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Climbing Carmel Offer of a Lifetime - Order of Carmelites

Climbing Carmel
Offer of a Lifetime

| May 7, 2012

It’s 3am on a Wednesday night. The dark stillness of the house is interrupted by a logging truck thundering through the trees past my house, roaring toward a clear-cut somewhere in the pitch-black hills, its empty trailer clanging behind. By the time they have arrived at the landing to pick up the logs, it will be dawn. Their work day has already started and so has mine.

I live with my brother and his wife and their eight-month-old twins. My sister-in-law has watched them alone all day, so my brother and I take the night shift to give her a semi-full night’s rest. My nephew has just had his second wake up. He has acid reflux, so the only remedy he and I have worked out over the last several months is to change him first, feed him to push down the acid, and then hold him upright, against my chest, his head on my shoulder, and pace the floor until it all goes down for good. I call it the Long Walk. Half asleep now, my nephew reaches for my neck, searching for the cord of my Brown Scapular. Since he discovered it about two weeks ago, he has become obsessed with it and looks for it whenever I am holding him. If he gets to it before I do, he pulls it out of my shirt and sucks on it until it is a sopping piece of brown wool.

Lately, this nightly Scapular bath makes my stomach sink. After visiting the Carmelites in February, I discovered with an odd feeling of calm that I had found my place in the Church. It wasn’t what I expected. There were no jubilant tears of joy at the threshold of the pre-novitiate house or rays of sunlight streaming through stained glass. It was a freak snow storm after a clear morning. At prayer, one of the friars went the wrong way around the prayer stalls and everyone had to stand up to let him through. He walked a quiet gauntlet past his smiling brothers and at that moment I knew. The feeling was subtle but profound. In that instant, my discernment was no longer about where I was supposed to be but had become about what I will learn from sharing my life with these men. My nephew’s penchant for teething on Our Lady of Mount Carmel reminds me again and again that I have, for the time being, turned down the offer of a lifetime and decided to postpone my application to the pre-novitiate until next year in order to stay and help support my brother and his family. I keep wondering if my decision was God’s will or mine. Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:37 ring like an accusation in my ears:

My scapular-chomping nephew!

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me”

When I review my decision, as I have done a thousand times since that day, I have to say that if feels like there was really no decision to be made. Intuitively, I knew where the greatest need lay. Each day, I see my brother and his wife pushed to their limit, working 18 and 20 hour days to take care of the twins and maintain the farm and make extra money to pay for all the diapers, formula, clothes, wipes. Exhausted, overwhelmed and blessed, this is the moment, maybe the most challenging moment of their lives, in which my family needs someone to walk that extra mile with them and not count the cost.

I have to believe that there is something at work here, forming me even now, even in the chaos of twins and work and vocation swirling around my head. Nothing is wasted. Even this time I spend outside the Carmelites is forming me to be a better Carmelite in ways I will never fully see. Everything is a gift and a grace. In my more recollected moments, I’ve felt a peace that feels similar to a prayer written by my favorite Carmelite saint, St. Teresa of Avila:

Let nothing disturb thee;
Let nothing dismay thee:
All thing pass;
God never changes.
Patience attains
All that it strives for.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.

My discernment has taken this sharp left turn because I believe that it must, though I don’t know why it must. Every night at about 3am and every moment in between I am growing in patience, in love, in humility and service and I can feel that growth bringing me closer to the God I love. Whether I show that love in solemn vows and service or spit up stains on my shoulder and a sopping wet scapular next to my chest, I lack nothing, for God alone suffices.

Chris Sedlmeyer
Chris Sedlmeyer
Chris Sedlmeyer works as a Quality Assurance Director and lives on a 15 acre farm in Oregon. He has a Master's Degree in English Literature with a focus on Medieval and Renaissance literature, mythopoeic literature, and archetypal criticism. His scholarly work and poetry reflect his emphasis on archetypal psychology and Catholic spirituality. Chris has been discerning a call to religious life for the last 3 years and has specifically pursued a call to the Carmelites for the last year.


  1. DonnaTOC

    Discernment does not always come easy. Your journey has God’s grace all over it. No matter what we do God is with us but to help those in need, I believe is what would be first. You are the hands and feet of Christ. Sometimes He leads us to the desert, other times He asks us to put aside our own desires and tend to the needs of His sheep. You will make a wonderful Carmelite. will keep you and your family in my prayers. God Bless!

  2. Jennifer Higdon

    God Bless you for helping your family! I am a secular Carmelite, and the mother to five children all under the age of 11. My fourth child has autism, and to have someone like you in our family would be a blessing in ways I cannot even describe. You are truly living out love and charity…putting yourself aside for the needs of those who love you. Be assured of my prayers for you. Just beautiful!

  3. Chris Sedlmeyer

    I never truly understood the beauty of the vocation of marriage until I found my own vocation and could see the gift of marriage and family to the Church from the perspective of my own calling. Now, I see that I never really understood the spirituality of parenthood until I was blessed enough to climb that mountain for a while too as an uncle. Now I see that in many ways the calling of marriage and parenthood is truly an “order” in its own right, with its own distinct sacrifices, graces, community, and apostolate…maybe it is the most difficult of the charisms the Holy Spirit can call us to. Thank you for your sacrifice.

  4. Abigail Benjamin

    I’m laughing out loud at this sad post with total understanding. I’m a member of the same Secular Carmelite community as Jennifer H. She sent me this link because I’m currently pacing the floor with a newborn daughter with infant reflux. The Long Walk is such an apt title. Little Abigail Clare and I are doing that walk with you every night.

    It’s a much smaller cross than yours, but I’ve also left all my regular Carmelite prayer routine and uplifting community meetings to come serve the Infant Jesus. It’s lonely, but it’s good. The desert is a good place to grow in friendship with the Lord.

    When I read your post, I immediately thought of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity–who stayed out of the Carmel convent for what seems like a much smaller family obligation. God rewarded her patience with an amazing clarity in her vocation. My prayer is that your time apart from your beloved spiritual family will actually serve as a springboard to bring you closer to God, and make you a more loving monk in the end.

  5. Chris Sedlmeyer

    Thank you for your response–it is such an elegant summation of what I am processing. In the end, it is about letting go of what I desire for my life, so that I can let God use me where there is a need. For me, this is a way that I can truly be useful to those I love most. It is a joy to finally be at a point in my spiritual life where I can truly to be a cheerful servant to them. Thank you for your prayers.

  6. Julia F

    Chris, when you do enter Carmel I hope you will let us know…I’m a secular Carmelite in Oregon and will be praying for you!

  7. Chris Sedlmeyer

    Thank you so much for your prayers and so close to home too!. I would be happy to let you know when I can enter Carmel. I suspect (and maybe this is just my wishful thinking) that all these prayers from secular Carmelites like yourself are pleading my case to Our Lady and her Son. I am a big believer in the mystical body of Christ–I believe your decision to live as a secular Carmelite in some way brought me closer to Carmel in my own timing. Our combined decision to live this wonderful spirituality will brings others to their own Carmel.

  8. Chris Sedlmeyer

    I am glad to hear that the post reached you. It is such a struggle, isn’t it? I watch him arch his back and shake his head and swallow and cry and it feels so powerless. I have noticed that he gets better at managing it all the time, and I know he can feel that he is not alone in his struggle, so if he can be patient and get through it, I can too. It is a lonely walk and it forces me to see with the eyes of the spirit that the Long Walk draws Christ to me because He knows it so well.

    I’m glad you mentioned leaving the prayer routine–that is what I miss the most. My schedule makes it very hard to pray the office, so my regimen has been reduced from morning, evening and night prayer every day to just morning prayer when my nephew doesn’t wake up. In a strange way feel like it is a grace, though, as you describe. If forces me to conform my prayer into the corners of the day and night, like a conversation more than an office. When I feel like I have been poured out, it means I am an empty vessel for God to fill with Himself.

    Just as you said so beautifully, this desert has given me clarity in my vocation that I do not think would be possible otherwise. I know that even when all the spiritual routine of novenas, rosaries, prayers, etc have been removed by my circumstances what is left is what is truly there in me for God. I find that out of necessity my prayer is being expressed in my compassion, for lack of a better term, in my ability to suffer for others–and I think you just helped me into my next post: Carmelites and Suffering as Prayer (or something to that effect).

