Sunday, August 20, 2017

And Now We Know, The Power and Story of the Blood


Before I told his story, he told his story. 

Many listened to him in those wee hours when the hospital is quieter and some try sleeping. That's when he seemed to ramp up the dialogue, and that chosen attentive night nurse came into his room only to stay awhile longer, listening, as some nurses did so well, a skill not requiring a college course.  Tim, my sick son, met several of those along his journey to find the cure and/or the doctor who'd make him his priority. 

The Blood Clot...

It first showed up many years prior, at the age of 11 or 12 I think. This unknown sharp distraction for Tim, nagged and puzzled many and they (professionals) could not quite put their finger on it, give a diagnosis for that certain pain he had in his neck. A pain in the neck...to name what aggravated him, what caused his crying out. Finally, almost 3 weeks and many tests,  by default and a favor from a friend, we went to another county, a new hospital where an ultra- sound detected it. That Blood Clot...almost gone by this time, lodged in an artery in his neck, the carotid of all places. 

We dealt with his chronic kidney condition and other issues through the years. Then, at 19, legs swinging from his kidney doctor's table, he described his chest pain, telling the doctor that he thinks a blood clot invaded his lungs. He TELLS the doctor because he knows this pain. 

Tests the next day confirm it, pulmonary embolism, aka, P.E. 

From that day on, Tim's blood tests became weekly and a new prescription, a blood thinner, became another part of his medical regimen. He'd be in and out of the hospital the next 6 years. 




Looking deeper

Tim met a new doctor, one that wanted to take another look at his problem with blood clots. A genetic factor for clotting became the topic of discussion, something called Protein C deficiency. Tim discontinued the blood thinner meds for a brief time in order to get an accurate blood test. The findings indicated he DID "have some sort of genetic predisposition to clotting," said this doctor. Others were still not so sure. 

Skeptics...and time ticks and then it doesn't. 

In a few short weeks we'd be planning his memorial. I remember thinking at the time, thinking a lot of things, but in particular this, none of this matters any more...

He died physically, a horrible way, broken, bleeding and unable to breathe oxygen into his lungs on his own. But a spiritual death never occurs because of the blood of Christ and in that, my son lives forever and we will see him again. 

I am a Believer and time is Eternal. 




Ten years later, here we are. Healed? Yes. Comforted by Amazing Grace? Yes. Knowing a sovereign and Holy God in a deeper and very personal way? Yes. Wanting to tell his story and my story...God's story all the time? Yes. 

And then we hear those two awful words in an ultra-sound room again,  BLOOD CLOTS. 

Three clots wait in the on deck circle behind Ted, my husband's, knee. Two others already traveled up to his lungs.  It all comes flooding back, the pain, the fear, the questions and the silent stares/prayers of my heart. 

What in the heck did I...we just hear? Lord...get me together before I climb through this wall. 

Before Ted is officially admitted to begin treatment, I relayed a brief history of our son, his "almost diagnosis" of a hereditary clotting issue. Would they check these same factors in my husband's blood before they begin him on blood thinners? They agreed these tests should and would be done. 

This last week, we visited a new doctor in Ted's growing medical community, a hematologist. He will be taking care of Ted's needs concerning the clots as well as the coagulation clinic. 

In his gentle and caring heart, the doctor looked over at me, leaned in and said these words..."I want to know your son's story."  

I've been telling his story, our story for 10 years now. 

I knew he meant medically, but so much more filled up that space between us in those few seconds---never just one thing. Breathe... I feel the spiritual, His Presence. An egg of my womb and my husband's seed created from love for love, if only for a season, but always, always for a reason. 




I want to know his story...

Though it is not protein C deficiency, a gene mutation involving clotting factors lies on Ted's DNA and most likely did on Tim's as well.  Confirmed by a doctor who barely knew Ted much less Timmy,  he took the time to explain many things and listen to Timmy's story. 

Ted will remain on blood thinners for life. We remain to tell the story, write the story. 




