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Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Blessings

Do you remember my Christmas Letter?

A few years ago, I hit rock bottom. That November, I had to quit my job. I was struggling with my health, financially, and mentally. That Christmas, I felt so worthless. We barely had enough money to pay our bills, and buying gifts seemed impossible.

I remember having this immense feeling inside of me to give. And I thought, “What do I have to give anyone?” Then God showed me a little glimpse of the plan He had for me.

As the tears and words mixed, God blessed me to create a simple letter to share with my family and friends. For the first time, He blessed me to open my heart and share my hardships with others. Then, the most amazing thing happened. Everyone that I shared my story with shared their story with me. Hearing how my struggles and testimony helped others awoken something inside of me. God showed me that I had so much inside of me to give. He gave me hope and blessed me to share it with others.

Since that day God has blessed me to share my story with thousands. I’m the author of several books—including the Zippy books. And every Christmas I have this amazing feeling to give. Not just money or gifts, but to share my time, heart, hardships, and faith with others.

So today only, December 26, 2014, I’d like to offer you the opportunity to download all of my e-books FREE. Each book shares a unique part of my life, but more importantly they show how God turned my heartaches into blessings.

Please go to my Facebook page for the links to the free books, and share the links with your family and friends as well.

Merry Christmas! May God bless you and your family!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Beautiful Life: Giving Up is Not an Option

Writing about the heartache always helps me, so please bear with me as I go through these challenges.

If we were to take all of my challenges and list them on paper, just looking at the facts without considering my determination and heart, then we would probably all conclude that I’m not able to work any longer. When we factor in all the time I spend getting chiropractic and osteopathic adjustments, exercising to relieve the pain, and time I spend hurting because of overuse then it just makes sense for me to stop. Rest. And focus on being well.

 In my mind, these suggestions make perfect sense to me. I hear the doctors, as they tell me over and over again to rest. I sigh and fight the tears every time they tell me I’ve traumatized an area of my body by working too much. At this point, quitting would seem the logical choice, but how does one do that?

As my body heals from not doing anything, what happens to my spirit and heart?

For ten months, I didn’t work. And that was the hardest ten months of my life. The part of me that hoped and dreamed started to die. I cried every single day. I didn’t have co-workers, accomplishments, interactions with people, or a sense of self-worth because I didn’t do anything—but rest.

My hands became so stiff that I could barely hold a coffee cup or even sign my name. I didn’t care about my appearance. Most days, I didn’t even get out of my pajamas. All I had to do was take my children to school and I struggled. The depression hurt far greater than the physical pain of overusing my body.

Fear overwhelmed me. I became so afraid of hurting myself that I tried to live inside a safe haven. Soon everything terrified me. My hope, faith, and strength diminished, and I felt so weak. I lived with the negative voice in my head, and it was hard for me to see anything positive.  

 Somewhere along the way, all of the negativity about my health had multiplied. I had stopped living and only existed. I don’t ever want to be in that shape again.

This is my life and I refuse to allow anyone or anything to take it from me. God has blessed me with a beautiful life. I have one of the greatest jobs in the world, and I refuse to give into the enemy.

So as I take a few weeks off from school visits and speaking engagements, I am praying that God will show me how to handle the next phase of my journey. I know He has a plan for me. We are not finished yet.

I may have to modify my life, but I won’t give up on it! I've worked too hard to give up now. After all, I'm the only one who can tell my story, and do the work He has purposed for me. Giving up is not an option for me!

Thank you for listening. May God bless you!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Daily Struggle: How to Love Ourselves through the Hardships

Perfection is an illusion. No one is perfect. We might give others the illusion that we live in a perfect world, with a perfect life, but that’s just not possible.

Struggles are part of our everyday life. In some form, we all face some type of hardship continually. Once we get over that hurdle, we barely get a moment to catch our breath before another one is in our way. I asked my daddy once, when does it get easier? His reply, “It doesn’t get easier. You get stronger, and learn to handle it better.”