  9. Amylisa Ceramicoli

    So glad to have found this article and the comments….I am mom of six, grandmother of two. My youngest child has autism and things have been very difficult lately. It is very affirming to find the words written here. I am a convert to the Church, after having been a protestant Christian for about 25 years. I will bookmark this blog. Just wanted to say thanks and God bless you all!

  10. Jennifer Higdon

    “When I feel like I have been poured out, it means I am an empty vessel for God to fill with Himself.”

    I will remember this daily…again, prayers for you!

  11. Chris Sedlmeyer

    I have been so blessed by the responses to this blog! I cannot imagine the difficulty of having a child with autism–all I can do is pray that our Mother keeps you and your family, especially your youngest, in the peace of her blessed mantle. In response to some of the comments to this blog regarding the struggles of parenting children with autism, I have just posted another that picks up this thread in the best way I can. I hope it speaks some consolation to you.

    And last not but not least–Welcome Home Amylisa! I hope you have found that spot in the Church we have been saving for you for 25 years.

  12. Diana McDargh

    Your writing skills are beautiful. I am not Catholic but do consider myself as having a personal relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I do have numerous family members whom are Catholic. I’ve never had much curiosity about being Catholic. However, I do notice people who walk out their faith in God, according to their love relationship with Him. I personally believe there will be no buildings in Heaven inscribed with denominational names. I believe it will be filled with the ones who not only talked their faith in Him but lived it as well. I agree with what you say about delaying your call to the Carmelites. I think God has a way of putting us exactly where He wants us. You are growing in your faith and I see that as proof to being in the right place. Our walk with Him is about relationship with Him. You haven’t stopped that relationship and you are walking out in the “helps ministry” at the moment. I have come to admire several faithful Catholics. One, a priest and I don’t even remember his name. I spent time with him as we were a part of Operation Rescue. He was a huge handsome man with a heart to match. He spent much of his time on the O.R. lines in prayer and song ( a beautiful voice also). We were eventually arrested and spent a week end locked up. He had given me a metal with Our Lady of Fatima on it. You should’ve seen the officer when I had to turn in my things at the lock up. It was as though the metal shocked him. I suspect he may have been Catholic. Pres. Clinton put an end to Operation Rescue as he decided to make it a federal crime. He threatened to use the closed military bases as confinement for those who wanted to protect the unborn and help their frightened mothers. Now, I work with the most wonderful two ladies, I have ever met in my life. They are Sis. Mary Sartor and Sis. Suzette Fisher of the convent of Notre Dame in Toledo, Ohio. Sis.Suzette started and Sis. Mary helps run Double Arc. Double Arc is a training, diagnostic and support group for families and children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and all that falls under the umbrella term. I know without a doubt that God led me to them. I have raised a great nephew from the age of 17 mos. He wasn’t diagnosed until he was 9. At the moment, he is in a juvenile detention center. He’s always being roughed up by police and juvenile officers. They don’t realize or even seem to care that they are beating a child with the cognitive ability of 4-6 yrs. old, depending on the day. The Sisters have been a rock for me. I can’t begin to tell you how special they are and how much I’ve grown to love them. I guess I am writing you, to first let you know that although I accidently (or maybe not) stumbled across your blog. I enjoyed reading it and I hope to encourage you a bit. May you always walk in his blessings, A sister in Christ, Diana McDargh

  13. John Jay Comerford

    DearChris, I have really enjoyed your writing and honest reflections on your journey. I did not, as usual, get up to Carith during the retreat to meet all of you. Did last year. I will enjoy your further postings. Know of my daily prayers for you and your family. I think, as if there is not enuf there already–something more you may need to experience in this time apart. I hope it will truly make the hreat grow fonder! …as the saying goes. Some time I hope we can discuss your area of literature. I taught 33 years in High School every course in English and Religious Studies curriculum, plus… Art, Music appreciation, speech, drama, history. Moderated many yearbooks–love it. Co-directed plays/musicals; designed sets. Handled newspapers. speech teams, etc. Last 6 years chaplain at Carmelite Carefree Village, Darien. Move June 25th to Niagara–my favorite place on earth–to do fulltime retreat work. May 27 = my 35th anniversary of Ordination. August 22 will be my 44th Anniversary of Simple Profession, which took place at Niagara. I look forward to walks, talks, praying, singing and story telling!