I walked back to the parking garage. Ted waited in the front for me to pull around and get him, standing with his walker, his new knee, his infected wrist and his 5 blood clots. My heart heavy and my mind thinking on all this, the emotions began to rise up in my throat but did not quite reach my eyes,  but close. You're still so close son...

An unknown, a maybe, now turns to a known, a yes, another reason...my heart is back-tracking and wanting to blame...If we knew earlier, if someone had asked questions when he was 12...if only... 

That's where the liar, the accuser wants me to linger...but God sends a song to counteract the attack. 

I turn the key and the radio blasts one of my favorite Christian artists, Jeremy Camp singing "Overcome." It is where the lyrics happen to be as I am thinking and almost crying...and the engine starts...but Jeremy's deep voice sings...

"We will overcome, by the power of His blood and the words of His testimony..." 

The Blood...it has power! The Blood, it overcomes, the words of our testimony...they will supersede! Peace passes over me,  through me, like a blood flow, that peace I know from God that He heard my heart cries even when I wasn't even officially praying.  I want to know your son's story...God is so good. 



The next day I am telling this story to my dearest friend. God clears my head once again and shows me His Light. Tim may have received his news too late, but Ted did not. Even after 10 years and moving past, Tim presented his father, his brother, his cousins, his uncle...all of them a gift. Genetics usually happen the other way around, the father relays a flaw, a mutation to the child. But our son, 10 years past his arrival in heaven, lets his dad know, so his dad can live, be prepared, OVERCOME!

Power in the blood, the blood that might tend to clot. And now we know and can treat it.
Power in the Blood, and now we know and can be forgiven and set free and live forever in Heaven.
Power in the Blood, because love lives on and testimony and story needs to keep flowing and demon clots need to dissolve. Strength and resolve sometimes come from the fight, but the spiritual battle belongs to the Lord. Now we know we can overcome. 

And we will. Thank you Timmy for fighting a good hard fight. You didn't have all the answers but that never stopped you from trying to find them. You were on a good road, on the edge of a break through, maybe not a cure but some answers, even way past your time. You never knew for certain,  but we know now. Thank you for pointing the way, even 10 years later and letting us know God is always in control. Thank You God for loving us, grace poured out and received for those who believe in the power of Your blood.




Jeremy Camp ~ Overcome

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Waiting Room




Hospital waiting rooms. Pretty self-explanatory. You sit. You wait. News comes, either good, bad or indifferent, but you have to sit, and wait...in the waiting room. 

I slept in a waiting room; yeah, I did that, over night and into the next morning, and the next, not even realizing time did not wait. 

 I heaved big sighs and prayers, sobbed uncontrollably, stared at walls and people. 

The waiting room is now the trauma ward...

I felt the life blood drain from my head through my stomach in a hallway, outside a waiting room, in a hospital. 

Ten years later, she walked me back to see my husband, prone on the bed with wheels that soon moved to a different room, a surgical room. ...a room of blood, cutting and repairing. We chit-chatted; I'm trying my best to calm his nerves. The nurse, we found out, with her cute Eastern European accent, knew a friend of ours from the same ol' country. 

What a small world. 

The world is small and full of waiting and wondering rooms. 

Prepped and ready, the nursing staff moved my husband as I walked alongside. He headed for his surgery. Conscious and fully aware of his destination, that difference seemed to make a difference...this time. We said our good-byes. 

The other time... I  kissed  his cheek, wiped his forehead, my fingers combed through his hair. I watched as my son's bed with his comatose body pushed through the middle of those double doors, which opened way too easy,  for all to disappear behind them. Then I waited. 

The nurse walked me back to the waiting room. She asked, "Are you okay?" 

I hadn't said a word...how could she know?  

"Yeah, I'm fine...just some memories of another time when my son died in surgery."

I didn't mean to say that much.

Curious, she prodded for more and I obliged. I really didn't want to. 

But, I did. 

I resumed my position in the chair in the waiting room. My sister and brother-in-law were there too. 

Now we wait. 

We managed small talk to pass the time and keep the thoughts at bay. But really, I am thinking of you, son, and waiting and grace and growth, of trusting and You and us--all of us in this small world, this waiting room in Your bigger world. 

My brother-in-law noticed it first. Outside the glass doors across the hall and outside a glass wall, it hits the window over and over to get through. He nudged my sister and she relayed what she sees as my back is opposite the wall. 

A butterfly is trying hard to get inside...make himself known...be seen by those waiting. I turned 90 degrees and looked out. I see it, a large yellow and black Tiger Swallowtail, two stories up, in the trees, flying into and against the glass window. I grabbed my phone without saying a word, walked out the glass door and entered the hallway. I tried to find my camera button and focus. 

It met me there for those few seconds as I fumbled with my phone. Then it flew up in the trees again, swooped down on the other end of the window wall. I hoped it would come back, but it completed its  mission, delivered to me the remembrance of His grace, His promises. 

Holy moments happen in waiting rooms.

My only picture, a memory shot, and then there are two witnesses. 

Those who wait in waiting rooms become witnesses of life and grace and love. Do they realize it? 

I am reminded of a story of two disciples walking to a town called Emmaus, about 7 miles out of Jerusalem. Their conversation maybe contained small talk, but they also spoke of their Messiah, His recent crucifixion and their fear, their broken hearts, their memories. A third man appeared on the road and conversed with them as they walked, speaking of the promises of the Scriptures. They continued the conversation,  a bit amazed at the words of this man. Arriving in town, the three began to eat together, the stranger breaking bread and blessing his friends...

Luke 24:30-31 "And it came about that when He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight." 

The day before my husband's surgery, I broke bread, took of the cup, in an intimate gathering of four special friends. Our desire, to understand our own brokenness more and be the Good because of it.

He became broken for us to make us whole and good. 

A butterfly comes to offer me communion. A remembrance of the good that came out of my broken self in the grief, the waiting, the seeing and the transforming. 

As I re-enter the waiting room, in that moment, I am filled with His love for me. In His amazing grace, my eyes and heart once again widen, open, and I trust Him even more in that moment, for He is good. I  sat at an angle, seeking the angel messenger, wanting to see and taste the Communion again. I know I can take that with me anywhere at any time. In my humble need for Him, He lovingly makes Himself known.

In a few more minutes, that pass so quickly for I am elated, the nurse tells me it is done, my husband is in recovery and the doctor will make his way to talk to me in a near by private room. 



I can never keep the miracle of grace private...

A recovery room, a place where we receive our breath again and the reminder that we survived with mercy and a new perspective.  We gladly take the instructions to build our strength and then, we reunite with those we love. And though I do not physically eat of the bread and wine, I feel the Communion in that room, a room now filled with a prayer of Thanksgiving. 

A butterfly waits for his directions and I am sure makes his appearance outside someone's hospital room, maybe a new mother, holding her precious newborn in her arms, or a nurse needing revival after a 12-hour shift, or...

somewhere broken, where the Good can be reborn. 









Broken Hallelujah
The Afters 


I went back today and took pictures of the place where we held Communion in thoughts for those few seconds, for those few Holy moments in a waiting room. The door holds printed words that read: THRIVE. 









That is the chair I sat in, the Communion window-table to the left. 

God is good. 


Considerably yours, 
Coleene 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Commencement Speech


To the graduating Class of 2017, Congratulations! 

To the Hopefuls, I'd like to share these words from the New Testament, Philippians 4: 8. the Apostle Paul's advice and wisdom for his day, applicable to this day. 




Finally brethren, whatever is true...

Emotions, evident this week on faces of grief and shock at the tragic death of two young soccer coaches and two other young lives, to exhilaration and pride at graduation, to thankfulness and anticipation for the next years after retiring from a long and satisfactory career in teaching, swing from one side to the other. 



