What will YOU overcome?

I had to read a lot in college. I majored in english and minored in history. The books I read sometimes overlapped. Something I was learning about in a Literature class would show up on a History syllabus. One of my favorite passages is by the great abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. I was required to read his book, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.” This popular quote out of his book still resonates with me, and many others:

“From my earliest recollection, I date the entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me through the gloom. This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving and praise.”

How does this relate to me? Well, it doesn’t – directly. But as a survivor, I can choose to take the “victim” mentality and not try to accomplish all I know I can! But like Douglas, who stood up for his rights, he even taught himself how to read and write, I have rights too. No one can put limits on my abilities because no one knows what God will do.

What Frederick Douglass wrote speaks to my soul, and it can speak to yours no matter what you’re going through. His confidence that he’d be freed from slavery, and his knowledge of God is parallel to my knowledge that God will set me free of any bondage in my body, thoughts, or predicament! Your challenge may be different from mine. How can you apply this passage by Frederick Douglass to your life? What are you confident about, and know you will overcome?

About Zina

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

 

 

Why We Celebrate Easter (special)

This is a video I uploaded on Good Friday to my “Faith Tips” series on YouTube. Instead of writing a post as I regularly do bi-weekly/on holidays, I decided to create a video blog!!! It’s cut a little short, but I hope you enjoy it.

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, the Breathe Writers Conference blog, newsletters, guest posts, and medical journals. To learn more about Zina visit http://zinahermez.com.

Miracles are a Process

Found on pinterest.com

God knows me well. After all, He is my creator. My divine healer. God knows the secrets of my heart. He knows me better than anyone else, and better than I know myself. When we are going through something difficult it may be hard to acknowledge this. We may not believe in those situations. When in pain one may doubt. I’ve always felt His presence with me, though. As a child, I would go on bike rides. “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” He assured me often in the whispers of my heart. I knew it would be tough.

But the Bible reads, “For I am the Lord who [continuously] heals you.” I think this statement is powerful, and the word continuously means a lot. It proves that healing has to recur rather than be a onetime event. All of us have not felt good more than once. Healing may have to happen again and again in order for the ultimate healing to come. Have you experienced a situation in your life that has improved? Did your faith expand? God wants to stretch our faith! Strength is proven in moments of weakness.

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival and created the Spinal Injury Solutions! 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, the Breathe Writers Conference blog, newsletters, guest posts, and medical journals. To learn more about Zina visit http://zinahermez.com.

A quote from my book!

My life had changed dramatically, and only God could help me. I knew only God could get me out of this.” ~Not Without God

Me
Signing one of my books!

Have you ever felt this way? Was there a time when you knew that only God could help you? Maybe you suffered something, or encountered an experience that affected you tragically. If you’ve ever been in this place, you know, like I do that ONLY God can help you!

It can be a desperate place. A minute to minute, moment to moment, dependence-on-God-place. Maybe you weren’t religious or spiritual when you encountered it, or maybe you were a little but then felt like you needed Him more than EVER before!

It can be a tough place, an unpredictable place, a HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN place. I don’t wish for anyone to enter it because I’ve been there more than once! It can leave you feeling uncertain. Get to know Him. Before the phone call, the diagnosis, before the loved one dies, or before your heart breaks!

My accident happened at a young age. I had love for the Lord but it still turned my life around. I kept asking Him what to do, and all through my twenties continued. God seeks a relationship with you! Talk to Him like you would your closest friend.

We can never be prepared for an earthquake, but imagine if we had packed canned food and bottles of water, had an emergency hotline number that provided shelter, or found a charity. How much more prepared would we be?

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, guest blogs, newsletters, medical journals, and other publications. To learn more about Zina visit: http://zinahermez.com.

A Tribute for My Friend

I attended my friend Chris’s funeral the other day. He died at the tender age of thirty-five. Heart-breaking. Way too young. Sometimes I break out and cry, even when I think I am feeling fine. I can’t believe he’s not with us anymore.

He accepted me with my challenge. Although he lived in another state, he did his best to keep in touch by phone. He never denied his illness, and fought against it all his young life. He never denied being addicted.

With Chris at his sister, Heidi’s house a couple years ago!

Each time we spoke, I told him how proud of him I am for confronting his disease, for accepting his faults, and for trying to improve his life! In the end it got the best of him. Nonetheless, he was ahead of others in his situation.

He lost the battle though, and it hurts me so bad. I keep thinking – I should’ve tried harder. I should’ve been there for him more! I’m dwelling over what could’ve happened.

I’m listening to the Bible for comfort, it’s the only way to get me out of feelings of sorrow. I have faith he’s in a better place! The Pastor at his funeral was great. He kept saying how good our Lord is, and how He died for our sins and mistakes.

How this has everything to do with Jesus! He highlighted how Chris gave his life over to Christ. I love how he pointed out Chris even got baptized in the very same church we were at! “To be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord” (2Cor. 5:8).

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, guest blogs, newsletters, medical journals, and other publications. To learn more about Zina visit: http://zinahermez.com.

 

Don’t Feel Defeated!

Life can be an uphill battle. The road can be rough. Don’t get down on YOU when it does. When you do you are not glorifying God because He is the One that made you! Ask Him for strength, and He will give it to you.

When I heard I would never walk after my accident at sixteen, I had a choice to make. I could’ve believed it. I could’ve just given up. I did the opposite, I didn’t accept it.