When faced with a new situation, it is always hard because it seems so overwhelming. Our minds kick into overactive mode and make the situation seem worse than it actually is. One of my biggest obstacles is the feeling that I’m not good enough to do this job God gave me to do. I know that I’m qualified through Him and that He helps me, but still my mind lists all my faults and failures. Sometimes I still feel like that little girl who was looked down upon. The enemy plays on our weaknesses. And when someone verbally acknowledges one of my fears or weaknesses, the doubt in my mind intensifies.

The more I think about it and embrace the negative feelings, the louder my negative voice becomes. This is a process that I am still learning because new obstacles arise continually. While we can’t completely stop bad, negative thoughts from forming, we can overcome them.

First, I seek God. I need His wisdom and guidance to get me through every obstacle in my life. Prayer and meditation are equally important. When I pray, I ask Him to help me. During meditation, I am quiet and listen for His instructions. It took me a while to understand this because I like to do all the talking. Every once in a while, however, I need to listen for His voice. And read my Bible.  

Second, I try to think about my situation. Why am I upset or hurt? What am I afraid of? And I give myself permission to cry and be upset—if I need to be. Tears are cleansing and they help us get over the hurt. It’s not good to hold our emotions inside.

Next, I put it into perspective. God always helps me with this. When I’m ready to see the situation differently, as it should be, God opens my eyes.

Finally, I establish my positive mindset. Once my feet are set just right, the enemy cannot move me.

Speaking of mindset, I decided to try a new approach with my health. I’ve had chronic pain for years. It’s been debilitating at times. Usually, when I’m in that painful state, my mind focuses on the hurt. So instead of focusing on the pain, I decided to focus on my wellbeing and abilities.

Every morning I wake up and tell myself how blessed I am to be alive. Then, I get ready and go to the gym. I don’t discuss it with myself. It’s not a question of whether I feel like it or not. I just go.

During the day, as the pain starts creeping in, I reinforce my positive feelings about my health. And slowly, the pain eases. Pain I’ve dealt with my whole life. Since I’m not a doctor, I can’t explain why or how this happens, but I assure you it works. I can’t remember the last time I felt this great. It’s almost as if I’ve finally given myself permission to be well.

I’ve come to realize, the only limitations I have are the ones I give myself. If I work hard and put in the effort, God will bless my efforts.

What are some ways you cope with hardships? 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Embrace Your Uniqueness: We Are All Perfectly Imperfect

Stare and whispers have always been a part of my life. Sometimes, however, people even approach me and take their rudeness to whole new level. Strangers have actually come up to me, without smiling or even introducing themselves, and asked me about my scars. People have yelled at me, grabbed my hands, and told me repeatedly to remove the band on my arm. If only it was that easy.

It took me most of my life to learn how to overcome the rudeness of others. After an incident, I would always feel bad for a few days and even withdraw from my life. Then I would have to restart the process of convincing myself that I wasn’t broken, or a monster all over again.

Now after an encounter, I brush it off quickly. I have learned to just bless their heart. They are the ones with the problem—not me. But I also want to educate others on how to treat me. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Regardless of their ugly behavior, I will not allow them to make me act ugly as well.  

It took me a long time to understand that when someone treats me badly it reveals their flaws, not mine. I already know that I’m not perfect. And I accept that. I also recognize that not everyone will like me. We cannot make other people love or accept us. However, if we love ourselves no one else’s opinion will matter. Just be you!

Once I accepted my imperfections, my scars transformed. They were no longer shameful or ugly. But God blessed me to see them for what they really are. Each one represents my gift of life. When I look at them I can see the attacks on my body, and how close I came to death.

In that moment, I decided to own my scars. I no longer hide them or try to pray them away. God gave them to me for a reason and they have helped me discover my purpose. Part of that purpose is for me to help others see their beauty as well and learn to embrace their life—scars and imperfections.

