Hillsong UNITED Concert!!!

457541C5-9D8B-49BC-9BA4-A209A39B97D7I’ve been to many concerts, but I was particularly excited about the one last night! I went to the EMU Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, MI to see a performance by Hillsong UNITED!!! It was everything I expected and more more more!!! I was in tears half the time and so deeply moved by them. I love to watch their videos and listen to their music, but there is nothing like seeing them live!

I have seen many performers. I’ve seen Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rascal Flatts, Jewel and many many others! I am definitely a concert girl. Listening to music is one of my hobbies, and I often do it at home while I write. Seeing Hillsong was soo special, though! This is a little church out of Australia that has become global. And now they have churches all over the world!!!

The first Hillsong college is in Pheonix. I screamed so loud and sang their songs along with them. I really hope I didn’t annoy the people sitting next to me. Although I did get a compliment from one of the girls. She said my voice was beautiful😉. I had to park 10,000 feet away but it reminded me that I am still in shape. There were so many people!

One of my favorite lyrics from their song “So Will I” sticks out in my mind. They are referring to God and say, “You don’t speak in vain, no syllable empty or void.” I love this line so much because I love words, and it demonstrates the profound power of the Lord. The bible says the tongue can be an unruly evil.

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“He’s a personal God not some distant far off deity, he came in here with you tonight.” ~Joel Houston♥️

There are times when I have spoken, maybe even argued a little 😉 and it was unnecessary or “in vain.” This lyric helps remind me to talk less and listen better. Their music is about more than religion. Its about having a personal relationship with God. Pure. Dependence. Jesus is a common topic in their songs, and their music is poetic while paraphrasing bible verses. It is beyond beautiful!!!

As I was listening and singing (out loud) and praying with them at various times, I heard the Lord whisper in my heart. “Zina, these are my disciples.” I said, Lord, I want to be your disciple, too. I know I’ve messed up, but I want to come home to you. Their faith is remarkable. And Joel said they were going to shut down the venue. I can tell they don’t sleep much. They are always coming out with new songs, and I left with a t-shirt and their new CD!!!!

I Try to Walk on a “Faith path”

I try my best to walk a faith path. A path of faith requires patience because when you walk by it, you cannot be impulsive. A faith path will not allow you to make rash decisions. You think things through. You pray about them. When you are on a faith path, you ask God to help you so you are able to discern.

When I react quickly or strictly out of emotions things seem to fall apart. But when God leads or guides you into a decision it is fruitful, and your blessings multiply! When you think things through, you are able to maintain your position until God has instructed you further.

It’s not easy. But if you stay on the path and keep asking God to lead – you’ll be much happier. Believe He has the power and let the “powers” that you think you have go because ultimately, He is the one in control.

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“Pin” Your Thoughts

Hi you guys!

I found an interesting quote on Pinterest. Have you heard of Pinterest.com? If you haven’t, I’m surprised. Pinterest is a photo sharing website. Users can save images or “pins” to their boards. Boards are created around a central topic.

The quote reads, “Writing is somewhere between torture and fun.”

When I saw this quote it made me laugh. I immediately “pinned” it to my Writing board! At times I feel like this. Do you like the quote? Can you remember a time when writing made you feel like this? Were you writing for school? Maybe you were venturing out and trying to write a song?!

A Writing Tip!

Have you ever heard of Writer’s block? It’s when you don’t have an idea of what to write about, or when you don’t know how to transcribe your thoughts.

You lose the ability to write for a while. It can feel like “torture,” so to speak. I know that sounds extreme. But I think the quote is meant to be funny.

When you feel like this, it is helpful to walk away – take a deep breath, relax, and come back to it. We all suffer from Writer’s block sometimes.

One technique is to let your writing “cool” off. Take a short break or recession, call a friend, make cookies, watch television, or exercise!

Getting your mind off it for a little while will help you recover from feelings of frustration. Another activity will help you feel refreshed when you pick up that pencil, or click on the keys of your computer again.

I started a Pinterest account and found that I really like “pinning.” Take a look: https://www.pinterest.com/zinahermez/ What do you think?

Search for a quote. One that speaks to your heart. It doesn’t need to be on Pinterest but you may use one of mine!

You can copy an image into the comments! Don’t be shy! Who knows, you may even start your own board!

Happy Blogging!

(This post is inspired by a blog I’m currently working on for a class but it is revised.)

~Zina Hermez

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival and created the Spinal Injury Solutions! online website. Zina works as an English Language Instructor, and has been an educator for fifteen years. Her thousands of students have been from many parts of the world, and she’s worked with all ages. Zina writes articles on faith and overcoming challenges, and her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, and the Breathe Christian Writers Conference blog. She has written newsletters, and appeared in medical journals. To learn more about Zina visit http://zinahermez.com.

 

Life Is to be Savored

I get surprised by people’s complaints sometimes. For example, when someone complains about not making enough money because they simply want to earn more and say over and over how they deserve it. It frustrates me.

I get shocked by the things people worry about because they are usually things I would not even consider. Having experienced a tragedy at a young age helped me put things in perspective. I wish that people could start to see the glass ‘half full’ instead of empty.

You can never truly know how precious life is unless you nearly reach the end of it.

Every moment is special. Don’t take life for granted. Stop looking to what you don’t have, and look to all that you do. Breath in your lungs, a place to rest your head, clean water, food, and the basic necessities mean a lot to many.

Even if they do not seem like enough to you. I read in an article that the average American donates less than $2,000 per year to those in poverty, and in third world countries. I find this disappointing.

We are the richest nation. When the Soviet Union broke apart after World War II, the United States was left as the only super power. Giving is a good remedy for depression too. That’s how you turn it around by extending your hand out to others.

You will never know the preciousness of a moment until you can no longer have it. ~Zina Hermez

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival and created the Spinal Injury Solutions! online website. Zina works as an English Language Instructor, and has been an educator for fifteen years. Her thousands of students have been from many parts of the world, and she’s worked with all ages. Zina writes articles on faith and overcoming challenges, and her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, Spinal Cord Injury Zone, newsletters, and medical journals among many other publications. To learn more about Zina visit http://zinahermez.com.

Dangerous Places

Guard your hearts. We are living in a time of desperation and loneliness. Take a look at what is happening around us. I usually don’t start my articles out like this but I am frustrated. Hatred only breeds hatred. Let’s put an end to it!

It feels like we are still living in the 1950s. I mean, we are having a debate about whether or not we should take down a Confederate flag? Seriously? This is the 21st century! Why are there people who racially divide us?

It’s interesting to me that so many think the end of the world is near. They talk about it on television, and write books about the end “signs” of the times. I read that there were people on this land in the year 12,000 B.C. (Before Christ). Yes, it’s true! We just arrived.

Where are the forward-thinkers? Do they exist? The insecure like to mask themselves with confidence. Tolerance and respect seem to be forgotten.

When you do not agree; it is better to accept the other side’s opinion even when you have a different belief. It is easier to like someone who agrees with you, but the challenge is to remain calm even in the midst of opposition. Isn’t that something we learned in grade-school?

Unity abounds. In it are the keys of life. Accept one another’s burdens. It’s the secret to making our lives light. ~Zina Hermez

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival and created the Spinal Cord Injury Solutions! online website. Zina works as an English Language Instructor, and has been an educator for fifteen years. Her thousands of students have been from many parts of the world, and she’s worked with all ages.

Zina writes articles on faith and overcoming disability, and her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, Spinal Cord Injury Zone, SCI Access, newsletters, and medical journals among many other various publications. To learn more about Zina visit http://zinahermez.com.

Stop pointing fingers

Tonight I’d like to share a short story. As I left church one day a couple years ago, I was in admiration of all the beauty. Parents, toddlers, grandparents and smiling faces surrounded me on a picture perfect holiday.

I felt this sense of emptiness that I had for a while. My longing grew. The feeling overwhelmed me. I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to help. It felt as though there were a hole in my heart that needed to be filled.

I wanted to do the right thing. It’s hard to do that sometimes because people don’t always understand it. It’s hard to voice your beliefs and be vulnerable to others opinions, rejections, or dislikes—especially if they do not agree with you.

But there’s something in my heart. It consumes me. I want to help through what I’ve been through. I want to share my experiences, and help others heal from bad ones. I simply want to contribute before it’s too late. So tonight I want to say…

Stop pointing fingers.

We have enough problems. We are not in this state because of someone else like “the president.” It’s not all “his” fault, and it is not “theirs” either. We are in this state because we are. It is probably worse now than it ever has been. War, poverty, and racism are only a few of the things we are dealing with.

Stop pointing fingers.

The world doesn’t’ need it. Don’t we have enough problems? The world is not in the state it is because of “someone else.” It is not this country’s fault. Sometimes things go wrong because they do, and we can sit here and play the BLAME game all day long.

I had this longing, and this urge to try and do something good. Too often others turn away from religion because every time you turn around someone is blaming someone else. Maybe things just fell apart. It’s the people that use the principles to rule and to condemn, and to point fingers at.