I fought for what I believed. I knew that if I only had enough faith and determination, I would. I never understood why someone would deliberately defeat you with their words.

Don’t let your hopes and dreams be shattered!

I understood Jesus’ love and I felt His healing presence. I saw it in everyone else. I felt it in the will He put in me to go forward. I was ready to face the challenge.

When your spirit is crushed. Remember life can be very tough. These times won’t last because they never do. After the storm comes the rainbow, and at the end of that is the pot of gold!

It’s important to remember He brought you through. It’s hard to forget when you’ve been through so much. You have to be strong, very strong.

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’s written newsletters, and appeared in medical journals. To learn more about Zina visit http://zinahermez.com.

 

Believe in what you don’t see!

Don’t look to the material, and rule out everything else. There is more to life then what we realize. Don’t get discouraged when things go wrong. There is more then our experiences. Heaven awaits us… It’s more then we think, and more then we could ask for. When we part from this earth, our possessions will not go with us. All we will have is our soul.

How is your soul? Do you feel hurt? So do I… Hear God’s words… “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:19-20).”

Do not hold onto anything too tight. For nothing in this life is truly yours. ~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 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.

Choices

I love this quote so much because it’s true. God repairs the broken road when we allow him to. Realize this. Nothing is wasted. Life is full of lessons, paths that are crooked, roads that are rocky, and not always smooth. Life is a learning experience. But in the end things will work out as they should if we only have faith. “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight” (Isaiah 45:2).

“Sometimes we crave major change in the midst of pain because we’re desperate for something to give, but so often the choices we make from that place of hurt aren’t actually good for us” is a beautiful passage I read in a blog post of one of my most favorite authors in the world. His name is Benjamin L. Corey, and here is a link to his full article: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/5-things-wounded-christians-should-probably-avoid/

So try not to stress about what is happening now, about your past, something you said, or could have done different makes no difference anymore. Realize it’s never too late for a second chance. That is the beauty in all of this! We hope for many things. But God’s timing is better than our own. Trust is one of life’s great lessons. He’s the reason for our hope.

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.

Experiencing peace in all of it

Have you ever healed from reading about your own life? As I read through trauma I overcame as a teen, I feel a sense of peace. How could this be? I can read my book and feel better while doing it. What once welled up my eyes with tears as I wrote, is now a source of healing for me. It gives me strength for whatever I am dealing with.

I cherish this free time because life as I know it has changed. Things will never be the same. I’m more of a caretaker for my parents now than ever before. For those of you that don’t know, English is not my mom and dad’s first language. If I’m not teaching the subject, I’m working because I’m helping them with their medicine, making appointments, talking to doctors, or explaining things.

The illnesses of others weighs heavily. This lingering feeling of loneliness has been there… Never had a circle where I belong. Although I’ve been blessed with some really good friends, I struggle to find acceptance. In my pursuit to gain it, I realize I am also in pursuit to accept myself. I am different. What I mean is…

God told me my path would not be easy. I knew this road would be hard. Whenever I got a chance, I was outside as a child riding my bike. On those nights I remember feeling God’s presence strongly. I was getting instructions on the steps of my life. There would be some trying times, but I would make it through. I knew the other kids were not like me. I used to feel weird for having these feelings and thoughts.

If I told you I’m going to call, and haven’t gotten around to it, or if I suggested we spend time and plans fell through–I apologize. Between teaching, taking care of my own stuff along with helping Mom and Dad—I’ve got a lot to do! If I have not been as responsive as I usual am on social media sites, I have not forgotten you. Thank you for caring and for reading my post!

 

Love that Surpasses Understanding

There is a love that surpasses all understanding: in it, there is no fear, no pain, and no anxiety. There’s only peace. When you know, when you know what you know, and when you experience this kind of love–you become free! It’s not easy to know it. It starts with a hint of grace, a touch of serenity. Words can’t describe it. You must feel blessed. You must be having a moment–a light bulb, moment. When that moment comes, hold onto it! It doesn’t stay around.

Pretty soon evil will try and resurface itself: the anger, the hurt, the confusion, and the anxieties. But you know what I’ve learned? Evil cannot last for very long. No matter how hard it tries to make its home! It diminishes itself because love is stronger. There is no comparison. It’s the power of humans connecting.

It occurs when someone comes in and saves your life. Okay, that may be extreme but it applies! It is in the simple gestures, a friendly hello, thoughtful words, the warmth of a hug, or the compassion in a smile. The fear vanishes, the pain goes away, and the anxieties leave.

You realize you took a giant leap, and you have no idea how you did it! It began with the friendliness of the smile, the encouraging words, and the compassion extended. Someone brought you closer to love. Someone you were meant to meet, destined to know, on this spectrum, this thing called life. You are changed. YOU are never the same.

This post is dedicated to my father, Yacoub Hermez.

Christmas–a poem.🌟👼

FullSizeRender (3)Christmas is for the poor… Christmas is for the weak… Christmas is for the refugee… It’s for the lonely…and the meek. It’s the magic of Christmas that captures us. Christmas movies often portray beautiful families and almost always have a happy ending.

Christmas is not only about gifts under the tree, though. It’s about something greater. It’s not about what you get, but what you’ve already got–a Savior. Christ entered, and as a man He changed the course of history. A human sacrifice.