Life is measured in moments, some sad, some happy, some overwhelming, some celebratory, some unforgettable, some lodged in our memory forever. At 18 years of age, awareness of these very feelings may give us a tinge of fear and excitement for the future, anticipating more of life. In this day, this time, I take from Scripture these words from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4 as sound advice, goals to work towards. I  pray for you, faith in the journey. 

We feel, provide empathy, compassion, stand tall in pride, satisfaction and gratefulness. Our truth settles in. Some things are good, some things are not, some things are very hard, some things we just take for granted, some things fill us with hope and joy! The Apostle Paul tells us to dwell---to dream on the Truth, to seek it. Life is also fleeting, unpredictable. Try not to take anything for granted but live as if everything is a wonderful gift, even if it is only with you a short time. Be Truth among the false realities of so many. Rise above. 




Whatever is honorable...

Congratulations graduates of 2017. I hope you received your diploma with pride and I honor you for your achievement. My hope and prayer for you is that you use the rights and freedoms you possess as a citizen of this great country, in an honorable and respectful way in return. God gave us minds to think for ourselves, to seek truth and justice and to live by those very same principles in accord with one another, even those we may disagree with.  Honor those around you and respect others. Build relationships and in that, people will hopefully respect you for your own passions. In that, God enlarges your surroundings and places you in opportunities to make Him known. Learning to trust in God comes from taking those tiny faithful steps. Integrity is who you are when no one is looking. Keep the faith. 



Whatever is right...

Discernment--something I ask God for every day, to know which direction, which word, what is true, what is honorable, what is the right thing---and most importantly, what is not. God also gives us people in our lives to dialogue with, to help us discover the right way. God's Word is infallible and true. God is good and righteous. Everyone makes mistakes, chooses wrong, has regrets. Forgiveness is right, trying again is right. It brings us closer to God, the One who makes all things right. Keep trying and learning. Strive to be right. God covers all our wrongs. Be that same grace for others. Believe it for yourself. 

Whatever is pure...

Allow God to filter you. You will know what to leave behind, who to leave behind, who to add, what to add, how to grow. Start fresh, new every day with a grateful heart, and a prayer to be worthy of His love. He sees us as pure through the blood of Christ. If we live defeated by our problems and situations,  that does not reflect the Light within us. Plant your feet in one place, don't straddle, be double-minded. You won't please everyone, learn to see eternally. The enemy is real. Keep vigilant. Be in the the world as His follower but not of the world. Allow God to do your battling. Victorious now and forever, your belief brings you in the winner's circle. What is filtered out can now be used for His glory, your story. Fly above the crowd and seek the right sustenance. Purity is healthy living. Live Pure. 




Whatever is lovely...

Every day I am greeted by one of my special needs students, "Hi pretty!" Greeting all the girls, women on campus that way, I know how it makes me feel, that I am glad to be there, that she loves me and knows she is loved. Gardening, a passion of mine, I see the lovely in every new unfolding bud or swell of a fruit. It starts as a seed planted, and then nurtured to grow and give back. To be lovely is not about the external, but the internal, what our thoughts are, again, what we are dwelling on, dreaming of. Fill your mind with thoughts of love, of kindness, of service. To pray for  one another--that is a lovely thing. To pray for those against you, that is even more lovely. God smiles and nods, "My beloved, I adore you and promise to never leave you nor forsake you." Isn't that just lovely? 








What ever is of good repute...

What do you associate with, fill your mind with, hang out with?  There are a bunch of apps that will give opinions on things, Yelp for instance. Even our local community Facebook pages stream with experiences good and not so good, neighborhoods to watch out for, teams to pick for your kids and schools to attend, churches that are friendly. Maybe the high school experiences and choices left some notches, some scars, some things you think can't be erased. Good reputations and character are built over time. Choosing to follow God, He transforms more than just the heart, but can and does erase the past and make all things new. Be someone reputable. Encourage one another in that same goal. We are all a work in progress. 




