Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Josh West

Josh West entered emergency medicine because of his mother-in-law’s passion for her role as an RN in Florida. Josh says, “She talked me into getting my EMT license, and I’ve loved the job ever since! I love the thrills of the job, but I also enjoy making a difference in people’s lives, even if it’s just being someone who will listen to them.”

When Josh chose to enter the medical field, he went all in. Prior to moving back to Michigan, Josh worked in Florida for eleven years as a Firefighter/Paramedic for Polk County Fire Rescue, as an EMT with Transcare Ambulance Service in Tampa, and as a Patient Care Technician in Spring Hill.

Today, Josh West works at Metro Health Hospital in Michigan as an RN in the emergency department. While this is his full-time job, he also works as a paid-on-call Firefighter/EMT for Zeeland Township Fire Rescue.
Josh says that “it’s strange with the Covid-19 response now. After all of the media coverage initially, it was somewhat frightening. Locally, we saw all of the coverage from Detroit and anticipated to be hit hard like they were. Fortunately, we have not seen those kinds of numbers here. Hopefully, we won’t. We have, however, been preparing for the worst and hoping for the best! And sending up lots of prayers!”

We are thankful that we have healthcare workers and first responders, like Josh, who are prepared for anything.

The message that Josh would pass along is to “please take this seriously, especially as the stay-at-home orders are relinquished. There is a very likely chance that a second wave of cases will come through so please continue to practice social distancing.”

~A Diverse Global Article written by Catie Cordero

Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Samuel Ortega

For the last three years, Samuel Ortega has worked as a first responder for the Norton Shores Fire Department. A passion for this field arose at a young age, watching his father serve the community in Los Angeles City Fire Department in California. Sam loved visiting the station and climbing all over the trucks.

Sadly, his father passed away from ALS, which was triggered by firefighting work. The loss was devastating and for years Sam pushed away the calling to join Fire Service, but God had other plans.

Only God would know that Sam’s service would be needed at such a time as this. Even though the call volume has lowered, the stress and mental load is much heavier. Protocols are changing daily, sometimes hourly. As a first responder, being ready and adaptable is key. Even before Covid-19, the department had a certain amount of P.P.E. (Personal Protective Equipment) to wear, and now, the P.P.E. required is greater—regardless if a patient is assumed positive or negative for coronavirus.

With every case they face, our responders must recognize and face the danger. Unfortunately with Covid-19, the danger doesn’t end at the conclusion of their shift. As they return home, they dump their clothes in the washing machine and jump in the shower, hoping to protect their own families. The danger is real, but they face it for us.

Each day, Sam and his team strive to be at their best in order to keep the community safe. Sam says that it is a hard balance between doing his job safely and wanting to jump right in and help. “For the community, we keep our heads down and keep moving forward. This too shall pass,” says Sam. “While I think our normal will definitely be a “new normal” this will pass.”

We are grateful for Samuel and all first responders. Being on the frontlines is challenging physically, emotionally, and mentally. Please join us in praying for these great men and women. Please remember Sam and his family in your prayers.

And remember these last words from Samuel Ortega…“Think for yourself, don’t believe everything and anything the media tells you. Use precaution but don’t live and operate out of fear. And above all, keep your faith.”

~A Diverse Global Article, Written by Catie Cordero

Honoring Our Frontine Heroes: The National Guard

In states all across America, the National Guard is rising up to offer assistance and join the fight against COVID-19. Their ability to remain flexible and adaptive in the ever-changing circumstances make their contribution during this crisis invaluable.

These amazing men and women are helping in food banks, running drive-thru testing stations, distributing medical equipment, staffing call centers, and setting up treatment sites, just to name a few.

According to Sgt. Jacob Winton, a member of the Tennessee National Guard, “When you join the National Guard, you just want to be able to help your community in times like this.”

And that’s exactly what they’re doing, whatever it takes.

In Charleston, West Virginia, almost 350 members of their National Guard are helping to deliver critical medical supplies to healthcare workers, educate stores and restaurants on protective measures, distribute food, direct traffic at drive-thru testing sites, and provide information and analytics to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Major General James Hoyer said, “Our men and women are showcasing the innovation, determination, and driving spirit of our force in their actions to assist the State of West Virginia each and every day.”

We are honored by the National Guard’s sacrificial service to our country and to our communities. Thank you for being on the frontlines.

For more information and stories on all the wonderful things the National Guard is doing, please visit: https://www.nationalguard.mil/News/.

TO BE WELL

If you had asked me last week, “Catie, are you well?” I would have told you no. 

The weeks leading up to last week were not kind to me. Between a series of rejections, failings, and flare-up of my auto-immune disease, I emotionally collapsed. I did not feel well mentally, emotionally, and physically. I wanted to cave. I wanted to quit. I wanted to be sad. Not a great place to be. I was letting my outward journey determine my inward journey. I was letting disappointments dictate the wellness of my soul. Negative thoughts can be quite alluring in the valleys of life. But what does negative thinking achieve? Nothing. Does it make me feel better? No. But did I feel justified in my negative thoughts–yes. That’s the catch. That is what makes them alluring. I feel I have a right to think negatively and be sad and throw myself a this-isn’t-fair party. So I did. I dwelt in that space for a few weeks. It made me more depressed.

Then, God spoke to my heart and said, “Enough. It’s time to move on.” He, of course, was right. It was time to move on. I cleaned up my office space. I put my storyboard away. I filed all current books-in-progress. I have to stop striving to make things happen that just aren’t happening.

I can’t control my health. I can’t control my publishing career. I can’t control the unknown. But, I can rest in Jesus. I can let go. I have to let go. 

In my last novel, Marvel and Mayhem, my main character, Mattie, wrestles with anger toward the song and belief, “It is Well With My Soul.” She feels that the song was a lie. Life hasn’t been good to her. Each character in Marvel and Mayhem is confronted with hardships on some level and must respond to it–either with resentment or surrender to God. My youngest character in the novel, Effie Emery, understands surrender. She knows that no matter how bad things may get, with the Lord holding our hand through it, we can still say, it is well with my soul.

As you can guess, I’m more like Mattie. Surrender doesn’t come natural to me. But God hasn’t given up on me. I see more clearly now that God called me to write Marvel and Mayhem because He knew I needed to process this journey with Mattie. We are connected, her and I. God has been leading to me a place of relinquishing control and placing my trust in Him.

The lyrics of the old hymn say, “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

I’m still working through this. It doesn’t come natural to me. BUT, I know one thing for sure, I am reaching out and God is reaching back. This is WELL. With Him holding my hand, I can be WELL.

 

If you are interested in my novel, here’s a quick link for more information:

https://amzn.to/2Wv17Oa

 

 

 

 

A Must Read Book: A Place to Land

A Place to Land is a globe-spanning memoir that wrestles with the question, ”Where is my home?” Kate Motaung watched ”home” slip away again and again–through her parents’ divorce, a foreclosure, two international moves, ten rental homes in ten years, and her mother’s terminal battle with cancer. Add in the challenge of a cross-cultural marriage, and Kate was constantly adapting to a new environment. Through her experiences, you’ll realize–as she did–that no matter where we go or what we do, this world is not our home.

This book  is exceptionally well-written. It has moved me to tears. Kate’s story is powerful. I felt as though I was experiencing her life’s journey alongside of her. Her keen attention to detail and vivid description made each scene come to life. I felt her fears, her joys, her sorrows. Kate is a brave storyteller, speaking about the hard times and good times in her journey. Her vulnerable honesty ministered to my heart. Please, read this book. It’s beautiful.

 

3 Truths That Can Calm Your Anxiety

This is a post from my friend and fellow author, Christie Thomas. It spoke to my heart this morning and I hope it will help you too. Enjoy.

///

Snowflakes swirled around us as we said goodnight. He brushed accumulated snow off his car, then drove away, leaving deep tracks in the road. No one else wanted to drive tonight, but he had to get home. And home was 2 1/2 hours down a dark and slippery highway. It was a weekend like any…

via 3 truths to remember when the storm rages — Christie Thomas

The Benefits of Discomfort

It’s uncanny how going stag to a conference can revert me into an insecure high school student.

img_0033

I fretted over whom I would talk to, whom I would sit with, and whom I would have lunch with. My mind hustled to remedy a plan. The morning of the conference, I prepared to text a friend when I felt a soft nudge in my spirit telling me, no. “No, Catie you don’t need a safety net. Go and meet new people. Be open and see what happens.”

Though it made me anxious, I listened to that subtle voice inside. Entering the building for the Breathe Writer’s Conference, I determined to make it memorable. At times, I felt uncomfortable and shy, but I pushed past those feelings, introduced myself, and met many great and inspiring people. If not for the discomfort of being alone, I wouldn’t have been forced to make friends.

If I had arranged to hang out with people I already knew in attendance, I wouldn’t have met such a wide array of amazing, vibrant, and creative individuals. I wouldn’t have met Pearl, a writer of inspiring blogs called “LookUpSometimes.” I wouldn’t have met Alyssa whose posts bring awareness to mission work in South Africa. I wouldn’t have met the adorable illustrator, Cathryn. I wouldn’t have met writers: George, Donald, Christina, Marianna, Kelli or sci-fi Sam.

I walked away not only enriched by the conference sessions, but by the extraordinary people I met while I was there. The initial discomfort produced the benefits of lasting memories, encouragement, and inspiration.

This principle applies to more than just conferences. We need to be okay with getting uncomfortable. We need to push ourselves out of our normal social spheres, beyond our same cultures, past our same skin colors, even outside of our beliefs and meet people different than ourselves.  Because when we do, amazing things can happen, and I believe we become better versions of ourselves.

14720563_1457801500914115_7547701500316983475_n
Pearl and I at Breathe

From the Ashes I Will Rise

I’ve been listening to the song “Resurrecting” by Elevation Worship on a daily. The lyrics are incredible. I even got pulled over the other day while listening to it because I was so engrossed in the song that I lost track of my speed! Luckily, the police gave me a warning.

I painted this picture as a representation of the lyrics, “By your spirit I will rise. From the ashes of defeat. The resurrected King, is resurrecting me.”

IMG_2598