Friday, July 29, 2005

Strengthening Me

Sometimes life is just too overwhelming for me.

I forget God is control and knows what He is doing. I forget that His plans for me are all laid out. I forget that all His intentions for me are for good. I forget He loves me.

Sometimes I just forget that He is there.

It takes me a while to remember what God is all about. He allows things in my life to help me gain perspective. He allows things in my life to draw me closer to Him. He allows things in my life to strengthen my faith. He allows things in my life so that I may rest in Him.

And when I do remember, I go to Him in prayer.

Then I find peace.

James 1:2-5
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to him.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Uncle Andy, Part 2

I woke up this morning with a prayer on my lips for my Uncle Andy.

At 8:00 I knew he was at the hospital.

At 10:00 I knew he was heading into surgery.

I said another quick prayer.

At 11:30 I wondered where my phone call was telling me everything had gone well.

I said another quick prayer.

At 11:45 I grabbed my phone to call my cousin.

I put it down and said another quick prayer.

At 12:05 my phone rang.

I grabbed it and said hello.

It went dead. I had lost reception.

I quickly ran to the land line.

It rang and it was someone else.

My heart beating, I quickly ended that conversation.

I said one more prayer.

I called my cousin.

She quickly filled me in.

"The surgery went really well and he is doing great."

I started to cry.

"Don't cry. Want to talk to Aunt Gerda?"

Aunt Gerda came to the phone.

"Hi. Uncle Andy is doing great. They got everything. They checked him out and the cancer did not spread. Uncle Andy is going to be just fine."

I cried some more.

"Don't cry, sweetheart."

"I'm sorry. I'm just glad he's going to be okay."

Aunt Gerda started crying.

We ended our conversation with a promise that she would call me later.

I hung up.

Crying, I thanked God for what He had just done for my Uncle Andy.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Uncle Andy

Yesterday, Chris, I and the boys were invited to my aunt and uncle's house for a birthday celebration for my cousin. I gladly accepted the invitation because I always enjoy my Uncle Andy and I don't get to see my family very often any more.

Most of my mom's side immigrated from Holland to the United States together. They settled down in Everett within blocks from each other. They found a church to attend nearby. I attended that church with my folks, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles and my cousins. Chris and I were married in that church and our boys were born into that church. A few years after Nathan was born, Chris and I decided to change churches. We are now happy members of Calvary Chapel Marysville :) I digress. . .It was a tough decision, but it was the move God had us make. As we left the church, we also left behind my family. I don't get to see them on a regular basis anymore, so I always happily accept any invitations to family get-togethers. Especially ones at Uncle Andy's house.

My folks took me camping when I was kid. We always went with Uncle Andy, Aunt Gerda, Jeannette and Jodie. We always had a good time. Uncle Andy would let us get away with anything and he could always make me laugh. Whether he told corny jokes or told the story of the Three Pittle Ligs, I was always in stitches.

I grew up practically living at their house. I was invited to come spend the night, hang out for a day or they would take me on one of their adventures. I loved being around my Uncle Andy.

One very fond memory I have of Uncle Andy is the way he would greet me. He would hold out his arms and yell "CORA". Then I would hold out my arms and yell "UNCLE ANDY". Then we would run to each other and give each other a big hug. He still greets me that way today.

I rushed Chris out of the house Sunday so we could get over there so I could give him one of my big hugs. When we got there, I didn't see him right away and began to visit with other uncle's and aunt's. I started up a conversation with his wife, my aunt, and his two daughters, my cousins. I don't recall exactly how the conversation came about, but I remember my aunt asking me "you mean, you don't know?" I looked from her to my cousins and asked "know what?"

"You really don't know?"

"No, I don't. What is it?"

Aunt Gerda told me. "Uncle Andy has prostate cancer."

I felt like a semi truck ran me over. "What?" I had to sit down.

"Oh, honey, I'm sorry. I thought your mom would have told you by now."

"No, mom hasn't told me. What is going on? How long have you known?"

