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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.

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra