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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Are you growing or dying?

Have you ever had a period where you just existed in the world but didn't really live? 

I went through this a decade ago. It was the most challenging time of my life. I wasn't able to work. I lay in bed most days and cried all day. I read books to distract me from the emotional and physical pain.

All I had to do during that period was get up and take my kids to school, yet I struggled. My life felt so hopeless that I didn't want to face it. So I lay in bed as long as I could. Then, when I finally got up and got my kids ready for school, I returned home and crawled into bed. Usually, I cried myself back to sleep.

Now I realize I was depressed because I had no hope for my future. It broke my spirit when my doctors told me I would never get better, only worse. It was the darkest period in my life because I had just accepted my diagnosis and didn't even try to overcome it.

I became so fearful. 

It was hard to leave my house to go to church. I felt as if something terrible was always about to happen. I took three nerve pills daily and still had anxiety attacks. I remember the fear as I struggled to breathe, feeling as if I was going to die.

In some ways, I was dying a little each day. I've learned that we are either growing or dying every day. There is no in-between. My spirit was dying because it didn't have any hope. I couldn't look beyond my circumstances and see a way to overcome them.

Then, God blessed me to start imagining the life I wanted to live. As I fell asleep each night, I imagined holding my books in my hands with children around me. In my dreams, I was healthy—without chronic pain. Seeing the visions of the life I wanted to live helped me get out of bed.

Sometimes all it takes is one step in the right direction. 

I started excising every day. The first few times, I cried through my workouts. Oh, how I wanted to stop and climb back into the safety of my bed. But I persevered and fought for the life I wanted to live.

God made way for me to overcome my circumstances. 

Instead of accepting my fate, I prayed. Each night I started going out onto my deck and talking to the Lord. I told Him of my hopes and dreams. And He heard me. With each challenge, He increased my faith.

During that time, I learned that when hardships come upon us, we can lay down and give up or fight for the life we want. God can make a way where there is no way. He can help us with our every hardship. And He can take our problems and use them to help others.

When I look at where I was and how He delivered me out of my pain, I am so incredibly grateful. God is a way-maker. He is our strength when we are weak. There is nothing beyond His reach. God can help us with all things. We need to ask Him to help us and believe that He will.

Monday, January 16, 2023

How do you know God is real?

I’ve had an experience with God. His soul has met mine. When He introduces Himself, it is not something we will ever forget. I remember where I was sitting the first time I heard the gospel and how it made me feel. I didn’t have to ask anyone else who was speaking to me. I felt the power in His presence. And I knew in my heart that He had just presented me the truth of His word. While I didn’t understand everything, I believed in Him and wanted the salvation He offered me. The moment I accepted Him in my heart, my burden was gone. I felt peace, love, and joy like I had never felt before.

Since that day, I have had numerous experiences with Him. When I was younger and out doing things I shouldn’t have been doing, He would warn me of the dangers. I would hear His voice whenever I started to do something I knew I shouldn’t do. My heart would pound and burn within, and I knew it was His presence.

Have you ever been so troubled that someone spoke the words you needed to hear? That is God. He knows what we need. He is the power behind the words.

Have you ever asked God for something and then forgot about your prayer, but He answered it anyway? That is God. I love it when He answers my prayers and then takes me back to where I prayed for them.

Have you ever had a desire in your heart that you didn’t speak out loud, yet it was given to you? That is God. He is the only One who knows the desires of your heart.

Have you ever been sitting in church and the preacher spoke your thoughts? That is God. He knows what we are thinking.

I tried for seven years to get my books published and got rejected many times. Then, God sent the publisher to me. That is God.

Photo by Cayden Sullivan

I prayed for years as a child that God would heal my hands. He used a fall to get me to a hand surgeon, who made me a thumb. Even though the amniotic bands damaged my nerves, my thumb still moves and works for me. That is God.