Recently, I had someone approach me at an event and tell me that my scars were no big deal to anyone around me because I didn’t make a big deal out of them. When we accept and embrace our differences, other people will, too.

And another thing, I’ve stopped looking for those stares. I smile and hold my head up. After all, I have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. And if I notice someone staring, I give them my best smile and a little glimpse of the woman underneath the scars. I’ve had people to tell me that when I smile they can see God in me. How amazing is that?

How do embrace your uniqueness? 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

It’s Not Just About Me: Live By Serving Others

Love is a universal language. When we embrace kindness and extend it to our fellow man, it speaks to our hearts and lifts our spirits, but only if we give— without expecting anything in return. If we constantly take, however, and have impossible expectations of others, we lose focus on the amazing gift of love.

Suddenly, our happiness consumes everything! We become self-centered and selfish. In that mindset, we only think about ourselves. Friendship, parenthood, marriage, our career, and relationship with God are obscured by our thoughts and desires for our life.

If we shift the focus, however, to the well-being of others, we invite the joy of true happiness into our lives. When I stop thinking about me, then I’m able to center my life in my Lord. By seeking Him, my life has purpose. It stops being just about me. God did not create me for my own glory and honor. He formed me from my mother’s womb to serve Him.

We should never make ourselves greater than what we are. I’m nothing! I don’t deserve any honor or glory. The only thing I have to glory in is my Lord and His goodness. Everything else is meaningless.

When we stop to think about it, we are the most selfish with our time.

In the days past, people helped one another. Our ancestors didn’t just think about their children, but they watched out for their neighbors children as well. People didn’t stay home on Sunday mornings and serve God from their homes, but they went to church. They were there to do their part and to give their part to the Lord.

My goal is to work on being more selfless.

Jesus gave us the greatest example of selflessness and true love. He stood in front of me and took my punishment on the cross. His life became the ransom for my sins. It was not His sins that condemned Him, but ours. He could have called for angels to rescue Him, but He was thinking of us.

I desire to be more like my Lord.

I want to live everyday inspired! Wake up each morning with purpose and live as if my life is valued. After all, God paid a mighty price for me. Complaining about our heartaches and always being in a bad mood is a dishonor to our God. When I think about His grace and mercy for my life every single day, I realize there is absolutely nothing to complain about. Sometimes we have a tough day because we make bad choices, and make our life just about us. Things don’t always go our way, but we have to be willing to adjust and modify accordingly.

Every day I tell myself: It’s not just about you!

If we’re not careful we will put our blessings into the same category as our heartaches and whine when we should be praising God. Instead of always dwelling on my problems or praying for myself, I’ve learned to pray for others. Every once in awhile God gives me a glimpse of their struggles and I realize mine are small in comparison.

Once I was crying at work because my rib was out of place and I struggled to breathe. I was having a pity-party. Then a patient on oxygen opened the door and truly labored to breathe. Right then my self-pity turned to compassion, and I forgot about my own problems as I helped him. Without my own struggles, I wouldn’t have been as compassionate. Helping others is the greatest feeling. After all, how we treat others is how we treat God!

Praying is wonderful, but sometimes we need to be silent so we can hear God’s voice.  Listening for His guidance and instructions comforts me and makes life easier. Often times we need to ponder our situation and put it in perspective. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems!

Once upon a time, I hate going to the grocery store. I whined about it and let it ruin my whole day. Then one day it occurred to me that every time I walk through the doors, with enough money to buy food for my children, I am blessed. The attitude of gratitude is absolutely wonderful.

Finally, I’m thankful God has patience with me, and that He doesn’t always give me what I ask for. This may seem strange, but I’ve asked Him for ridiculous things and gotten upset with Him when my prayer wasn’t answered.

Remember my nightly prayers as a child for God to heal my scars? All I wanted was to be unscarred and God gave me more than I dreamed possible. He gave me the gift of helping others! I am truly the happiest when I am serving others!

May God bless you!