He came for you and for me. Sent by God, the Holy Father, He performed miracles, signs, and wonders. Fully human and fully divine, He died and rose to redeem us. Christmas is about hope and peace.

It’s about a dark-skinned baby born among animals because no one would welcome him. How can we celebrate Christmas this season? Can we welcome Him into our hearts, or into our homes?

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival and created a Spinal Cord Injuries website. Zina has worked as an English as a Second Language Instructor and has been an educator for many 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. Her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, the Breathe Conference blog, the Southern Writers magazine, medical journals and various other publications. Her upcoming book, Hope After the Storm, will be the second in her II part Not Without God series and will be out sometime next year.

 

Accept Life’s Burdens

Etsy.com
Found on Etsy.com

Accept things as they are. Don’t complain and agonize. Although it is okay to vent sometimes. Move ahead with your life by doing all that you can and trust God. He will guide you to the people and experiences that will help you heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Faith and patience are fruits of the spirit.

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.

The holidays are approaching…

It is bitter sweet.

Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Years. My favorite holidays. But my heart will be heavy this season. I would like to ask all of you, my readers and supporters, for your prayers please. Things are not exactly the way they were before. Nor are they as good as they were last year. Not that they were the greatest then. I have watched my parents age. And they need my help now more than ever. My father’s health has declined this last month. I’ve watched his memory slip quite frequently in just a matter of weeks. Luckily, he still knows my name and is still aware of many things. I am thankful for that. He just has these periods of confusion, a little too often. The doctor says it is the early onset of Dementia. With his other health issues, I hate to see him hurting so much. We are trying to manage that. My mother is not getting any younger.

That’s life I guess. It has its ups and downs, and I am trying to accept all of this. I feel a sense of grief. Not only because my parents are growing older. But for other reasons as well, and this article would be too long if I listed all of the other reasons here. So I am asking for your prayers please. Please pray for my health, strength, and abilities. Please pray that I continue to be guided and led by the Lord.

He has guided me my whole life. Without Him I am lost. Without Him I am nothing. Without Him I can’t function. The older I get the more I realize it.

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.

 

 

 

 

We Have Overcome

overcome the worldThis quote brings me comfort. I have troubles right now. I’m sure we all do. Some troubles are larger than others, and there are all kinds. But if Christ has overcome, the size and scope of my troubles are irrelevant because He is my Lord. He has conquered the world, so I can surely overcome any trials I am going through. This is a nice reminder. He has all the power and all the glory! We have already overcome!

 

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.

 

A Faith Test

faith test
Found on spiritualinspiration.tumblr.com

My faith is being tested. But giving up is not an option. I don’t know how to surrender. I had to be strong at a young age. Strength and determination are easy for me to possess. I have nothing to worry about. I will battle until the end.

I haven’t experienced what I’m experiencing now. But a fight is a fight. Faith doesn’t promise us there won’t be trials; and faith doesn’t promise there won’t be loss. Faith promises we will get through. My faith may be tested by fire. Still I can’t give up!

 

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.

God Is Not Finished

Found on pinterest.com

God is in control. He is mighty.

Despite any trials. God still has His hand over our lives, and over our loved ones lives too. He is in charge. We may not understand why things happen as they do. Let this quote be a reminder for me and for you. No matter what, let’s see the blessings in everything!

 

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.

Peace In the Midst of a Storm

Found on bakeyourday.net
Found on bakeyourday.net

I’ve been experiencing many storms lately. There is a lot of noise. More than I ever expected, and almost more than I can even handle. But I have confidence that the God of Peace will keep my heart tranquil. He always has. Why should now be any different than before? Are you experiencing any “storms”? Let this quote be a reminder for you and for me, no matter what we are facing: raging waters, or high seas we can have peace in the midst of our storms.

 

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.

blog post
Found on indulgy.com

My heart is troubled, and I’m experiencing unrest in my soul. Things are not the way I expected them to be, and they definitely are not the way they should be. In this world, we’ve been experiencing so much pain lately. There is a rise in death and disease. I’m not trying to be negative. I’m just stating the facts. Things are not always what they seem. But I refuse to give up! I will fight! I have too much faith. I will do good for myself, and I will try hard! No matter what we’ve been through, God can restore our broken hearts. Do you agree?

 

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.

 

bible verse
Found on youtube.com

Have you ever had multiple things go wrong at one time? It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Let this verse be a reminder, for you and for me. No matter how discouraged we may be – nothing can stop God’s will in our life. It’s a nice reminder. When challenges seem to be piling up, and I am feeling discouraged. I will look to this quote. It is helping me right now.

 

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

Where I Am

Amazing things are about to happen. I have new meaning in life. Being an author is fun, and I am very excited about all of the prospects. But how can it feel like the best of times, and the worst of times all at once? When my dad gets sick it really does.

I deal with regular problems. I have aging parents, and I’m working overtime. I feel guilty for the time I am not able to spend with them. I’m afraid those days may be few. I never felt like I had a normal life when I was young, whatever “normal” means.

Confused by my surroundings, I knew there was something greater than what I could see. I used to question my existence. I was a deep thinker. I also had premonitions. I knew the other children were not like me. I wanted to do something significant, and I had a desire to make a difference.

No matter what I am staying on this path that God has placed before me. Where I am now is where I always knew I would arrive.

 

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.