I cried over my scars for years and tried to pray them away. Instead of taking away my scars, God just changed my thoughts about them. He gave me a new way to look at them that changed my life. That is God.

I could write for days and never tell you all my experiences with Him. My belief in God comes from experiences with Him, not what someone else told me I should believe. He spoke to my soul, and my soul answered Him. 

Believing in God is personal. No one else can do it for us. I have NEVER regretted giving my heart to Him. It is a gift that keeps on giving. His mercies are new each morning. His love is unexplainable. The moment I opened my heart and asked Him to save me, He did. And He flooded my heart with so much love. His love helps me to love everyone. I want everyone in the world to know God and to feel His amazing love for themselves.

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, January 13, 2023

Being aware of my choices

Submerged in my prison's depths of pain and dissatisfaction, I forgot that I could open the door and set myself free by making better choices. 

I've been with Eve and the serpent many times in the garden. Whenever I choose between good and evil, I decide whether to help or harm me. And most of the time, the choices feel as small and insignificant as eating an apple, but the impact can be devastating, especially if we choose the wrong things daily. 

Anytime we choose the enemy over the Lord, we harm ourselves in some way. The hurt may not show up immediately, but it compounds over time. It's hard to be in tremendous pain and realize it is a self-punishment for my actions.  

I have so many examples of this in my life. Some of them are so small that I overlook their importance. But I follow the enemy every time I do the opposite of what I know I should do. 

Satan is the one who steals our time. He is the one who beckons for me to sleep and skip my Bible reading time, skip my workout, my writing time, or eat foods that harm my body. The enemy wants us to watch over people's lives so much that we become jealous, discouraged, lazy, unmotivated, and unproductive. And then he wants us to claim that we are happy. 

I can see his work in my life when I read my Facebook memories. Some of my older posts were so negative. I was in total misery and pretending to enjoy it. 

Journaling has helped me to see what I'm thinking and be honest with myself. Sometimes pulling those negative thoughts out of my mind and putting them on paper is all I need to see and recognize the enemy. Once I am aware of him, I can make a better choice. 

Every day I need to ask God to help me see Satan and defeat him. 

Drifting through our days and barely getting by doesn't require much effort nor yield great results. It is like treading water and barely keeping our heads above the water. In that state, I don't have any accomplishments to feel good about, so I seek that feeling somewhere else. 

Shopping, eating junk food, scrolling social media, watching TV, or reading helps me. It gives me a sense of false pleasure. But it doesn't last long, so I need something else to help. That's why it's so easy to scroll one more time, eat one more thing, read one more page, watch a few more minutes, etc. 

However, the pleasure I get from working out, reading my Bible, creating content, walking, or writing is much better. It lasts longer and doesn't make me feel bad afterward. It fills me up instead of making me feel empty. 

When we don't spend time with the Lord, aligned with His purpose for us, we feel an emptiness that nothing else can fill. Trust me I've been trying to fill it the last few years with snacks and social media. I should have realized something was wrong when my thoughts centered around food and social media. But I didn't. 

I continued on the path of unfulfillment and self-sabotage for years because I didn't want to work hard and be uncomfortable. It was easier to lie to myself than it was for me to be honest and open my eyes to the truth. 

Today, I am so thankful for new beginnings. I'm grateful that God helped me to turn it all around. While I still do these things sometimes, now I know why I am doing them. There's a difference between using them occasionally to enhance our day and using them to avoid our day and our lives. 

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Have a beautiful day!


Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Twenty years of writing, growing, and overcoming

It's been 20 years since I started writing. The tears stung my eyes as I typed that sentence. Oh, what a journey it has been with my Lord. When we started this process, I didn't know my reality of it all would be better than my dreams.

Yesterday, I had a photoshoot with my books. My son used his gift of photography to capture my gift of writing. As I looked at the pictures, I cried. When he was born, something inside of me changed. I wanted to be more and do more for him. I wanted to be a mom with a career he would one day be proud of. He was the reason I started searching for my purpose. 

My son, Cayden Sullivan
Photo by Samantha Blondell

It hit me as I sat there with my books and my son taking my pictures for a magazine to showcase me as an author. I did it!

Photo by Cayden Sullivan

When I started, I didn't know it would take 20 years to discover my true passion for writing and fully see my purpose. But I can see it now. 

I'm tired of fighting it and unintentionally sabotaging myself. I'm tired of playing small and believing the enemy as he tells me I'm not good enough to do this work. 

I am the perfect person to do this work. Why? Because God chose me. That's the only qualification I need. 

During this process, God has given me so many unexpected gifts. 

I love reading my Zippy books to kids. I love sharing my personal story with them and letting them share with me. I love encouraging them to be kind and to dream big. School visits are my favorite days. Even though I saw it in my dreams so many times, nothing prepared me for the gift of being there and experiencing it.

It's so special to connect with another person. My vulnerability with my scars and sharing my emotions have blessed me to connect with so many people. When our eyes connect and, for a moment, we understand each other's pain, it is such a special moment. It lets us both know that we are not alone. Underneath the scars and flesh, we are all the same. 

For so many years, the enemy isolated me and made me feel as if I was unworthy of love and friendship. But through my writing and speaking, God showed me that we all sometimes feel that way. We all have scars, heartaches, fears, insecurities, and trouble feeling good enough. 

While I've made money, received five-star reviews, and had my story featured in TV interviews, radio, newspapers, and magazines worldwide. My books hit the best sellers list on Amazon, and one of my books even won an award. Nothing, however, compares to helping someone who is in pain. 

I still remember the boy who hugged me and told me he was suicidal, but my story gave him the hope to keep going. That's why I do it all. I've been there. I've been in so much pain that I didn't know how to break free. God showed me the way. Now I want to spend the rest of my life helping others learn how to overcome their pain. 

Thank you, sweet friends, for reading my blogs, buying my books, and supporting me fully. You will never know how much your support means to me. 

I'm so thankful for every word I've written in the last 20 years and for the hands that have typed them. Each word has brought me closer to the person I want to become. 

Photo by Cayden Sullivan

Good things are on the horizon. I can feel it. 

Have a wonderful day! 

Monday, January 9, 2023

Opening my eyes to the truth

One of the things I have enjoyed most about this challenge is the sunsets. I've witnessed it many times, yet it still mesmerizes me. Most times, I walk while the sun dips beyond the mountains. 

God created it all for our benefit. So many times, however, I overlook His creation. I get so absorbed in the things that man has made that I fail to enjoy what God has created.

How often have I been thinking about my problems or listening to the radio and never even glanced into the sky? How many times have I wasted my day trying to live in the past or the future? How many masterpieces has God created that I never even noticed?

In the present moment, I can find peace. When I am fully present, seeking God with my whole heart, I can see Him. The wonder of Him is all around us. Most of the time, I am just too busy to notice.

Lately, I have been working on being present. I love it when I can be fully present at the moment. I love it when I can quiet my mind so that I can hear the still, small voice of my Lord. The more I seek Him, the more He speaks to me. When I'm having a conversation with someone, I want to give them my full attention. When reading my Bible, I want to concentrate and try to understand it. Instead of living on autopilot, I want to enjoy my life.

I wash my hands numerous times each day, but I can't even tell you the smell of the soap because I am just going through the motions without paying attention. But I want to start paying attention to the small details of life. I want to take time to enjoy my coffee—instead of rushing through it. Sometimes I finish my cup without even realizing it because I am distracted. Then, I felt disappointed because I didn't enjoy it.

I don't want to finish my course one day and realize that I rushed through my life but never fully lived it. I want to slow down and allow God to show me how to live.

We don't change what we don't acknowledge and measure. 

Regardless of how fast I walk or run, the 45-minute workout doesn't go any quicker. It's still 45 minutes. Knowing this has blessed me with the gift of slowing down and being present. That has been one of the benefits of the challenge. 

When I slip into the stillness each day, it helps me to see my problem areas so I can work on them. There's something profound about being in cold, rainy, windy conditions that cause me to reflect on my life and where I am. Being in the elements with the Lord helps me see things I wouldn't have seen before. 

God loves a sincere heart. It's an honest moment, and it makes me feel vulnerable. However, in the vulnerability, I can make changes. I must acknowledge where I am before deciding where I want to go. 

One of the most difficult parts of this challenge has been getting to know me on a deeper level. Going through hardships introduces us to ourselves. God knows right where we are. He sees through our facades. While we might be able to impress others, God sees what is in our hearts. And amid the battle, we also see beyond our pretenses. 

It breaks my heart how many times I have settled for heartache and tried to convince myself that's what I wanted. The enemy will try to starve us to death and have us pretend that we are full. 

The only way to break the stronghold is to follow the Lord and let Him open our eyes. It's an excruciating process. Some things are so hard to see, sweet friends. But the wider I open my eyes to the truth, the closer I get to God. 

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, January 6, 2023

Choosing my thoughts

Yesterday, as I put on my shoes and went for my daily walk, I struggled. My left hip, leg, and foot were hurting. And the last thing I wanted to do was walk for 45 minutes. To say I am over the 75 hard challenge is an understatement. After doing the challenge for 57 days, I have proven to myself that I can do it. So now it's just a matter of showing up and doing it. But I really didn't want to do it. 

With a frown on my face and ugly thoughts in my mind, I started my walk. Each time the cold wind blew in my face, I wanted to scream. I knew if I continued with my bad attitude, my walk wouldn't benefit me, so I decided to change my thoughts. 

We don't have to feel like doing something to be able to do it. I decided to do this challenge, and I will finish it. God put this on my heart for a reason, and instead of hating every minute of this walk, I will embrace it and be grateful.

As I started searching for things to be grateful for, more things came to mind. I recapped my journey. I worked out at midnight, in the rain, snow, and 6-degree weather, and even while a goat chased me. I've laughed, prayed, cried, and been inspired on my walks. During this challenge, I received the idea for my new book and clarity for my life's work. 

The enemy wants to steal what God has purposed just for us. He will cause us to be sad over our blessings. Doing this challenge with the Lord is a blessing to me. And every single day, He has blessed me with exactly what I need to be able to do it. 

The circumstance didn't change. I still walked for 45 minutes. But my attitude and mindset changed considerably. 

We can't help having negative thoughts. After all, we are only human. But we get to decide if we want to stay in the negative thought pattern and cause ourselves misery. 

I was making my walk more challenging than it needed to be because of my attitude about it all. I resisted it and caused myself unnecessary pain. But my feelings changed when I embraced the challenge and changed my thoughts. The walk went from a burden to a blessing. 

Throughout our day, we can do this as well. If we have a thought causing pain in our lives, we can decide to change it and choose a better thought. The circumstance won't change, but our reaction to it will change. 

We give the enemy so much power by choosing to embrace negative thoughts. We believe that since it is true, we must stay in pain. But we have the beautiful gift of deciding to break free at any moment. No one can make us believe anything but us. We can dismiss the hurtful ones at any point and search for something better. 

Sweet friends, choose powerful, loving, grateful, healing, and inspiring thoughts. When we decide to live a beautiful life, regardless of our circumstances, there's nothing the enemy can do. The Bible tells us that when we resist him,  he will flee from us. 

Have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Understanding and overcoming anxiety

Do you struggle with anxiety? 

I hope you all said no. I hope no one can relate to this blog post. Because if you understand it, you know how it feels to struggle with anxious thoughts and feelings. While I don't have a quick fix or a 5 step program to overcome it all, I have some tips and tricks that help me. 

Before we get into the solutions, I'd like to discuss the causes. 