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Praise Report: How My Body Healed

Last year, around this time, I was in complete misery. My long list of symptoms was overwhelming; leaving me broken and defeated. Even though I tried to embrace positivity, my hope diminished—I never thought I’d be well again. The constant sickness combined with pain made it hard for me to function. Negative comments about my health affected me, and I started believing the worst. 

Even in the depths of my misery, God encouraged me. As with every part of my life, He gave me a choice: 1) Fight for my life or 2) Give up

The road to recovery was not easy. I had to give up things I loved, but at the end of the day my love for my life and my family was greater. So I stopped drinking diet soda. It just so happens that I’m allergic to the aspartame used to sweeten it. Gluten was next on my list. The products containing gluten are astounding. As if that weren’t enough, I had to limit my dairy consumption.

At first I lost weight and it seemed so overwhelming. I was always hungry and unsatisfied with my food. Eating became a chore and I was sad about all the foods I couldn’t eat. But a different mindset helped me to overcome the negativity. It stopped being about limitations and more about the foods rich in antioxidants that would heal my body. With every bite I asked myself, “Is this harmful or helpful to you?”

Once I got over the initial shock of never eating another Krispy Kreme doughnut, I found alternatives to my favorite foods. After all, it’s only food! Once I established a good attitude, I started contradicting all my self-limiting thoughts.

My thoughts soon began to make a difference in how I felt. If I embraced any smidgen of sympathy my hardships multiplied, but if I stopped them immediately they didn’t affect me. Paying attention to when my symptoms occurred also helped me. I soon discovered that certain exercises made my numbness worse, while others helped. Tears mixed with sweat are a powerful combination.

Still I couldn’t get to the place of total wellness that I desired. Therefore I started reading books about healing, and using programs for total relaxation of the body and mind. My favorite is the Healing App from Andrew Johnson on the iPhone. It helped me to visualize and focus on healing. We will never be well as long as our mind believes we are sick.

Once I started making improvements, I began pushing myself harder physically. I began running, doing yoga and PiYo, and embraced the feeling of overcoming my limitations. Repeating positive affirmations really made a difference in my recovery. We can always do more than our minds believe. One moment of success can triumph a thousand moments of failure.

Negative voice: My body is broken and weak. I can’t do this. All of my muscles ache. Every time I exercise some part of my body dislocates. The pain is not worth it.

Positive voice: You’re strong! You can do this. Your body hurts because you are changing it physically. Pain is only weakness leaving your body. You have to strengthen the weak parts, so they can be strong as well. You are healthy!     
Looking at my situation with a new perspective helped me tremendously. For the first time in my life, I feel that I am well!!! I’m no longer afraid of what may happen or my aches and pains. Now I embrace my aches and pains and know with certainty that the pain means I pushed my body. Giving up is not an option for me.

Instead, every day I tell myself that I’m well, healthy, and strong. And it works!

Reading my Bible, praying daily and listening for God’s instructions for my life has made all the difference in the world. Spiritual strength is more important than physical strength.  It has given me courage, increased my faith, revived my weak and weary spirit, and taught me how to overcome my enemy.

Last month I went to the doctor and they couldn’t find any arthritis, inflammation, or autoimmune disorders in the tests they did. Praise the Lord!!!! They still want to order more tests, but I’m healed. My long lists of symptoms are gone. I still have issues with overusing my hands and alignment issues from Amniotic Band Syndrome, but I’m learning to overcome them as well.

Now I know with complete certainty that a healthy diet, the right exercise program, God’s word, and a positive attitude make a HUGE difference.  Every day I am so incredibly thankful for my health, and I praise God with my workouts. I know what it feels like to lie in the bed, unable to move my legs without pain—trying to walk with my legs shaking uncontrollably. I’ve lay in the floor after a fall and cried, but I’ve also wiped my eyes and forced myself to stand again. I’ve cried many days during my workouts, but I have finished them. And now I know what it feels like to be well. I’ve had some pain free days and I’m so incredibly thankful for them. God wants us to do everything in our power to help our bodies, and trust Him to do the rest.

