True Love Came To Visit

I sought after God at a young age. It wasn’t until after I had my accident that I REALLY experienced His love. I felt it through others. What I mean is, I found it in the three short months I spent in the hospital. As strange as it may seem, for the first time—my life had meaning. I had all these injuries and had become paralyzed, but I was still searching.

I lived in a good neighborhood and went to a good school. But I would ask God questions about life, and about what it all means. I knew there was more beyond what I could see. Then I got my answers. True love came to visit me in that hospital room.

Through compassion from doctors, nurses, and loved ones – I experienced a PEACE like none I had known. Life is so precious! When you are well, you may not necessarily feel like you “need the Lord.” But when you are sick, and hanging onto life by a string – you know it. And the way he comes in to rescue you is remarkable!

You can be in a desperate place, a minute to minute, moment to moment kind of place. I urge you to seek after him before the accident and before the diagnosis. It’s like not being prepared for a flood – if there were an “extreme” weather event, you probably would’ve wished you would’ve bought insurance. And luckily, most do. Buy insurance!

Invest in the One who can bring you security. Believe, read, pray, and seek! You will be better prepared in case there is an “emergency.” “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock (Matthew 7:24-25).”

God is love because He sent his only son, and he died and rose again for us! We have proof of it. His promise to redeem us from agony is proven to be true in the resurrection. There are reasons we go through what we do. We may not understand why. But if you pray and have faith through the pain, true love will reveal itself. Good things will happen to you again.

He will be the one listening while you’re in bed when you need to talk to a friend. He will be with you when you have anxiety. He will be with you when you have to go to the hospital to visit a loved one. He will be there. Every. Step. Every. Time. God truly is a fortress in our lives

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival. She works as an English as a second language Instructor, and has been an educator for almost twenty years. Her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, guest posts, newsletters, and medical journals as well as nearly 200 of her very own blog posts. To learn more about Zina visit: zinahermez.com.

Your Miracle Will Happen!

~”Thoughts” by Zina Hermez

Ever wonder why it’s taking so long? I used to think I had to wait for miracles? Sometimes we do. Miracles are a process though. We can play a part in making them happen. Prayer and exercise are my two faith pillars. They keep me grounded. I pray while I’m working out. I ask God to help in different areas of my life, and I pray for loved ones. It helps me sort out thoughts!

Have you ever become content in a bad situation? Have you ever told yourself that you can’t do something because it’s been too long? In order for a miracle to occur, you have to do something. Miracles seem to be spontaneous, but we have to act as co-creators with God by taking action!

God hears every prayer. You may be praying for one thing, but He can answer a prayer you prayed for long ago. You may have forgotten how badly you wanted it! Think about the lame man that was healed in Acts 3. He was a beggar. He wasn’t asking to be healed from his paralysis anymore. When John and Peter were going into the temple the man asked them for alms.  

Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk (Acts 3:6).” Then Peter took him by the right hand and helped him up. I think the man gave up on hope because he was that way for so long. However, he still had a spark! If he didn’t, he would not have gone around leaping, excited, and telling everyone!

Remember: when you lose your hope, you lose your faith, you’re emptied of desires, and your belief disintegrates. You can lose your opportunity for any potential miracle!

God knows what’s best for us. He doesn’t always say yes, but he usually doesn’t say no when we are reasonable. I learned he sometimes says “not right now.” But we have to be mobile. What is your plan of action? He could be waiting on you to start!

 

You Can’t Stay Where You Are

I accomplished what I set out to do—become independent. I’m teaching and writing. Both are my passions! I’m able to support myself. Of course there are other things I’d like to accomplish, but they are too many to list. Maybe, get on national television? Buy a house. Drive a BMW! Material things are not my concern though. I seek after what others do, friendships, and enough love! I have known hardship. Have you ever experienced it?dreambig1

What was the cause? Abandonment? Google.com defines it as a condition that is difficult to endure. I wish I had a solution, or a way to work around it. I don’t. No matter how painful it is, you have to go through it! When I’m going through it, I pray and exercise. You need to be strong enough to defeat pain both mentally and physically.