Let’s stop doing that!

The cost of giving hope is immeasurable, and the rewards of it are satisfying to everyone. ~Zina Hermez

Stay Positive

People can be toxic at times. Beware of your surroundings. Try to not let them bring you down. You know, the kind of people that wake up in the morning and create a “bad day.” Watch who you keep your company with. Make sure to not become a downer or negative. It can be easy to fall into this trick of feeling sorry for yourself. There is so much chaos: disease, war, and personal problems seem to be mounting in the world today. But we can choose to be happy no matter what the circumstances are. I don’t mean that everything will be alright always. Sometimes things just can’t be that way! We have no choice. Sometimes you just feel bad because things are bad, and you can’t do anything to change them. The key is to not get stuck in feelings of negativity. Be resilient. Remember this too shall pass. Do your best to put a smile on your face, embrace yourself with loved ones and positive energy. If you are not receiving this kind of love, try giving it to others. I’m sure you will get it back!

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival and created the Spinal Cord Injury Solutions! online website. Zina works as an English Language Instructor, and has been an educator for nearly fifteen years. Her thousands of students have been from many parts of the world, and she’s worked with all ages.

Zina writes articles on faith and overcoming disability, and her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, Spinal Cord Injury Zone, SCI Access, newsletters, and medical journals among many other various publications. To learn more about Zina visit http://zinahermez.com.

 

 

Teaching English

This picture was taken with some of my students today. We’re in the last week of our fall term at the school where I teach English. Yay! After this week, I get one week off (a break) before we begin our November/December winter semester. It has been a busy term. I’ve been teaching advanced grammar, and while it has been fun – I am not necessarily a “grammarian.” It has been a little bit of work. I also picked up a 4.5 hour Friday morning class.fall term 14

I look forward to the time off, but I’m always thankful for meeting new people. The opportunity to teach others a skill is a privilege, and I don’t take it for granted.

 

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival and created the Spinal Cord Injury Solutions! on line website. Zina works as an English Language Instructor, and has been an educator for nearly fifteen years her thousands of students have been from many parts of the world, and she’s worked with all ages.

Zina writes articles on faith and overcoming disability and her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, Spinal Cord Injury Zone, SCI Access, newsletters, and medical journals among many other various publications. To learn more about Zina visit http://zinahermez.com.

A Few Ways I Overcome Adversity

Tonight I’d like to give you a few tips on how you can deal with adversity, or any challenge you may be going through. These are simple methods that you can apply. I bet you’ve already practiced them before. You may be practicing them now. If not, tonight should hopefully reinforce them a little bit.

What are some difficulties we may face? Loss of employment, loss of a loved one, an accident, divorce, and children moving away from home only name a few, the list continues. Some may practice yoga, some may go away on a weekend retreat, and some may take a vacation.

But these are simple, daily things I do that I believe can also help you. My hope is that you receive something, and gain something positive. If only one of these tips help you, that would make me happy!

Daily Prayer – I talk to God daily. I sometimes read Bible verses and short prayers in the morning. If I can commit to just fifteen minutes a day of doing this, it really helps. I especially talk to God when it is quiet. That is when I can hear Him best, in feelings and in thoughts.

We can read the psalms. We can say the Lord’s prayer. We can light a candle. We can simply say “Amen.” We can thank Him throughout the day via a powerful form of prayer, praise.

Exercise – Exercise or physical therapy is something you should be doing at least a few times a week. If you do not need physical therapy, exercise is still priceless. Find a physical therapist or trainer that can design a safe but challenging program for you. Keeping an exercise log is a great way to track your progress!

In his book The Omni Diet: Lose up to 12 LBS in 2 weeks Dr. Daniel Amen says, “When you are ill or in the hospital, your energy demands go up four times and it is protein your body uses as fuel to repair itself. And muscle is your protein reserve. Studies show that the less muscle you have the less chance you have of a full recovery.”

There are more suggestions and tips I would like to give. And you will be hearing more about them in the upcoming weeks. Let me know if you have any ideas of other ways we can deal with obstacles in our lives. You can leave a note for me in the comments.

 

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival and created the Spinal Cord Injury Solutions! on line website. Zina works as an English Language Instructor, and has been an educator for nearly fifteen years her thousands of students have been from many parts of the world and she’s worked with all ages.

Zina writes articles on faith and overcoming disability and her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, Spinal Cord Injury Zone, SCI Access, newsletters, and medical journals among many other various publications. To learn more about Zina visit http://zinahermez.com.