Would you like to know more about the diet, exercise program, or healing programs I used? Comment below or send me a message at

God bless,


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Exclusive Blog from Tony Memmel: All about his New Music and Exciting Contest with VH1

Watch Now! The "Zippy's Club" play theme song video, "The Best That You Can Be." 
Dear readers,
I recently had the pleasure of working alongside Candida, her family, and her friends during the stage production of "Zippy's Club." I wrote the theme song "The Best That You Can Be," and lead the cast and audience in singing to close each performance. Candida's spirit and kindness inspire me and I am grateful that she has asked me to contribute a few thoughts to her blog today.
I was born missing my left forearm and hand. As a teenager, I taught myself to play guitar by building a homemade cast out of Gorilla Tape (duct tape) and securing a guitar pick to my arm.
My recent big news is that I have been chosen by VH1 and Republic Records as a semi-finalist in the "You Oughtta Know" presents "Make a Band Famous" competition. Out of 2,700+ entries, I have been narrowed into the top 60.
The top 60 includes a voting portion of the competition. Fans, friends, and people I've never met before, are now casting votes in mass via Twitter (by simply including #tonymemmel #mabf in their Twitter tweets), and we have been on the leader board since last week!
A unique culture is existing on Twitter, at the moment. It's like nothing I've ever seen. People from different states, age groups, and backgrounds nationwide are chiming in and tweeting with real fervor.
Even a few celebrities have voiced support; Jim Abbott (former Major League Baseball player), Suzanne Vega (musician), and Bradley Pierce (the voice of Chip in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," and the little boy in "Jumanji.").
I'm humbled.
I feel deep responsibility and gratitude toward those who are casting votes on my behalf, and I hope to compete in the finals on their behalf in New York City, in June... I want to do my best for them.
Regardless of the outcome, I will continue to write, record, and release music because that's the core of what it's all really about for me.
I moved to Nashville six months ago, and there is a saying here, "It all starts with a song." What I take from that is: If you create good work, study and develop your craft, and always do your best in your own respective profession, the world will benefit... Which brings us full circle back to today's new music release - always be "the best that you can be."
A big thank you to Candida and to all of my #tonymemmel #mabf friends!
Tony Memmel

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Zippy’s Club: How to Overcome Bullying with Kindness

Last year, I lay in my bed and cried about the events happening in my life. I could barely walk, every single day was challenging and filled with so much pain, and to make matters worse my son was being bullied. My life seemed so hopeless and I felt completely helpless.

However, one night, God restored my hope tenfold. He gave me a little glimpse of a new Zippy book, and the desire to discuss the challenging topic of bullying. And then He gave me the courage to write the book. 

Every single day, a child somewhere gets bullied. It’s heartbreaking to be teased and treated so badly. As adults we need to do something. As a society, we have turned our heads long enough. We might not be able to stop the bad behavior totally, but we can teach children how to overcome the hardships and negativity of bullying. If we stand united and teach these children how to treat others, about self-worth, positivity, and to not allow anyone to steal their smile, then we can make a big difference in many lives.  

Being bullied was devastating for my son and me. Every day I sat on the sidelines and watched it happened. Yes, I wanted to rush to his defense and help him. But screaming at the kids and talking down to them would have only intensified the situation. Sometimes we need to “kill them with kindness” as the old saying goes.

So I began to write the book, and coach my son on how to handle his problem. Honestly, there were a few times when I wanted to tell him just to punch them. But I didn’t want the kids who were acting so ugly to rub off on my child. Furthermore, I continued instructing him to use kindness as his weapon. I also praised his efforts and assured him that their bad behavior was in no way a reflection of him. Every day I gave him positive affirmations that would help him become a stronger person, and prayed for guidance on how to help him.

In order to raise accountability a pledge was designed. And Zippy’s Club was born. Not only did it help my child learn to overcome his hardships, but it helped me to realize once again that we can overcome evil with good.

ZIPPY’S CLUB invites kids to be part of the anti-bullying team. It teaches them how to overcome bullying with kindness and to celebrate one another’s differences. The book includes a section from a nationally certified counselor to help initiate conversations with kids about bullying, as well as a letter from Candida telling her personal story. In Zippy’s Club, Candida shares that while we can’t control how others treat us, we can decide how we act toward them. Both she and Zippy encourage us to be the type of people who lifts others up, instead of knocking them down. 

Before the book was even released or finished, the Middlesborough Little Theatre approached me about turning the book into a play. Amy Simpson adapted my book, Zippy’s Club, into a play. Since no children’s play would be complete without music, Amy wrote five wonderful songs for the play that the children sing. My friend, Tony Memmel, not only wrote Zippy a theme song "The Best That You Can Be", but he traveled from Nashville and is performing it LIVE at every performance. 

Tony Memmel is a songwriter and performer with unique charisma and creativity. He was born missing his left forearm and taught himself to play the guitar, piano, and harmonica. He’s been featured in the Associated Press, Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune, was selected as a Grand-Prize winner in a Counting Crows cover contest by The Counting Crows themselves, and was recently honored to take first place in a prestigious singer-songwriter competition, in Boston. Discover more about Tony and see his performance schedule at

Over 30 children are in the Zippy’s Club Play and each one brings something unique and special to the play, and touches my heart in a beautiful way. They have me laughing one minute and crying the next. Their hard work and dedication to make the world a better place is inspiring.

I hope you will come out tonight and see what the fuss is all about. They’ll have you laughing, singing, reciting the pledge, and desiring to make your own difference. Putting a stop to bullying and teaching children to celebrate their differences is not something I can do on my own. It takes a group effort from us all. Let’s not wait until tragedy strikes our community to get concerned.

Friends, I have looked into the coffin of lifeless child who ended her own life because of bullying. That day I decided to put my own fears and hardships aside and dedicate my life to serving God and helping others. Please join me!!

The Zippy’s Club Play is tonight at 7:30 p.m. and tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. at the Middlesboro Central Auditorium—between the middle and high school. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Beautiful Life

Last week I had something shake my world. It was so heartbreaking that I couldn’t even talk about it. Through my tears and prayers, God blessed me to open my eyes and heart and consider a different perspective.

With the advancement in medical technology, limb differences or other conditions are often discovered before birth. Doctors offer abortion as an option for limb different children, and some parents choose that option. When I heard this, I became so upset. Reflecting on my own life and scars made the situation personal to me.

While I realize the experience I’m about to share is not the same, I’d like to share it anyway because of the lessons learned.

A few years ago, my family and I welcomed a kitten into our home. We all instantly fell in love with Rex. He captivated us with his loving nature. And then one day, something horrible happened. He started having seizures. We immediately took him to his doctor and received medication to help him. It worked for a while, but the seizures intensified. When they occurred, I cowardly left my husband to deal with them. One night, however, Rex was so bad that we didn’t think he would survive. The seizures happened one after another. My family was asleep and I sat with him. I started to leave him, but then I remembered what my daddy had always told me. “Be there for people when they need you.” Rex needed me. So I knelt by his side, petted him, and talked him through it.

He survived the violent attacks, but his body was so weak. We had to feed him with a syringe. He couldn’t walk and was dazed by it all. One day I walked into the room and found him lying in his litter box with his eyes closed. So I began to talk to him. It looked as if he had decided to give up. I begged and pleaded for him to get up and fight his way back to me. And he did. It took him several attempts to get up, but he managed. Then he staggered out of the box and went to his food and ate a few bites. He showed me another degree of strength.

The worst, however, was not over. Once he regained his awareness, he didn’t remember us and attacked us. He growled and hissed when we walked by him. We were advised to have him put down. And I remembered how hard he fought to live. How could I possibly take the life that fought so hard to live? When we refused that option, he was given a new medication that helped him. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.

He survived the trauma, but not without scars. Sometimes we are blessed with scars to remind us of the trauma we survived. For Rex, it is brain damage. He doesn’t want us to pet him, nor play very often. He only eats a certain food, and usually hides or stares into the distance. But every once in awhile, it’s as if he remembers us and allows us to love him. For us that’s enough. He is safe and well. And we love him unconditionally.
My kids wanted him to have a Zippy book so he could learn to celebrate his difference. 

He is not normal, nor will he ever be. Nevertheless, I can’t hate him or turn my back on him because he’s different. He can’t help what happened to him. The doctors couldn’t explain the reason. Sometimes God gives us a miracle to remind us of His greatness. Whether it’s a kitten with brain damage or someone with limb differences, God uses them to teach us. 

All of my limbs are affected. The Amniotic Bands attacked me in my mom’s womb. I have the scars to remind me of the trauma. For whatever reason, God blessed me to survive. He knew my struggles would be many, and yet He blessed me with the beautiful gift of life.

Every day, I’m so grateful for His mercy.

No one willingly chooses hardships. We all want the easy button. As a little girl, I prayed every single night for new hands and a life without scars.  That wasn’t God’s purpose for me. His plan for me and my life was so much greater than to simply be unscarred.

While this might not be the life I wanted for myself, it is better than I could have ever imagined. Through my hardships, I have learned how to live—not just exist. My personal experiences have touched others and inspired so many people—with and without limb differences.

My life is not just about me! I’m perfectly imperfect. If given the choice, I would keep my scars and all of the hardships they bring me every day because my suffering cannot be compared to my joy.  

At the end of the day, I’m so thankful for my beautiful life. My husband of 16 years adores me and spoils me rotten, and my children brighten my life. Not only do I get to write children’s books about celebrating our differences, but I get to share them with children and help them along their journey. People from all over the world have befriended me. And my family loves me unconditionally. As I go through my life, I can’t find anything that is missing. Each and every part is filled with tremendous love. Is there anything greater than love? 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Independence: The Beauty of Finding Your Own Way

Asking for help is one of the hardest things for me to do. Regardless of my struggle, I believe that I can do it. It’s a natural reaction for me, and I don’t even pause to consider if I actually need help or not. Throughout my life, I have always been able to find a modification for everything.

Once, as a baby, I insisted on feeding myself with only one finger on my left hand because my right arm was in a sling. It took me longer to eat, but I managed it. My mom was both aggravated and proud. But she is the one who always told me, “You can do anything, Candida. Find your own way!”

And I loved discovering my inner strength and accomplishing the complicated. Having someone do the difficult tasks for me would have hindered me. Always waiting for others to help me would become a limitation, disadvantage, handicap, and ultimately cause me to become a burden to others.

All of the things, I never want to become.

Independent and strong is the type of person that beckons to me. When we constantly rely on others, we put our dreams and life in their hands. Accepting help on occasion, however, is not a bad thing.

At the grocery store a few days ago, something fell off my cart in the parking lot and became lodged under the tire. The cart inclined and I struggled to hold it with one hand and pick up the item. A kind woman stopped and picked it up for me. I was thankful for her help, but I’m sure if she would have asked me first that I would have refused her help. Not intentionally, just automatically. Eventually, I would have figured out how to do it myself because that’s the way I’m programmed.

When someone offers kindness we should accept and acknowledge it for what it is. Nevertheless, we should still do the things we can do, and always give more than we take. Otherwise we come to expect kindness without appreciating it. And unintentionally take advantage of people.

Just like with God. He wants us to ask Him for help, but He also expects us to do the things we can do for ourselves. We can’t just quit our job and expect God to provide our needs. Or stop seeking Him and expect Him to bless our lives abundantly. Accountability for our own lives is important, and so many people these days expect others to care for them.

