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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Who Are You Really?


I was watching an interview with Oprah and she asked her guest this question. It made me stop and think and examine my life for a moment.

Who Am I?

I am a child of the King. I am a survivor of Amniotic Band Syndrome. I was born with a purpose and prospered with love. I am nothing, but my God is everything to me. He is the one who blesses me with everything I am.

It is because of His grace and mercy that I am a mommy, wife, daughter, sister, friend, survivor, author, witness, servant, etc. He is the One who created me. He is the One who teaches me. He is the One who molds me. He is the One who prospers me. He is the One who loves me and blesses me to share His love. He is the One who holds me secure and shelters me from the storms. He is the One who allowed me to live—when I should have died.

 
There is something so beautiful about living a thankful life. To wake up each morning and know there is a purpose for your life, far beyond your own understanding. There is a great peacefulness in knowing God has a plan. And it all works to your own good.

There are times when I feel like my feet are dragging through mud and I’m not going anywhere or accomplishing anything. There are times when I feel so small in this great big world. There are times when it all seems hopeless. And that’s when God intercedes and reminds me to do what is possible for me to do and leave the impossible to Him. 

I love it when He gives me a little glimpse of where is all started and how far He has brought me.

Only God could take a person ashamed of her scars and make her thankful for them. Only God could take a person afraid of her own reflection and make her a window for Him. Only God could take a tragedy and turn it into a blessing.

I am a living testimony of His greatness.

Sometimes I think about it. God could have taken me as a baby and I would have never had to suffer. And the end of my journey would be the same. However, it was God's will that I live. It was His will that I live my life for Him. And that’s what I try to do.

I am a work-in-progress. I have tons of faults and failures, but I continue to try. I love deeply and am loved even more deeply. I don’t have all of the answers nor questions to life, but I know the One who does.

By the grace of God, I am blessed to be many things, but the most important is a sinner saved by His wonderful grace. It’s not who I am that matters, but He who lives in me.

Who are you really?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Family


Sometimes I forget how blessed I am. I often forget to whisper a thank you from my heart for all of the ways God blesses me each day. However, those beautiful blessings are always there, whether I acknowledge them or not. And there are times when I just know God has blessed me far above anything that I could ever repay or deserve.

He has blessed me with the most amazing family. There is love in each branch of my family tree and every aspect of my life. When I think about my family I’m awed by this amazing love. And I think about how it all started. I think about the roots and the solid foundation on which it was established.

It started with love.

There were two people who fell in love and were joined by God. While they loved each other, they also loved God. He was the center of their life. They prayed and served Him and discovered the meaning of life. They had children in love, they raised them in love, and they showed them the depths of their love every Sunday as they took them to church. They never placed conditions on their love or tried to contain it, but they gave it freely and nurtured it. They passed it down from generation to generation.

  • Proverbs 13:22 (KJV) A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

 
They stayed focused and grounded on the importance of life. They knew God and family are the most important part of life. And they didn’t tell their children these things, but they showed them through the course of their life.

In my family, when one hurts we all hurt. When one suffers, we all suffer. We don’t have to compete for anyone’s love, there’s always enough for everyone. When one needs help, we all do our part, not expecting anything in return. We love each other and it shows. We continuously work on our relationship. We check on one another. We pray for one another. We continue on the path laid before us by our ancestors and embrace the amazing foundation on which it was established.

It was established by God.

My grandparents belonged to God and prayed for their children to be saved. And the cycle continued through every generation. Salvation and love are what bonds a family together. Without God there is no perfect love. He is the center and the solid foundation on which the grandest things occur.

So often we get so distracted by our everyday life that we forget what truly matters. We forget to show our love or to be forgiving. Instead of embracing God’s precious and priceless gift, we turn away from it. We make excuses and justify our bad behavior. We think if we are the one to pull away from our loved ones or build a wall around our heart we won’t be hurt. However, we are only hurting ourselves.

 I have a natural family that is so precious to me. I can’t even find the words to express my love for each and everyone. And I have a spiritual family that is just as precious or more to my heart. Regardless of what I go through or how bad I act, there will always be a big Godly family that will love me unconditionally. They will request prayer for me at church and then kneel before God on my behalf. They will not judge me— only love me forever and ever. They will forgive my faults and failures and always be there for me when I need them. Even if try to push them away. They will ask God to be merciful to me, even if I can’t remember the last time I stepped into God’s house. The will hug me when I finally come home and make me feel so welcome.

They will pray for my children and unlock the kingdom so they may be saved. They will gather around me when I’m sick and dying and comfort my loved ones who are grieving. They will visit me in the nursing home even if I don’t remember my name.  They will always be there to help me carry my load and pray with me.

Sundays are not for sleeping in, shopping, etc. They are for going to His house and showing the world you do love God. They are for praying and hearing the prayer request of the church. They are about crying out in one mind and one accord unto God. They are about supporting this amazing, loving family that gives so much without expecting anything in return.