  14. foxglove1255

    I have just discovered your blog. What a gift. Every person’s walk to, and with, God is individual. You have eloquently described your path. Though not Catholic, I appreciate those of faith and the work they have done, and are doing, before us. It appears you are where you are needed most at this time. Blessings to you, and your family, on your journey.

  15. Solomon Balban

    Chris thank you for your blog. I am a 35 year old man and I love Carmelite spirituality I always have. I am an avid reader of both Teresa and John of the Cross, and most of all Elizabeth of the Trinity. I have grown a lot in the spirit of Carmel, but I am a very weak man. I am have a homosexual orientation and I find myself stuck in two worlds, one which is that of practicing prayer and solitude and trying to live Carmel in the world, but at the same time in conflict within myself and the Church’s teaching on Homosexuality. Like Teresa of Avila said “I am a daughter of the Church” I want to be a son of the Church, but I find my self like Augustine who said “Lord make me chaste but not yet”. I feel at time alienated by the Church but embraced by Carmel. I know i could not be in religious life because I am just way too weak and relying on God’s grace is not enough at times, because I feel like I need companionship in my life. How does one reconcile a spiritual life in Carmel yet at the same time one feels “disordered” according to the teaching of the Church? How does one climb the mountain of Carmel when one feels guilty about their own desires? Can God really be so demanding as to give one desires for something that he does not approve of and at the same time call one into union with Him?

    Thank you.

  16. Chris Sedlmeyer

    Thank you for all your encouragement. I think you are right about needing to experience something more. I feel like what I experience here will be needed later on.

    I used a lot of mythological and archetypal criticism in college so my preferences for writers are common to that line: T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Blake, Faulkner. I would love to talk shop with you, when we can arrange it.

    I am glad you mentioned Niagra–I would love to visit the Center there. Maybe for my internship, I might get lucky (here I am talking about internships and I haven’t even formally applied–hope springs eternal!) Congratulations on your anniversaries. Now you’ve done it–you’ve given me dates I can mark on my calendar and unleash a battery of prayers for you at appropriately timed intervals.

  17. Chris Sedlmeyer

    First of all, Solomon, thank you very much for you courage and honesty! What a gift for me to read your response. I cannot speak for the Church or the Carmelites–for that you would have to seek your Pastor as a representative of the Church’s teaching or perhaps a Vocation Director for the Carmelites to get a better understanding of the Carmelite perspective. I can only speak as one man to another and I hope that will be enough.

    To be honest, I think your question to me has actually summarized the spiritual life, which means you are asking all the right questions! We are exposed to all sorts of temptations and desires in a fallen world. Being tempted does not mean God has given you a desire; it may mean you have taken it for yourself! The spirituality of Carmel, as I understand it, is focused primarily on that very dilemma–what desires do we make into our god and how do we go about making God our only God. I don’t see God as demanding or cruel in this respect, but I do see that He gives us the dignity of our free will, even if we use it at times to act against His will and desire for us. God then lets us discover how and why these acts do not lead to Him and, finally, He helps us to find our own way to Him, if we are willing to change and grow.

    And so we climb the mountain, one temptation at a time. The metaphor of the mountain is meant to convey a climb, not an easy slide downhill or smooth flat road. It is difficult; it requires effort, constant effort. The gravity of the incline (our limitations as human beings) wants to pull us down and get us to quit. We climb because we know we don’t want to live at the bottom of the mountain any more (or for St. Teresa of Avila it would be outside the castle).

    It is more effective for me to see God as understanding my struggle to do right and understanding why I sometimes fail. He is not holding a standard up to me and then judging me by it so much as He is walking with me, trying to show me where the temptations are, how I set myself up to fail, and how I beat myself up afterward and sabotage my ability to try again. In my experience, it is not so much about “weak” or “strong”; it is more accurate for me to say that I am either “surrendered” or “not surrendered”. I am either giving my desires to God as they come to me saying, “I cannot resist this, God, take it from me” or I am holding on to my desires and giving them my energy and attention. My willingness to surrender what I want and trust what God wants is the key to my union with God and my salvation as a Catholic Christian–the two are the same.

    Carmelite spirituality reflects the teaching of the Church; it is the Gospel. I am sorry you feel alienated by the Church, but if you feel supported in Carmel, that is a good step forward–know that Carmel is the Church, so you are already home. I hope this has helped.

  18. Solomon Balban

    Chris thank you so much for your response, I know God will richly bless you through the wonderful ministry of your blog. Your response gave me much needed encouragement and support in my spiritual journey! I really liked what you said “Being tempted does not mean God has given you a desire; it may mean you have taken it for yourself!” Many times I have to remind myself that I am not my sins or desires but I am God’s beloved. In fact the journey in Carmel has been a great pedagogy of the struggle of human desire in a “fallen world”. It is great to get support from others like yourself in the journey on Carmel. Thank you!

  19. Chris Sedlmeyer

    Diana, thank you for your response. First, I want to thank you for all the work you are doing and I would like to express my deep regret and offer my prayers for your great nephew.

    I have to say I noticed in your response that although you are not Catholic, you seem to have assembled quite an admirable group of Catholics around you! I don’t think there are any accidents. I agree with you, there are no buildings in Heaven for denominations. I prefer to think of it in a different metaphor:

    Christ is having a party and he, of course, invites everyone in the world to come. Other denominations have come to the party, but arrived at the house next door. They can hear the music, they catch most of the conversations, they see all the guests in the backyard, but they cannot enjoy the food…and we believe the food is Jesus Himself in the Eucharist. Everyone who knows Jesus, directly though the Gospel or indirectly through their life and love of virtue, can get to Heaven, but they may not enjoy the full celebration and support of the sacraments occurring here on Earth.

    Thank you for your response. There are no accidents. You found my blog and I found the blessing of your faith and your work.

  20. Chris Sedlmeyer

    I am glad you got something out of it. Remember that your struggle is the very archetype of the spiritual life; it is what Christ called us to do by our very Baptism (“Do you reject satan and all his works and all his pomps and empty promises…”.

    I would encourage you to read the original Rule of St. Albert, the Carmelites’ first rule; it is available in pdf online. You can see throughout that the call, even in the first community on Mt. Carmel, has always acknowledged that “all who want to live devotedly in Christ suffer persecution; your enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour. You must then with all diligence put on the amour of God so that you may be able to stand up to the ambushes of the enemy” (18).

    Christ has left us the sacraments to strengthen us through the trials and temptations of our life. Draw close to them and to those who are strong in their faith and (hopefully) share your same struggles. We are designed to live in community and to grow from our connection to others in our faith and experience.

    When you spoke of your need of companionship being greater than God’s grace, I would say that nothing is stronger than God’s grace, except our ability to shut out that grace by our will. God will not force us to accept His help; we must reach for it ourselves and be willing to empty ourselves of the attachments and desires that stand in the way of it. In the measure that you truly ask, you will receive; in the measure that you honestly seek, you will find; in the measure that you humbly knock the door will be opened to you.

    God bless you.

  21. Elizabeth Chipolina

    Reading your blog has given me such joy!

    Trying to live in God’s presence through the Carmelite spirituality is for me my food, trying to do His Will in my thoughts, words and actions.

    You are a true Carmelite Chris because of your love for God and your love for Him is clearly shown by helping your family, saying ‘Yes’, following in the footsteps of Our Lady, to God’s Will and by making His love known to all of us through this blog. God has given you a wonderful gift of communicating His message – Jesus. We are truly fortunate to come across people like you.

    Whenever you say a ‘Hail Mary’ please remember our humble Carmelite study group here in Gibraltar (Europe) Chris that we may always be faithful to our Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We will keep you in our prayers Chris that the good Lord may open you heart widely so that more and more disciples may flock to your blog and be helped by your example! God bless you.

  22. Chris Sedlmeyer

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for all your kind words. I am grateful to be given the opportunity to contribute to the Carmelites and on their website no less! It is such a blessing to be able to give back to the Order that has given me so much already. I only hope that my submissions draw people to such a deep and powerful spirituality. I try to write things that I need to hear for myself, rather than as if I know anything. I find that gets me out of the way, where I belong!

    I would be happy to pray for your study group, especially for such a beautiful intention. I pray two rosaries a day, on my drive to and from work, so you are getting quite a lot of Hail Mary’s! God bless you and your group in Carmel and in Christ.

  23. Diana McDargh

    Thank you for your response. I don’t know or understand anything about the Eucharist. Please forgive my ignorance. However, I love the story of Nichodemus in John 3. I especially like verses 3-6. I believe that is the necessary ingredient to be at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Titus 3:5 tells me it won’t be by our righteousness but His mercy through His saving grace and the need to continually be renewed by His Spirit. It’s very easy to sit on a church pew every service and yet sit there dying spiritually. We have an enemy to our souls that will use whatever method he can to make us cold and indifferent to our blessed Savior. In Rev 3:16, Jesus says He will spew us out of His mouth if we are lukewarm. I think of my coffee when I read this verse as I do like my coffee hot. (smile) You are correct in the fact, I have some wonderful Catholics that are a part of my life. I am told my grandmother carried me to church as an infant and I grew up in the church. Back in those days,our church was called the holyrollers.(again a smile). I’ve seen many changes in the Pentecostal church as I’ve grown up.I’ve seen some churches that are dead irregardless of their name. Again, I think it’s about our personal relationship with Him. I am one of those prodigals that turned away from my faith when I was young but now have returned to the Father, some 30 yrs. ago. Now, I know there is no reason whatsoever to turn back to the world and I find myself feeling very alone at times in my walk with Christ. Yet, as a little song I once taught my sunday schoolers goes, “Though none go with me, I’ll not turn back, I’ll not turn back.” Well, I’m totally off the subject of my writing. I had temporary custody returned to me of my nephew last month. There is a prelimary hearing on Aug. 1st. The county is thus far keeping protective supervision. A FAS child can be violent and it’s his meltdowns that landed us where we did. The plan is home schooling and using the knowlegde that I gained from the Sisters of Notre Dame while continuing parent support and whatever trainings they offer to me. Lots of pyshiatrist, therapy and pyschotic drugs for Brandon. I hate the meds the most as they make him gain weight and I’m not convinced they are what he needs. Perhaps fewer drugs than what he’s on would be better. I am walking this out with God at my side. While I do have the support of the Sisters, I’m pretty much on my own. It’s not easy but I know that God sent Brandon to me and He makes no mistakes. Brandon’s birth mother, my neice died this past April 26th from a drug overdose. She had just given birth to her 6th child 8 wks. early. Gracelynn was born addicted to heroine and had cocaine in her little body. However, it’s the alcohol that creates the brain damage and I believe if a drug addict can’t get to their high with drugs, they will use alcohol and I am assuming all of her children are exposed to FASD in one was or another. In the 22 yrs. I fostered, I never had one training on FASD. I am scheduled to do my first faciltating in Aug. to a foster parent group. Fostering was always my passion and now God is taking me in a new direction. I ask that you pray for me as I partake on a new journey, hopefully being able to raise Brandon and having doors open for me to teach others about the dangers of alcohol and pregnancy. I’m not a person that’s comfortable in front of others. as I do better one to one. I’ve taught Sunday School ane they were children or teens. I want to be a good facilitator. Believe me when I say, I’ve had some boring faciltators with my trainings. I don’t want to be that person. I want my passion to come through. I want to use humor, experience plus knowlegde and have my students walk away feeling that they learned something and they didn’t have to fight sleep to learn it. I am naturally a shy person, Yet, I have found when I am asked to sing a special at church or a funeral, God gives me the strength that I need. Again, I covet your prayers on my new journey and especially for Brandon. He’s not an easy child to deal with at meltdown time but yet, he can be the most loving child there is when he’s at his best. God bless. Diana

  24. Chris Sedlmeyer

    God bless you, Diana! What an incredible journey of love. I know it is not easy–I will certainly pray for you and for Brandon and for the success of all the beautiful things you are doing for Brandon and to educate people on the dangers of alcohol and pregnancy.

    What a blessing you are to be the hands and feet of our Lord in this area of fostering and facilitating. It is clear that God has your hand and is leading you to be His instrument in your corner of His kingdom. I would always remind you to speak from you experience as a facilitator–people respond to what is real and you cannot get any more real than what you have already gone through. What you have suffered and overcome in your life, particularly with Brandon, is a gift from God–a gift that allows you to speak from the authority of your experience and with the compassion of one who has suffered for the sake of love. Use that gift as your voice when you feel shy.

    Though it may be too much for me to speak for God, I would say that He would be well pleased with His servant. Keep on, and be assured of my prayers.

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