I’m truly thankful for my stubbornness, strength and independence. It enables me to grow and prosper into the person God created me to be. Relying on others, doesn’t force me out of my comfort zone or challenge me in any way. We need to learn how to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, and embrace the curve balls of life. The more I struggle to do things for myself, the more I am able to accomplish; which, in turn, boosts my confidence and helps me with future trials.

Just so we are clear, my family helps me tremendously. We all take turns with the chores and responsibilities, but I never use my challenges as a way to get out of certain tasks. Even when I had a really hard time walking a few months ago, I wouldn’t allow my family to cater my needs or for my husband to carry me. That would have been the easier option for me, but I knew, in my heart, if they made it easy for me to stay in bed that I may never walk again.

While there is no shame in asking for help when needed, I also believe that every once in a while we should help ourselves. So I’m going to continue embracing my independence.

What do you all think?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Struggle: How to Overcome the Impossible

Tuesday, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to cry or go back to bed. My body ached and I couldn’t seem to get past the misery. I moped around and finally drug myself to gym—expecting my workout to lift my spirits. My experience, however, was not what I hoped for.

My body felt heavy and uncooperative. Ignoring all negativity, I decided to run. It was hard, okay brutal. My rib hurt, a blister developed on my foot after the first mile, and my legs were heavy. Being the stubborn person that I am, I refused to give up—even when my legs felt numb. So I pushed beyond my limits.

And then the treadmill just stopped. I was furious. It was like the machine knew that I didn’t have enough sense to step off, so it just quit. Instead of stretching and leaving, I went to the elliptical for a few miles. Every movement hurt and I realized after two miles that I couldn’t do it. I tried to dig deep, but I had nothing left to give. Defeated, I grabbed my things and left.

At the time, I couldn’t see that I had still managed three miles with numbness and tingling in my feet and legs. Then I remembered my daddy’s words of wisdom, “You’re doing better than what you think”.

Instead of feeling better though, I dwelled on what I couldn’t do. And I believed what I had always assumed and been told.

Running was impossible for me—especially with a twisted pelvis and a foot affected by Amniotic Band Syndrome.

It was so hard for me to accept my limitations. But I tried. I even attempted to forgive my body for not being able to do something I truly wanted to do. Who am I kidding? It hurt. And I don’t like the disability card. Ever!

So I went back for one more attempt on Thursday. And I decided to try a new approach. When I set the treadmill to run the 5k, I began with a smile and praise for my Lord. As my feet pounded, I thanked God for every step, and for letting me not only walk that day, but for the ability to run. I prayed for all of those who are not able to walk and run, those fighting for their lives, and those who have heartaches and troubles.

When I reached the part where my whole body ached, I put one foot in front of the other and smiled at my reflection. I was only a mile into my run, when the screen showed that my course would get harder. For a moment, I wanted to stop. Step off the machine and agree with the doctors and the negative voice in my head—that I couldn’t run.

Then I realized it is during the most challenging times in our lives that we learn how to overcome. My legs were still moving. It was my mind that wanted to give up. So I focused on how it would feel to complete my course. And I’ll be quite honest, I imagined every time my foot came down that I was stopping on the devil, who threatened to steal my hopes and dreams.

With my heart and spirit, I finished my first 5k program. It took me 40 minutes to do my impossible.  I can do anything with God on my side.

While my aches and pains prove that I fought the battle, I also have the victory written in my heart. And that victory will remind me on the tough days to keep my eyes on my Lord.

Last year when walking was difficult for me, I lay in my bed and peddled an exercise bike that sat on my bed. When my feet were numb and painful, I pushed with my heart and the determination that I would get better.

The enemy will take our lives if we allow it. We need to fight with every ounce of strength we can manage. Every day we are in the biggest battle of our lives, and we get to decide what kind of solider we want to be. I want to fight a good fight. If we give up every time our course gets tough then we will never reach our full potential.

We have no idea what we are capable of until we try.  I have no limits, only possibilities waiting to be conquered.

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra