Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Nicole Sparks

 

“Want to know who’s not practicing social distancing? These babies! Because they just keep coming,” says Nicole Sparks, a physician of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Atlanta, Georgia. “And I fully expect to have an influx of babies approximately 9-10 months from now. (Laugh out loud)!”

Nicole has been an OB GYN for almost five years, but her interest in the medical field started as a young girl. Growing up, she marveled at how her family pediatrician would perform back to back visits for her four siblings and herself and never lose patience. Her doctor cared for them with such kindness that it imprinted on Nicole’s heart. She knew she wanted to follow in the same career path.

Since becoming a physician, never did Nicole dream that she would find herself working during a pandemic. She says, “This is unchartered territory. The biggest challenge I am facing as a physician at this time is trying to keep my patients calm in the midst of grave uncertainty. The field of OB GYN is unique in that we are taking care of two patients at any time—both the mother and her baby. Mothers are extremely worried at this time. They are afraid of what the future holds for their pregnancy and their delivery. They are looking for us to have all the answers, and unfortunately we are navigating this new territory too, just like they are.”

In order to promote peace during this time of uncertainty, Nicole’s first priority has been to remain calm and educate herself so that she can strengthen and encourage her patients. Nicole says, “Pregnancy is supposed to be a beautiful time, and it has been plagued by a pandemic. So as a physician, I feel it is my duty to encourage my patients and provide them with information that will keep them safe. We took an oath when we became physicians to do no harm. That is what I intend to do, especially during a time like this.”

The outlook can be bleak sometimes, but there is something that will always light up the darkness—the wonderful gift of life when a child is born. They are the picture of innocence. They are our hope for tomorrow. Thank you to Nicole and all OB GYN physicians for assisting mothers and their beautiful babies, in all seasons. You are our frontline heroes. We are grateful to you.

In closing, let us remember and dwell on the good in this world. Let us shift our focus to the positive things. Nicole said it perfectly in a recent Instagram post. “I hope if nothing else that this time away from work and busyness helps people realize what really matters most. I hope this time helps us to focus on our loved ones, on really connecting with each other, and connecting with ourselves. Take the news in doses. Guard your heart. Guard your peace. We will get through this. Together.”

~Written By Catie Cordero (A Diverse Global Article)

Honroing Our Frontline Heroes: Kid’s Food Basket

Did you know that 1 in 5 Michigan children go hungry every day?

As I continue the series “Honoring Our Frontline Heroes,” the organization I am featuring today holds a special place in my heart as they serve my local community in Michigan. Kids’ Food Basket (KFB) is a non-profit organization that is working to change the above-mentioned statistic by providing nutritious evening meals to kids, and engaging the community through volunteering and education.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many citizens are suffering from unemployment, which causes the crisis of hunger to grow. There are many vulnerable families that are not able to go to the store or get the resources they need, which is why Kids’ Food Basket is critical.

KFB has created an Emergency Response Program. They have divided their volunteers into three teams. On a team’s designated week, they will be the only ones to enter the KFB building to assemble the meals. In this way, they lessen risk and should one of the teams go into quarantine, the other teams will be able to continue assembly and distribution.

According to Bridget Clark Whitney, the President and Founding CEO of Kids’ Food Basket, “What both launches me out of bed in the morning and keeps me awake at night is the unimaginable number of 75,000 local kids experiencing food insecurity who didn’t have what they needed prior to the crisis. While the Shelter in Place policy is a critical step to stop COVID-19, the ramifications to vulnerable populations will be incalculable. There were 75,000 children across our four counties that were qualified for federally subsidized breakfast and lunch, now, with Shelter in Place, healthy food resources, which were already expensive for struggling families, have become that much more difficult to access.”

In just two weeks time, KFB packed and distributed 73,302 healthy meals to over 60 sites across four counties (Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa & Allegan).

Bridget goes on to say, “Over the last two weeks, I’ve felt a constant duality in my personal response to this crisis – it guts me knowing how many of our community members are struggling, and we’re just at the beginning of the impact. At the same time, I’m energized and encouraged by the prospect of deep growth. Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of humanity, and collectively, we are at war with a virus. This war will force us to dig deep, build grit, discover tenacity, and problem solve…when things are at their worst, we have the opportunity to be at our best.”

Thank you to the volunteers of KFB who are on the frontlines continuing to provide meals to children through this worldwide crisis. You are heroes.

Donations can be made on their website (https://www.kidsfoodbasket.org) or text KFB to 56651.

Check out the article by Bridget Clark Whitney called “Food distribution for kids during COVID 19” for more information. (https://www.rapidgrowthmedia.com/features/kids_food_basket_covid19_response.aspx?fbclid=IwAR2JW2fLXw08y_RmIGDBdHzwylABph0PiIfcARbDvHC5DAyy5kOwxDyiGSk)

#CovidCantStopGOOD

~Written by Catie Cordero (A Diverse Global Article)

Are You Blind?

“Seeing” isn’t easy in our fast-paced, self-focused society. Life goes by in a blur as we rush ahead from one task to the next.

I’m guilty of this. I’m a super-motivated-achiever type of personality, which can lend to blindness.

It has taken bumps in the road in order to force me to slow down. These bumps (deep hurts, miscarriages, illnesses, tragedies) have brought me a new awareness on life. An awareness that I needed because ultimately we’re all born with innate selfishness. Of course, the way we respond to the bumps of life will also determine our route—toward bitterness or betterment. I traveled bitterness highway for a season, luckily, God helped me find a detour back to betterment road.

What I have discovered along the way is that the hardships have produced an empathy and compassion inside of my heart that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The pain I have experienced helped me recognize the pain in others and sympathize with them. My hardships gave me new sight.

The day my nephew, Levi, was diagnosed with a duplication syndrome, my sight was again, refocused. I became aware of the struggles and obstacles facing, not only a child with special needs, but also the family. I grew observant to those I came in contact with. My heart expanded, longing to celebrate the beauty of all our differences and how we are all uniquely fashioned by a God who does not make mistakes. My nephew might have MECP2 duplication syndrome, he might be non-verbal, and his development comes slow, but he is perfect. No one can take his place. The world needs Levi in it. The same way the world needs each one of us.

No one can replace you. You are uniquely crafted and designed by the hands of a loving God. Even if you do not believe in a Creator—to bad, He believes in You. He made you.

He made our beautifully diverse world with its beautifully diverse colors. Oh, how lovely it is.

Let’s open our eyes and SEE the wonder around us.

Altered: A Flash Fiction Story

 

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I wasn’t always like this.

I used to be a shining star, a person with abundant potential, destined for greatness. Then the episodes came.

They moved upon me like mist overtaking the sea. At first, I tried to hide the shame of my agony, but I live in a small town. No one can hide secrets in a small town. My episodes are too vile to hide. When they wreak their havoc, I am tormented, unable to eat, sleep or find composure. I rock and scream and plead for death to come.

My friends have abandoned me, the insane one. I had once hoped to find love and happiness. But now, I know that’s impossible. I am outcast. Destined to die in this broken, ruined shell of a woman. The nights are long and lonely. There’s no hope for me.

So I thought.

But then, he came. The man with the haunting eyes came to our village. I stayed on the outskirts of the crowd, watching and twitching as he spoke. As I drew a step nearer to hear him, those closest to me moved aside, not wanting to brush shoulders with someone unclean. I don’t blame them. I know what I am. Suddenly he stopped talking and looked directly at me. I trembled harder, sensing his gaze pierce into my ugly soul.

Breaking through the crowd, he came to meet me, face to face.

I shriveled backward in fear, begging him to keep his distance.

He extended his hand and touched my cheek. “Peace to you, dear one.”

Instantly, the plague in my mind ceased.

“Come, Mary.” He smiled. “Your future awaits.”

I followed him, with a heart overwhelmed by hope. Today I, Mary Magdalene, found Love.

Altered: A Flash Fiction Story by Catie Cordero
Picture Adapted from polyvore.com

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.”

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Handling Change: Insight from Author Lynn Austin

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My book club pictured with Lynn Austin.

I had the pleasure of hearing multi-published author, Lynn Austin speak two nights ago. She spoke about how the world continues to change but there are three things that can help us and our children as change comes.

  1. Remember that God is unchanging. We can put our hope in Him because he is certain and secure. We have complete acceptance in Christ, not for what we do, but who we are. Nothing can separate us from His love.
  2. Find God’s plan for your life. You are significant and your life matters. We have a purpose in this life.
  3. Live by God’s words (the Bible)

I TOLD YOU: a poem of hope

This poem was written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox in 1905. I painted this watercolor today  in honor of spring and new hope.  Dear readers, there is always hope. No matter what your “winter” has brought;  spring will come.

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Band-Aid the Broken

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In life, we all experience being wounded and broken.

I’ve gone through seasons of deep sorrow. I lost my first baby girl, Shiloh, in December of 2011, and my heart felt like it was ripped open. And ten months later, I lost another baby, Selah. I felt my heart’s wound widen and the pain grow deeper.

In those times, I could hardly muster creativity or the desire to write. But my counselor advised me, “Catie keep writing. Journal through your thoughts and emotions. Writing is your outlet, and it will bring you healing.” (For those of you who are also writers, I want to say that out of the heart, our writing springs and when our hearts are wounded and broken, sometimes it leaks more than it flows. But that is okay.)

In my pain I journaled:

Surviving a Broken Heart
The news comes so unexpectedly
At first all is well, then ends in tragedy
To lose a life so small it seems
Unfair with all the sorrow it brings
How can a heart survive the blow
That grief drives in so deep, so low
It filters through the body and more
The spirit, the soul, they all feel sore
Lord mend the wound that bleeds inside
Send peace and grace into my mind
I can’t walk this journey alone
I need your help to make me strong

 

Not only did I journal, but I would pray, which wasn’t easy when the last thing I felt like doing was praying. But God showed me something very special as I brought him my pain. He showed me a picture of my heart with a jagged wound down the middle, but sealing the tear shut was a big pink “Hello Kitty” Band-Aid.

A memory flashed through my mind of me as a child repeatedly falling off my bike and scraping my knees. I would come into the house crying. My knees would be torn up and bleeding. Dad or Mom would rub my back and tell me it’s going to be okay. They would wash away the blood, put on triple-antibiotic ointment, apply a Band-Aid, and place a kiss on the boo-boo and say, “All Better.”

This is what Father God did for me.

I came to Him with my torn heart. He looked at the wound and said, “It’s going to be okay.” He wiped away my tears and rubbed my back. Then He washed the wound clean with His love. He applied an antibiotic salve of peace and covered the wound with a Band-Aid. Placing a kiss on the boo-boo, He said, “It will heal.”

This is the truth I have found. The Lord desires to Band-Aid our broken hearts. We can take our pain to him.

If you are struggling in a season of brokenness, I want you to know that God desires to bring you healing. Sometimes it is hard to understand how a loving God can allow the hardships of sickness, impairments, grief, loss, and death. And though it is a paradox to me, I know that it’s still better to press into God, than pull away from him. It’s in his arms that I find hope.