Sometimes I feel like a fear magnet. I go through life feeling other people deeply. I've always been this way. In some ways, I tuck away other people's tragedies and worry that they might happen to me. Do you remember the movie, My Girl? Her dad was a funeral home director, and she feared she would die from the same things that killed each person. In some ways, I understand her. I try to carry tragedies that aren't mine to carry. 

I can't even watch movies that have violence. It truly upsets me. Even though I tell myself it isn't real, it still bothers me. When I watch things or read certain things, it triggers emotions in me. I've caused unnecessary pain by not understanding how my mind works. 

Food allergies or reactions to a medicine can cause the same level of anxiety. For the longest time, I didn't know I was allergic to almonds. Since the response didn't happen all at once, it took me a while to figure it out. About an hour after I have almonds, I feel like I'm having an anxiety attack. My heart starts pounding, I start shaking, I have trouble breathing, and I itch. 

Suppressing my emotions also causes anxiety to build up in me. If something happens, and I stuff it down inside of me and ignore it, it will surface when I least expect it. And usually, that's when I am trying to fall asleep. The negative emotions need to be processed and sorted, so they don't cause us harm. 

Usually, if I am struggling with anxiety, it is because of my thoughts. It is normally one thought bouncing around in my mind. It's like a toddler trying to get my attention. If I ignore it, then it continues to bother me. But if I sit down and write the thoughts down, I can work to process them. 

Our thoughts create our feelings. I've heard that thoughts cause all of our emotions. Therefore, I want to be very careful with my thoughts. It's not even our circumstances that cause our pain. It's our thoughts. 

This was true for me with my scars. Let me show you how I was able to break it down. 

Circumstance: Amniotic Band Syndrome affects my hands and feet. 

Thoughts: The bands shouldn't have attacked me. I shouldn't have to live my life with scars. I shouldn't have to struggle every day of my life to do simple things.

Feelings: Sad. I feel like a victim. 

Actions: Complain, shove my hands in my pockets, allow my scars to limit me, and make me feel bad about myself.  

 In the following example, I will show you how I changed my thought, and it changed everything else. 

Circumstance: Amniotic Band Syndrome affects my hands and feet. 

Thoughts: I'm so thankful that God spared me and blessed me to live when the bands attacked me.

Feelings: Grateful. I feel so blessed to be alive to love and be loved.

Actions: Overcome it all and write books to help others.

Changing my thoughts was such a powerful experience for me. I spent so many years crying over my circumstances. But when God helped me change my thoughts, it truly gave me a new perspective on it all. Something that once caused me so much pain transformed before my eyes. My scars went from being a burden to a blessing. 

Next, I explore anxiety and see what it wants to teach me. When I feel it, I want to know why. So I question it. 

Am I creating fear in my mind? 

Am I reacting to something?

Are my thoughts creating pain?

Am I somewhere I shouldn't be?

Am I doing something I shouldn't be doing?

As much as we would like to, we can't altogether remove anxiety from our lives. It signals pain. Therefore, we will continue to suffer if we try to cover up the pain without understanding why it's there.


I have learned to embrace it and try to understand it. It doesn't feel as scary when we shine a light on it. And take an active approach to resolve it. Journaling and prayer are beautiful ways to gain an understanding of it. 

I also read books about the mind and how to process my thoughts. When I am in situations beyond my control, I take a CBD supplement made by SOUL CBD (if you'd like a $20 off coupon for your first order, use this link HTTP://RWRD.IO/7UN6NUE). It doesn't numb me; instead, it helps me slow down the anxious feelings so I can work through them. 

In an active attack, focusing on something else helps break the pattern. If I find something to count, then it breaks the stronghold the anxious thoughts have over me. Singing also works because I am focusing on the words. Also, I remind myself that God doesn't give me the spirit of fear, so I remind myself I am safe. The sudden, overwhelming fear is from the enemy. 

