Writing for Survival

I’m writing while I can, as much as I can. For several weeks, each day has brought turmoil, including a HUGE decrease in my Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) leading to facing homelessness AND not being able to afford my best friend and life mate, Jireh (my Service Dog), news that my mother (from whom I have spent half of my adult life estranged) was in serious condition in the hospital, lost a couple close friends, had a cousin die from drug overdose, I fell in front of an oncoming car (hurting myself and almost getting run over), and the list goes on. Having numerous debilitating medical issues (most of which are exacerbated by stress), I truly feel like I can have a heart attack at any moment. For the past two weeks, my health has been chronically declining.

When I received the notice about the cut in my income with June being the hardest month as they were taking out their overpayments in addition to my reduced monthly income, my strong faith cracked. I have supported myself for the past 30 years as I have no contact with relatives. I’m a fighter as I am equipped with God’s strength and wisdom within me. Having the gift of writing, I assured my close friends if I can pay June’s bills, I can find writing jobs to supplement my income starting in July.

After all, Harry Potter book series J.K. Rowling lived in extreme poverty, receiving food stamps, until her books were published. Living in poverty changes people as Rowling states, The very best thing her wealth has given her, she wrote on her website, is the absence of worry. “I have not forgotten what it feels like to worry whether you’ll have enough money to pay the bills. Not to have to think about that anymore is the biggest luxury in the world.”

According to the website, http://www.businessinsider.com,

Living in a cramped apartment with her daughter, jobless and penniless, Rowling fell into a deep depression and admits she even considered suicide. She was forced to rely on state benefits and spent much of her time writing “Harry Potter” in cafés with Jessica sleeping in the pram next to her.

I’ve been there. I think I still am. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, and Crohn’s have all held me hostage in the bathroom the past month with concerns about bills, losing friends who think I am a loser freeloader. I feel like a burden most of the time. If I hadn’t had my personal relationship with Jesus, I would either be on drugs, homeless or dead. Each day that I am puking my guts out simultaneously while losing my bowels day after day, all I can think about is I am losing time not writing. July will be here soon. So, today, I wanted to write about having peace beyond understanding because I trust God.

Instead, I am rolled up in a ball on the floor writing on my tablet so I can write how even Christians have mental health issues. And they cannot just be “prayed away” although prayer certainly changes things. In between my night terrors about being homeless and having to live on the street, I am writing AS MUCH AS PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE my book about being real. About following your convictions so you can look in the mirror, which is why I told an editor last night to take my article down because they changed my wording and it did not reflect my ultimate goal of giving all glory to God. (The byline included my personal blog where I could eventually generate income if I get enough readers.)

I’m not giving up I will write my books every day, all day, getting published and out of poverty. My God has never failed me, and never will. In fact, this post will be another chapter in my book, The Christian Bohemian, Not Your Conventional Christian.

Arm Yourself

At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.     Luke 4:42,43

Unfortunately, it is 3pm.
I say `unfortunately’ because I have spent the entire day in severe anxiety. Nothing could calm me down. I am ruminating over surviving with the SSDI decrease. Worrying is causing psychosomatic symptoms of a stiff neck, tactile hallucinations, and hopelessness. The “what if’s” keep rolling in. My faith is wavering, which surprises me since I haven’t allowed external circumstances to steal my peace for awhile. This situation is killing me.
After trying numerous remedies to calm down, I finally opened my Bible. There I found comfort as God reminded me I typically start each day studying the Bible for a few hours. Today, I went straight to writing in attempts to generate income. I didn’t make time with God a priority.
Jesus started each day conversing with His Father explaining He had to fulfill His purpose of being sent to proclaim The Gospel. He went to find His duties for each day, and I am sure The Father strengthened Jesus with words of wisdom, a vivid perspective, and encouragement. In other words, meeting with Our Heavenly Father gives us all we need to fight the world’s battles each day.

By neglecting my Quiet Time, I failed to receive the necessary tools to face the day. So my day was wasted, not to mention painful. I will go directly to Him every morning hereinafter.

Take it from me- don’t go into the battlefield without your weapons.

So Scared

I am literally feeling like I am having a heart attack over this financial situation. I found out my neighbor who is also on Social Security Income is gone… he’s living on the streets. This is becoming so real to me.

I know I am a good writer. Somehow, I feel insecure about my writing when applying for paid writing jobs. I have assured my friends who are helping financially that I will find a freelance job by July. I have a list of websites looking for writers. I want to write for Christianity Today and other Christian websites… now, I am adding Disability sources for which to apply.

Why can’t I submit my query letter and application? I’m so scared. I am scared I won’t get a job and my friends will regret helping me. I am of being viewed as a moocher. I am afraid of homeless. I can’t calm down.

I wish my old mom was still around. I feel so alone, and I feel bad not keeping my faith. I want to escape by getting Xanax and drunk. I know it won’t solve anything, yet I can’t calm down.

Social Security Mistake Brings Peace

Going on the third week after receiving the Social Security letter informing me not only would my SSDI be cutting my monthly income by nearly 25%, my June check will barely cover my rent since they are taking out the total overpayments in one check.
To say I have been petrified is an understatement. I am alone, meaning I have no relatives to help me. In fact, I have 6 major disabilities where I struggle with and daily living activities are challenging. The older I get, the less control I have over my body. Fortunately, I have been independent for my entire adult life, but my body is declining.

Since I fall approximately twice per week, I have a Service Dog named, Jireh, meaning “the Lord will Provide”. Jireh has been with me over 7 years and is truly my best friend. She goes everywhere with me, and is my life companion. With this cut in my check, I can’t afford to keep Jireh. I will barely receive enough money to pay rent and electricity.

So I made plans to send Jireh to a good friend who has money to take care of her as she deserves. As for me, I planned to lay in bed for the rest of my life.
There is one caveat- I dedicated my life to Jesus on May, 15, 1983. My life is not my life… I gave my life to Jesus, meaning I strive to follow Him and glorify God with my life.
This means I can’t wave the white flag and give up. Period. No exceptions.
Fortunately, some extraordinary friends have stepped up and agreed to help me cover June’s bills. Also, I have a few credentials, such as being a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a Biblical scholar and a published author of several books and numerous technical papers.
This morning, my infinite number of calls and emails resulted in a Social Security Supervisor calling me to set up a court hearing. An hour later, I understood Social Security made a mistake 3 months ago in increasing my income. Since then, my rent has increased by $70. It’s a mess.
Bottom line – After hearing the lady trying every resource to help me (all of which I have contacted to no avail), a sense of resolution washed over me. I interrupted her and said, “Ma’am…I hear you trying everything to help me, and I am so thankful for that. An honest mistake was made. I am not eligible for the income I have been receiving.”… she replied, “I am so sorry… I am trying everything to help you…” I stopped her by continuing, “Ma’am, you have helped me mentally. You have explained the situation and tried everything you could. Thank you. I am going to be fine. I have a strong faith in God, and He has taken care of me my entire life. God has this,” and I thanked her again, wishing her a great day.
Some people will think that is giving up. But no… for me, I got the chance to glorify God. And with my time and talents, I will earn extra money freelance writing about how amazing God is. After all, that is why I was created.

Staying Focussed On God

I made the mistake of reaching out to a friend to let her know I am thinking of her. BIG MISTAKE.

Let me save you all some trouble by sharing how it started:
ME- Been checking on you re: facing this hard anniversary. Just wanted you to know you’re on my heart.

SHE- responds by saying how sorry she is I am going through this…

*I truly appreciate people’s care and concern. God has me. Without worldly input, I have peace beyond understanding. I get most people don’t understand.

So I RESPOND-
I just want people to see God’s peace and strength within me during this time of uncertainty. I don’t want people worrying about me because God will provide. June will be the hardest month as they are talking out what they overpaid me. I will only have enough for rent and Jireh’s flea meds. When (not if) God covers June’s bills, I will be okay.

It went downhill after that. In fact, it really got ugly. I was insulated by her response, to say the least.

Out of respect for the other party, I won’t explain in detail my response. I explained why I fully rely on God when in a crisis. The world distracts me. I was wrong to reach out to anyone other than people who understand my relationship with God.

With that said, I am going back in isolation from the world. Just as mom told me I wasn’t a Christian for studying to be a psychologist and Mark told me I wasn’t a Christian if I was so depressed… once again, I was just told I wasn’t Christian. I realize that is how people believe they will hurt me most.

Just a note… You would have a better chance at convincing me I am a boy versus I am not Christian.

 

 

 

One Step Before the Other

Didn’t want to get out of bed as depression has fully materialized.  All of my mental illnesses have taken up residence, along with Crohn’s Disease. It hurts to live. Reality is sinking in.  Before turning to Jesus, the world took over my thought process. Catastrophic “what if’s” swooping in. I can’t do this.

Seeking  comfort from friends by reading Facebook status updates only made things worse. For example, I checked on a friend who’s facing the anniversary of her mother’s death… oh, she’s fine… she’s counting down to a luxurious vacation. So many negative thoughts revolve around my mind, I decide to take Jireh for a walk before starting my day.

Remembering God challenges me to bring my grievances to Him as He says in Isaiah 1:18, “Come, let us reason together…” I start by complaining about my financial situation, and feel God remind me, Shelly, why are you doubting me? Don’t you remember all the times I took care of you by paying off your car, taking care of your student loans, moving you into a nice apartment when you had nothing and was living out of your car… what about when you quit your counseling job due to having a mental breakdown? How quickly you forget! Trust me, My child. As far as you judging your friend’s trip while mourning her mother’s death, aren’t you being hypocritical as you get angry when people don’t understand why you have unexplainable peace when going through major trials? And about your bitterness that you cannot afford luxurious vacations… I have commanded you to set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. – Colossians 3:2. Fix your eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. –2 Corinthians 4:18. Instead of focusing on temporary things, I want you to finish the work I for which I created you.  As I have said in Colossians 3:23,24 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”.

Of course,  He was right, as always. I watched Jireh spying on squirrels in the magnificent Tallahassee trees, noting God also provided the means for me to relocate to my favorite city. Admiring my neighborhood walk,  I thanked God for my home, then for Jireh being happy and healthy. Now you know why I didn’t allow you to get a new puppy… you would have had to give him up. 

He continued by bringing numerous situations to mind, changing my ungrateful,  bratty attitude to showing me tangible ways He is in control. Trust me, Shelly. You are ready for the next step. Now is the time to put into practice all I have taught you. 

I realized I have spent so many years talking and planning how to use God’s gifts to me, I haven’t followed through until completion. Now is the time. Face it, I don’t have much more time on this earth. I want my life to count.

Holding On

Woke up to resume fight to get Social Security amount back. Found At&t had double charged my account, leaving me with a negative balance again. I am numb. Apathetic. I don’t care.

8:17 a.m. Basically whatever energy I have within is being spent trying not to go insane. Don’t think I have the strength . Functioning on God’s power inside me. Have fallen past the state of depression. Think God is protecting me with this apathy. Yesterday, I was ready to fight. Now that office hours are open, I’ve made phone calls, only to find things worsening. I know God has this, and God has me,
10:03 a.m. Crohn’s Disease is officially on attack mode. My health conditions seem to gather together… having a reunion inside me. Taking over my mind, body… but never my soul.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16
Nothing can touch my soul. Once I accepted Jesus as Savior in 8th grade, God sent His Spirit into my heart.
3:30 p.m. The fog lingers… My external situation is worsening, I watch the clock move, anxious because I know Cathy will stop Facetiming me when she gets off work at 5pm. We haven’t talked much, yet having her “with me” is what keeps me from hiding in bed. My Agoraphobia, P.T.S.D. and severe anxiety have all showed up. I am okay with Cathy online with me… but what’s going to happen when she has to go take care of her family?
I will read my Bible and write for the rest of the night. I will be easy on myself as I felt God leading me to redefine my ministry today based on Paul’s ministry in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4. That is not much, but it’s progress. Between discovering a new ministry and making necessary phone calls, I have accomplished a lot considering my entire life is in a state of uncertainty. The details will be soon forgotten, but my reaction will remain. I have faith. I trust God. I am taking this one hour at a time, wanting nothing more than to glorify God.