The Fall

I drive through this route almost every day, and it lasts for several miles. I always do my best to take in the scenery, and I’m usually listening to music in my car. It is peaceful. I love the fall season. What comes next is not so fun—winter. But I’ve lived in Michigan all of my life so I am used to it. The snow and ice-covered trees look especially beautiful though.the fall Our winters can be harsh. I’ll never forget how I fell in 2013. I was walking down my ramp to go to work in the morning, and my crutch hit an ice patch. We were in the midst of a snow storm. My body twisted and I fell to the ground. I was okay. My neighbor Jay saw me and came out quickly to help. It was a wake-up call for me to take more precaution. I now use a walker down my ramp if it is icy on the ground. I can walk on my crutches fine, even in a few inches of snow. It is just the ice that kind of scares me since that fall. I am still bearing a little bit of weight through my arms.

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.

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Breathe Christian Writers Conference

Hi everyone,

I’m excited to go to Breathe Christian Writers conference this weekend! I haven’t been to Breathe yet, and I’ve heard great things about it. I love to meet new people, and I will be able meet writers in my home state of Michigan. It will be nice to get some questions answered and exchange information.

I’ve met many writers, but both of the conferences I’ve been to so far were outside of my state. I went to a conference in Las Vegas last year in October, then I went to another conference in Las Angeles earlier this year in March. I will stay closer to home.

I love this time of year – the fall! I look forward to the drive, relaxing, and staying in a nice hotel. It will be a short getaway, only for one night but it should be fun. I’m thinking of it as a gift to myself after a lot of hard work, and I want to celebrate the release of “Not Without God,” my book!

I also registered for a poetry workshop called “Perspectives on Writing and the Poet’s Life” with Matthew Landrum. I’ve been really interested in poetry lately, and I’ve added a poetry section to my blog so I’m looking forward to the workshop.

Have you ever been to a Writers conference before? Did I peak your interest? You can learn a lot about writing, marketing, and speaking there. Let me know if you have any questions about what happens at a Writer’s conference, and I will be happy to answer in the comments.

 

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

My First Writer’s Conference

“We cannot discover new oceans until we have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”–Gide

I attended Author 101 University this past weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada. I really enjoyed it. There were many authors and publishers at the event. It was nice to meet and talk with those who have really supported my writing, and thank them.

The schedule was packed with speakers, and each of them freely shared their knowledge and expertise on writing and marketing. I received a lot of good information. One of my favorite presenters was Cynthia Kersey, http://cynthiakersey.com She talked about her non-profit organization, “The Unstoppable Foundation,” http://unstoppablefoundation.org.

Her mission is to make sure that every child on the planet receives the gift of education. She builds schools in Africa. This is where forty-three percent of all of the children in the world not receiving education, live.

Many of us were exchanging business cards and information, and I made some good connections. I met people who have the same ambitions as mine – to reach others with their message. I became friends with Veronica Brooks http://veronicabrooks.com, who also attended the conference. She writes to empower women and help them succeed by taking care of their finances.

I stayed at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa, which sits on 54 acres. This is also where the meetings took place. I couldn’t see the entire hotel in one short weekend. With several restaurants, a pool, spa, and casino, to name just a few of the amenities. The hotel was filled with so much beauty; I wanted to stay another week. But I had to come back. Back to reality. Back to my day-to-day life. Back to Michigan.

It was a great experience.

I hope to one day go back there again.

Children with disability

“If we see people with disabilities as passive recipients of care rather than as participants in the work of the kingdom, then we fail to understand the radical nature of God’s work in the world.” This is a quote I read in a blog post of an author who writes on having a child with Down Syndrome. Her name is Amy Julia Becker. I thought it was beautifully written so I wanted to share it.

I wrote an article that was published last week for the DMAN Foundation called A Donation from an Unexpected Donor. It was about a little girl with a disability named Brianna, and Amy Julia’s quote reminded me of my article so I wanted to share some of it:

Brianna Vitale was injured in a car wreck that left her paralyzed from the neck down and a C2-C3 quadriplegic at only age three. She is a patient of the DMAN Music Therapy Studio in Michigan where she receives regular music-therapy sessions on Fridays.

She surprised the chairman of the foundation while visiting the office one day when she gave him an envelope. When he opened it, he found a surprise–700 dollars in cash. She held a lemonade stand at “Heritage Days,” a local festival in Michigan to raise money for the foundation because she wanted other handicapped kids to enjoy the music-therapy studio.

Attendees were able to hold a booth at no charge. Assisted by her nurse, mother, two older sisters, younger brother, and grandfather, Bri sold lemonade. She also gave some of the proceeds to the Make a Wish Foundation.

Music therapy has really helped her with recovery. She talks with a whisper. This can be a common side effect for someone with a Trach. The therapy is great because while she is exercising her vocal chords, she is making her voice stronger. The hope is that she will be able to get rid of the ventilator.

Bri has lived through a tragedy that would be hard for many adults to face; but her physical limitations have not affected her spirit or the size of her heart.

She is twelve and when my accident happened I was sixteen. I’ll never forget how I felt when my sister and nurse broke the news to me, that some of the hospital staff wanted them to tell me I would never walk again.

“They are saying you aren’t going to walk,” my sister said with Regina, my nurse, quietly standing behind her. Regina’s hands were clasped as if she were in prayer mode; her presence was strong, her support. “But listen, you know about Jesus and you have faith.”

I can’t explain how I felt in those moments. It’s a feeling I will never forget. A feeling I pray for no one to ever experience but my sister was right, I did know Jesus and I did have faith. I just had not realized how well I knew him.

This is a poem I wrote in the hospital at that time:

GOD

GOD I am crying, crying out to you.
Will you help me, help me get through.
Through the hard times with faith, strength and wisdom.
And be able to face whatever the outcome.
I will give my hardest to do what I think is best for me.
With everything I got, heart, mind, ability will you hold my hand through this PLEASE?
But if in the end I will be upset, I’ll be thankful, thankful for being here with family and friends.
And thank you God we finally met.

Music therapy is helping Brianna and last week my doctor said I am still making progress. Recovery from SCI can take months, typically years but we should never give up on hope to recover, because it’s never too late! 

 

“Poor, and disabled!”

“He’s in a nursing home,” my friend got teary eyed. Her best friend John, became addicted to pain pills after a bad fall that broke his neck earlier this year. “He doesn’t have insurance. He was getting therapy at Beaumont hospital and making progress, and didn’t have the coverage to continue. The nursing home is really far, I haven’t been able to see him,” she explained. I’ve heard stories like this before. My other friend was surprised. Many people with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) cannot get the adequate care they need to recover. It’s so tragic. “We had a fundraiser, and raised $11,000 dollars. His wheelchair alone cost $37,000,” she continued.

Lifetime costs of someone with SCI are anywhere from $1,000,000 to $3,000,000, depending upon their level of injury. In Michigan, we have something called “no-fault” insurance. This usually applies to automobile coverage, in which accident victims receive direct payment from the company with which they themselves are insured. They cover physical therapies or any appointments related to their accident, no matter whose fault it is.

I also had an accident. While crossing the street on my way to school, at sixteen years old, I was hit by a car. It was auto-related. I was a minor, and my father had insurance at the time. Thus, for life, I am covered for physical therapies, or any appointments related to my accident because Michigan has no-fault insurance. It relieves a lot of tension, and avoids hassle.

We are one of a few states that has it. There is a battle to try and ban it. If that were to happen, people would have a limited number of physical therapy sessions per year. I’ve completed maybe several hundred hours of physical therapy. A “fixed” number of therapy sessions would not be enough. How could anyone get out of a wheelchair and walk, with a fixed number of therapy sessions? With a spinal cord injury it would be hard.

The problem is people like John, and others whose stories I’ve heard either exhaust their savings, or simply cannot afford to get well. I met a guy who fell from a tree while hunting, and became spinal cord injured. He was athletic, a gym teacher, and no one would’ve thought. He had a fundraiser, as did John, but how much can fundraisers cover with the outrageous rising costs of healthcare and physical therapy? It’s almost as if you have to be a millionaire, to get injured. Only then could you afford it.

Motor vehicle crashes account for 40.4% of reported SCI cases. The next most common cause is falls at 27.9%, acts of violence at 15.0%, recreational sporting activities 8.0%, and other/unknown 8.5% – according to http://Mikeutley.org  

Physical therapy can cost anywhere from $100-150 dollars per hour. Sometimes more! I’m blessed to have coverage. I receive physical therapy two times per week. I go to the gym alone the other times. I thank God I’m healthy. Now I’m able to walk with forearm crutches. I’m hoping to recover enough to walk with no walking device. But what if my circumstances were different? What if my accident wasn’t auto-related, or my father didn’t have insurance? What if I was not in Michigan, and in a state that didn’t have no-fault?

Let’s keep a prayer for all of the spinal cord injured in our hearts..