 

 

At the Diner

I took my students to the diner on a field trip today! We’re in our fall term at the school where I teach English. I’ve been teaching at the Language Center for almost four years. I have students from various backgrounds and cultures. Some are from Europe, some from Asia, and some from the Middle East. My students would like to further their careers or earn additional degrees, and their goal is to better their English. w-students

We listened to an episode by NPR, and the podcast is hosted by someone who interviews people at an all-night diner it’s part of our curriculum design. The morning teacher that has this same section took his students to the diner two weeks ago, and I also wanted my students to experience that. Of course, some of them had already been to a diner before. But we had fun!

People sometimes ask if I speak any of my students’ languages. I don’t. My students know English, and they have traveled and been to other countries. They are just at different levels, some novice, some intermediate, some are advanced. This is my Advanced level, All Skills class.

My other job is one to one teaching for a global-language-training company, called Global LT. I teach English to business people, managers, and engineers living in the U.S. They are temporarily here on work assignments with their families. Global LT has contracts with automotive companies.

My two jobs make a full-time career, and with my writing I have become very busy. But I’m having fun! I’m so excited to have writing as a career now!

 

About Zina

Zina Hermez has authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival and has created the Spinal Cord Injury Solutions! on line website. Zina works as an English Language Instructor, and has been an educator for nearly fifteen years her thousands of students have been from many parts of the world and she’s worked with all ages.

Zina writes articles on faith and overcoming disability and her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, Spinal Cord Injury Zone, SCI Access, newsletters, and medical journals among many other various publications. To learn more about Zina visit http://zinahermez.com.

When Angry Do Not Sin

Have you ever been so angry that you don’t want to hear what the other person says, and you enter into a monologue? Today I went to Kensington church – Troy campus with my good friend, Lisa. It was an amazing service! The topic was on relationship conflicts, and I want to share a verse from scripture with you. “’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26).

This has always been a favorite quote of mine. I think this advice can help all of us to remember to keep calm when in an argument. It would be best to leave the room, or separate from the person you are upset with or mad at. If you leave the room for even one or two hours, or a whole day if you have to it can really help!

It was a great service because it wasn’t only geared towards married couples, but towards a relationship you may have with anyone: your mother, friends, etc. so I could relate. “The smartest thing to do is to take a break, fight fair! When you’re angry, take a break!” Pastor Steve said. Sometimes people suffer from Displaced Anger Syndrome – taking out a bad day on a loved one, for example. I’d never heard this term before and I thought it made a lot of sense.

I think that all of us can benefit if we remember to just stay cool!

 

About Zina

Zina Hermez has authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival and has created the Spinal Cord Injury Solutions! on line website. Zina works as an English Language Instructor, and has been an educator for nearly fifteen years her thousands of students have been from many parts of the world and she’s worked with all ages.

Zina writes articles on faith and overcoming disability and her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, Spinal Cord Injury Zone, SCI Access, newsletters, and medical journals among many other various publications. To learn more about Zina visit http://zinahermez.com.

 

 

 

Some Things I Learned About the Universe

Thus says the LORD:
“Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?”
~Isaiah 66:1

When was the beginning? Why is the universe so big? Can Christians believe in the Big Bang Theory? How old is the earth? Are we the only life that exists? These are some questions that were answered in a course I’ve almost completed called “Equip Your Mind” that is offered at a church in Michigan. It’s an Apologetics class that is taught as part of a six-week series, and it is very interesting. I’ve learned some new things; some things I already knew were reiterated. I’m enjoying it.

“Do you think that more Atheists or Christians support the Big Bang Theory?” was an opening question from our teacher. The class was divided–fifty percent raised their hands for Christians, and fifty percent raised their hands for atheists. In case you’re wondering, I raised my hand for the Christians category.

I visited this topic before when I showed a video called “Hunting the Edge of Space” by NOVA that has been aired on PBS to my students in the past. When on the chapter of a book that discussed space, I wanted a reliable video to supplement it. I thought this video was very neat and interesting. I’ve shown it more than once. If you’re interested in the cosmos, it is a must watch! Please let me know what you think…

A few things we’ve learned in our class:

• Legendary astronomer Edwin Hubble looked through his telescope in the late 1920’s and discovered that the universe appears to be expanding from a distant point in the single past. The universe is not expanding into empty space. Space itself is expanding between galaxies, and it’s getting bigger.

• If there was no beginning, the universe would have run out of energy already and no stars would be shining. Just like a vehicle, it cannot run endlessly unless you fill it with gas. A great miracle already occurred; the beginning. It’s proven by science. Science and religion are not opposite of one another; they work hand in hand.