Whatever your situation, I pray you make your way to God and His house. And come to love this amazing family as much as they love you!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Turning the Other Cheek


Some people will always have something bad to say. They will always focus on finding something ugly verses the realm of beautiful surrounding them. They love to be a negative, hateful, opinionated, let’s bring everyone else around us down and wallow in self-pity, kind of person. But you know what, I refuse to allow the Eeyores of life to bring me down.
 

Be miserable, if you want to. Think of the light at the end of the tunnel as a train ready to run you over, if you want to. View your glass as half empty with a gaping hole in the bottom, if you want to. However, I chose to see the blessings and rainbows in life, instead of dwelling on the heartaches and storms.
 

Life gets hard. There are always disappointments and heartaches to bear. There are always times when things seem hopeless. There will always be times when people test your limits and push you to see how much you can take. There will always be people who assume the worst of you and say things that are hurtful. There will always be times when you feel defeated. There will always be times when you are thrown inside the fiery furnace, and the enemy declares victory. However, when we look to God, He can always take the absolute worst situation possible and mix it with His amazing love, grace, and mercy and make it into a beautiful blessing. After all, He’s the one who takes carbon and mixes it with extreme heat and pressure to form the diamond.  

It’s hard when people say hurtful things or treat you badly. It’s so hard to turn the other cheek and not lash out at those who hurt us. It’s hard for me to understand at times why God allows these things to happen. And then I think of how the world treated Jesus. It’s not us they don’t like, but God who lives in us.

  • Psalm 109:3 (KJV) They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause.

However, God wants us to love them. He wants us to pray for them. He wants us to surround them with kindness. He wants us to live for Him.

Most of my life, I have worried about what other people think of me. I remember trying so hard to make others like me that I was afraid to be myself. And then God gave me wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

God is the only one I need to strive to please. If He is satisfied with me, then who cares what other people think of me. They don’t give a righteous judgment anyway. God is the only one with the ability to judge the heart and the efforts we make. He is the only one with the ability to see the truth and the whole picture.

I would rather for the whole world to hate me and be angry with me, than for God to be angry at me. I’m so thankful He always loves me, regardless. He doesn’t put His foot on me and push me into the ground when I mess up, but rather picks me up and comforts me in His arms of love.

Let them hate me and my love for God. Let them hate me because I’m obedient to my Lord. Let them speak evil of me and try to discourage me. Let them throw me into the lion’s den. My God will protect me. He may not prevent me from being hurt, but He will help to me forgive and use the hardships to shine my light a little brighter. During the midst of the heartache, in the eye of the storm, He can give me a smile and a testimony to praise Him. He can make my heart so thankful to suffer for His glory.

When I keep my eyes on God, all I can see is the good.

 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Godly Lessons


You know it’s going to be a great writing session, when you type the title and two hours later haven’t progressed any. However, that’s when I know there is something lurking beneath the surface. That’s when I know I need to stop listening to everything around me and listen to what’s inside me. Writer’s block for me is the signal to stand still and let God move.

Sometimes I have to get myself out of His way. I have to evaluate situations and meditate. I have to listen, when I feel the urge that He wants to talk with me. I have to turn aside from everything I know, and realize I don’t have a clue what needs to be done or even how to do it. God always gives us instructions, however they are not always what we want or think might work.

Yesterday, I lost the stone out of my engagement ring. I was devastated as I looked down into the gaping hole that was once the most beautiful part. It was gone and the void was astounding. And I was saddened for the times when I never noticed its beauty or took the time to be thankful for it and what it represents. It reminded me how quickly life can change and how the things we love can be taken away—in an instant.

 I had been doing so many things that I had no clue where the stone might have fallen. To retrace my steps seemed overwhelming. I had been cleaning like a mad woman for hours. There was a part of me that instantly gave up and declared it gone forever. And there was another part of me that longed to find it.

My husband comforted by promising another ring, but some things just can’t be replaced. So I listened to my heart and it took me to the very spot when I first noticed it was missing. And lying on the bottom bunk bed of my kid’s room was my stone. I was putting sheets on the top bunk when I noticed it was gone.

I was so thankful to hold it in my hands and so thankful I had listened to the still small voice that had guided me. God is always a presence in every situation. He’s the voice that urges us to look again at a stop sign or to check the stove one more time. He’s the voice who gives us warnings and directions. It’s up to us to heed them or ignore them.

The center is always the best and most important part. The center of a marriage is love. The center of family is love. The center of life is God. If you remove the center then all you have is an empty shell.

I feel like I am a constant work-in-progress. The devil is always seeking whom he may devour. He is always filling our lives with obstacles and hardships. However, when we look to God, He has always has a plan. Every day is about being the best that we can be. It’s about trying one more time, when we have failed numerous times. It’s about trying before you decide to quit.

There is no easy button in life. There are no magical formulas to accomplish your goals or dreams. It takes hard work and persistence. It’s about being honest with yourself and working to overcome your faults and failures. We are all viable and important!