Let your vision be greater than your circumstances. It may seem like there is no way out. But you WILL overcome. As I write notes for this article on my cell phone, I’m on an elliptical. I couldn’t work out the way I do now. I even saw myself being an educator when I was young. I remember watching my teacher. He was full of passion while he taught. I thought, I’m going to do this one day. I just knew it in my heart!

Never stop giving thanks. When you give thanks to God, family, and friends its medicine to your soul. They will help you if you ask them to. Optimism is to know you need (help) to overcome. Act as if you have an emergency. What do you want to do, today? Go for it! Take simple steps. Start with something as simple as a to-do-list. Don’t sit on your dreams for years. You’ll feel resentful later.

What you will do is not what you see, it’s what you feel when you’re in the midst of pushing yourself, going beyond your limits, proclaiming it, and in the words of Eminem, “Failure is NOT an option!”

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival. She works as an English Instructor and has been an educator for more than fifteen years. Her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, guest posts, newsletters, and medical journals. To learn about Zina visit: http://zinahermez.com

Work on Yourself

Are you someone who likes to help other people? Have you ever tried to clean up someone’s mess? I’m a nurturer by nature, but here’s what I’ve learned: you have to take care of yourself first. How do you care for YOU? Pray a simple prayer. Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16). The advocate is the Holy Spirit and He will guide you.workonu

My accident happened at a young age, I kept asking God what to do and all through my twenties continued. He explained every step of the way. For example, I felt Him “nudging” at me to go back to school. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I didn’t know how everyone would react to my wheelchair.

But many students were warm and friendly. I knew I would get through the year. I was able to graduate on time with everyone in my grade. Taking care of you also begins with your health. You have to rest, eat right, and exercise. I put myself on an exercise plan, and I notice that my tasks have improved! I’m sharper and faster. When you nourish your body, you nourish your brain too.

Be an example!

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival. She works as an English Instructor and has been an educator for more than fifteen years. Her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, guest posts, newsletters, and medical journals. To learn about Zina visit: http://zinahermez.com.

How to Celebrate HIS Story

I was sent these questions as a writing prompt from a Writer’s blog: As Christians who write, one aim is to give honor and glory to God. How has God used your story? How has the Holy Spirit inspired and encouraged you? Have you seen the fruit of God’s glory as a result?

When I began my writing journey about five years ago, I had no idea the amount of people it would help. I’ve written since I was a child, and as a teen my audience was myself. I wrote behind closed doors, but with the surge in technology and media we are capable of reaching A LOT more people! I’m sure you’re familiar with the term “platform” if you are a writer. According to Google.com, a platform is a raised level surface on which people can stand. If you are on a raised surface and speaking from a podium more people can see you than if you are at eye level with everyone else.

As a writer, artist, musician, CEO, or salesman you need a platform. Many writers fear they won’t get noticed if they don’t have one. But your platform does not have to be huge. Publishers are still looking for REALLY good writers, that’s why I’m involved in a Writer’s guild and Writer’s group. I work on my writing skills. So…back to my prompt, how has God used my story and encouraged me?! Many of us want to write for God, speak his name, speak of his glories, and the ways he has blessed us.

But God is not concerned with my popularity as much as he is concerned with my friendship. God is not concerned with how many followers I have on Facebook or Twitter. Before I got into this business, I prayed to remain humble no matter what, and to never seek fame in a way that’s destructive. I simply write to help others and share my experiences. I write to motivate, and in turn I am motivated when my writing touches someone’s heart. I celebrate HIS story daily by carrying my cross. And sometimes, it happens to be evident in my stories…

(This post is inspired by an article I submitted to the Breathe Writer’s Conference blog.)

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

 

Make Progress

The survivor, the victim, the recovering addict, the overcomer, and the high achiever all have a fear in common–going back! If you fit into any of these categories, I’m here to tell you that is not God’s purpose in your life. I know first hand.

When we survive or recover, we don’t have to fall into depression, or regress back into what was hindering us before. The suffix ‘Gress’ means to take a step. God does not want you to take a step back–He wants you to make PROGRESS! I don’t know who I’m writing this for, but I felt that someone needed to read it.