• Why is the universe so big when we are the only life that exists? It had to be for us to be able to live on this planet. “All throughout the universe, discoveries indicate aspects of the universe have happened to be precisely as they need to be for our advanced life to exist, and if they varied just a bit, the universe would be without life. Amazing examples could be given on every size scale, from the entire universe, all the way down to the moon, all the way down to the subatomic forces and particles,” said the teacher of my class. God made it big for us!

This reminds me of how loved I am. If everything God created–space, time, and matter all work perfectly. Then how much must God love me? More than I can fathom. Can you fathom the size and scope of the universe? I’m sure you can’t. Now try to compare that to how much God loves YOU. It’s hard to comprehend.

Who am I to say my life is imperfect? I’ve struggled with self-acceptance since my accident as a teen, but if I am created in His “image” and “likeness” (Genesis 1:26). I am a child of God. He knows the desires and needs of my heart, so I ought to be still for a moment and feel that place of content. A place I need to visit more often. I am in the presence. When we know that, when we experience how much we are loved by the Lord, then nothing else makes a difference.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” ~Genesis 1:1-1:2

A Blessing a Day

“Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we’re on our knees but while we’re on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us.” –Dieter F. Uchtdorf

In almost fifteen years of teaching, my Reading, Writing, and Vocabulary class this term is one of the rowdiest I have ever taught. Last Monday, I arrived home in the early evening to have a usual late dinner and settle down watching some television while finishing up end of day tasks such as tracking attendance and entering homework. As I got ready for bed, I literally felt beat up. I was so tired. At times, I really agree with the belief that many of us teachers are just not paid enough!

That day I had to put on my teacher hat. The four or five chatty Kathy’s that disrupt the class by constantly talking were threatened with getting zero’s for the day. While teaching, I would stop mid-way while speaking once they started talking and I just waited for them to be quiet. Some of them shook a little. It was obvious I was upset. They became quiet, realizing, yet again they had interrupted the class.

A truly nice group; the interesting thing is they all come to every single class. It’s not the whole group, but several of them that cause a ruckus. These disruptions with a room full of twenty-two students can make the room very noisy. They are also some of the youngest students I have ever taught at this school. Nearly all of them are between the ages of eighteen and twenty, with only four girls in the class including me. I was dreading teaching this class again at 4pm on Wednesday.

To my surprise, my threats on Monday worked! My students were much better-behaved. They paid attention and were respectful. We shared some laughs. A small miracle. I felt much better about going forward with this class. I really am thankful to have a career that I enjoy.

I sit in the classroom sometimes and look at my room full of students one by one, thinking how did I get here? I feel accomplished. It’s interesting, but I always knew I would teach.

I flash back to my childhood best friend, Melissa, who lived across the street from me on Gramercy Court. Her mother, Mrs. Dean, was a writer. Daily she would click away at an old-fashioned typewriter, something you would probably find in an antique shop nowadays. She would sit in the living room for hours and just write. I had a strong feeling I would do that one day. I always knew I would write.

God professes things to us as children, even before we arrive. In Jeremiah 1:5, the word of the Lord came to the prophet saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” God knows what we are supposed to do with our lives.

The small miracle that happened to me this week is part of the larger miracle that has been given to me by the Lord: to love and to serve, and for that I am grateful.

How about you? In retrospect, what challenges have helped you feel grateful this week? What small miracles have happened to you? Feel free to share them with me.

Five Ways I Healed After Trauma

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” –William James

This month will mark nineteen years after my accident in October of 1994. I never mind the anniversary. Just as I never mind birthdays or getting a year older. It’s a celebration; I’m thankful to be alive.

I returned to school in a wheelchair in 1995. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I struggled with low self-esteem because of it. It was also my senior year of high-school.2013-10-05 2013-10-05 001 015

Keeping a journal became part of my regular nightly routine. It helped me clear my mind. Sort out details. It gave me peace.

I held a flashlight in one hand, and a pencil and pad in the other, with music playing in the background. I would write.

This is a passage I wrote at that time:

“What’s important is self-image. Not whether I am walking or not. I mean…walking is a very admirable and practical goal that I can achieve; however, self-image is what we project of ourselves which comes from within. If we can’t love ourselves on the inside, it doesn’t matter whether we are standing, sitting in a wheelchair, running, or walking, our self-image will be poor and not positive, but negative…”

This is another journal entry I wrote at the time:

“I’ve learned that at times in our lives, things aren’t going to be the way we want them to. We have to just accept it. I have learned to accept life’s burdens. Do as much as you can to get through it, but just accept the burden and try to cherish it because after you get through, you will see how great you feel after you have overcome it.” — April 29th, 1995

Through writing, I was finding peace. I contemplated my future. I often wrote letters addressed to God at night. What would we do? How would we get through? I had suffered this tragedy. I didn’t know how to move forward and pick up the pieces. I needed him to tell me.

Have you ever gone through something tragic?

Here are a few remedies I used, that might be helpful for you. Especially if you’ve suffered a spinal-cord injury, or any other kind of physical challenge.

Prayer – Can you get better at this? Can you cut out the television or social media for a little while, to spend time with God? Can you turn off the radio on your way to work, and talk with Him?

• Exercise – How can you improve upon in this area? Can you keep a schedule, as if it were a job? If you miss time at work, your job may be in jeopardy. It’s the same with our health. If we don’t exercise, we can risk not feeling as well.

• Determination – is anything bogging you down? Have you lost your zest for life? Examine your thoughts? Are there any defeating ones? Thinking positive thoughts can change your life.

• Outlets – friendship/family – How can you get more support? Are you extending yourself? Try joining a group. A book club. A swim club. Any social activity would help.

The ways examined above are not an extensive list, but just a few ideas to help. They are simply to encourage the mind, and think of ways we can take better care of ourselves.

Back To School

“There is no education like adversity.”—Benjamin Disraeli

Our fall term began at the Language center on September 4. I had been off for part of the summer. I’m back to teaching English there in the afternoons to early evenings a few times a week. Fall is set to begin on September 22. It’s one of my most favorite times of the year, along with spring.

A few students I’ve had in classes previously are with me again this term. It’s always nice to see familiar faces. It makes me feel at home. My students are for the most part all very friendly to me.

My other job is one to one teaching for a global-language-training company, called Global LT. http://www.global-lt.com/ I teach English to business people, managers, and engineers living in the U.S. They are temporarily here on work assignments with their families. The two part-time jobs make a full time career.

Global LT has contracts with automotive corporations. Most of my students are at the Nissan Technical Center. A division of Nissan North America, it is the Research and Development center in the U.S. There are about 1,000 employees in that building.

I have appointments there almost daily, throughout the week. People sometimes ask if I speak any of my students languages. I don’t. It is not that my students don’t know English. They have traveled and been to other countries. They are just at different levels, some novice, some intermediate, some are advanced.

I can relate to their difficulties. It was not easy for me to get through high-school. Since my accident happened at only sixteen. It was my junior year, October of 1994. It left me paralyzed. At Mott Children’s Hospital, I had to be home-schooled because I was there for nearly three months.

I looked to my faith in God, and prayed during the day. I wrote letters addressed to Him in my journals at night while listening to 10,000 Maniacs, Counting Crows, or Pearl Jam on my head phones. All the while recovering, and doing physical therapy.

I really wanted to get my diploma on time with all of my friends at Harrison High School. Finally, I was able to. I walked with a walker on stage to receive my diploma my senior year. Some in the auditorium stood, some clapped, some cheered.

As a teen, those years were vital for me. To read and study scripture, pray, write and talk to God. I would not have come this far without doing these things. I’ve carried them into my adulthood. I have rejoiced with Him in the good and the bad.

When we are able to do that, when we are able to be happy and sad with God; it is immeasurable.

As I start this term I’m grateful. I have been blessed beyond belief. The Lord is doing great things. I look forward to sharing with you more in the upcoming months. Blissfully, I feel at peace. As it states in Philippians 4:7, “…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

How is tragedy better than winning the lottery?

Hello friends.

I hope you had a nice Easter with your family. Easter is one of my favorite holidays. It reminds me of new beginnings, because the Lord rose again to save my life. It’s a precious day, and this year it came at the perfect time. I’ve been stressed. It’s been a little while since I’ve written anything, I apologize.

Zina (2)This past week we had teacher observations. This is where someone from administration comes in to observe your class. It went well, and I got great feedback. Now that it’s over with I’m more relaxed : )

I’ve been thinking…

What if life were a place where we weren’t measured by our performance? Where we were all accepted? Never felt less then or like we had to compete? Where we experienced love, and had no feelings of self-pity or defeat? I try to imagine this, I know it must exist. I think this is what a glimpse of heaven is like.

Teachers work hard, but don’t always gain the proper respect. They sometimes have to deal with smirks and students who behave badly, that sit in the back.

Teachers put in endless hours, but their work and effort go unnoticed sometimes. At the same time they can be loved and adored.

