Food for the Soul
3/18/15 at 03:33 PM 1 Comments

Q&A with author and speaker Zoe Hicks

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Talk about your background and why you became an author and a speaker.
For over thirty years, I practiced tax and estate planning law, helping families get their financial affairs in order and take care of children and grandchildren. I enjoyed my career as a lawyer, but wanted to move into inspirational speaking and writing because I had been helped so much by inspirational authors over the years. My husband and I closed our law office in 2008 and I began writing more. I had been a speaker at legal conferences for years, but now I wanted to speak in the area of my inspirational writings. I told my friends at church and was invited to speak at women’s conferences, retreats, and other groups in various places. I sometimes combine my legal and financial training and do presentations like “Ten Things Every Woman Should Know About Money,” talking about basic financial principles as well as the joys of giving and tithing. The material presented is equivalent to reading several books on financial planning, which most people don’t want to do, and teaching a spiritual principle that is paradoxical, but true. Although I do use my legal and financial training in presentations at times, my main focus is helping people achieve their dreams and overcome difficulties and hard times. Dreams are attainable if we will continue to believe and work in spite of setbacks, discouragements, and fear. My books contain many examples in every area of people who have done that.

What inspired your book Dancing in the Rain?
Dancing in the Rain is my most recent book. I wanted to write a book that would help people who were going through hard times, sharing stories of others who had gone through hard times physically, emotionally, or financially and come out stronger, more resilient, and more grateful that before. The title came from a saying by an American author and illustrator, Vivian Greene, who wrote, “We are not here to wait for the storm to pass, but to learn to dance in the rain.” As we learn to dance in the rain, we conquer fear, doubt and worry, three negative emotions that hold us back and keep us from accomplishing our goals. We also learn valuable life lessons that, once we make it through the storm, we can pass on to others, becoming mentors to them when they go through tough times down the road. The book includes stories about dealing with physical pain, a family whose child disappeared, overcoming a so-called terminal illnesses, facing extreme discrimination, living in a war zone, being a caregiver for decades, raising two Down’s syndrome children, and loss of eyesight.

My first book, Dream Catcher: The Power of Faith, was written to help people harness the amazing power of faith. Years ago, I had a strange urge to go to the library and check out a book on quantum physics. I found one written by a physicist who could explain things in lay language. I was fascinated and hooked. What physicists were discovering was that we can control particles of matter with our minds. Their discoveries changed their view of the cause and effect world that previous scientists had taught and believed. In continuing my reading, I saw that our beliefs control our DNA and what we truly believe can change any circumstance. Then, I saw the same principle in the Bible. St. Paul taught, in the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Jesus taught, “Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea, and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:23-24)

There have been secular books written about this amazing power, but I wanted to write a book coupling discoveries of scientists with the teachings of the Bible. I wanted to present the concepts in a way God’s people could understand and use them. It often takes a while for religion to catch up with science and vice versa. Both religion and science seek truth, they just come at it differently. Here, the discoveries of scientists are confirming the Biblical teachings. Dream Catcher explains that and shows us how to put this power to work in our lives.

You became involved in building a school in Liberia. How did that come about?
In 2009, my husband and I had a chance to go on a mission trip to Liberia. While there, I had the chance to meet with the women leaders of the country. I asked them, “What is your greatest need?” Every single one of them said, “Education.” Years of civil war had destroyed the schools and the government was broke, with no money to rebuild the schools. The only schools that were being built were being built by churches. When I got home, I called my co-president of our church’s women’s group and we met for lunch and I asked her if she thought our women could build a school in Liberia for children in a third world country that would otherwise not be able to get an education. With an education, they had a chance to get out of poverty. Without one, their chances were minimal. We also wanted to make sure the girls in Liberia were educated, because the traditional thinking was that only the boys, who would become head of households, needed to be educated. The problem with the traditional thinking was that it wasn’t working. Boys became men who too often did not support their families. My co-president was all for the project, so we made a presentation to our Board, who, in a nutshell, thought we had lost our minds. We had to take a step back and come up with a new proposal to study the issue for six months. The Board agreed to that and appointed a committee of seven to look into the project. At the end of the six months, we knew we had opposition, so we decided to vote by secret ballot so no one would feel pressured. The day we voted, we passed out the ballots, telling everyone who had heard the committee’s report, to vote as God led. We collected the ballots and handed them to the treasurer and assistant treasurer, who took them out to count them. After a few minutes, the treasurer came back in and leaned over between us. She whispered, “It’s unanimous. We are going to build a school in Liberia.” We all just broke up and started shedding tears of joy. We were so excited that God had confirmed the dream in such a dramatic way.

Once we had all the funds raised, we took our first mission team over to begin work on the project. For two weeks we worked on the foundation of the school with no power tools --only wheelbarrows, shovels and big containers used to haul dirt. The men and women there came out to help us, and we were fascinated that the women carried the containers of dirt on their heads. It was exhausting work. But, we made wonderful friends and got to see how excited the people were that a school would soon be in the area. We left with a good part of the foundation completed, knowing our Liberian workers would finish the school. The school opened about 18 months after that, with 250 students in grades K-6. We took another mission team, with eight teenagers, over to put in a school library and build the playground. One of the highlights of that trip was putting in a well, so the children could have fresh water. The day we “christened” the well, the kids came with their empty water bottles to fill them up, and were so happy. Every time we go to work on the school, the Liberian kids plan a program for us, with music and recitations of poems or other things they are learning. Their sweet expressions of gratitude bring tears to our eyes and joy to our hearts as we marvel at how much education means to them and how our project touches the lives of these little ones so far away.

Talk about your involvement with ending human trafficking.
Most people think slavery ended in America with the Emancipation Proclamation, but the sad reality is that millions of people all over the world live in slavery today. Under the umbrella of human trafficking, there is labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Both are tragic, and involve marginalized people being forced to work in ways that are inhumane, degrading, and abusive. I am a volunteer speaker for a faith-based group called Street Grace, whose mission is to end domestic minor sex trafficking. I speak to civic groups, church groups and government groups about how young women (and sometimes young men) are abducted, tricked, deceived and forced into this incredibly lucrative industry. They are threatened with beatings, family murders, and even death if they attempt to leave. We are in the prevention area and help people who work with teenagers to identify the early warning signs and get victims the help they need.

You speak a lot about prayer. Why is prayer so important and what do you tell people who are struggling with their prayer life?
As humans, we are limited. We can’t be everywhere; we can’t see everything; we can’t control a lot of things we wish we could, BUT God can! And, amazingly, God has chosen to work through the prayers of His people. The Bible says “Ye have not because ye ask not.” Through prayer, we can ask.
There are certain prayer principles we can know from what the Bible teaches us. For example, Psalm 100 says, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.” So, the prayer protocol is to begin with praise and thanksgiving. For people who struggle with prayer, I have two suggestions. First, try something different. I read a devotional recently about a woman, an artist, having trouble praying. A friend suggested she get some colored pencils and a sketch pad and sketch while she talked to God. She said as she pulled out different colors and drew the people she was praying about, she found it was easy to talk to God about them and the time started flying by. This woman found a way to pray that worked for her.

Another suggestion is to pray with the Bible. Start in Psalms. Pick a psalm, for example the 23rd Psalm. “The Lord is my Shepherd.” If I were doing this, I would thank God for being my shepherd, for providing for me, for protecting me, for making sure I had the best provisions, for petting me so I would know He loved me. “I shall not want.” I would thank God that He supplies all my needs. If I had a particular need at that time, I would tell Him, and ask Him to provide it for me or my family. Praying the psalms can bring images to our minds that will remind us to pray for people or things that we want and need to pray about or for. Some people pray while they are driving; some pray while they are walking or jogging. There are many ways to talk to God, just as there are many ways to talk to people.

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