Lastly, I would like to remind you there is never an exception anywhere that allows you to be mean to another soul. Don’t be a bully and strive to hurt others. It doesn’t make you respected or important. It makes you miserable.

Don’t be the type of person to knock someone down, and then kick them. Help them up! We can’t control how other people treat us, but we can control how we treat them.

What if God treated you how you treated Him? He doesn’t lash out at us for our wrongdoings, but blesses us with His amazing love.

Love is the greatest weapon in battle. Just think of how Jesus defeated the enemy that crucified Him. He asked God to forgive them and then He died for their sins. Instead of lashing out with vengeance, He emitted unconditional love.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Zippy’s Friend—Stefan


Stefan is a survivor of Amniotic Band Syndrome.

Candida: Did you like Zippy and his story?
Stefan: Yes
Candida: What was your favorite part?
Stefan: When he saved his friends.
Candida: Did it help you in some way?
Stefan: Yes
Candida: What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?
Stefan: Starting school and being teased because I am different.
Candida: What is the biggest challenge you still face?
Stefan: Not sure.
Candida: What advice would you give kids with differences or those afraid of having surgery?
Stefan: I have no advice on this as I haven’t had surgery yet.
Please help me pray for Stefan. It’s not easy being different and I hope God blesses everyone who meets him to see how wonderful he is. Thank you Stefan, for sharing your pictures and answering my questions! I truly enjoyed it. God bless you and your family.   
It is such a wonderful feeling to share Zippy and his story with kids! And I can’t even explain how God blesses me when I see a child holding my book, knowing Zippy gets to be a part of his day. I pray God blesses all children to know they are truly amazing—exactly as He made them.



Friday, July 6, 2012

My Anchor, my God


Life is one big lesson. Some of them we learn and others we put aside. Nevertheless, God takes the time to work with us all. He takes the times to lead us and guide us and warn us of the trouble lurking ahead. However, there are times when we listen and times when we ignore Him and His pleas.

In those times, He has to try something else. His gentle foreshadowing is often forgotten until trouble strikes with full force. And then we understand why God warned us and pleaded. Suddenly it all makes perfect sense, only a little too late to make a difference now.

However, there is good news! If we walk by faith, adhering to His commands, we will have the absolute BEST life possible upon this Earth. God doesn’t ask much of us and His rewards are far greater than any trouble or heartache. I’m not saying life will be easy because I can assure you it will be hard and right down impossible at times, but when God moves in the midst of the storm, it will all be worth it.

If you’ve read my books or blog, Facebook or Twitter posts then you know I think God is so wonderful. You’ve already read how good He is to me. It seems there is a blessings and testimony in everything. If I wrote every moment for the rest of my life, I still couldn’t praise Him enough for just one of His beautiful blessings upon me.

My life has changed with leaps and bounds. I’m in awe at how He is molding me and shaping me. Sometimes I don’t even recognize my own reflection, anymore. I can’t believe what God has done for me. How He opened my eyes and gave me a new perspective on life. I can’t believe how He has pushed me outside of my comfort zones and made me stay there.

It seems every day is filled with something new and different. When I face one fear, another one beckons to me. While my list of accomplishments might not be significant to anyone else they are major to me. Every victory is a testimony for my God.

Last week, my ribs came out of place. It hurt and I left work to get it fixed. After it was back in its place, I was fine—really glad it was over. However, my feelings of triumph soon faded when it dislocated again. The second time it hurt worse, but it was still tolerable. By the third time I was over it. I was swollen and weaken both in body and soul. I couldn’t understand the reasoning for my pain. I couldn’t understand why nothing helped me.

By the seventh dislocation, I was weak, numb, battered, broken—and afraid. I wasn’t able to do simple chores. The effort to take a shower was almost unbearable. I struggled to drive and even eat. I thought about how far I had come, from life two years ago. I remembered what if felt like to hurt with every breath. I remembered how it felt to be dependent on others and so very limited. I remembered the feeling of helplessness as well as hopelessness. I remembered how it felt for the pain to consume my life. And I knew I didn’t want to go back to that place.

I knew God would help me when it was time. So I prayed for me and for others. I used the wonderful tears He gave me and I know He understood each one. And when it got overwhelming, I put one foot in front of the other and walked by faith.

When I thought I couldn’t possibly take another moment of pain, God showed me I’m capable of more than I realized. When the negative, hopeless thoughts emerged I chased them away with God’s word. And I recognized something more about myself—ME AND GOD CAN DO ANYTHING!

P.S. The girl who was terrified of even being on the interstate a few weeks ago DROVE in four lanes of traffic and has a whole new array of possibilities.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Blessings for Heartaches


God is the only one I know who can turn a devastating situation into a great, big blessing. He’s the only one I know who can take our tears and turn them into smiles. I believe He counts our tears during the trials and then gives us blessings in their place. I may not know His ways exactly, but I do know God is so good to me. My life is so blessed.