When Jesus raised a man from the dead (John 11), the man didn’t die soon after that. He lived a long time! When Paul the Apostle made the lame man to walk in Acts 3, he didn’t go back to lie in his bed when Paul left town!

You overcame because you fought. You accomplished because you worked hard. You withstood because you prayed. You got better because you worked on yourself. God will not take that away. You lose your blessings when you believe the lies that say you won’t amount to anything!

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.

 

NO Exercise is Detrimental

Writer’s conference – California, USA

Today I’d like to write about exercise and how important it is for all of us. I’m constantly working on exercise in hopes of reaching my long term walking goals. I go to the gym, use the treadmill, elliptical, arm, back, and leg weight machines. I keep notes on my cell phone to record number of minutes, repetitions, and time.

Doctors say we only need thirty minutes a day of walking, jogging, or some other form of activity to maintain health. However, in order to build muscle, improve drastically, or attain a specific goal it is good to be on a workout regimen. I walk with crutches after a bad accident that left me paralyzed as a teen.

I have taken physical therapy into my own hands because often times in physical therapy, I have found that my best interests were not at the forefront. Therapists often quoted science in response to my hopes, and they put limitations on my dreams of walking based on my injuries. The beauty about having faith is that when you do, you are able to defy science!

It’s amazing how good I feel, and I am improving on my own. I can complete activities that I couldn’t do before, and I have more energy throughout the day! Things that would take longer to complete are faster now. I recommend exercise for everyone. It keeps us healthy, and I look forward to it. I never miss an appointment!

God never gives up on us, we must not give up on ourselves. I believe all things are possible because I have witnessed it in my own life.

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.

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.

Accept Life’s Challenges

“Seeds of faith are within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth.” –Susan Taylor

We want good things, and we become disappointed when life doesn’t go as planned. We can try to see our obstacles as experiences that bring us closer to our purpose, and that may relieve some of the pain. I think everything in my life is the way it supposed to be, but that doesn’t mean I like the way everything is. I complete the tasks set before me. I press on, in faith. From strength to strength, I am being shaped. When you’ve gone through something tragic, you can feel a deeper sense of appreciation for life.

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. I think sometimes people have this misconception that they are rewarded because of their effort and everything they do. Good things happen to them, and they get surprised when bad things occur. We can’t get angry when things go wrong in our lives. God wants to bless us. He wants to be there for us and be our best friend. But we have to trust Him. In time, He makes all things right.

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!

 

A Soul Check

We are looking at abundance: a place to rest our heads, loved ones that are still alive, cars, jobs, families, and good friends—things us Americans usually expect. Meditate on these things, and you will be grateful. I know I am. In the material sense, all of the above may not seem like enough! “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is a true comment. We don’t value the preciousness of moments until we can no longer have them. I’m thankful for the simple things: breath in my lungs, the ability to think, the ability to write, and of course, the fact that you are reading this (smile).

When we part from this earth, our possessions will not go with us. All we will have is our soul. How is your soul tonight? Are you angry? So am I. God never promised us an easy life. But if we seek after Him we can get through anything! The brokenness is where we experience His outpouring love. We may have to become desperate. We may have to have nowhere else to go. It can take a cry out to God in the middle of the night! Immediately, He comes to our aid. I was getting a little worried the other day and I heard God’s whispers, “Zina, have I ever let you down? What makes you think I will now?!”

Merry Christmas Eve!

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.

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.

 

5 more days!

 

Merry Christmas!

 

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.

In Love with Life

From pinterest.com

Not all the time. But usually. I try to not complain – even when things aren’t going right. This has not been the easiest year. I have had some added stress. I’m teaching English, writing thoughts down, and trying to stay in contact with those who care. It’s a busy time.

I do love life! I wouldn’t trade places with anyone else. Not because mine is the best; not even close. But things always fall into place even when they seem to be falling apart. Does that make any sense?

It’s true! Life improves.

How we respond to situations makes a difference when times are tough. We can worry, we can stress. But it doesn’t profit us. I’m looking forward to a Not Without God book signing in January, and another one scheduled in early April.

Everything will be okay. It always is. And, it’s almost Christmas!

“The Lord helps His people in their times of despair.” ~Zina Hermez

Can you remember a time when your difficulties brought you closer to God? Did things eventually come together? Feel free to share your thoughts.

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.

 

‘Tis the Season

From bloglovin.com

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.

Unconditional Love

“Thoughts” by 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 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.

How to Cope With Tragedy or Loss

When everything is right, there is not as much to be thankful for and we may take life for granted. When something goes wrong, we can thank God for the things that are right before us! ~Zina Hermez

Sometimes our lives can be forever changed: for example, if a loved one moves away, a friendship ends, or a family member becomes ill we can feel a sense of grief. When these doors close, it is difficult to not look back at them because they were open for so long. We have to adjust, we have to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, and we have to deal with the unknown. When matters change for what you see as the worst remember there is a safe place. That safe place is where you take comfort in the Lord, and are assured that He will be with you every step of the way. At these times, we have to rely on God. Suffering can humble our souls. When prompted to trust in God because of a dim situation rather than it being a choice we can feel scared. Will God really be there? Is he behind the scenes? If so, why the storm? Chaos does not mean that God is not around. Crisis does not mean that He does not care. He was the one that carried you through it and brought you this far. When you are trying to figure out how to deal with things when they go wrong. You need God. Don’t be afraid to trust in the Lord!

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.

Don’t Worry!

Found on pinterest.com

“It takes the same amount of energy to believe as it does to worry.” – Joel Osteen

I have been very worried lately because of the things that are happening around me. Worried about myself; worried about my family. When there is so much noise, it is really hard to see that God is the midst of the crisis. He will work things out. Suddenly, I got a calm feeling that came over me yesterday that said everything will be okay. I felt like I should just let it go. Let go of the worry. Let go of the frustrations, and give it over to the Lord. I am holding onto that feeling, especially when worry pops up again because it usually does. Worrying does not improve my health, and it definitely does not help to improve stressful situations. So for tonight…I will just let it go!

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.

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.

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

“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

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.

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.

Ever stop in the busyness of life?

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9)

This verse has run through my head a few times this past week. Sometimes I get tired, worn down, busy with things to do, unfinished work, there is so much I want to accomplish. And so often I feel I cannot catch up with all that I have to do.

Do you ever feel that way? I feel guilty about things I can’t do, or things that are hard. I want to donate more. I want to visit the elderly. I want to help.

I have a cousin who was in a bad accident this past week. He broke several bones and sustained serious injuries. But thankfully his spine is okay, of course, it’s the first thing I asked about. They said within a year he should be walking normally. Keep him in your prayers please, his name is Shaun.

My nurse Regina, when I was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at U of M after my accident in Oct. of 1994, went to heaven last week. She was the first medical professional to tell me I would walk again. As a matter of fact, she said I would run. Some of the hospital staff were pressing my family to tell me I wouldn’t walk for weeks. I think deep down my family knew I would. That’s why no one wanted to tell me.

“Zina, listen, I had a dream, you were running to me in this dream. The Lord Jesus can heal, and he gives me prophetic dreams about my patients sometimes. And you kept saying, ‘Regina, thank you, thank you Regina! Thank you, and you were running to me.”

Regina was not only a nurse for many years in the PICU, but she was also an ordained minister. She put a poem I wrote after my accident in a plaque for me on my birthday, and bought my first bible. I still have them both. I’m not running but I’ve come far. And who knows, despite the fact that I’m not as healed as I would like to be–I still have to believe “All things are possible, through the Lord who strengthens me.” Don’t we all?

She was diagnosed with cancer last year and within a year she’s gone. I was in admiration of her son, Glenn, in our last conversation his strength and attitude amazed me. Since my accident, he’s been a good friend. This week, I made the trip to the hospital to see Shaun. I made the donation. I made the phone call. I stopped in my busyness, and did my best to be a good friend.

Every so often in our lives someone comes along who’s meant to help us in some way, through a tragedy, difficulty, or problem of some kind. They work as angels, miraculously, they show up. Sometimes, we haven’t realized how much they actually helped until their work is done.

In my life, I’ve been blessed with a few. Regina is definitely one. How about you? I hope you’ve had at least one..

“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.

 

How it has helped me to write

Have you ever had a hobby? Anything you’ve always liked to do? Maybe you didn’t love doing it, but you were somehow drawn to it? For me it has been to write. Walking was the hard part. Writing about it is easier. I’ve always written. I wrote when I was in the second grade. I’ll never forget winning my first story contest in elementary school. I won a few. My teacher was so proud; she designed a nice booklet for me comprised of all my stories made out of colorful construction paper. I’ll never forget it. It was such an accomplishment.

The first loss I ever experienced was losing that book. When I couldn’t find it, I remember searching the basement tirelessly for a couple of hours. My mom could’ve misplaced it, but it was my first heartbreak. I was so sad.

At sixteen in the hospital I wrote, after my accident. Hooked up to machines with a breathing tube stuck down my throat, the first few weeks I had to write. It was the only way to communicate, I couldn’t talk. I still have all my notes of black marker scribbles on white and yellow cut outs from hospital flyer sheets. They are saved in my closet, in a big bag with every word on every card that every person ever wrote to me. They are treasures.

In the Rehab. floor after the ICU I wrote. I wrote letters to God each night. I poured out the sorrows, hopes, and dreams of my heart in what was the most difficult time in my life.

I wrote through college, successes, heartbreaks, frustrations or accomplishments. I kept thick journals writing each night, or when I felt the urge. I jotted down my emotions and thoughts. The reason I majored in English was not to teach, it was to write. Finally, I’m trying to achieve my heart’s dream. I can’t help but feel fear. But C.S. Lewis said, “Failures are the finger posts on the road to achievement.” I need to remember that.

I wrote as a child. I wrote as a teen. I wrote in college. I’m writing as an adult. Writing is a great release. “Writing has helped me heal. Writing has changed my life.” – Louise Desalvo I couldn’t agree more, I believe writing in some way can help save our lives.

Tomorrow morning I’m giving my first on line presentation to other teachers for Global LT, the company I work for. I would appreciate your prayers and thoughts. I remind myself it’s no different from teaching a classroom, but I can’t help but feel a little nervous. My topic is “How to Include Writing in Your Lessons,” of course. It just seems appropriate : ) It’s time to share what I’ve learned, in the classroom and outside.

How about you? Do you have any hobbies you like? Anything you ever feel compelled to do? 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.

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

“Imagination as a Powerful Tool!”

“Visualize everyday about the person you want to become. See yourself as being that person NOW. Your brain will take what you visualize and help you create it.”-HealthCoachTraining  I love this quote. I wanted to share because this is what faith is–seeing something with no evidence, your circumstances may be totally different. You can practice it in your mind. I had visions of walking at sixteen after I was hit by a car. Nightly in bed before I fell asleep, I would see myself on a walker or on a cane. I was paralyzed. I had little movement in my left leg.

I was using a wheelchair all day except for in physical therapy. My left quadricep would contract. My right leg was numb with no movement. I could kick my left leg up for a few seconds at a time while sitting because my left quadricep was firing. The following paragraph is a journal entry I wrote at the time:

“My left leg is pretty strong. I can hold it up in the air for a few seconds. My right one is coming along it’s just moving slower. I should be getting out of the hospital around early February or March. Gretchen said they will put me on braces around February. I know in time I’ll walk again. I have God on my side. It’s the best feeling. I realize how precious life is. I know what I want to do when I get older, help sick people. I want to be a doctor. I’ll never take life for granted, and try to enjoy every minute.”

I never became a doctor, I became an English teacher instead. I still think being a doctor is one of the greatest things. I have a desire to help people with physical challenges such as mine.

From a wheelchair, I saw myself walking and out of it. Sometimes we are strongest when weak. Sometimes I feel frustrated by the fact that walking with one cane is still hard. I remember that faith. I remember those visions. I practiced them throughout my twenties.

Little by little we can get better. Healing is a process. Rome wasn’t built…

What is it you want to get better from? Scars and pain are not only external. We have internal challenges too. We all have imperfections. Mine are visible. Ask yourself, is my goal reasonable? Is it feasible? Try envisioning it. It just might come true.