In the past ten years, I lost a life-long dream of riding on the United States Equestrian Team, I sustained a traumatic brain injury and was forced to relearn to read, write, walk and talk again. Sometime later, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
I faced numerous, illegal access denials with the very canine assistant who made life bearable again; and was often turned away from businesses and shopping centers, forced to return back to the prison of my disabilities. Because of lack of awareness of service dogs and invisible disabilities, I've been made fun of by children, sneered and snickered at by adults, when in public with the very assistance that made it possible for me to get out into the world again.
After overcoming overwhelming odds, I became pregnant with the child I'd yearned for, yet was told would be impossible due to medical complications. The man to whom I'd pledged my heart and life to, abandoned me in my pregnancy and I was forced to embark on parenthood alone, without support.
In October of 2006, I sustained a brutal attack from a drunken family member and endured threats and harassment that caused me to lose my home and become homeless with a (then three-year-old) child and my service dogs.
Whew! That sure was a big hill to climb! Let's put a positive spin on this, shall we?
I've learned so much through the adversity that I've faced in my life. I've had more than my share, that's for sure! But that's the good news. That's right! I know from what the bible tells me, that everything that has been taken from me will come back to me double.
More than that, my faith, my self-confidence, and my sense of self have been strengthened through my adversity. In retrospect, I see that this journey has afforded me many opportunities that I otherwise would've missed out on; and I wouldn't' change that for the world.
God doesn't give us more than we can handle, right? Well, I don't think God makes bad things happen; the sin of the world does that. But God does use our challenges to His great plan for us. God allows us to go through things in order to "mold" us and shape us into better people using the challenges that confront us. Many times, we resist such "molding" as change is difficult; and we get very comfortable in our lives. But life is not about being comfortable! No, it's about stretching and challenging ourselves to grow, and God allows challenges to do that.
Have you ever noticed a time in your life when things just kept going from bad to worse? No matter how much you fought against the situation, you always came up feeling defeated? When we continue to resist challenges and change, we do ourselves a huge disservice, as inevitably, many more challenges confront us until we finally submit to them and learn what we are meant to. It is only then that we are "promoted" to the next level of blessings that God has in store for us.
I believe that God has led me down this path for a reason. Through my adversity, I've been led to a new career as a motivational speaker. Through this experience, I was inspired to start my own ministry (The Canine and Abled Ministry). I've been given a voice, and a passion to fulfill my mission.
Not only am I teaching about the wonderful benefits of service dogs, but I'm sharing my spiritual experiences with others, and inviting them to reach out to God so that He may work wonders in their lives as well. What an honor that is! To be up on a stage in order to share the glory of His love with others is a great reward for my fortitude and faith through adversity.
Our Thoughts, Our Reality
Our lives are shaped by our thoughts. And thoughts are such powerful things! By thinking negatively, we block out the ability of God's love to penetrate the darkness and alleviate our problems. Alternatively, when we turn to God on a regular basis, and especially in times of turmoil; we have the faith and ability to remain calm in the storms of our lives. This calmness enables us to take advantage of opportunities that He sends our way; ones that we often miss when we are too caught up in negative thoughts and worry.
Dear God,...I want it NOW!
Our society is one that demands things immediately. Instant gratification is the sign of our times; but that isn't God's timing at all. When our prayers are not instantaneously answered (as if by some magic genie), we get soured, thinking that God did not hear our prayer, or care to answer us.
Quite the opposite is true! God hears every prayer; but it is not up to us how it is answered. He is working behind the scenes in our lives, doing things that we can't even imagine; putting things together in His own perfect timing. When we get frustrated and give up by thinking negatively, we cancel out all the good He was trying to accomplish... And then we have the nerve to blame God!
In order to get "in sync" with God, we have to trust Him... In good times and in bad. He is there for us in every moment of our lives, but many of us only call on Him when there is a dire need; forgetting to maintain a relationship with him on a day to day basis.
God wants to be part of everything and every day in our lives! He wants to be invited in to share your triumphs, and comfort through the tragedies. He wants to rejoice with us, mourn with us, and support us. He wants to be our friend; and this is the part that I really keyed in on--God wants to be my friend. How cool is that?! The all-powerful creator of the Universe wants to be MY friend! Imagine missing out on that opportunity!
I invited God into my heart after my accident in 1998. Up until then, I'd attended church, but didn't really have a close relationship with Him, because I didn't know how; or even knew it was possible, for that matter.
After my accident, I had a near-death experience. I came back to "this life" with lessons that I know He's been prompting me to share. I have the need to share my experiences with others; and encourage them to invite God into their lives and watch their dreams take wing.
Speaking to faith-based groups is one of my most favorite things to do! I feel as though I'm not speaking; but that I'm being spoken through. It is in those times, that an indescribable joy, like no other, bubbles up and overwhelms me when I share His good deeds in my life---and I have learned that this is how I am to know that I am using the talents that He has instilled in me to his Glory.
I am still without a permanent home. I am still a single parent without support. I still battle my disabilities everyday; and still am affected by illegal access denial in regard to my service dog. However, my heart is filled with the joy of the Lord, and I am secure in the knowledge that I am right where He has meant me to be. I share my life and the stage with my closest canine companions, and am the mother of a beautiful and incredible little girl... I can't see anything but good in that synopsis... Further proof that God knows exactly what He's doing!
Just imagine for a moment, what my life would have been had I not followed a positive thinking approach and fell into the negative, self-pitying thought process that would have been oh, so much easier. I would have missed out on all the wonderful opportunities that God had in store for me!
I know that by remaining in faith and speaking positive affirmations over my life, that I am allowing God to do some very important work in the background of my life.
While I'm on stage, speaking the words that He is providing to me, He is backstage, arranging an amazing future for my daughter and I. He promises that He will restore all that has been taken from me double; if only I remain in faith and allow Him to work in His due and perfect time. It's all good. My job is to rest my troubles upon Him, and enjoy the incredible journey that He has so masterfully mapped out for me.
How many opportunities have you missed in your life because you grumbled, complained or spoke negatively over your problems? Don't dwell on them; but be aware of them, so that the next time you go through a storm in your life, you turn to God instead of to negative thinking. I promise He can take your storm and use it to plant seeds in a bright new future! Trust in Him and be prepared to see miracles in your life.
About the author: Kimberly is first and foremost a proud, single Mom to five-year-old, Sarah. She is a successful author and motivational speaker. In 1999, Kimberly founded Canine and Abled, Inc., an award-winning program that advocates for service dog handlers and educates about the benefits of service dogs. Her first book, "Canine and Abled, Taking The Dis--Out of Disabled" was published in 2004 and details Kimberly's former career as an Olympic hopeful to the founding of the much acclaimed educational program. To contact: www.KimberlyCarnevale.com or www.CanineAndAbled.com
Copyright © 2008 by Kimberly Carnevale and
Sarah Lynn Communications, L.L.C.