 

Prayer of Serenity

When we have no control over problems, and when we know that things are not the way they are supposed to be. When fixing the issue is beyond our capability, and when we have tried all that we can. Maybe it’s a loved one’s behavior that needs to be corrected, or a situation that needs a solution fast! We can easily become depressed.

Here is a short well-known prayer that helps me. I wanted to share it with you tonight, in hopes that it will bring you a little peace…

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things that I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it.

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

 

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.

Forgiveness

All love is conditional. The only unconditional love is the love which is from God. ~ Zina Hermez

Do you need to forgive? Have you ever struggled because you don’t know how? You are not alone. We can learn how to forgive. The more we practice it the better we get, and it is something we can work on every day. Forgiveness is a choice, and it is one that we can all make.

Some may think that forgiveness is something that happens to them. They wake up one morning feeling all better about something someone did. They believe that then they will be able to forgive. Forgiveness is natural, yes, it is.

But it is not usually something that happens to you! You choose to forgive, and that is when the healing begins. Forgiveness does not change things, or make them back to the way they were before. But more importantly, it changes you.

And this is not from my unique perspective. The Bible says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8).” Forgiveness is about letting go. Praying for the person who wronged us. Forgiveness makes us healthier.

So I would like to ask if you are holding onto something by not forgiving. If you are, do your best to let it go. Pray about it. Release the burden.

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.

God is Love

“Love is a force that is able to heal the worst of situations.” ~Zina Hermez

What does the quote above mean to you? When you read this, what comes to mind? Let me repeat it. “Love is a force…that is able to heal the worst of situations.” Love is what helped me heal in the worst time of my life – after my accident in October of 1994 so this passage carries a lot of weight. Feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments.

The love that came from the doctors and nurses at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital was incomparable. The love from friends and family, and the love from even the parents of the other children who were ill on that floor. There was this energy I can’t explain, but it translated into a lot of love. When I am feeling down or upset, I try to revisit that place.

I’m reminded that whatever I’m upset about is small because I am loved. When we know that, when we experience love it makes a difference. It provides confidence. We don’t feel so lonely. It’s a part of the mystery—the love of Christ that surpasses our understanding. When God’s love resides in us there’s an inner peace.

 

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.

 

Fear or Faith?

“Life sometimes happens whether we are prepared or not. I had one hope: my faith.” ~Zina Hermez

When you read this quote, what does it mean to you? Could you paraphrase this expression, or interpret it if I asked you to? It’s pretty self-explanatory. Faith means so much. Faith is what brought me through after my accident in October of 1994. This month will mark 20 years, and I don’t think I would be writing to you today if I did not have faith!

Have you ever had to search within your soul and pull out that faith? Did faith come easy for you? Was your survival dependent upon having faith? If you had a choice between “fight and flight,” which would you choose? I chose to fight, and I’m so glad I did because if I didn’t I would not be where I am today.

You may need a big miracle in your life, and it may be completely different from my own. But it’s something that requires a lot of faith. God wants to stretch your faith! Faith makes all things possible. Miracles don’t usually happen overnight. Not that they can’t. But sometimes your faith needs to grow.

 

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.

“Love Conquers All”

“Love is a force that is able to heal the worst of situations.” ~Zina Hermez

It’s one of my favorite quotes from my forthcoming book, Not Without God: A Story of Survival. Love helped me heal from my accident on Oct. 18, 1994. The love from friends and family, and the love at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital was incomparable. It emanated from the doctors, the nurses, even the families of children who were ill. There was this energy I can’t explain, but it translated into a lot of love.

The reason I wrote Not Without God, is to share my story and how I healed from a catastrophic accident that left me paralyzed as a teen. I hope that through reading my book, others will be inspired and overcome their own challenges of any kind. I pray that through my story, others will be able to get insight into how to heal.

Today I’m grateful for the abilities I have and the ability to walk at all, and I have not given up. I went from being a popular teen to alone and handicapped. I was on a breathing machine. I could not talk. I could not move. I could not eat solid food in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for nearly a month. The only way to communicate was to write.

People tell me “you’re so strong” all the time. Perhaps I am; but for me to be here is a part of God’s plan. He controls everything. We have to understand that everything happens by Him and for Him. I think sometimes people have this misconception that they are rewarded because of their effort or hard work and things they do. Good things happen to them, and they get surprised when bad things occur. But God allows suffering sometimes. No matter how much I’ve been through, it’s nothing compared to what Jesus went through.

Today is Palm Sunday: the first day of Holy Week. Easter is on Sunday, April 20. No matter what our burdens, let us carry them and follow after Him.

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. —Isaiah 53:5

What If We Started A Prayer Chain?

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you.” – Luke 11:9

I’ve thought about starting a Prayer Chain Facebook Page before. Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? I never got around to it. I shied away telling myself the upkeep would be too much. I wouldn’t have enough time to post with my other responsibilities.

When it comes to asking for prayer the extent of my request is usually “Please pray for me,” or “Keep me in your prayers, please” before saying goodbye and hanging up the telephone after talking with a friend.

I’m really not good at asking for things. I don’t usually go into detail about exactly what I need. I realize I sometimes do that with God. Thankfully He knows the secrets of our hearts, as it states in Psalms 44:21. He knows what I need before I ask. It’s the same with you.

So this is my prayer chain post! I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in the power of community.

While I was trying to decide on the topic of this article, I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me to kindly request prayer from my readers. My birthday is this month. I will be thirty-six years old on Jan. 26. Since it is almost my birthday, I hoped this could be your birthday gift to me.