Lastly, learning to process my thoughts and emotions daily helps me greatly. If not, I will react in a way I don't want to. This happened to me a few years ago. When we shut down in 2020, and a family member had been diagnosed with cancer, I was stuffing down my emotions, and so many things were happening simultaneously. Then, one day a dog attacked my cat on my deck. My control snapped, and I lost it. I scared myself with my deep level of emotions. As all the carefully stacked emotions exploded on me, I knew I never wanted it to happen to me again. 

Now I journal every day and attempt to pray. When I start feeling anxious, I address it then. I don't want it to become rage or total panic. I also check in to see where I am living. Usually, in the present moment, I am fine. But it's the fear of the future that causes me to be anxious. The present moment is the only time we can live. Therefore, I try to stay where my feet are planted and live in this moment. 

Fighting against reality also causes me to feel out of control. However, it loses its power over me when I can accept what is. I may not like it, but fighting against things that have already happened steals my peace and cause me pain. God can help us to accept what is. 

I hope this helps. If you need a friend, please reach out to me. You're not alone, sweet friend. 

P.S. I learned the thought model from Brooke Castillo. 

Monday, January 2, 2023

Exciting News for 2023


I am relaunching my blog and rededicating myself to it for the New Year. 

While I have used Facebook for my writing, I haven't been posting on my blog. Honestly, posting what I want to share on Facebook is easier. While I will still use Facebook and Instagram to share my life, offer encouragement, and try to provide hope, I also want to write on a platform I own. 

My website belongs to me. Therefore, I have more control. And it is a way for others to read my writing without using social media. So for all those who want to spend less time on social media, I've got you.

 I will post a blog on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday by 12:00 p.m. 

Blog posts will be longer and more in-depth on the topics I want to discuss. 

I have grown in the last few years and have learned so many new things that I know will benefit you all. I want to share it with you. 

Here's what you can expect from my blog.

My journey with the Lord

I love to talk about the Lord and how He helps me. I will share scriptures that I love and support me. Not in a judging way, but in a loving, we're friends kind of way. Reading God's word gives me hope, and I want to share that with you. 

Thoughts = feeling = actions

Learning about thoughts and feelings has helped me greatly in my life. Changing my thinking about my scars changed my life. Now I continuously question my beliefs and search for better ideas and perspectives. I have formulas and specific questions I use in moments of pain. I'd love to break it all down and show you how I changed my thought process. 

Food and exercise as medicine

When God showed me how to heal my body with food and exercise, I knew in my heart that I had to share the knowledge with whoever would listen. Therefore, when I share my workouts, supplements, exercise tips, or food, I feel great and want you to feel great as well. 

Living with Amniotic Band Syndrome

I want to share my thoughts, feelings, and perspectives on living with Amniotic Band Syndrome. Sometimes I write about what it's like to be different. As a little girl crying in the bathroom stall, I begged God to send someone to help me. Now I want to be that person for others. 

My word for 2023 is OVERCOMER. 

I prayed about my word of the year, and overcomer kept coming up for me. I knew that was my word, whether I wanted it to be or not. But I knew in choosing it that I would have problems to overcome. Let's just say I had some significant anxiety and resistance, but I want to share my journey with you on overcoming challenging things.

The truth is that I don't want to have problems. I want to live safely tucked in my comfort zone forever. I would love to sit on the porch with a blanket tucked around me, a wonderful cup of coffee, a fantastic book, and a fire in the fireplace. I could read all day long. But I can't help others in that state. 

So I know that I have to leave my comfort and seek discomfort. Jesus didn't seek comfort. He sought the Lord. If I want to be the person God created me to be, I must strive to be more like my God and follow the example Jesus set for me. 

Therefore, I can't stay in my comfort zone. 

This year I am committed to my goals. I am committed to being uncomfortable and doing hard things. I am committed to helping as many people as God will bless me to help. 

My soul needs to make progress in my life and follow the Lord. I hope you will join me on this journey. Let's give God some things to bless in 2023. 

If you enjoyed this, please share it on your social media. 

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra