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survival2success

Advice on Going from Survival to Success for the "Instant Generation."

Day 64: Fear, Ultimatums, New Lenses and Changed Plans

 

Can't Die with it
Sometimes, House said the Right Things.

 

I have no intention of this being a political blog. Politics are messy and to write about them every day would wear out my brain. I do have to bring up something that is going on in America’s politics right now because it is scaring me and was messing with what I thought of my future–and even my life.

The “American” Healthcare Act is scaring me. It’s basically saying the twenty-five percent of Americans don’t deserve affordable healthcare. I put “American” in quotes intentionally because this bill is basically saying the twenty-five percent of Americans don’t matter. (FYI according to current statistics twenty-five percent of Americans identify as having a disability–having a disability puts a person in the pre-existing condition category.) The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed in 1990. How much hope the disability community in America had. I doubt that those who fought so hard for it thought that more than a quarter of a century after it was signed people with disabilities would continue to be marginalized. We are given token degrees but kept out of the mainstream workforce. Now, our own Government is pushing for a bill that will prevent us from having access to the medical care we need to live. In the least this will marginalize us further; at the worst, it will kill us.

I have been terrified ever since the House rejoiced when the bill was passed. I talked to a friend that night and said that if the Senate passes this bill, I would rather die then try to live. Already my job insurance and my Medicare premiums are nearly impossible for me to pay. If my premiums go up, I won’t be able to pay them. Not having access to medical care and my medication means I will go back to having fifteen to twenty dystonic episodes again. I will be in constant pain and always exhausted from having the episodes. I won’t be able to work. I won’t be able to take care of myself. I don’t see the point of living like that. I will be turned into a “useless eater.” My friend did the best they could to reassure me that there was no way the bill will make it through the Senate. Tried to assure me that even if it did make it through somehow each state would have the choice to opt in or not, and there was no way my state would opt in. I dropped the ultimatum that night. But, the thought of living with that uncertainty (I don’t have a warning of when I am going to have an episode), living with that kind of pain again, and becoming completely useless made the ultimatum tempting again.

Then, I went to church this morning. I was having a hard time paying attention, but I was doing my best. I did manage to pick up a few things. It was about looking at things with the right schema–the right lenses.  I didn’t take many notes but I did write the following down:

Even the worst circumstances in life become opportunities to experience God’s love.

In other words, even if this bill passes, even if I lose access to health care and medications, even if I can’t work, even if I am pushed aside by society I have to live. Not because I am going to want to at that point, but because God can work through even the worst circumstances to reveal Himself. Dying would be me saying that my life is mine alone and I have the right to live it the way I think is best. Living even if I become a “useless eater” means I trust God can get the glory and show love in any circumstance. In God, I can live with dignity no matter how little value my Government–and the complacent citizens of my country assign to my life.

Day 63: David, Tamar, Eziekel and Me

 

bohemian-wedding-dresses-red-gorgeous-bridal-2
God has Restored me

I took a couple of days off, my brain has been in a bit of a fog because of the barometric pressure changes. One of the many joys of having C.P. is that when weather patterns regularly change your. body. just. hurts. It was good for me to take a break from writing because when I am in physical pain my brain is not always so kind to me and I don’t think clearly.  But today, I feel better, and I have this NEED to write. Any other writers out there ever feel that “NEED?”

In my “First Five” Devotions the focus has been on King David’s life after he becomes king of the united kingdom of Israel. In the last few days, the story has gone from David’s sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), to Nathan Confronting David about his sin (2 Samuel 12), to David’s daughter Tamar being raped (2 Samuel 13). All of this because of past and current events has stirred up so much emotion within me. At first, they were feelings of fear and depression, then God in His mercy; turned them to reminders of restoration.

You see, when I read 2 Samuel 11 and 12 I was reminded of my past relationship with M.E. For those of you who don’t know, he was a man I foolishly fell for about three years ago. Our relationship progressed too quickly, and despite the warnings that two women from my church tried to give me, I allowed events to occur that I thought would never happen. By the time I was able to get free of that relationship I was beaten down as a person. I felt like Tamar did in 2 Samuel 13:

Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed. So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her.  And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went (vs. 18-19).

Because I felt like my situation was my fault I also felt like I deserved the same fate as Tamar: So Tamar lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. (vs. 20b). But, last week, I had someone precious give me an amazing gift. He walked in a 3K for HAWC (Healing Abuse Working for Change) in my honor for surviving the abuse I had gone through with M.E. I may have made foolish decisions, but I did not ask M.E. to lie, I did not ask M.E. to control me, I did not ask M.E. to treat me like my body was for his pleasure alone, and I did not ask M.E. to psychologically, emotionally, and in the end physically abuse me. When the precious, amazing man walked in the HAWC walk to honor me for surviving, it finally clicked that it wasn’t my fault and that M.E.’s abuse was not my deserved punishment for foolishly falling for him. The action of honoring me in this way made me remember a passage in Ezekiel where God ultimately redeems and restores us:

I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck.  And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God (Ezekiel 16:10-14).

My God has taken my torn robes, ashes, empty future and given me splendor and hope. He has redeemed and restored me.

 

 

 

Day 62: The Digitized World and Control

 

HR-digital
The Digital Job Application

As you know, I have re-entered the job applying process. In the last week, I have filled out six applications. No, I am not discouraged. I have only just begun, and I know this, but, God is using this digitized application process to continue to teach me a valuable lesson. I have microscopic control over what happens next. It’s one thing for me to say, “God, I give you control,” another to actually give it to Him.

Logically, I know God is completely sovereign, I know He created the world and moves people and circumstances as He sees fit. I have read a few books on the subject: Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges, The Reason for God by Timothy Keller and some assorted Essays from Finding God at Harvard compiled by Kelly Monroe-Kullberg touch on this subject as well. I also have at least 25 index cards with Scripture verses on them that speak to God’s sovereignty and control (Col. 1:16-17; Isa. 46;10 and Psalm 24:1-2 are a few of my favorites that I can recall right now). Yet, when it comes to putting this logical knowledge into practice–there seems to be a disconnect. I tend to say to God, “Take control of this,” but things don’t happen as quickly as I want or I don’t get answers at all. Then, I do whatever I can to grab it back.

This digitized application process, though, is making me have no choice but to leave the control in God’s hands. Yes, I am doing my best to fill out applications, write appropriate resumes for each individual job, spend time on creating professional and relevant cover letters. I am using the words in the job descriptions in my resume so that the computer does throw my resume out. After all that, though, I have no control; at all. This hit me hard today when I attempted to call a particular company to see where they were in the application process.

I dialed the number, got the company directory and pressed the number for “job seekers.” Well, it was not a surprise but, nonetheless, disappointing when I heard the following recorded message: [Company Name]’s application process is entirely digitized if [Company Name] is interested in you, we will contact you. I knew this was most likely the case, but for some reason, a lump dropped in my stomach. I began to hate the fact that my future was in the hands of a machine. The I remembered Proverbs 21:1; “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” If God can turn the hearts of people what is a machine to Him? 

Never did I imagine that computers, which people supposedly control would be the very thing God would use to show me (again) that I have no control whatsoever.

 

Day 61: Being in Pieces and Having a Divided Mind.

 

a-divided-mind-joe-paradis
A Divided Mind–Artwork by Joe Paradis

 

This morning one of my “Facebook Memories” was of information I gleaned from a Sermon by Timothy Keller (back in my comfort zone!) two years ago to the day. Guess what it was about? That’s right–you guessed it–anxiety. At first, when I realized that two years ago around the same time I was dealing with the SAME issue I started beating myself up in my head. See, you haven’t changed, you aren’t growing, anxiety and depression are going to be continuous battles that you will always lose. Thankfully before I left for work, I listened to the sermon again because Mr. Keller tells us to discard those thoughts and remember where they are coming from. Below is an excerpt from his sermon that really hit home for me, again,

The word for anxiety is a little Greek word  merimnaó which means to be in pieces and there is a play on this word anxiety in Luke chapter 10; that tells us the story of Martha and Mary. There is a great place where, two sisters, Martha and Mary have Jesus in to eat a meal and Martha is running all around, running all around and it says that she was anxious—merimnaó with much serving. And the word literally means to have a mind divided and distracted with too much. Too many goals. Mary is just sitting there listening to Jesus and Martha starts to get, “Mary we’ve got work to do and you are having your quiet time.” Mary doesn’t care that the house is a wreck and that they have things to do. That doesn’t matter she’s getting her time with Jesus. Are you a Mary or a Martha? Now Jesus actually makes a play on the word merimnaó. He says, “Martha, Martha you are anxious and troubled about many things (which is merimnaó).”  Mary has found the one thing that is needful, Mary is single-minded. Mary has one thing she is looking at and Martha had 300 things. (Timothy Keller “Fruits of the Spirit: Peace and Overcoming Anxiety,” 1990)

I am definitely a Martha, although you would never tell that by the looks of my apartment sometimes! But, right now my mind is divided and being pulled in so many directions. I’m surprised it hasn’t been pulled to shattered pieces yet. That has to be God’s protection. Even today my mind is considering my job, Melaleuca, my relationship, the possibility of moving, Boston, Job applications, friends, family, my future, my past. Some of these things are not bad, but it is; nonetheless causing my mind to be divided and for my anxiety to have a fertile ground in which to grow.

As I said, some of the things my mind is focused on are good things, they even require my attention. But look what Mr. Keller says, “Mary has found the one thing that is needful, Mary is single-minded.” Mary had a family, she had a home to take care of, meals to prepare, but when she had the opportunity, she focused her mind on the One that would pull all of her life together and keep her mind in on piece–without anxiety. When Christ is my focus, and I give all my concerns they no longer have the right to pull apart or divide my mind. Here is to needful, single-minded focus.

Day 60: Fighting Depression and Winning the War

“Okay, these videos are a little bit of a step out of my comfort zone. Sometimes, pushing us out of our comfort zone is how God likes to work. But, I have been listening to a couple Steven Furtick’s Motivational videos in the morning as I walk to work. (They are perfect because they are short and it takes me tops ten minutes to walk to work!) I have been fighting with the ups and downs of depression and anxiety lately and when I say “fighting” I mean FIGHTING! This is one of the videos that has been very helpful:

When I say I am FIGHTING, I mean that I am not sitting around complacent just hoping the episode of depression and anxiety that I am facing will only disappear. I am getting up, taking care of myself, going to work, surrounding myself with friends, spending time using my DBT Skills, Reading, writing and memorizing to scripture. I am fighting. The length of this particular episode is getting on my nerves, and sometimes I wish I had the ability to curl up and stop fighting, if only for a few days but I can’t. This morning, though, the temptation to just rest from the battle was overwhelming.

This weather is still being horrible, and the barometric pressure is causing so much pain. The night before I went to Physical Therapy and my body was feeling its effects. Emotionally, I was all right, but my physical pain was bringing tears to my eyes. As the pain took over, I considered asking God, please let me quit. Then I remembered that I woke up to a text where I was being thanked for helping, I was told I was loved. So, instead, I prayed, God help me get out of this bed so that I can face this day and glorify you. Just then my “First Five” application alert went off. I considered ignoring it because I was already behind schedule. But from the bed, I read the Chapter in Scripture and the quick devotional. It was exactly what I needed!

  “And the Lord gave David victory everywhere he went.” 2 Sam 8:6b, 14b

David had to show up to the battle. David had to fight. David lost men, he probably even suffered injury himself. Later in the chapter, a prince from a surrounding area comes to pay tribute to David, but he also comes to inquire about David’s health (2 Sam. 8:10). I may become tired and suffer “injury, ” but I will win this war because God is with me and He will give me victory.

 

Day 59: On Living in an ArtSpace as a Writer

 

Living in an Artspace
Trash and Dollar Items Turned Art

Last night my mind was messing with me. Every lie that I had been trained to believe at some point began to play around in my head like a broken record.  It got so bad that I texted my friend and told her the biggest lie that was swirling around in my brain. She reminded me that the weather was bad, my body hurt, and that I should just curl under the blankets, drink tea, bet my kitty and dream of well…good things!

I still don’t feel right, the weather is improving, but it is still causing problems for my body. I also slept very little last night, so I am beyond tired. So, surprise, my mind is messing with me again. I wish I could break the broken record that plays in my head to pieces so I would never hear it again. Two of the biggest lies that play around are that I am worthless and that I am useless. That is when this idea to turn items that are “worthless and useless” into the art that I am going to hang outside in my hall.

The two paintings you see there, I found by the trash can downstairs in my apartment. The map of the world that I bought at the dollar store. The “Certificate of Achievements”  are actually frames for 8 X 11 pieces of paper. I intend to write essays to put under the pieces of art that were thrown out and the picture I found at the dollar store. The essays will show that these discarded worthless items have value and can impact people. These are the thoughts that come to the mind of a writer living in an ArtSpace.

God is the author of my life, and instead of listening to the lies of my enemy I will trust God’s pen and let his story for my life bring him glory. Bringing Him glory gives me the greatest purpose and immeasurable worth.

 

 

Day 58: At it again and on “Do it Again”

 

Job Applications
Applying Again

If you remember back in January, I said I was taking the month off from applying to jobs because I was just getting so worn out and tired of the process. I was hearing nothing and getting nowhere. I had gone through developmental training, got help from a career counselor and had friends putting themselves out on the line for me and still getting nowhere. By the end of December I was so tired and to the point of tears. Everyone was telling me I was well qualified, my resumes and letters were well written. I was told nothing was wrong with me but that the job market was just scarce. I was reminded that there are people who graduated when I did and still were without any job so I needed to be thankful that I have a job. I will admit, although sometimes, things are not easy here I am grateful to have a job.

I ended up taking a break for a bit longer than the month. At the time, I thought it was the right thing to do. I had just moved into a new apartment, started taking driving lessons and thought that if I worked hard, I would prove my value to my job. I thought that if I showed my value to my job, I would be able to move up and continue to contribute to the agency. I am now fully convinced, in heart, in mind, and in spirit that things need to change.

My driving lessons are going well, but even if I managed to obtain a car, there is no way I could afford the insurance or gas. My job has made it clear to me that there is nowhere I can move within the organization. I can’t stay where I am. Too many days I go home feeling worthless and undervalued. So, my job search is back in full force; this time with Boston on the radar. While I was there I saw and heard about so many job opportunities that I lit up inside; in a way, I have not lit up in a long time. I have now filled out five applications in two weeks. My resume, with any luck and the help of God, may get into the hands of the CEO at one of the companies I applied to.

 

melaluca
Melaleuca The Wellness Company: CONFIDENCE 

Meanwhile, while I have been searching for a new job my dreams have been getting bigger. Do you remember the Dream Board I made? Well, that accessible house, I want to give someone I love the ability to see their design plans for a universally designed home to come to fruition. I also want to start a fund that is set aside to help churches to meet financial needs so that they have no excuse not to be accessible and open to people with disabilities. I have been seriously considering giving up on Melaleuca, as a marketing director.

I love their products, they have worked for me, but I keep feeling like direct sales are just not for me. For some reason, I just can’t do this. My mentor (poor guy) called me last night. I was on my way to Physical Therapy, so I only texted him in return, but as I was walking home I was thinking: maybe I should just tell him I quit. Thankfully, I skyped with my boyfriend later that night. He is taking a bold step in his career aspirations and I am so proud of him. I realized that he already thinks I am amazing (Don’t ask me why; I couldn’t tell you!). But, I know worked at Melaleuca he would be so proud of me, and I would be able to meet my financial goals and dreams. After talking to him, I decided not to tell my mentor I was quitting. On top of that, this morning I heard a video about confidence from Steven Furtick called “Do it Again.” I am not giving up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 57: “Selma” Vs. “Hidden Figures.”

Just a forewarning, this post is not a review of either movie; except to say that I thought both of them were fantastic and both of them stirred my spirit; to sadness and hope. I know that some people may not like the equation of the Civil rights movement for African Americans in this country to the Civil rights movement of people with disabilities in this country. You may not feel our battles are the same, but I mean no disrespect to the Civil Rights movement for African Americans. People with disabilities owe you respect and gratitude for paving the way and showing us the many facets necessary in which change can occur.

When I was in Boston I watched “Salema” with my friend who is a fearless, powerful self-advocate and advocate for other people with disabilities. As I watched him throughout the week I became jealous of the way in which he conducted himself. He was fearless in getting people to move so that he could have access to the places he needed. Me, on the other hand, I will push through crowds, but I will try to find an open seat and get in as quickly as possible. Fearful of frustrating or angering people. I watched him powerfully speak before a transportation Board that was considering cutting all paratransit services for people with disabilities. I may be able to speak but not in situations like that. It was annoying me that the people on the Board seemed not to care about the words that were being spoken to them by the many they would be hurting. He simply said, “they have to be that way. They can’t show that any of this is affecting them.” I was amazed and held him in greater esteem even then. He is also part of a disability advocacy group that is not afraid to rock the boat and rock it heavily. while I respect what they do and what they have accomplished on our behalf; I couldn’t do it. After we watched Selma my heart and emotions were twisted inside of me. He then asked me if I would be willing and able to stand by someone willing to go to those kinds of extremes to bring change. It took a bit for me to compose myself, I told him I would want to. I suppose the better answer would have been: “With God’s strength, I could.”

This weekend, I watched “Hidden Figures.” Throughout the whole movie, I was thinking that’s just wrong or yelling “You go!!” I realized that the disability community is at the place these women were. We are highly educated and being completely underused. I look at myself, I have two Master’s degrees, internship and work experience and here I am working as a receptionist. I am working hard to change these circumstances and I have faith that God is at work I just need to trust Him and have patience. One of my Master’s Degrees is in Human Resource Management. My entire reasoning for getting this degree was so that I could either work for the Federal Government or a top-notch corporation and change hiring policies and treatment of employees with disabilites. First, by proving my invaluable worth and work ethic then bringing more qualified individuals with disabilities on board. Being a “hidden figure” of my own so to speak.

Although our ways of wanting to bring about chang for people with disabilities differ tremendously we have a common vision of change. I only hope he is able to stand by someone who would prefer to bring “hidden change.”

Day 56: Anointing, Trusting and Just Doing Something.

 

anointing_of_fresh_oil
Did David’s anointing provide him with an extra seal of God’s promise to him?

I am so many things going through my head. Most of these things have left me wondering: God, how do I know that this is a part of your plan for me? Help me! Granted, I have been more at peace lately than I have been in a while. Don’t get me wrong, like that “Wack-A-Mole” game found at most carnivals and arcades; my past and anxiety has reared its head. But, I have, thankfully, been able to–with support and skills–not denial–been able to “wack” it back into its proper place.

During today’s “First Five” devotional I read mostly about how some of the sojourner’s from the area of Benjamin thought they would be rewarded by David for killing Saul’s son who was claiming kingship over every tribe of Israel except for Judah. Unfortunately, their selfish ambition leads to their hanging by David’s men. The devotional talked about how David did not need those men to act as assains for God’s promise to him to come true. David trusted God.

13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him [David] in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. (1 Samuel 8:13)

I know David had to wait decade’s for God’s promise to him of becoming king over a unified Israel to come into being, but I wonder if being anointed by Samuel when he was a teenager gave him an extra ability to trust God and his promise? I don’t have a Samuel who is telling me, this is what the Lord has planned for you. I haven’t been outwardly anointed by a person set apart by God to tell people what God is saying and what to do. I know this should not be tripping me up. After all, the time of the Prophets is over because Christ left us His Spirit to be our guide.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14: 16-18)

When I first read this devotional, I was left praying similar to Todd Agnew’s Song “Witten on the Wall.”

And I wish You still spoke through burning bushes,
And I wish You still wrote on blocks of stone,
‘Cause the sound of this world’s deafening,
And I’m having a hard time listening,
And I wish Your will was still written on the wall.

But, then, it clicked in my brain. “If you love me you will keep my commands.” I just need to do everything I can to hold to Christ, to obey him, honor him and His Spirit will guide me moment by moment. Step by step. I don’t need a prophet’s anointing, a burning bush, or writing on stone and walls. Sometimes, as Keven DeYoung puts it, I need to Just Do Something.

just-do-something

 

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