A teacher has to deal with all personalities. She has no choice but to learn every person, to deal with every facet of life.

Whatever your career, I’m sure it’s the same. We all have our challenges, and there are personal ones too. I never wanted to be complacent, meaning, accept my physical challenge as a reason to not extend myself or grow, simply because it’s hard to move.

I read in an article that people who’ve suffered trauma are happier than those who win the lottery. Because they know their power has to come from within. Where the lottery winner believes the money will now bring them happiness; but with time they learn the money didn’t bring them happiness but only comfort, because happiness can only come from within.

Susan Taylor says “Seeds of faith are always within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth.” When you’ve gone through something tragic, you can feel a deeper sense of appreciation for life.

Don’t get me wrong. There are days where you will “not feel so high” but resilience is key. It’s if you bounce back. You’re ok as long as you don’t stay stuck in “woe is me.” That pattern is not very healthy.

Every day is a gift. Jesus taught me that. And if I take a look at the suffering I’ve endured, it’s nothing compared to what he went through for me. Every day brings hope and opportunity to heal, love, and experience the beauty of life.

How about you? What have you been through? Have you had a difficult situation that has forced you to grow? Feel free to share your thoughts with me.

Wheelchair in the workplace?

“Are you okay?” my student asked concerned.
“Sure, why wouldn’t I be?” I responded in a confused tone but I knew why she asked.
“Oh, it’s just…because you’re sitting today,” she started to stutter as her voice got lower almost not claiming what she just said.
As I rolled my wheelchair to the front of the classroom under my desk I assured her, “Oh, yea, I brought my wheelchair today. I take it out sometimes on bad snow days. I’m fine. It’s okay.” Angelika’s face lit up. That was more important to me than how I felt. Her ease meant more than my unease at that moment. She went to sit in her chair as we prepared to start grammar class.

The way I felt inside was completely opposite. I don’t like taking my wheelchair to work, especially when everyone knows how bad I want to walk. In two years, I can count on my hand how many times I’ve taken it to class. I’m always walking with forearm crutches so when people see me in the wheelchair they get surprised and ask. It’s no big deal. I thank God they care.

In Michigan we’ve had a snowy winter recently. It’s the worst it’s been in a couple of years. While walking in the morning to my car last Thursday, I was unaware my right crutch hit an ice patch. We were having a winter storm that morning. My crutch gave out and my body twisted, I fell to the ground on my right hip. Thankfully, I was okay. My neighbor Jay saw me outside and came out quickly to help. He helped me get off the floor and walked me back inside. I’m the type who likes to think I can do everything anyone else can, but this was a wake-up call for me to take more precaution in the winter. So I’ve been taking the wheelchair out on icy days, even though I don’t like to. I’m just glad I didn’t hurt myself.

Previous to Angelika inquiring, my director asked how I felt several minutes before this. “If I throw my back out and need to bring my cane, it’s the same thing,” she said trying to make me feel better about taking a wheelchair. I appreciate that, but really, it’s not the same. I would much rather walk with one cane than use a wheelchair. For one, it’s much easier to put in and out of the car. My wheelchair is a manual one. I have to stand on my car and pop each wheel off and put them in the back seat, than fold it down and put in the base of the chair. And vice versa, after I arrive to my destination I have to put it back together all over again.

I got my director’s point though, and it was nice she was trying to comfort me in my discomfort. “Oh God, I hope I never see that” I laughed, trying to lighten things up in reference to her cane. I’m more sensitive to people having trouble walking because I’ve had so much.

I’ve been praying. I think this is about acceptance for me. I’ve come really far, maybe not as far as I’d like. But walking with nothing is a big goal considering the injuries I had. I believe it’s possible because with God all things are possible. It’s no fun taking a wheelchair out, but I feel grateful I can put it in and out of the car. I want to start seeing it more the way everyone else does, as okay!

Have you ever felt that? Has it ever been hard to accept something different about you? I’ve never accepted using a wheelchair. I guess that has been my motivation to walk but at the same time I have struggled with acceptance of myself because of it. I know it’s not a part of me. I mean, it’s not a part of my make-up or who I am. But often times I worry others can’t see past it. Or maybe it’s me who can’t. Although I’m not walking as well as I would like, I’ve come far. I’m trying to remind myself of that.

Has anyone ever reacted to your wheelchair, or difference (of any kind) in an interesting way? How did you respond?

“What can Martin Luther King teach me about faith?”

