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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Having a Bad Day?

It’s been such a tough week.

I’ve had a headache for days. It’s not just any headache. It’s one of those that steals my sleep, causes me tremendous pain, numbness on one side of my body, doubts and so many fears. It takes me back to the days when all I could do was lie in the bed and cry. My hands are suddenly so weak; I struggle just to open doors and hold a cup. And it scares me—terrifies me really.

I have two months of school visits and other events scheduled. Right now if I had to sign books, I don’t think I could do it. Just to finish my work this week, I had to get several adjustments from the chiropractor, take frequent breaks and lay on ice most days. I’m not sure if I can finish out the rest of the day or week, not to mention the next two months. But surprisingly, I don’t want to curl up in a ball and feel sorry for myself, nor do I want to quit. I want to fight back. I don’t want the devil to defeat me.

It seems the harder I try, the harder the devil fights me. My body is dealing with stress—the good and bad kind, and I don’t know how to handle it all. Once again, I’m reminded how hard life can be at times. How scary it can seem and how uncertain every day truly is to us all. And it’s during these times when I realize how weak I am and the incredible strength of my God.

I’m so thankful that God reminds me that I need Him every moment of every day for the rest of my life. He reminds I will always have obstacles to overcome and heartaches to bear. And the best part is I am NEVER alone. Whatever that happens; me and God will face it and conquer it. During the most painful moments, He reminds me of my happiest times. He reminds me of my accomplishments and the lives He has blessed me to touch. And He gives me beautiful scriptures to reflect on and hold close to my heart.

He is my rock, my comforter, my deliverer and my hiding place. When He takes me into His arms no one can hurt me. And He reminds me this shall pass. These heartaches and feelings are only temporal. It’s the things which last forever that are important.

As I scroll through my newsfeed on Facebook today, there are numerous prayer requests for those who are battling sickness and those who have lost a loved one. It breaks my heart and I realize we are all fighting some type of battle. We need each other’s prayers and love to make it through these hard times. Every now and again we (I really mean me) need to stop thinking about ourselves and focus on others. I’ve allowed the devil to overtake me these last few weeks and to use my grief as a weapon against me. I’ve allowed him to distract me with my own problems so that I can’t pray for others.

But my God always comes through right on time and gives me what I need.

It is with tears that I reflect on God’s word.

It is with tears that I pray.

It is with tears that I write.

It is with tears that I get strength.

I’m so thankful that every once in a while God gives me tears to cry— some for me, some for others, and some for Him. And then He shows me how to get back up, dust myself off, and keep moving forward.

He shows me how to survive a bad day!

1.      Realize this heartache will soon pass. These feelings will not last forever.

2.      Pray! For me, and then for someone else.

3.      Remind myself all things work together for my own good. And God knows what is best for me.

4.      Remember the only way to truly pray is with a broken heart.

5.      The devil fights me the hardest when I’m doing something good for my Lord.

6.      Sometimes we are given tests to see how we will handle certain situations.

7.      Exercise.

8.      Think positive thoughts.

9.      Cry.

10.  Count my blessings.

11.  Read His beautiful words of power.

12.  Know that God is always in control.

13.  And then finally smile, whether you feel like it or not. A smile can be contagious and maybe someone else needs it too.

May God bless you and help your through your trials!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Soldier

It’s not always easy to accept God’s will. Sometimes God’s will and our will are completely different. Sometimes we get so focused on what we believe to be right that we lose sight of God’s purpose and His great plan. And sometimes it’s hard to not get mad at Him when things don’t turn out the way we hoped they would.

We don’t understand why certain things happen. It’s so hard to stay positive and speak of faith and hope when our hearts are breaking. It’s so hard to understand grief and suffering. We wonder where was God when these things happened and even wonder why He didn’t intervene and stop them.

However, all we can see is what is right in front of us. We can’t see the things which happen out of our sight. In the midst of our grief we can’t see God’s amazing love and mercy—His unfathomable grace for our every need.

Last week I lost a loved one. He was a man I loved so much. Someone I respected and admired and believed was invincible. I watched as sickness battered him and he fought to live. And I prayed, believing God could heal him. I begged God to take away his pain and heal him. When I got the devastating phone call, it saddened me that God didn’t answer my prayer.

And if I’m honest, I allowed the devil to make me a little mad at God.

But you know what? He never turned away from me. He wrapped His arms around me and carried me each moment. He dried my tears and flooded my heart with good memories. He made it so that every time I think of my Uncle I see his smile and sing a happy song about him spending the day with my Jesus.

And then my wonderful God showed me that He answered my prayer. He healed him and stopped his pain. He took him out of his suffering. Out of this cruel world and into His arms. He will never hurt anymore. He’ll never be sad or shed a tear. He reached the end of his journey.

Sometimes we look at death as a bad thing. We associate it with heartache and suffering. But if we really stop and think about it, death is the doorway to Heaven. It’s a happy exchange when we shed this sinful flesh for a glorified body. It’s a beautiful thought to think about our loved ones in a peaceful rest.

They fought their battles and finished their course. They left behind stones and a good report of how they lived for God. They preached their funeral everyday of their life. They left us a beautiful inheritance that we should pass down to our children and loved ones.

We should take our place in God’s army and fight with our whole heart. We should live everyday as if tomorrow may never come. We should fight for the truth and slay the lies. We should stand unafraid and unmovable for our God. We should tell of the hope inside us and the love that cannot be fully explained. We should seek God in all times, especially those of grief and suffering. We should desire to know more about Him and His ways.

Regardless of the heartaches, we should remember Romans 8:28 and know that God has a great plan and purpose for each life created. It all works together for our good, especially the day He calls us home. That’s the best part when you think about it.

God doesn’t punish us with death, He blesses us with Heaven! And one of these days I’m going to see Him for myself. I’m going to spend eternity with my Lord. I’m going to sing and shout and live forever. I may not understand His ways, but I know my God is always so good.

Let’s fight a good fight and be a good solider for our Lord. May God bless your hearts with peace and fill your lives with hope, joy, and love.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Zippy's Friend—Maria

Maria is a survivor of Amniotic Band Syndrome!

Candida: Did you like Zippy and his story?

Maria: Yes I loved Zippy and his story!

Candida: What was your favorite part?

Maria: My favorite part is when Zippy got teased by the zebras but then he saved them by acting like a zombie and asking the biggest crocodile nicely.

Candida: Did it help you in some way?

Maria: A little because of the part where Zippy got teased by the zebras, but then he helped them cross the stream.

Candida: What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?

Maria: The biggest challenge I have overcome is to ignore teasing and staring or asking them to stop.

Candida: What is the biggest challenge you still face?

Maria: The biggest thing I still have to face is surgeries I still go through.

Candida: What advice would you give kids with differences or those afraid of having surgery?

Maria: Advice I would give to kids who have surgeries is the doctors are there to help you not to hurt you.

Candida: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?

Maria: How did you come up with this story about Zippy?

Candida: My hands, arm and foot are affected by Amniotic Band Syndrome. I know how hard it is to be teased and stared at by others. I desired to write a book to help kids who go through the same things learn to overcome it. I also wanted to show the bullies and people who stare that it hurts when they do those things. I tried to let them see being different is wonderful!
 I feel so blessed to have talked with Maria! Her answers touched my heart and helped me in numerous ways. It's an amazing feeling to see a child holding a book you've written and know that it helped them a little. Please pray for Maria as she continues to have surgeries and heal from the effects of Amniotic Band Syndrome. May God bless you!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bullying Woes

I have never understood the rationale for bullying. How could it possibly make another person feel good or empowered to know they hurt someone else? I personally loathe the concept of hurting anyone. Even the times in my life when it was unavoidable, I hated knowing that I caused someone to feel pain.

 This week my son relayed to me an incident at school. Apparently a little girl was bullied on the bus. An older child called her names. As he described the scene to me, I was heartbroken. I could just picture the little girl with her face turned toward the window and tears streaming from her eyes. I could go back to those places in my life and remember exactly how it felt—the heartache, the shame, the betrayal, and the yearning for it to stop.

I want to do something to help these kids! I hate that some of them deal with this every single day of their lives. I hate knowing that there are children crying themselves to sleep every night. I hate knowing that for a few of them, the situation turned tragic and they took their own life. Have you ever glimpsed into a coffin and saw an angelic face lifeless—void of the precious childlike smile and life we so often admire?

On the other hand, usually the children who bully others are victims of bullying and teasing themselves. I believe the effects have been so detrimental to them that they in turn lash out with the same behavior. As long as they are the ones bullying, then they won’t be bullied.

We need to band together and make a difference. We need to understand that we have so much more power than we realize. We need to stop looking the other way and start addressing the issues.

Anyone around children, for any length of time, has a great advantage. We can teach children to treat others as they themselves want to be treated. Anyone who resorts to scare tactics, threats or name calling to make themselves feel better definitely needs help. They need kindness in their lives. They need love. They need friends. Most of all, they need God. And more than likely, they need counseling of some type to deal with the issues which cause them to act that way. Sometimes bullying is a cry for help.

Just the other day, a child bullied me. I was teased for my hands. I was so shocked by his behavior that I faltered. I didn’t do anything or say anything to him. I was in my safe haven when it happened and was totally knocked down. And then it occurred to me, perhaps God brought him to me for a reason. Maybe I am the one to teach him about differences and how to treat others. What if he is bullied at school? How else would a child learn the art of bullying?

And so I continue my quest. I go to schools and read them my book, Zippy and the Stripes of Courage. I show them through Zippy how it feels to be teased and how to treat others. I answer their questions and encourage them to be good to others. Sometimes God blesses me to touch a child in some way and even allows me to see it. Sometimes He blesses me to take them in my heart and pray for them. And sometimes, I feel defeated like I couldn’t reach them at all. Nevertheless, I keep trying.

I know some can’t understand my desire to do school visits, especially free of charge, or the sacrifices I make to do them. Since I work fulltime, I have to adjust my schedule to fit everything in. On the days when I do school visits, I get up anywhere between 4:30-5:30 a.m. and start working. Then, I usually have to put in a few hours in the evening as well. It is a long day, but so very worth it.

When I see the smiles on the children’s faces and hear them declare their love for Zippy, I know it impacted their life in some way. Every visit is a gift from God and I’m so thankful for the opportunities. Before I was published, I would often pray and ask for these very moments.

Sometimes we have to be willing to suffer a little to help someone else. Sometimes we have to be willing to do whatever it takes. I believe the only way we can truly make a difference is when we give our whole heart. I don’t do it for compensation or even to sell books. I do it because there was once a little girl who would go to the bathroom and pray. She would beg God to help her—to make the bullying stop and to give her the strength to endure the pain. And many years later, she’s still praying and trusting God to help her help others.

NOTICE: I’m not a counselor nor do I have a PhD. Anything I say on this blog is strictly my feelings and/or opinions.

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra