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Personal Touch with Rebecca Cressman

Last week Rebecca Cressman of yourLDSneighborhood interviewed me. It was a wonderful experience and one I enjoyed very much. To listen, click here. To read, here is the transcript of that interview:

An Interview with Candace E. Salima

This is A Personal Touch, a chance to check in with ordinary people making an extraordinary difference in the world. I’m Rebecca Cressman and today we are pleased to be joined by Candace Salima. She is an author, a screenwriter. She has been a reporter, a religious speaker and a teacher, and more importantly she has been talking to others about the importance of staying positive and the lessons we can learn from adversity. And I mention that because as you have written and published books like Out of the Shadows and Into the Light and of course the football remembrance book called 13 and O, Reflections of Champions from the B.Y.U. Days," you’ve also put together a book that is very inspiring called Forged in the Refiner’s Fire.

Q: Candace tell me why you chose a book that would talk about how challenging life can be, but how that can work in our benefit?

A: Well, it’s really interesting because it seems as I get older that everywhere I turn people are undergoing astounding trials. I mean ones that seem to make them stumble, to waver in their faith, to simply just give up on life when those trials are merely put here for us to become stronger more effective people. And so when Elizabeth Cheever who is my co-author contacted me about doing this book together, we went ahead and sent an e-mail out to everyone we knew and asked them to forward it to everyone they knew, so that we could get stories that we felt would be inspiring. We read through hundreds of stories. And the ones that we chose specifically for this book were ones of people from all walks of life who had suffered tremendously, and when I say suffered tremendously I mean they really had. We followed how they went through those trials, how they overcame them, how they drew closer to the Lord in the process, because the overwhelming message of this book that we want to put to the world is that we were not meant to walk this path on Earth alone. That our Savior suffered in that Garden of Gethsemane, and again on that cross so that He could be with us and comfort us, and give us strength to overcome these trials and grow in the process. So that is why we chose to do the book.

Q: Well, and Candace, when you talk about the hundreds of stories that were coming your way and you are looking for diverse experiences, were you looking then for those who would tell what it’s like to go through physical challenges? What it’s like to go through emotional or relationship challenges? How wide of a scope were you casting?

A: Oh, we cast it as wide as we could. We have women that overcame prescription drug addictions. We had a world famous entertainer, Meryl Osmond, share an experience about when he and his brothers put on the inaugural show for Ronald Reagan and all the obstacles they ran into, including someone losing their life. And ranchers who had horses rear up on them and fall back and crush their pelvises, to women suffering…myself for instance…I had a story in there. I suffered eight miscarriages. I shared one particular story of when we tried the invitrio fertilization. So it really is across all scopes of trial. It is for every person. Not particularly for men and not particularly for women. We have an ex-S.W.A.T officer in there who lost his career due to a horrible injury on the job. Really! It just covers everything. It is for everyone. To strengthen them and help them feel capable in reading these stories and realizing, my goodness, maybe my life isn’t so bad. Or wow! They have it just as bad as I did. Look at how they overcame it. I can do this too!

Q: I appreciate you sharing also your personal experience, because it is a pain that so many people can relate to, Candace. I appreciate your generosity. I am assuming these individuals have all opened up some private portion of their lives and talked about fears. Besides the common goal of you as an author and your coauthor to show that there is spiritual support for those who are struggling, did you find other things in common in these different painful difficult journeys that each individual shared with you?

A: I really did. One of the overriding common themes was the darkness that just seemed to descend with the depression as each of us was dealing with that particular trial in our lives. The feelings of hopelessness and helplessness and how different things even just walking out for me...for instance...walking out and seeing the beautiful flowers in my garden. Looking over to the left and seeing those majestic Wasatch mountains up against the blue, blue sky, that alone would confirm to me that God existed and loved me because it was so beautiful. To others who heard a song that lifted them up out of that darkness for a moment, but every one of us went through a time where we gave up, and someone, something lifted us up.

Q: And again as you reach out to the community and I know Candace from your blog, and for those who have not had a chance to check out your blog, it is one of the most in depth blogs that I have seen out there. Where, you are not just using an opportunity to impress upon people the importance of having hope in life and having faith in life. You are not just taking opportunities to speak to people about that message that you feel so strongly in your heart, but you are also blogging about it. Writing about it, everyday! That is something that is also cathartic? Do you find that people enjoy sharing and hearing about your own personal insight?