This week my family and I traveled to the beach for the first time. My husband and I had been previously, but the kids had never been. It was such a blessing for me to see their little faces admire God’s beautiful creation. It was such a blessing for me to give them the trip and things they wanted. And it made me think of God and how I’m sure it pleases Him to bless us.

It’s even more rewarding, I believe, when we struggle prior to the blessing. Every year my heart would ache when vacation time arrived, knowing we couldn’t afford to take a vacation. It was one of the sacrifices my family and I made during my writing trials. We would sit at the kitchen table during our supper and talk about all of the things we would do when I sold my book(s). Even though we dreamed about those things, the kids didn’t cry about it or give me a hard time. They understood and dreamed with me of better days.

The whole time I was there my heart was filled with thankfulness. It was if I could feel God with me and feel His amazing peace. It swept through my life and calmed my fears. I traveled without fear and was able to relax and enjoy the beautiful gift He had given me.

And I believe when we purpose to live our lives for Him, nothing is out of reach. He wants us to put Him first in our lives. He wants us to be obedient. He wants us to trust Him and look to Him in all situations.

I love birthdays. Regardless of my age, I love to celebrate my life and give God praise for sparing me. I love to be surrounded by my family and to reflect on my blessings. However, this year my plans were changed. I had planned to spend the day with my family on the lake, but I was asked to sing in a funeral instead. My flesh wanted to be selfish and deny the family their request. But in doing that I knew I was really denying God—the One who gave me a life to celebrate in the first place.

When I changed my way of thinking, I was thankful for another opportunity to do God’s work. And He blessed me so richly. Not only did He fill my cup up, but He let it run over. He even blessed me with a special gift. The morning before I left, my friend Jack Foster who illustrated my book Zippy and the Stripes of Courage sent me this.

How many people get a birthday wish from Zippy?
And so His blessings continue. We are finishing up the final details on my new book. This is always the hardest part for me. I struggle with making decisions. I’m always afraid I will make the wrong choice. But I’ve learned if I look to God, He will see me through every obstacle. He won’t allow me to mess up on the things which are truly important.

There are more fears for me to face and a whole realm of possibilities. He’s taking me out in the deeper waters to show me I can swim and overcome my fears. I won’t lie and tell you I’m not afraid of what’s coming my way, but I am confident God will carry me each step of the way and give me a testimony to share of His greatness.

These heartaches are only a prelude to the wonderful, beautiful, amazing blessings coming my way.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Let it Go


Are you your own worst enemy or your best friend? I think sometimes we forget we have a choice. We can be an inspiration to our own life and rise higher than we dreamed possible. Or we can handicap our lives with negative thoughts and emotions and paralyze our own dreams.


Did you know you believe whatever you tell yourself? If “can’t” is always monopolized in your vocabulary, thoughts and feelings, then you are destined for failure. You may occasionally surprise yourself and rise above your challenges, but for the most part you will allow the negative thoughts to destroy you.

I think that is why I was independent as a child. I wouldn’t allow my mom to do things for me. I learned to do whatever I needed to do and I didn’t stop until I figured it out. Why? Because I didn’t know my hands weren’t supposed to do it. There were no negative thoughts to combat. Only obstacles I wanted to overcome and enough stubbornness and sheer will to make it happen.

What if I had understood the limitations the world placed on me the day I was born? What if I had believed their prognosis for my life? I can guarantee you I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

God blessed me with an amazing ability to persevere. He gave me a desire to prove them wrong. He would push me to my limits and then always show me how to overcome them. And He’s still pushing me and showing me my capabilities today.

Sometimes we just have to let go of everything we have been told and our constricting beliefs about certain situations and TRY. Life is filled with challenges and obstacles to overcome. And the only way to overcome them is through faith and effort.

Don’t settle for the life you’ve been given, but strive to live the life you want. Don’t allow others to take away your hope. Don’t allow negative thoughts and bad situations to break you. Don’t allow the pessimism of others to dominate your life. Don’t allow your fears to hold you back.

When I was writing Zippy and the Stripes of Courage, I listened to what everyone told me and I allowed their opinions to hold me back. It was the same way with Underneath the Scars. The world always has an opinion about everything and if we constantly listen to their rules and regulations, no one would ever succeed. Plus you have to be careful because sometimes their critique of you and your life stems from jealousy, instead of knowledge. However, when I pushed aside everything I had been told and wrote my books from my heart, it worked.

Sometimes you just have to write and allow the story to come out. There are times when I start writing that I wonder where in the world I’m going with it, but if I keep writing and stop trying to reason every word, then I allow the depth of it to come out and God to shine through.  

Just remember we all get knocked down. The key is to keep getting back up—immediately. Don’t wallow in self-pity. We all get rejected and go through hard times. Instead of looking at it failures, just see it as another step in God’s plan.