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” – Helen Keller

Staring at the DVD on my coffee table, I begin to have many thoughts. “In remembrance of Martin,” a documentary I’m showing to my students tomorrow is resting on it. Others will be commentating on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. I wonder, what do I want my students to get out of this? I think, what if he never came? How would the world be?

America would be divided. Schools would be segregated. Blacks would go to one restaurant, and whites to another. Even restrooms would be separate. We would not ALL be able to vote. America would be bleak, an ugly place.

It amazes me that when I ask my students, half of them know nothing about how unequal America used to be. As I teach on Dr. King, I plan to ask them–“If it wasn’t for his efforts, do you think you would be here?” I personally believe it would be harder for even foreigners to migrate.

My advanced class consists of people who come to the U.S. to further their study of English. Most of them have degrees in their former country, but sometimes they want to achieve higher degrees or simply better their English.

Martin Luther King had a dream. He fulfilled it. He wanted equality. He said, “I just want to do God’s will, and He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I looked over, and I’ve seen the promise land. We as a people, will get to the promise land!” I thank God he had the courage to follow it.

I have some dreams too. But mine are more simple. I may not have the same prophetic abilities but I have an intrinsic gift of having a dream, and the ability to make it come true. We all do. It’s a gift from God. Like Martin, we must have the courage to follow it.

At sixteen I was injured in a pedestrian/motor vehicle crash. While crossing the street on my way to school, I was hit by a car. It’s a miracle I’m alive. I was paralyzed. I’m now able to get around on two forearm crutches. I’m practicing with one cane. It was my dream to walk again. I did. I still hope to walk one day with no walking device. I know the power of having a dream.

But my dream stretches further than the simple fact that I’m determined to walk. My dream is for others with spinal cord injuries too. It can take so much from our lives. We not only lose the ability to walk, life as we know it changes. SCI not only paralyzes our bodies, it can paralyze our hopes, dreams, and positive outlook on life. When you’re sitting in a wheelchair, it’s difficult to see past it, especially after you’re first injured.

My dream is for others with SCI to know they never have to give up. I’ve worked hard to walk again all these years. I’m still not walking as good as I’d like. But I don’t plan on giving up. It feels good to not have to put a wheelchair in the car several times a day. My crutches weigh less than two pounds each, they are light weight.

Although walking again is not a promise, it takes extreme determination and faith. Maybe if those injured work hard enough on exercise in physical therapy, they will get return of their muscle function, arms, and possibly even legs too. And maybe their dream can come true.

“We’re all connected as humans. No matter how vast our differences may seem, no matter how we each propel ourselves through this life; we all touch the lives of those around us.” From the movie – Intouchables

Do you have a dream? What’s your dream? Feel free to share in the notes.

We are imperfect in an imperfect world

As I’ve mentioned, I teach English for a global language training company. It was a bit of a struggle to get into my student’s home tonight. There were three staircases. About ten steps to get into the old burgundy brick building’s door, once you entered, there were two additional sets of steps to get up to the condo. I held onto the railing in one hand, and one of my crutches in the other. The railing going up the second set of steps was shaky. I walked up, leading with my left leg since it sometimes dominates while going up stairs.

It took a few extra minutes. I was embarrassed. I apologized. But my student, Gabriel, assured me it’s okay he didn’t mind. His name suits him. He’s from Mexico. He works for Ford in the U.S. I’m assigned to teach him English. He’s with his three children. Sadly, he lost his wife.

It’s my own insecurity, this shortcoming. We all have them but mine is visible. God has given me students who accept me, and that is a blessing. No one ever expects to live with a disability. It’s not something we foresee as a child. It’s not how we envision our lives. It’s definitely not something we expect. But life happens, and things happen to us. Our world is imperfect, and so are we. I’ve learned to see my challenge as a part of life. This is a broken place, and suffering is a part of it.

Heaven is the only perfect place..

With golden streets and pearl gates..

Massive choirs of angels singing praise..

I’ve read in books of people who’ve visited there. -Don Piper in “90 Minutes in Heaven” writes.

Call me naïve..

I believe..

I don’t recall heaven at the scene of my accident or in my hospital bed, but I felt this profound sense of peace. In the midst of crisis, chaos, catastrophe. God was watching over me.

Why do I write? “Writing has helped me heal. Writing has changed my life.” –Louise Desalvo explains in “Writing as a Hay of Healing; How Telling our Story Transforms our Lives.” What hurts you? That is what you should write. It may not make the problem go away, but it’s medically proven writing improves the neuropath ways of the brain.

What is your pain that we can or cannot see? What are you afraid to write? Tap into that place. Feel free to share your comments with me.