A: They really do. I get lots of wonderful emails and comments from people who just say, “Thank you! I can do this. Now I know I can do this.” Do you know there is no greater compliment to me? No greater words that I can hear that, that book has helped someone to break out of that dark cloud and see the sunlight once again. Yes my blog, I share about that. I share about life in general. I share about the things we can do to become involved in the community. To maybe take that spotlight off of ourselves and start serving others. And in making the neighborhoods and communities better we become happier, stronger people. And so I really blog about every aspect of it.

Q: I noticed also that you spend a number of hours of your day writing. This book is out now, Forged in the Refiner’s Fire, but what are some of your future projects?

A: I have two projects that are in the works right now. One is called Standing on the Fifth which I am co-writing with Meryl Osmond. It is a fiction story amazingly enough. It is an action suspense geared towards the national audience. We are really excited about that, hoping to have that out by fall. Then the sequel to, Out of the Shadows Into the Light, which is called, Dreams Die Hard. That one I hope to have it out before years end as well.

Q: Do you enjoy writing non-fiction more than fiction or vice versa?

A: No I love them both. If my brain gets tired on one, I just flip over to the other. I have two books, non-fiction books I am working on as well. One is called, The Heart of a Woman, which addresses all the issues that women face today in every aspect of our lives; in motherhood, in being grandmothers and aunts and working in the corporate business. Whatever! Everything that we face and answers given to us by the Prophets and Apostles. And then one called, The Tale of Two Fathers. That is also non-fiction. The first half of the book will be about my biological father who had a horrible childhood, and then made choices that ruined his life. And then the father of my heart that my mother married when I was 17 had a much worse childhood than my biological father; had far more reason to curse God, and instead devoted his life to God: the changes and effects that he made across the nation, because he chose a different path. And so I just go back and forth. It just depends on what I wake up and want to work on that day.

Q: Fortunate are we that you wake up and want to work on something everyday because of our opportunity to read your stories. Now is it the father of your heart that was born in Germany during the war?

A: Yes, yes that is him. He passed away last year. I have felt over the year a stronger...well actually...an overwhelming need to pick up where he left off. He traveled all over the nation and shared his experiences during World War II, and what it was like to have a complete lack of freedom and privileges. And how privileged he felt to be an American. I have felt like I need to pick up that torch. This book is part of that. But I am also putting...my mother brought me a whole box of all his notes...and I am putting together a complete presentation to start doing to schools and churches as well on my father.

Q: I have one more question for you, Candace. As we touched earlier, you are sharing your ideas on blogs. You have a beautiful website, you have books that you are turning out, and you speak very often to different age groups. From the lessons you have learned in your life so far about putting challenges and adversity in perspective, what do you tell the younger generation when you stand before them and say, “I myself have suffered losses, but...” how do you continue that? That sentence for young individuals to be able to know what life might bring them?

A: Really life is a series of obstacles and triumphs. That is what it is. We were put on this earth to triumph over life. Not be crushed by it. Even at a teenage age they are surrounded by parents, by loving church leaders, by teachers at school, by friends, by family. Everywhere there is somewhere to turn for help. And certainly I always offer to every group I speak to if they feel completely alone, they are to remember Jesus Christ suffered for the grief and pain they are feeling at this very moment in time. And that I am happy to speak with them and they can email me, and I will refer them, if they need real help, I will refer them to some good sources. If they just need someone to talk to, I make myself available to talk to them. To just be a listening ear and to open their eyes and help them to see that they were sent here to accomplish great things. And they can’t do that as long as they don’t believe in themselves. They need to start believing in that divine spark that was born with them, and to flame it into a raging fire that will show a standard and a light unto the world. And stand shoulder to shoulder with every other youth in the world as standard bearers and emissaries of Jesus Christ.

Q: Candace, thank you so much, as you mention the word fire reminding us that she is the author of many books including, Forged in the Refiner’s Fire. With stories and lessons of what other’s have done when they have struggled with challenges and adversity. Thank you so much for taking a few moments of your time and joining us for a Personal Touch.

Thank you Rebecca, I appreciate it very much.

And we want to thank also our audience for joining us for this week’s edition of A Personal Touch. Be sure to check your email next Saturday to find out who else like Candace Salima is making a difference in our world with a personal touch.

End of interview.

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Personal Touch with Rebecca Cressman Personal Touch with Rebecca Cressman Reviewed by Candace Salima on Saturday, April 12, 2008 Rating: 5