"We have known about three weeks. He is going in for surgery on the 25th."

Just then, my Uncle Andy decided to step up to me. I was doing fine until I saw him. "Oh, Uncle Andy." And I started to cry.

He put his arms around me in one of those wonderful hugs I love so much. "It's okay. They caught it early enough. All the odds are in my favor. I am going to have surgery and I am going to be just fine."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, dear, I'm sure. I am going to be just fine."

I left that day giving him another big hug, telling him he was in my prayers and that I love him. Very much. And I look forward to the next big hug.

I am going to leave my Uncle Andy in God's hands. I trust that God knows what is best for him. I have faith, that no matter what happens, God's plans will be fulfilled.

But, if you remember, will you say a prayer for my Uncle Andy?

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Today my oldest son, Joshua, is 10 years old. It truly is an amazing miracle.

The first time this baby idea came up was over a Big Mac at McDonald's. We were discussing our friends and the baby they would have soon and the question came up "when are we going to have a baby?" It took us many Bic Macs, hours of talking and days of prayer to finally conclude that this was the path God was taking us down.

I took a test the day before Thanksgiving and sure enough, we were pregnant. We were ecstatic. We went to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy. My due date was set for July 27. We took lamaze classes. My friends threw a baby shower for me. We went to Sears and picked out a crib along with sheets and the cutest comforter. We didn't find out the sex because we wanted to be surprised. We even chose names, again, over Bic Macs. If it was a boy, his name would be Joshua Daniel.

As time went on, however, I noticed that my ankles were swelling. It got so bad that I couldn't even wear shoes. I had to wear sandles. Along with that, my fingers were swelling and I took off my wedding ring for fear of having to eventually cut it off.

We went to the doctor and he wasn't very alarmed because everything was normal. My blood pressure and my urine was all normal. He sent me home and told me to come back in a week.

When I came back, I was swollen even more and the doctor did the normal tests. He came back and told me he wanted to draw some blood. As it turns out, my urine contained protein, my blood pressure was literally sky high and the blood tests came back with the news that I had toxemia. This is a disease that only pregnant get and the cure is to deliver the baby. I was three weeks away from my due date, so my doctor called a specialist. Because of my blood tests and my blood pressure, the specialist told my doctor to get me to the hospital and quick. This baby needed to be born.

Off I went. Alone. Chris was at work as we weren't anticipating having the baby that day. I frantically called looking for him. I finally got a hold of him and he came right away. Meanwhile, I was being hooked up to machines and given medicine to start my labor. I was very relieved when Chris got there. We were excited to finally meet our baby.

As the hours went, things weren't progressing as well as they should. The specialist came in and informed us of the situation. I was very sick. The baby's heart rate was dropping and he was getting very sick. Labor was not progressing as fast as the doctor would like and the situation was getting very serious. To avoid anything very drastic happening, an emergency c-section was required.

I don't remember much after that. The nurses were in a very big hurry to prepare me for the surgery. I remember a lot of scurrying around and looks of concern on my loved ones faces. They had to push me ahead of a woman who's baby was breach and I remember being wheeled into the operating room.

To say the least, the c-section did not go off as planned. I will spare you the details, but I remember being in a lot of pain. At one point, I remember seeing my baby for a split second before they took him to the "baby emergency room". They informed me it was a boy. I think I smiled. The next thing I remember was waking up in the recovery room with Chris sitting beside me, holding my hand and telling me how much he loved me. He asked me if I was in pain and I said yes and I recall him yelling at nurses to get me some medicine. I don't even remember if I asked how the baby was doing.

Sometime later, after the medicine kicked in, Chris began to tell me how our baby was doing. He was in the baby intensive care and he was very sick. Chris went to see him at one point and he just lay there, with all kinds of iv's and an oxygen mask over his head, making a kind of whimpering sound. I asked if I could see him. This part I remember very clearly. The nurses wouldn't let me out of bed yet, so they wheeled my bed into the NICU. There was my baby boy. All 8 pounds 13 ounces of him (remember he was 3 weeks early; a big boy!). I lay there crying, wanting desperately to hold him, but not yet able. I reached out my hand and stroked his face. In that very instant, he stopped whimpering and relaxed. A baby knows his mother's touch. I laid there like that for about 15 minutes or so before I had to go to my room and get some rest. I told Joshua I loved him and allowed them to take me to my room.

It would be two full days before I saw my baby again. During that time, my mom took polaroid pictures of him and brought them to me. I held those pictures close to my heart and looked at them every minute. Also during that time, the doctor from the NICU came to see me. Chris was working at the time and I was alone in my room. He came and told me that Joshua was out of the woods and that he was going to be fine. He should grow up into a healthy boy with no after affects. I thanked him and waited for him to leave the room. I asked him to shut the door. The tears flooded out of me. All I could do was cry and thank God.

I was finally well enough to go see Joshua. As Chris pushed my wheelchair to the NICU, I actually felt nervous. I hadn't seen Joshua since that first day. He pushed me close to his bed and I saw him laying there. "Do you want to hold him?" the nurse asked me. "Really?" I answered. The next thing I knew, I was holding my baby boy for the first time. Let me tell you, there is nothing like it.

A week later, Joshua came home. He did all the normal baby things: sleep, eat and poop. Today, he is a strapping 10 year old almost as tall as me. He loves broccoli and hates green beans. He would rather be playing sword fight with his brother than read a book. He pitches for his little league team. His best friend is his dad with whom he loves to do anything with. He has a love for the Lord that grows every day.

God is good. And I amazed at what He can do. He knew what was coming our way that day and He gave us the strength to get through it. It was a terrifying experience, but God knew what He was doing and I don't regret the outcome.

Happy birthday, Joshua. I thank God for you.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Hair Perfectionist

Hi, my name is Cora and I am a hair perfectionist.

The first step is admitting it.

If you know me, you know how I am about my hair. Every strand has it's place. I will spend hours to get my hair to look just the way I want it. Even if it takes washing it 2 or 3 times. If you see me, don't touch my hair. I hate the wind for the simple fact that it blows my hair around and messes it up. I've had friends tell me to loosen up and let my hair be free. But I can't. I just can't. My hair has to be perfect when I walk out the door. Not a hair out of place.

My hair has been blonde most of my life. As I am getting older, though, it is getting browner. I have always liked red hair. I always thought it would be fun to have red hair. A friend of mine gave me red hilights and it looked pretty good. In fact, I liked it so much, I thought it would be fun to become a red-head. So, I had my fried dye my hair red. What a mistake! More like orange. It was hideous. So, I asked her to please fix me. She tried, bless her heart. She said we should bleach it to get the color out. So we did, twice. Nevertheless, I was now a bleach blond with red hi-lights. I begged her to go the store with me and help me find a color to cover it up. We picked out a beautiful color. Only it didn't do a thing. I was left with bleach blonde hair with red hi-lights mixed with a little brown. By now, I had taken up my friend's whole day and felt I should leave her alone. I left her house to go home looking in the mirror at every stop light and stop sign to see if maybe it would change a little before I got home. No luck.

My husband and kids were very gracious to me when I got home as were my friends at church the next day. I didn't accept their compliments very graciously as I just wanted people to leave me alone. For those of you out there, please forgive me for my rudeness on Sunday.

That night, my friend came over to my house to play cards. As she was leaving to go home, she told me she was going to the store and wanted to know if she could pick up another color for me so we could color it again at her place the next day. With a huge smile, I accepted her offer.

Needless to say, when I got to her house the next day, she was ready for me and we colored it yet again. The end result is a color pretty close to my original color.

So, let me tell you a few things that I have learned through this experience: don't be a hair perfectionist as it will rule your life; it's okay to let your hair loose and let the wind blow it; they say the messier the hair, the better; my husband loves me no matter what my hair looks like (even if it is orange).

Here's the greatest thing of all: God made me a hair perfectionist and He loves me!