Be excellent, worthy of praise...

Everyone wants to hear those words, "Good job!" God tells us to do our work as if we are working for the Lord, and actually we are. Everyone likes to be appreciated, thanked and given good feedback and comments. Constructive criticism, correction and positive suggestions all help us to grow. Be wise in listening and considering and then always pray and ask to be mentored, sponsored, taught, discipled. That is the way towards excellence. No one starts at the top. No one climbs up the mountain by themselves. Praise Your Maker and give thanks to those that walk beside you. Humbleness and gratefulness go together, an example of a leader and a difference maker is one who recognizes the importance of teamwork. Spend time in worship. Alone time with God finds excellence in the making. Prayer changes you. Worship anoints you and glorifies God. Draw near and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8).




Finally, in verse 9 of Philippians 4, the Apostle Paul tells us, "the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things and the God of peace shall be with you." In that, I wish you peace, dear graduates, peace in your heart and to be a peacemaker in word and deed, for in that,  true success comes and multiplies out, one life at a time to a whole new generation of hopefuls.  

God Bless you,
Considerably, Coleene 

P.S. It took me a long time to learn all these things. I am stubborn. I pray you will trust earlier and gain perspective on the eternal prize from the get-go. 




Sidewalk Prophets
The Words I Would Say
   





Saturday, December 31, 2016

This Is Us ~ 2016 Christmas/Year End Poem


This Is Us ~ 2016

January found us viewing the screen
A Star Wars chapter, and my own video scene.
I recorded my testimony, A Sojourner’s story,
To encourage the faithful, all for His Glory.

https://vimeo.com/144682863?ref=fb-share

A billion dollar winner chosen in our town!
It wasn’t us, though riches abound.
Thirty-nine years married, dinner we ate
At a new fancy place we thought great.



 An Eagle flew and Major Tom lost control;
Oh those songs of harmony, we know.
My own song of Amazing Grace
Continues to unfold at Wednesday’s writing place.






On Valentine’s Day I wrote a random post
A message to Timmy, I miss him the most…
But You, God, gave me messages so clear,
A day I’ll remember of hearts and angels near.



The one white rose blooms again on the day
We mark 9 years of Tim’s journey away.
March moves in and spring is planted,
Basketball games, local champions granted.


Mid month March found me quite ill.
Bronchitis kicked me hard against my will.
Easter and hope arose in the dawn
As Grandpa’s tulips poke up from the lawn.

A movie, “Miracles from Heaven” took in
With two favorite friends, a faithful win.
After the show, a hydrangea purchased,
Butterfly photo, my own miracle resurgence.






April comes quickly as I prepare the garden;
A whimsical birdbath tweets for a remodelin’.
Getting the paints and brush supply,
Spring Break finds me brighting with my artistic eye.


We say Good-bye to a Laker legend;
Ted keeps cooking, his favorite regimen.
Turning 60, he made the mark,
Off we headed to our favorite Disney Park.








Purple rain fell from the sky; the world grieves
But much closer to our hearts and home, a young man leaves
A crown of glory is your remembrance for us.
We know you’re with Jesus, Ryan, in Him we’ll trust.

May brings my birthday, 62…no fear,
But surreal this number, my Father’s last year.
Ted visits the ortho doc hopeful for a plan...
It will be more complicated, wobbling at each stand.

The Boys in Blue are giving us cheer;
Wrapping up a new assignment in a special class this year.
My ministries a blessing, filled me with purpose;
Spent a day at a retreat, planting deeper than the surface.



My garden in blooming, added a new raised site,
For herbs and a trellis, flavor and height.
Season 7 of my Writers’ group ended in celebration,
We now know “who done it,” in our mystery writers’ creation.





School season ended with retirements and swelter;
June 7th we voted in the Presidential primary banter.
Attended a concert and went to the place
Where everyone’s a kid and music makes our pace.