God wants us to ask Him for help and give our burdens to Him. Then He wants us to let it go—and not dwell on it any longer. We don’t go through trials and tribulations to break us, but to show us all things are possible through God.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Glimpse


It’s easy sometimes to lose sight of our goals and blessings. It’s easy to get trapped in the hustle and bustle of life and forget about the things which truly matter. It’s so easy for me to get stressed and overwhelmed and to view certain situations as being hopeless. It’s so easy for me to focus on the things which are shown and lose sight of my treasures which are unseen. But my God always has a beautiful glimpse awaiting me—to remind me, inspire me, and strengthen me.

Working and traveling for my books has taken a definite toll on me. There are times when I work 12 to 14 hour days; times when I’m too tired to sleep; times when I question the purpose and want to give up; times when all I can do is put one foot in front of the other and pray for the strength to keep going. However, God always gives me everything I need to keep pushing through the obstacles. He is my oasis through the desert.

Did you know that looking at a picture can be very relaxing? I have learned to look at a beautiful, peaceful image when I’m stressed out and overwhelmed. Just a few minutes makes a huge difference. It reminds me that soon my work will be finished and I will be able to rest. It keeps me focused and grounded. It reminds me to breathe and to remember the best is yet to come.

Imagery can be very powerful. It gives us a purpose and goals to strive for. It gives us a vivid image of what can be, through faith and determination. It trains our mind to think of the goal as being attainable. It teaches us to believe in our dreams and reach for them. It gives us hope.

And sometimes we need to remember what we are striving for.

How great would it be to get to glimpse into Heaven whenever we wanted? I’m sure one single glimpse of the treasure awaiting us would make our problems and trials on this earth seem so small. It would keep us focused and remind us of our duty. It would brighten our lives and flow out, onto someone else.

Isn’t that what going to church and serving God does?

When I hear the sweet sound of the church singing, I get a glimpse of peace. When I hear the prayer request, I get a glimpse of suffering and sorrow for others. When I hear the unity of prayer, I get a glimpse of the power of faith and hope. When I hear the gospel, I get a little glimpse of God’s love and His beautiful plan. When the gospel reveals my faults and failures, I get a little glimpse of the direction God wants me to go and the punishment if I disobey His commands. During fellowship, I get a glimpse of the church. And it all renews my strength and makes me want to fight on the battlefield for my Lord.

If you’re constantly on the verge of quitting and always have your head bowed in defeat, then you are someone’s glimpse of misery—not of God. We all need to keep our eyes on God and remember what Jesus suffered for us. Are you suffering for God or your disobedience? Even through the darkest of times, God gives us peace. He gives us a new perspective. He gives us hope and helps us to persevere. Even in jail, Paul and Silas praised God and were happy they were suffering for Him.

We should strive to have an aura of strength and love about us. We should strive to be the people who make others feel better. We should project peace and confidence wherever we go. We should ALWAYS look for the good and stop dwelling on the bad.  

It is my goal to live my life for God and to stop concentrating on what I want. I need to pray more, read my bible more, and serve God in a way that is pleasing unto Him. What if He gave me the gift of today, to help someone else?

 This past weekend I set up a booth at the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival to sell my books and created a Zippy float for the parade. I knew going into it, it would be a difficult and challenging week/weekend. But there is no way to prepare our body for mental and physical exhaustion. There were times when I cried on the way home because I missed my kids and I truly didn’t know how I could possibly continue. Then I would collapse in the bed, only to toss and turn most of the night.

When I thought I couldn’t possibly take another step, God gave me a glimpse of the times prior when He had carried me through challenges and I knew He would carry me through. As I sat at my booth and heard praise for my books, traveled through the parade, and heard the childlike voices cheer for Zippy and tell someone around them how he came to their school, God allowed me to glimpse the difference Zippy and I have made.


As the tears bubbled inside of me, I knew all of the hard work and dedication had prospered in that moment. I didn’t achieve what I wanted because my goals were unimportant and selfish, but I achieved exactly what God wanted for me. I made friends and God opened doors for me.

And I believe He allowed some to glimpse the woman underneath the scars and the beauty of dreams.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fear, Grace, and Mercy


Regardless of the situation, God has grace and mercy for our every need. He is a presence. He is with us always. He knows our needs and understands our fears. He is our safe haven—a strong shelter in the times of storm. He is my hiding place and my redeemer. All in all, God is everything.

When He leads us in a certain direction, there is a reason and a plan. He doesn’t lead us out into the deep waters so that we will drown, but to show us how to swim. The only way to grow and prosper in our journey is by faith in Him. We don’t always understand the steps in the journey, but they all lead us to the place He purposed for us. They all give us an opportunity to learn, grow, and a glimpse of His unyielding love. Serving God is not always easy, but the rewards outweigh the hardships, every single time.

Last Thursday, after work, we headed to Nashville for my school visit Friday morning. There is always an unexplainable fear of traveling for me. It takes all of my strength, a few tears, and prayers to make me go. I don’t understand my fear, but it is always present and strong. It clutches at my reserve of strength and reminds me how weak I truly am.

I wanted to cancel. I wished I had never agreed to go. Fear bubbled inside of me and I wondered what else I will have to endure and overcome. In these moments, I feel all of this is too big for me. I feel like I have waded out in waters too deep. I feel like I am drowning. I hate the frantic and despairing feeling fear creates. When it feels as if it will completely destroy me, my God arrives right on time.

When I lifted my eyes toward Heaven and prayed, God replaced my fear with peace. He took away my bad feelings and replaced them with happy ones. He reassured me I was safe in His arms. He dried my tears and calmed me. Even if death had come to me, there would be no fear. And I thought how wonderful it is to serve a God so loving that He takes the time to reassure me of my fears. He takes the time to hold me when I’m afraid and comfort me when I’m sad. He is a great protector.

Not only did He bless me with a wonderful school visit, but He taught me a few things along the way.

When we went to the zoo afterwards, I wasn’t thrilled about seeing the snakes. I’m scared of those critters and to even be in the same room with them, caged or not, was terrifying. But then I thought about it, am I always going to allow fear to dictate my life? So I talked to myself, in a happy, positive voice. I walked through the area, looking straight ahead of course, without allowing the fear to paralyze me. I knew nothing could happen beyond God’s control. And I watched my boys enjoy their exploration of new things. I didn’t want to pass my fears onto them or hold them back. Sometimes we have to pick and choose our battles. While I realize I will NEVER like snakes or enjoy looking at them, I did enjoy the beautiful butterflies.

Then, it was playtime. The jungle gym offered a variety of fun things to do. Since it was a weekend of facing fears, I decided to play, too. There was a huge net for climbing. It was hard to stand on, so I held onto the net and carefully placed my feet each time—so I wouldn’t fall. It wasn’t really fun because I held on tight, not wanting to fall. When I reached the end I was tired and not really enthused by it at all. Then, I watched the kids. They went right through the middle, without holding on, as fast as they could. They laughed and bounced on the roped when they fell. Without thinking about it too much, I joined them. I went right through the middle, running as fast as I could and when I fell I got right back up. This time I was laughing. I had stopped being afraid to fall and started enjoying the moment.

Sometimes I think God wants us to let go of the net and take off running (or just jump), not afraid to fall. He wants us to believe He will catch us, just like the safety net. He wants us to follow our dreams and not allow fear to control their depths. He wants us to put our trust in Him, to realize and know He already has it under control. He wants us to enjoy the journey and be prosperous.

God constantly reminds me there is no discharge in this war. There is no place to quit. No room for disobedience and no excuse to succumb to fear. It’s a great blessing just to know, when it all gets to be too much for me, my God will lift me above it all. I am weak, but He is strong.

I can do ALL things through Christ which strengtheneths me. Philippians 4:13.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Victory in Jesus


We are often unaware of the challenges facing us each day. We don’t fully realize the beautiful gift of God’s mercy or comfort until times of battle. We don’t know the power of His protection, until the danger subsides, and the realization of what could have happened evolves. It’s then we understand God is always ready and fully in control. There are also times when He prepares us for the storms and gets us ready to endure the battle.

He’s been showing me things and getting me ready for the next battle of my life. He knows the exact balance of every combination to make me fruitful and obedient. He knows my ways and knows when I need to go through the fire to be able to shine for Him. He knows the heartache I will endure along the way and the joy of the reward. He knows how deep my valley will be and the height of the mountain.

He knows what it takes to make me pray. He knows what it takes to make me search the scriptures and humble my heart. He knows what gives me hope and encouragement. He has a time for it all. And the darkest hour is usually right before the Lord pours out His beautiful blessings upon me.

A few days ago I had an appointment to speak about my books. The days leading up to it were difficult and I encountered a headache days prior. The night before a major migraine attacked. My head hurt so badly I couldn’t sleep. I prayed that morning as I got ready and hoped it would go away. I wasn’t able to work on my speech, like I had hoped, due to days of constant pain.

And then the problems seemed to multiply. I ran out of ink in my printer and I couldn’t read the part of my speech I had prepared. The headache caused waves of nausea. There was a roaring in my ears and I couldn’t hear out of one ear. My vision became blurred at times and dizziness threatened. I knew there was no time to cancel. They were counting on me. So I prayed and knew when I walked out of the door, I was taking a leap of faith.

I knew God would carry me because I couldn’t make it on my own. Just before I took my place in front of the crowd, my thoughts became jumbled and I couldn’t think clearly. I knew if I stepped out in faith, God would carry me the rest of the way.

Through it all, I learned a very valuable and beautiful lesson. Sometimes God has to get us to the point of total and complete trust in Him. He takes away our thoughts so He can replace them with His. It’s during these times when He proves His love for me. He gives me a little glimpse of His love and the extent of His power. He reminds me that I’m never alone and nothing is beyond His realm. He reminds me to just open my mouth and allow His words to come out. And I know that I’m not the typical speaker or author. I am peculiar and driven by God’s purpose.

I have found it’s during my darkest hours that I search for God. Sometimes it takes suffering to help us pray. One day, I cried going and coming home from work. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t take it. As the tears began to fall, God and I began to talk. I love it when we talk and He understands the groaning of my heart. There is nothing greater than talking to God and knowing He hears my pleas.

Regardless of the obstacles the devil tosses my way, God has a storehouse of blessings just for me. He knows when I need each one. He knows their value and the abundance of their strength. His timing is always impeccable.

When it seems dark and gloomy, God sends me a ray of light— and His blessings dominant any hardship. When I begin to doubt my abilities and question whether I can continue on this journey, due to my obstacles, God reaffirms His purpose for me.

Holding a contract for a new Zippy book increases my faith. God is a wonderful paymaster! I’m so happy and thankful God is blessing me to go through this amazing journey with Him once more. He’s giving me another opportunity to make a difference and the world an opportunity to love my little zebra. I’m so thankful that when life gets hard, God won’t allow me to quit. He always come through and renews my strength. And He gives me a new testimony of His greatness.

Until next time, I hope you know that regardless of the battle there is always VICTORY IN JESUS!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Next Chapter


In the midst of heartaches and adversity, God is there. He is our beacon of hope during the strongest of storms. He knows our thoughts, ways, the paths we take and the exact combination of it all to help us weather the storms. He knows during these difficult times we need inspiration and encouragement, so He gives us God moments.

When I started writing my book Underneath the Scars, it felt as if a great warfare was raging inside me. It was one of the hardest, trying, most painful moments of my life. There were so many times when I wanted to quit; times when I wanted to be stubborn and refuse God. There were times when I couldn’t understand the purpose of the book and very seriously doubted that my story would ever touch another life.
And my God was so patient with me. He was so kind, gentle, and longsuffering. He knew my heart. He knew I wasn’t refusing Him out laziness or disrespect. He knew I was terrified and hurting. That’s when He gave me a special gift. He gave me this picture.
Calen drinking from a straw.

It is the most precious picture I think I have ever seen. The first time my eyes glimpsed it, I was heartbroken. All I could see was a baby with no hands, in a world that demands them. I thought about all of the trials he would face in life and I would cry—desiring a way to help him and others affected. When I thought I couldn’t write another word and I couldn’t possibly finish my book, God would take me to this picture. It was my reminder to write from my heart. God reminded me that there was a purpose and a great need for it.

As the words filled my blank pages, a change took place inside of me. With every grain of acceptance I received, my thoughts and feelings began to change. And then one day as I come to the ending of Zippy and the Stripes of Courage, my perspective changed as well.

When I glimpsed this picture from my heart, I saw a baby who survived! He went through the trauma; he has the scars to prove it, but he survived. He lived when so many die. God gave him life, hope, love. He gave him determination. In this picture, he didn’t know he was different. He didn’t know that he wasn’t supposed to be able to do it. I believe that whatever heartaches, trials and challenges he faces, God will deliver him out of them all.

Through it all, God showed me about strength, perseverance, and the power of our thoughts and beliefs. He showed me that anything is possible through Him. He taught me about thankfulness and hope.

I love it when He reminds me my life belongs to Him and shows me the beautiful gift of life and love. The last few months have been hard for me. I’ve battled pain and so many different emotions. At times I feel like I have been knocked down and the devil is kicking me.

And then I get this picture—unexpectedly. They say a picture holds a thousand words and I agree.
Calen holding Zippy and the Stripes of Courage. That smile reminds me Calen is a SURVIVOR of Amniotic Band Syndrome!
I know that it’s time to open my heart and write more books for my Lord. Honestly, I had hoped the next ones would come easy, but I realize that won’t be the case at all.
We have to be in the valley to work for the Lord. We have to come to the end of our strength before we start searching for His voice. We have to seek our own understanding and guidance from God, before we find the gift of knowledge and wisdom to help others.
Ecclesiastes 1:18 KJV
For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
I desire to be obedient to my Lord. I pray that I will do whatever He places on my heart to do. I hope I can get my thoughts, feelings, and fears out of the way and walk by faith for Him. He deserves praise, honor, and glory.
I don’t know why He chose me as the bearer of this beautiful gift. I feel so unworthy and then again so thankful. There is a part of me (my flesh) that truly dreads this process. It’s hard and painful at times. Especially, when my heart becomes burdened to write and I struggle against it.
However, the blessings are far greater than the grief. There is one thing know for sure. I don’t write for money or fame, I write because my Lord blesses me to write His word and sometimes share it with others.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Window


I love it when God and I talk. I love it when He opens the scriptures to me and shows me things I’ve never considered before. I love it when He moves and blesses me to write books. And I love it when He blesses me to share them with others. I was lying in bed a few nights ago with a smile on my face so wide, I couldn’t sleep. And He reminded me of all the times I cried myself to sleep; when the burden to share my books weighed so heavy on my heart. And now people around the world enjoy my books. That’s amazing!

Anyway it’s often during the writing and thinking process that He blesses me with new perspectives on life. This week He showed me about the window. Did you know we are His windows? People look through us to see God.

Think about how wonderful that is. To know another soul could look at your life and see a little glimpse of God. Granted we all fail. I know I do on every level, but I try. I want to extend the amazing, unconditional love God shows me to others. I want everyone to have this wonderful feeling deep down in their heart.

We all wonder at times why bad things happen to good people. We wonder why God allowed something bad to happen to our loved ones. I’ve thought about that numerous times this week. And all I can come up with is that God loves us so much.

He is so merciful and longsuffering that He makes ways for people to hear His gospel and be saved. He makes ways for people to receive invitations for Heaven. He loves us all so much that He makes sure every soul gets their opportunity.

We tend to always look at the bad side of things and forget to look at the beautiful side. Death is the doorway to Heaven. God has an appointed time for us all. That’s one thing we cannot escape. It doesn’t matter the state of your life—when death calls we will answer. There will be no more time to make things right with God or our family. That’s why we should strive to live everyday as if it were our last.  

When we hear of tragedy, what is the first thing we do? Pray! Then we ask others to pray. We go to church and extend out love to those suffering. We suddenly remember God in times of trouble. However, the sad part is that many don’t remember Him any other time. We forget who wakes us up each morning and who gives us rest. We often forget who gives us every breath and watches over us.

People love to use words like “luck”, “mistakes”, and “coincidence”. It seems as if we are always trying to find a way to discard God in our lives. There are no such things as mistakes, luck, or coincidence. We are blessed not lucky. We ignore God’s voice and go on our own wisdom and knowledge not mistakes. God is moving in our life not coincidences.  

We are the ones who don’t go to church nor take our children. We are the ones who create our own realm of serving God, while neglecting the ways of God. We are the ones who neglect to read His word and understand His ways. So He uses whatever is necessary to get our attention. He will get glory out of His children—one way or another. We cause much of our own heartache. I know I do.

However, the good part is that God can mold us into what He wants us to be. He can use us to reach others. He can bless us to help others. He can use us to comfort others. He can use us as a guide for others. All we have to do is lift our eyes toward Heaven and follow His instructions.

The journey won’t be easy. It will be a battle every step of the way, but the blessings will be abundant. God is a wonderful Paymaster.

Think about this. If He didn’t have work for us to do after we got saved, then He would call us home immediately. There would be no need for us to suffer. However, that’s not the case. He needs warriors in His army to fight for the lost and dying. He needs someone to stand during the storms of life and praise Him. He needs our lives to reflect Him in some way.
We should be like Paul and Silas. We should be thankful for every opportunity to suffer for our Lord. And always telling whoever will listen about His greatness.

Also you can check out my article in my hometown paper. I was so humbled and blessed by the kind, sweet words. http://claiborneprogress.net/bookmark/18217705/article-Local+author+overcomes+adversity+through+faith#.T4hUdbM-6S0.facebook

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Time to Go


Regardless of what I’m going through, writing always helps me. Sometimes it’s good for me to step back and analyze my feelings through words. Things are never as bad as they had once seemed. God always has a ray of hope for every situation. And His goodness continues to awe me every day.

There have been so many beautiful souls die recently. It leaves our hearts broken and torn. There are times when I think I can’t bear it to never see their smiling face again and never have the opportunity to hug them anymore. Regardless of the time we were blessed to spend with each other, I always have an aura of regret and desire for more. There are always things I wish I would have said or time I’d like to get back.

And the moment we hear of their passing, grief settles in. We already miss them the moment they leave us. Death and grief for a loved one is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to encounter.

But I’m so thankful for God’s amazing comfort. He holds me so secure in His strong arms. It’s during the darkest hours that we discover how much God loves us.

This week He gave me a different perspective on death. It pleases God to call us home. It pleases Him to take us out of our pain and suffering. It pleases Him to give us rest and a glimpse of the beautiful treasures awaiting us.

I guess it would be like Christmas. You know when you buy someone a special gift and you just can’t wait to give it to them. I believe that’s a little fraction of how God feels when He gives us Heaven. It’s the best thing imaginable.

Sometimes I like to think about what Heaven will be like. I can’t even imagine its beauty or the greatness of never being sad, hurt, lonely, disappointed, worried, tired, weak, troubled, burdened, afraid, etc. That will be a wonderful day, when we reach our eternal home.

This world is not our home. We are all just passing through. This is a place to get ready for eternity. And one of these days I’ll join them in that great city where we’ll never grow old. What a beautiful day that will be!

On this side I’ll cry and hurt, but one of these days my suffering will be over. My mind can’t even imagine how great that will be—to be with my Lord forever and to feel His amazing Spirit always.

Until then, I have work to do. There is a reason I’m still on this Earth and I intend to do the work of my Father. I want to give the world a little glimpse of my amazing God through my life. I pray that someone may see God in me and desire Him for themselves.

And whenever He calls for me, I’m ready to go. What about you? Are you ready?

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra