about where Steak and Shake was. I thought he was messing with my mind because he was teasing me, saying, “When did you get a new car?” (I was in my same car) and I teased back, “Who are you? And how did you get in my car?” When he made what I thought was a wrong turn, I told him to stop messing with me and it wasn’t funny anymore. I insisted Steak and Shake was behind us as he drove right to Steak and Shake. I was confused, thinking of Chick Fila. Things like that make me think I am losing my mind.

Ann is taking good care of me. I went to my church to volunteer and Ann went with me. I kept telling her things I had just told her an hour before. I was frustrated at that and she assured me it was okay. The memory loss will get better. As we walked to our cars, Ann told me as long as I stay connected at my church and don’t isolate, I will be fine. They are so good to me at Northland. I love that place.

People on Facebook are helping me too, a lot of supportive comments. I’ve lost 2 friendships over this, but gained so many more. My mom and I talk several times a day now. We use to talk once every other month. Yesterday, she explained what the Xanax had done to me and my brain. She has been against me taking Xanax for the past 10 years yet did not say “I told you so!” at all. She has been so supportive through this.

All this will be another part of my testimony… another way God carries me. I asked Him a week ago to do whatever He had to do to help me remember I can do nothing without His power. He definitely has answered my prayer.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Starting Again

Words from a friend cut deep, statements overheard do pierce,
When hearing how others view you, the emotions stirred are fierce.
Let my heart forgive, so I can focus on what means more.
Give me strength to take the path I’ve never walked before.
A day of new opportunities, to mold who I’ll become.
What matters is where I’m going, not the places I am from.
I will mess up, but that won’t stop me from trying,
I’ll get back up to walk the path, despite the tears I’m crying.
I’m proud of who I am, regardless of what they say.
God only knows what’s in my heart, and He’s not walking away.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Poem From My Prayer Journal

Depression is Back


She knew as soon as I said ‘hello’. Despite my attempts to reassure her, my mom was disappointed to say the least. “Mom, this one won’t last long… I promise. This depression won’t last for years…it’s only temporarily, really.” She sounded like a whining child, “but you were doing so good!”
She didn’t ask what started it because she has learned there is no exact cause. She didn’t ask if I had been in bed all week and was taking medication to escape. She knew the answers. She has been through this so many times before.
I know I let her down, yet I also know this is out of my control. I’m sorry for her, for my friends who don’t know what to do, and for the friends who never witnessed this before.
My thinking changes, I become existential, questioning life and my role in it. I get these irrational thoughts when people tell me to move to my parents, who tell me to move to Mark’s, who tell me I need to stay with Northland… DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW THAT MAKES ME FEEL? If I am so much trouble, I have a simple solution. I am not afraid to die. But it’s not my time. God wants me to impact more lives… I just hope I am almost done with God’s to-do list for me.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blessed


I've been feeling so drained lately, so down (even the concert wasn't uplifting as the lead singer quit and the group started singing BLUEGRASS songs!) that I need some time alone. I wasn't going to go to my Bible Study group on Esther this morning but one of the sweet ladies called me and told me I needed to come. Well, to my surprise, they had gotten together to "Celebrate Shelly" showing me with gifts, girly stuff, money, food, gift cards, a plant, etc. It was amazing - they are amazing... GOD is amazing.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Socially Drained

I have been blessed beyond measure this past year. I am so thankful to the people who have helped me, I want to do all I can to repay them. Since I have very little to give and my love language is 'quality time', I've been socializing much more out of obligation.

Me being an introvert and a loner, well, it is physically & emotionally draining me. I wrote the following, which sounds so horrible... but lately, this is how I have been feeling. I need some time alone.

Indifferent

I don't fit your mold, nor do I want to. Socializing is a no win
situation- either I have to appear to be someone I'm not, which
deceives you, deceives me. Or I am 'weird' with "funny" questions,
crossing boundaries when I finally relax enough to take of the masks.
I never asked you to tolerate me. Never asked to be your friend. You told me not to isolate, not to withdraw. So I force myself to go out "to be healthy". This ain't healthy, and if it is- let me be "weird"
and leave me alone.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Barenaked Ladies


So excited!! Twyla got us tickets to go see Barenaked Ladies tomorrow! I'm so pumped, it is motivating me to work toward earning an income with my writing! Amazing what depression keeps me from doing...

Believe in Grace: Naked Depression Previous post on how BNL have personally impacted me...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Poem - Fresh Tears and a Bow

“I do not walk or talk the same, I have a boo-boo on my brain.”
“Will it go away?” she asked. Unlike her sprain this would not pass.
“Deep inside, we’re quite alike… I can run and skip and ride a bike.
Understand I’m equal – my smiles and tears. Experiencing pain throughout the years.
Candy Land, Hopscotch, will you play?” She said, “No, sorry… not today.”
Running home without a glance. I found her bow, perhaps by chance.
I went to press the circled glow, and heard what I thought I did not know.
“But Mom, she’s nice, like me I’d bet!” “I don’t know what you might get.
She’s strange, stay away! Case is closed!” Silence on a doorstep, fresh tears and a bow.
---- Shelly Weiss

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bitterness, Jealously, and Pedestals

People often tell me how lucky I am to have ‘everything always work out for me’ to the point that if I claim I am about to be homeless, they shrug it off as God always takes care of me so I’ll be fine. Yes, that is true, but it doesn’t mean life comes easy for me. Quite the opposite, I am on my knees continuously praying for God’s provision and thanking Him for all he has blessed me with.

Yet I am guilty of being jealous, even bitter, over friends who appear to have the ‘perfect life’. Everything appears to come easy for them. In fact, they seem to live not only sin-free lives, but temptation-free as well! Of course, I know that is not true. I have to constantly evaluate my motives when interacting with them since I unintentionally place them on a pedestal, believing they have no clue ‘what real life is like’.

While we are not to have idols or envy others, we do need mentors. Like everything else, we must look to God to help us keep a balanced perspective. After all, people on high pedestals tend to be there only by reaching relentlessly for God.
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Most of us would rather say, "Don't follow me, follow Christ!" We are too aware of our own inconsistencies and failures to set ourselves up as models for the Christian life. But this was Paul's way. He said to the Corinthians, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Cor 11:1). Paul was well aware that the imitation of Christ needs to be illustrated in the experience of our peers. Without mentors who show us what it means to follow Christ in the rough-and-tumble of our contemporary world, imitation of Christ often seems an otherworldly, unattainable ideal. But when someone like ourselves gives us a living model to follow, we have a tangible, realizable pattern to guide us. – IVP New Testament Commentary

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