Father’s Day comes and he wants a pie,
Triple berry it is, and Heaven gives a sigh.
Summer is here and my plans are to write,
Finish the book where the end is in sight.



Reunions are planned with high school friends;
I’ve planted those flowers the butterfly recommends.
Ted visits the doc, hoping for news,
But seems his kidneys have the “compromised blues.”







Writing resumes as I come close to complete,
July gathers neighbors to celebrate at Freedom’s Feet. 
The news is so tragic, can hardly comprehend...
Attend a Commencement where black bands descend.



Set the date for the upcoming walk,
And You Lord, I know are my steady Rock.
Reminded of past successes and chronic diseased lives,
Honored to do this, for more kids to thrive.

August arrived and to the beach I do head
To spend the day, sand and sea we tread.
Here with a best friend, have prayed side by side.
Faithful is Your Love Lord, like the ocean’s tide.

Ted’s pain unbearable, he continues to persevere
Until the gout finds him down; not much I can do here.
Cherry juice and patience, Olympics distract.
A week off work until the swelling retracts.




A daytrip with another, my special friend, Mel
Finds us at a preserve where butterflies dwell
The docent, so nice, gave me the chance
To release my own Swallowtail, toward Heaven I glance.



A new school year approached in just a few days;
August brings the last words of “Amazing Grace Upon Grace.”
I wrote of remembrance, inspired by his friend,
And God moves to connect us by the Spirit He sends.



Ministries start back up, and my book is complete,
Overwhelmed by the process, so filled with the Sweet.
Purchased a resource, help to sort out the potential…
But relying on God’s Word for me is essential.



September’s end is a year long wait,
Our “Timmy weekend” planned, a desert escape.
Golfing and dining, we went to a zoo...
But Joshua Tree’s rocks—an inspirational view!









Corey fishes and dreams of the day
When his reel gets the big one, a lot he will say.
Wanting a new start, he leaves his job on a whim;
What can I say, but I always pray for him.



Fall is here and October brings to fruition
The NephCure Walk and fundraising donations.
This year’s efforts came at quite a surprise,
"Super Hero Status" put tears in my eyes.







A small family reunion, new twins to receive
But their great grandpa, my uncle, for him we did grieve.
I captured a picture of my cousins again,
Recreated a time, now and then. 


Jenny, Uncle Bruce, Michelle and Sean (my Uncle’s grandkids)


Michelle and Jenny 

Brooke and Brielle


















We A few more pics of people we love 
We treasure these friendships, some by blood. 

We may not see you often, no not quite enough

When we get together, the parting is tough. 

Angel and Ted 

John

Cindy, Malorie and Lauren 


Katie 
Cousins, my sister, center. 

My friend Eileen and family 


Al, Eileen, Linda, Danny, Norma, and Bobby

Now on to November, a month of gratitude
Election day chatter really became rude.
Can America be great again? For me it always is,
But this world’s a different place; evil surely lives.

Bombings and ambushes, airports—the police
Dallas, Orlando, Brussels and Nice.
Shootings and fires, earthquakes and floods
The world is smaller, hackers code in mud.

On to December where Hope abounds
Found in each ornament, candle and sound
The Light of the World renews something gone dim
If only we’d believe all year in Him…





His promises hold true, His love, Perfect, Divine
He died so we can live, no longer deaf nor blind.
Free from the strife, the anger, the guilt,
The burdens of life, the disappointment built.

How much better our days, our weeks, our year
If the Lord came first, we gave Him our fears.
I choose to surrender each day I’m granted
To look for His Grace, and see more where I am planted.

He has a perfect will,  for me and for you.
Lead us closer Lord, what you’ll have us do.
This Is Us Lord, we cannot thank you enough
For giving us Grace despite all our imperfect stuff.

P.S. Corey’s new job, install and sales
Security devices, no longer the nails.
Pray for success and a peace from within
For patience and perspective, a smiling grin.

The VanTilburgs
Ted, Coleene and Corey
*Timmy is always near.