So I’m asking. Will you offer up a prayer for me? If you have any special intentions, please let me know. I would be happy to pray for you too. This time, I want to be more specific. I ask that you pray for my health.

I’m so thankful for the ability to walk, despite the injuries I had from my catastrophic accident at sixteen years of age. Please ask God to continue to heal me and bless my abilities.

I’ve heard a pastor say that whenever you’re in trouble, it’s good to pray for others to get the focus off yourself. The advice was, “Anytime you want to stop feeling sorry for yourself, start praying for someone else.” It has a healing effect on all of us.

Some prayer techniques that really help me:

Talking to God daily

Reading Bible verses and short prayers in the morning

Speaking to Him through prayer and worship songs

Lighting a candle

Thanking Him throughout the day via a powerful form of prayer-praise

The power of prayer is infinite. There are no limits to how much it can help us.

If you write your prayer requests in the comments, I promise I will pray for you. Who knows, maybe other readers will too! Don’t be shy. Share your thoughts. I love to hear from you!

 

A Tribute and A Prayer

It’s been quite a few weeks. I’ve been busy with work and the holidays are approaching. I’m looking forward to them. Sometimes it seems the closer we get to our dreams, the more challenges we face. I’ve been dealing with a lot lately. I found out I lost a good friend, Father Robert Dressman.

Has anyone ever touched your life? Have they helped you see things in a different way? There have been a few people who have done that for me. I like to think of them as my angels on earth that God sent. Father Dressman is one of them. Some others include nurses, teachers, and friends. I want to thank all of them.

Although I know Father Dressman is in heaven now and in a better place. It is hard to know I can’t have periodic visits with him at the large retreat house and conference center where he lived, http://colombiere.com. To go to church or simply sit and talk with him.

The last five or six times I saw him were rough. He kept having falls, he needed hip surgery, he couldn’t even remember my name. He was 91 and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

My friend Shaun gave me a book, “Heaven is for Real” http://heavenisforreal.net as a gift earlier this year. I had already heard of the story before that, but I have been revisiting it. I’ve watched interviews of the family on the internet.

It’s a best-selling book about a boy, Colton Burpo, who made a trip to heaven and back at only four years old. An amazing story, it has brought me comfort and peace. I highly recommend you read the book or at least watch an interview, if you haven’t already.

The good news is…

I’m starting to feel better. I’ve been back to my normal routine of cardio workouts at the gym. Even though I’ve been able to read a book while using the treadmill and elliptical machines for a while now, it is still surprising for me. I could not do that for so long. I would have gotten too fatigued. These little signs of improvement encourage me.

When I stay focused on exercise and prayer, it really helps. With a teaching career and other projects, it is not always easy. Here is some of a morning prayer that Father Dressman designed that I want to share. Especially with those of you facing spinal-cord injury or any other health challenge.

Good morning, Lord. I give You worship and praise. You are my God and I love You. I thank You for all that I am and all that You give me. I thank You for the night and its moments of rest. I thank You for the gifts of this day and for the promise it has. Help me, Lord, to make the most of it.

I have a body that doesn’t always work right. I know it is your gift to me. So many others have so much less. Help me to use your gifts well, to care for them properly, not just for myself, but for You. Help me to remember that whatever I accomplish with them is Your doing.

And when I experience pain or disappointment or frustration or lack of what I think is success, I am being given opportunity to share more intimately with You and Your cross, and that accepting pain and frustration and discontent is the way I am being offered of walking with You.

Father Dressman asked me to “see this as a gift, if I can offer it for the needs of others.” The greatest lesson I learned from him, was his humility.

How Great Is Our God?

“What matters is that we are willing to do what it takes, to make a positive impact wherever we find ourselves in life—to add value in any way we can to others.” – John Maxwell

Does anyone inspire you? Is there anyone who helps you feel peace, or the presence of God? Music can be therapeutic for me. It has helped me through my trying times. So when I found out one of my faves, Chris Tomlin, was coming to DTE Energy Music Theater in the summer of 2011—I rushed to purchase my ticket on line. I asked a few friends if they wanted to go but no one was able to accompany me. So I went alone.

DTE Energy Music Theatre is a large venue. I was pleased that I could park far and walk through large crowds alone in the dark with forearm crutches and leave safely that way. At night you can’t always see as well as in the day, especially at concerts where people are rushing through sometimes to take their seat before a song starts, or just before intermission ends. So I must admit I had a small fear of accidentally being knocked down.

Although the heel of my foot did get kicked as I was waiting in the t-shirt line at the end of the night, I was okay.  And the man behind me sympathetically apologized because  he couldn’t see my crutches. He was in a hurry to get to the front of the line before all of the t-shirts sold out. I told him it was fine, I was just happy I didn’t fall. For so many years I could only take a wheelchair to DTE because the walking distance was too far, so this was a huge sign of improvement.

Chris Tomlin came with another Christian artist named Toby Mac. Toby mac has more of a hip hop, pop style. It was refreshing to see the kids excited clapping their hands and stomping their feet as soon as they heard he would be coming on stage. Their parents were beside them doing the same. He sang for the second half. Although I was alone I didn’t feel lonely and it really was a nice experience for me.

When I returned home I subscribed to Chris Tomlin’s Facebook fan page. Shortly after they were having a contest and asking fans to write them regarding his song “How Great is Our God” and what it meant to them, as well as his music in general. He’s so genuine when he sings and I really appreciate him. I decided to write. I used to listen to the song every morning on my way to work as well as other songs on his CD, and I definitely experienced the beauty of it. Those who wrote the best would have their passages featured in an upcoming issue of Christianity Today, so this would be a double bonus writing to him and being in the magazine.

They were supposed to notify us if we won but I never heard from them. Disappointed, I tried to forget about it but it remained in the back of my mind. One day, while surfing the net and doing research on-line, I stumbled upon my passage in the magazine. I was so excited they chose mine. At the time he had 1.5 million Facebook fans.

Here is the link: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/novemberweb-only/greatthismusic-november22.html  I thought maybe by reading my comments along with the others you could find some inspiration from it. Be sure to scroll and read to page 3. They also posted passages from worship leaders around the world. And here is the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyGD3zH9Xvc “How Great is Our God (World Edition) Live!

This experience inspired me. Although I was already writing this encouraged me to write even more. I started reaching out and blogging June of last year and since then a lot of good has happened to me. I’ve made friends along the way, mainly readers like your selves who care what I have to say. That is a blessing and it means a lot to me. Thank you for being with me on my healing and writing journey.

How about you? Has any artist, individual, or incident inspired you? Maybe to do something greater than what you thought you could do?

Chris Tomlin’s music and writing contest helped me. It’s amazing how we can touch the lives of those we never even meet.

Feel free to share your thoughts with me…

How do we respond to suffering?

A person who has suffered deeply and triumphed is now a better person. Precisely because of pain and suffering, his life story is better. He has forged character; he has become more human. – Leo Tolstoy

Which do you think is harder, to go through something difficult yourself, or watch someone you love go through it?  The last several years have not always been easy. Besides my accident happening in 1994, my father was diagnosed with lung disease in 2009 (asbestos exposure because he worked in construction when he was young).

I spent just as much time in the hospital that year with my dad (and mom) as I did in 1994. It felt like more. My mother was ill in 2007. Let’s just say, it’s been a whirlwind. My mom and dad getting sick is the second worst thing that ever happened to me, maybe even the first.3770_384596_10151109595565235_836210234_22487933_81182387_n_1__display[1]

I’ve really become accustomed to doctors. I’ll never forget one of my dad’s attending doctors in the ER. After talking with me about my dad’s condition for around ten minutes, “Oh, you’re his daughter. I thought you were his physician!” he said. My parents and I got a kick out of that. Yes, I like the language and how doctors sound very smart, it’s just not something I choose – to hang out with them all the time : )

The two most special people in my life got sick. Wait God. How could this be? I’m not even healed, and now you’re going to take my mom and dad from me?  I threw my hands up in the air at times. Feeling helpless.

I soon realized whose daughter I was. Because people tell me I have a lot of faith but man, these two – their faith even shocked me! Usually they’re well, going to church and about their daily activities, they’ve always been social.

But last Friday my dad went into the hospital, again. It was the same day as the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. What a week of pain and agony. For everyone. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. I can’t even imagine the grief. I believe those little ones with their teachers are in heaven; conducting their classroom in the glory and making of our Lord Almighty. Gone but never forgotten.

All of this tragedy has caused me to reflect. And I’ve been reading. In 2009 I bought a book called “The Promise: God’s Purpose and Plan for When Life Hurts” by Father Jonathan Morris. He’s a religious news analyst and commentator for FOX news. He was also an advisor to Mel Gibson during the making of The Passion of the Christ.

His book was published in 2009 after three back to back tragedies: the Asian Tsunami, the Pakistan earthquake, and the hurricane in New Orleans. He teaches about the coexistence of God and suffering. His book helped console me in rough times. So I pulled it out. “Jesus is in our corner, in our suffering he’s in our room” he writes. I have always felt that. In all the fear and anguish, I’ve always felt God with me, holding my hand, leading me, telling me the next step to take, the next move.

“A person who has suffered deeply and triumphed is now a better person. Precisely because of pain and suffering, his life story is better. He has forged character; he has become more human.”

My dad has been out of the hospital for a few days now and I thank God he is alright.

But this is a question from Father Jon’s book I wanted to leave with you:

“How can I transform my suffering into a springboard for personal growth?”

Not that our suffering will ever be rational or make sense, but what can we do to better our life despite circumstances that are not so bright?

Feel free to share your comments with me in the notes..

“Angels Among Us”

God has sent angels to help me along the way. This road has been rocky, I’ve needed them. There are a few who stand out, and will be forever in my heart. Regina, my nurse in the Intensive Care Unit is one of them. I didn’t know what the next day would bring, if I would wake up, or how many more breaths I would take. She was my anchor, and I clung onto her for dear life. I nicknamed her “Regu” for short. That’s just me, in the midst of pain and unpredictability; I found a way to joke. My personality grew on her.

She was the first to tell me I would walk. She said the Lord told her so in a dream. I was running to her in it. “Regina, Regina, thank you!” in the dream I said. I’m not running yet Regina, but I still believe in your dream. The Lord has brought me far. I’m still holding onto that faith.

Dennis came to visit. I worked with him briefly at a fruit market just before my accident, for about a few months in the summer/fall of 1994. This man was amazing. He always had a smile on his face. He was always singing hymns to God. I thought this was strange. I never knew anyone that way. Each time he saw me in the isle, he made me smile. “Zina, smile, let me see that beautiful smile, come on smile,” he would say. I’ll never forget it. I couldn’t walk past him until I smiled! He responded after my accident. I didn’t know him very long, but he brought flowers and came to visit on the weekends. He brought prayer booklets, and talked to me about God and faith.

My left arm was stuck at a 90 degree angle from the crash. The orthopedic therapists could not get it straight. It was a team of two women trying for about a month. One day, Dennis got up and stood next to my bed. He held my left arm gently at my elbow and began to intently pray. He was talking to God. After several minutes, my arm began to get warm, and was starting to stretch. I wasn’t afraid, I trusted him. I knew what he was doing was okay. After around fifteen minutes, finally he got my arm straight! God straightened my arm that day through Dennis. I’ll never forget it.

If God didn’t heal my arm through Dennis, I would’ve never gotten up on parallel bars. I would’ve never been able to use crutches as I do now. Imagine trying to get up on bars or walk with walking devices with an arm stuck at 90 degrees? It’s not possible. Dennis performed a healing work on me. I thank God for the angels he’s sent along the way.

 

The Diversity Panel

Flash back to September of 1994. Mr. Pulke knocked on our classroom door, “Can I have a word with Zina?” He asked my teacher, as he briefly interrupted the class.

Sure I had done something wrong, I squirmed in my chair. When a vice-principal came to visit, it usually wasn’t for a good cause. Of course my teacher agreed. Reluctantly, I got out of my desk-chair and approached him at the door. Slowly, I stepped into the hallway to meet him outside. What have I done now?

He leaned forward to reach me at eye level, in his nice distinguished suit. Oh no, I’m in trouble, here it comes. To my surprise, he asked if I would serve on the Multicultural/Multiracial council at school that year, in a kind and gentle tone. It was a diversity panel being implemented for the first time. I wasn’t expecting that. Why would he choose me? I didn’t feel worthy.

“Uhh, yeah, of course Mr. Pulke, thank you!” Excited, I replied.

Following several after-school meetings, a large assembly would be held in our gym with the principals, teachers, students, and the board. The whole school would be there. Unfortunately, I never fulfilled my duty on the council that year; nor did I make it to the assembly.

My accident happened in October of 1994, around a month after we began. I failed them. I’ve held onto guilt for a lot of years. I let down my parents, siblings, the council, and friends. How could I get hurt?

The years have gone by. I’ve learned to make peace. I can’t explain how. It took God’s grace to release me.

Grace tells me everything will be alright. I’m forgiven. I’m free.

Accidents happen. We can’t reverse them. If I could I would. “There are some things that just happen, beyond reasoning, beyond intellect, beyond resolution. Things like calamities, destructions, hurricanes, and disasters. The Bible says rain will fall on the just and unjust. Some stuff just happens to you. Stop trying to rationalize everything.” – Bishop T.D. Jakes, from “Beyond the Blame” www.tdjakes.org

It’s obvious I don’t accept walking with difficulty, it’s something I have to work at constantly. The Bible says “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for, and evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) If I work hard enough, maybe one day I’ll have my dream.

Have you ever been touched by grace? Has it released you from any pain? Feel free to share with me in the notes.

I wasn’t able to fulfill my duty on the diversity council at school that year. But at thirty-four, God has given me a diversity panel of students of my own.

It’s interesting how that worked out.

 

A lesson and a prayer

Michelle Obama said something striking as I watched her speech at the Democratic National Convention the other night. She said, “Barack was never interested in how much money he could make, but in how many lives he could change.” It gave me goose bumps and spoke right to my heart. I admire him for that. She spoke of how he’s the same man now he was when he was poor. When he had a hole in his car picking her up for dates, or when his best shoes were too tight. I thought it was charming. I admired the way she saw the difference in him. I think we all do whether or not we agree with all of his ideals.

Her mentioning our president interested in changing lives resonated with me, because that is what I want to do. I’m here for a certain period. We all are. I want to do something good with it. In life, we never find success without taking chances. I feel I have a purpose here. To help others who’ve had tragedies like me. So I pray for God to lead me, and he does. And for him to guide me, and he does.

Father Dressman asks me to “see this as a gift, if I can offer it for the needs of others” in a prayer he designed for me. “I ask you Lord, to heal my brokenness. I have a body that doesn’t always work right. I know it is your gift to me. So many others have so much less,” he writes.

This sentence is like an oxymoron. How can I see disability as a gift? What is a gift about it? The all too often pain in my right leg? Or the weakness in my trunk? It’s not the occasional questions of “what happened to me.” But the second part is the catch. “If I can offer it for the needs of others.” If good can come out of this, than indeed it is a gift. And a lot of good has. I’m praying for more. I have a desire in my heart. It consumes me. If only people can see how God helped me, brought me through and kept me happy than maybe they can be inspired to get through their injuries too. And as I’m helping them, I’m helping me. And that feels great!

Long Bike Rides — Childhood Reflections

I miss the cool summer breeze gently hitting upon my cheeks. Daily I would ride my 10 speed bike after school until the sun went down. Up and down our dead end circle street. Most of my neighbors were indoors for dinner during these times. Often I would hear the sound of clinking silverware through their screen doors. Professionals chattering about their work day as they went to take their dinner seat, alongside their family.

I don’t know what I enjoyed more, the peaceful ride on these summer nights, or observing these upper middle class families. There were lessons to be learned. Their normalcy, I observed. Mr. Kahl, our next door neighbor, spent a lot of time working outside on his yard. With his tools on his belt, he would tirelessly work on his garden, flowers, and cut the grass almost daily. He had a grass greener than any I had ever seen.

Excited, I’d wave my hand from left to right every time I saw him. “Well hello there, Zina,” he would say in a genuine tone. He was one of my favorite neighbors. These opportunities to say hello while neighbors were outside made me wonder what it was like in their house. I wondered if it were anything like mine. Mine was full of the bustling ruckus of older brothers and sisters who argued sometimes. My parents had a big social life, thus, they weren’t always around.

I may have been twelve. I may have been a girl, but I felt this connection to some of my neighbors I could not explain. I especially liked the quietness of those rides, the peace. The silence made it easier to feel the presence of God, and know he was there. For a child, it was the only way to escape on my own little silent retreat. Often he would speak to me in the silences of my heart.

And often I would hear my mother calling from inside, “Zinaaa, what are you doing?” my mom would yell. Frustrated at my long absence, she ordered, “Come in and eat!” I would sigh, as I skipped over the hose on the lawn to stop the running water. I had no choice but to stop watering the bushes and plants and go inside. I suppose I was competing with Mr. Kahl, and trying to make our lawn look as good as his. But no matter how green our grass was, it could never be like his.

The ride on my bicycle was an escape. It’s when I heard from God. “This path would not be easy,” he told me. “But he would never leave me, nor would he forsake me. He would always be with me.” I could always escape, on my own little silent retreat.

Faith can make the impossible possible!

“What is one gift that disability, in any way, shape, or form brought into your life?” This is a question I read in a blog post tonight of a friend I once wrote a guest blog for. She writes on having a daughter with Down Syndrome. I couldn’t help but stop when I read this.

Disability has brought a lot of things into my life, most of them unwanted. Pain in my legs, discomfort, weakness, the inability to move, insecurity, loss, exclusion, low self-esteem, rejection, loneliness, to name a few. But as I pondered more upon this, I knew I had many positive answers because I am happy, so there must be gifts.

Disability brought faith into my life. And I learned that faith can make the impossible possible! I have seen it work in my own life. I grew up with a big difference, since my accident happened at sixteen. I overcame a lot. For people twenty-one to sixty-four with no disability, the likelihood of getting a job is 82.1%. For people twenty-one to sixty-four with a severe disability, the likelihood of getting a job drops to 26.1%. Most injuries occur between the ages of sixteen and thirty, when people are at the peak of beginning their careers.

I was sixteen when I was severely injured but at thirty-four, I’m employed. I work as a teacher, and manage my own classrooms. I pay my own bills, and take care of myself. That is a blessing. With this economy, not all able-bodied people are able to do that. I’ve accomplished that through my faith.

Firstly though, I’m walking. I’m walking everywhere with two forearm crutches, and practicing with one cane. I’ve accomplished that through my faith! There are many things I’ve accomplished though my faith. And I have so much of it!

Disability is a condition, it’s not who we are. Diagnosis is a prediction. It doesn’t have to determine our outcome.

Oscar Pistorius holds one of the fastest running times in the 400 meter sprint in the world. He’s a favorite to qualify for the Olympic team for South Africa. The opening ceremony is just 45 days away.

He’s a double leg amputee since childhood, because of a rare condition he was born with. He says, “You are not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.” I can relate to this. Disability made me work harder, disability made me do more. Disability made me more able. Can disability make you more able? I think sometimes it can, if you have something to prove to yourself.

Oscar brings to mind two Bible verses I treasure:

“He makes my feet like the feet of deer…” (Psalm 18:33)

“For by you I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall.” (Psalm 18:29)

Suffering and Joy are interchangeable!

Life is hard enough. Imagine you could not walk? Imagine you could not move? Better yet, don’t imagine. It’s one of the worst things that could happen to you. Don’t imagine. It happened to me. I was hit by a car while crossing the street on my way to school, at only sixteen.

Paralysis is eye opening. Paralysis is real. Paralysis is undesirable, a nightmare to say in the least. I’ve woken up before and thought this was all a dream, more than once. Then I see my crutches on the wall, my wheelchair in the corner–tucked in my closet, as far away as possible. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, not really.

There is loss in life. Loss of friendships, relationships, divorce, accidents! Accidents, a Spinal Cord Injury— it can take everything but your life.

I was pretty. I was popular. I returned to school in a wheelchair my senior year. When everyone was excited for prom and spring break, I was learning to be disabled. There are things we live through only by God’s grace. And only God has kept me.

At sixteen I was healing, but how would life be in a wheelchair? Our home was not handicapped accessible.  I knew when the dust settled the visits would lesson. The calls would start to fade. During my stay in the hospital, I would pick up my pencil with a flashlight in the dark at night and write letters addressed to God. I know he heard me.

I finished high school on time, even though I missed most of my junior year. I still made it to prom. My real friends stayed and I made new ones. I learned to drive, went to college, worked, and even walked! I’m walking everywhere with two forearm crutches, and learning how to walk with one cane. I’m still not walking as good as I’d like, but it’s better than using a wheelchair. I still have faith.

Thank God he replaces suffering with joy!

“Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.” John 16:20

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5