Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Family Halloween Story, No Dress Rehersal here...

Once upon a time, a boy named Ted decided to take his boat out on a fishing trip.  He was sitting on the lake, enjoying the sun and the lazy afternoon when his line started to tug.  It tugged,  and he tugged back, and reeled and reeled.  It tugged again and started to pull the boat forward.  "Man", Ted thought, "this is a fiesty fish!"  But his reeling became much harder than the pull on the other end, and soon, to his great surprise, he had landed his"fish" into the boat.  But this was no fish...It was a, I mean a Little Mermaid, well...she was smaller at the time...(let's not go there)...
So Ted and his catch,  the Mermaid,  fell in love at first sight.  He took his beloved to Disneyland and it was there through the Magic Kingdom, and Mickey's magic from Fantasia, that the mermaid became a real woman, able to marry her Incredible Hulk of a man, named Ted.  Mickey's sister Lauren, AKA, Minnie,  was the mouse of honor. 

It wasn't long before this couple became a  Happy Meal together.  They would find a House to call there own and move to Chino and  knew that soon it would be time to super-size their little family.


 The happy couple had to let the cat out of the bag.  It was no Broadway production, but soon, the fruit was ripening on the vine.  Coleene would be having a baby in early fall, just in time for the holidays in the year 1980 and then another little blessing would come in 1985, the day after Christmas. 

There first little one came roaring in with the Santa Ana winds in late September.    They named him Timothy and he demanded his Lion's share of attention and became the prince and the King!

 Timothy was quite a handful right from the start.  He was very precocious and smart.  He loved to talk and carried on conversations with adults very well.  He was born  to entertain and was soon, every teacher's challenge,   the Class Clown. 

Soon, this little one would have a challenge, a sickness that would shiver me timbers at times. 
AAARG...this family would sail on and search for healing waters. 
This ship would not stay in port.

Ahoy mate, who goes there?

"You are a mean and ugly sickness, and I have to deal with you in many not so fun ways, but I have my family around me always.  My little Brother Corey, gets to follow in my footsteps, so I must be brave. 

Soon, both the boys were out seeing the world and learning all they could.  The family was always busy playing sports, doing church activities and school things, clowning around and having Extra Large fun. Sometimes it was a three-ring circus.   There were many good days and difficult days just like all families.  God was always watching out for these two...
The boys grew bigger. As parents, Ted and Coleene  were "bummed." We just wanted the kids to be boys forever, never having to face the sad or disappointing things in life.  But that is not reality.  Real boys can't fly but they can pray!
Ted and Coleene always had great family support and a lot of good friends and neighbors.  Some days just required some extra energy then others, always needing a fresh supply of batteries and prayer warriors in their lives.  God would supply. 

Coleene and Ted would learn many things and gain wisdom as they both got older and the kids did too.  There would come a  time when the fierce little lion would loose his last battle and the sickness would change him into something he was not.  So God chose to give him healing in a way that brought Amazing Grace and Peace to Timmy. 

Corey would continue on,  bringing Mom and Dad many more treats than tricks.  The scary masks he wore in his tough teenage years would start to peel away and underneath Corey would discover his potential and true ability to shine on.  Mom and Dad continue to always pray.

Corey, we believe with God's help, you will make a difference in this world, a difference your brother would be so proud of.

There is always hope, that out of a tragedy, will come a new opportunity.
A chance to be magical and fanciful again, drawing upon God's Holy Spirit of Comfort and Power.
Just walk across that narrow drawbridge, and God will meet you there on other side .
Does it snow in Anaheim?  Only to those who Believe!

Coleene, wife of Ted almost 33 years now and mom to Tim and Corey. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

NephCure Walk

While reading my local Chino Saturday paper, I came across a story I had read about a few months back,  the story of two friends, Jennifer and Melodie, Jennifer from my own home town.  Jennifer, you see, was diagnosed with FSGS, ( focal segmental glomuralscelorosis),after the birth of her daughter.  FSGS is  an inflammation of the nephrons or filters of the kidney, where the blood is cleaned.   This  disease is  the same one our own son Tim would be diagnosed with  at age four. Tim would suffer from severe water retention and the loss of protein (albumin) from his blood.  He was treated with high dose steroids, a cycle that went on and on through the rest of his life.  His disease was never something he grew out of, which at first is what the doctors would tell me. Instead, it progressivly worsened, adding to many more very serious problems, including a pulmonary embollus, which eventually lead to his final struggle through so much pain.    From my understanding, the onset of the disease as an adult, can be very agressive and can destroy kidney function quickly.  Jennifer would find help in a friend, a friend who would give up her kidney long before she even knew she would be a match.  That friend was found in Melodie, a mother herself of a 9-year old daughter and 4-year old twins. 

For five months, both girls endured many tests, even having to repeat some.  Melodie had to be a perfect match for her best friend, Jennifer, and soon she would get the phone call that she was.  The surgery was in April of 2008 and both girls are happy and healthy and celebrated the success with a "Kidney party."

Following up this story here on Saturday,  Jennifer remains in remission and she feels great.  She now has organized a fundraiser to benefit NephCure, a public charity dedicated to support and research for these specific kidney diseases, FSGS and Nyphrotic Syndrome. 

I have started a team for myself and plan to participate in the walk.  My team is called "In Tim's Memory."
It will be Nov. 14th in Fountain Valley, Calif.  My goal is to raise $600.  If you wish to donate, you may log on to the link.  Thanks for reading my blog and saying a prayer of thanks for Jennifer and Melodie.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Welcome friends to my first Blog Party!  This is a way to get to know a little more about me but also provide a link to a lot of cool blogs out there in cyber space that will inspire, inform, encourage and bless you. My blogging friend Lynette (Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground) is the host. 

1. What is your favorite thing to snack on while you're blogging?       Well, obviously I have already blogged about that here, but I snack on Nature Valley Oats N Honey Granola bars or butter free popcorn with iced tea or coffee, depending on the time.  I also love Gala apples. 

 2. What is one thing you wouldn't want to live without?  My computer is messed up right now and I am using my son's laptop so I hope I do not have to go too long without my own screen and documents and pictures, but really the one thing that I could not part with is all my awesome BFFs.  God has blessed me with a lot of unique, God loving, encouraging friends. 

3. Beach, Mountains or Farm? Where would you live if you had a choice?  Although the other two would be fun for awhile, the farm is too much work and allergies, and the mountains smell wonderful, but there is that snow thing which I don't think I could do day in and out...  (I do love Lake Tahoe though).  The beach would be my choice.  I love the ocean, the smell, the activities, the creatures, the air and sun, the cookouts ...OK, you get the idea...and I'll take a beach in Hawaii any day.

 4. What's your least favorite chore/household duty? 
Wow, I would have to say scrubbing out a shower or bathtub.  My girlfriends from high school will remember this one...I had to scrub the tub with ajax before being able to go out and all the grit had to be gone...I mean GONE...  My mother was a little "over the top" should we say when it came to now I leave that chore to the men in my house.  I also do not like cleaning ovens...that's why we use a grill now so much, plus it is healthier.  Bathtub RACES though,  would be pretty fun.

5. Who do people say you remind them of?  They used to tell my mom that she
looked like Natalie  when I was younger my husband thought I looked like Chrissy Everet, the tennis player...I was told once I looked like Stockard Channing...couldn't see that one...but now I think I look like "Rhino" from the movie "Bolt".

6. Prefer parties and socializing or staying at home with the fam?  Now, I definitely prefer being more of a home body...I like socializing in very small groups with close friends or just one on one at the coffee house. I do enjoy conferences though, because I am learning so much.  We like to cook for friends and hope we can do more of that next year if the economy starts improving.  When we went on our cruise in 05 to Alaska, we were seated at a table with one other couple and none of the other couples ever showed up the whole cruise.  We became  close friends with this other couple, The Stulls from Ohio.  We still communicate frequently and hope to be able to see each other again sometimes.  They are from Ohio.

7. What's your all time favorite movie?  Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams.  I cry in the same part every time when Ray, Kevin Costner's character, has that epiphamy and realizes Shoeless Joe is his Dad (Ray Liotta).
I have to take a furlough day tomorrow and I am so sad about our Dodgers...think I will watch my movie.

                             "If you build it, they will come."     Believe in your Impossible Dream!

8. Do you sleep in your make up or remove it like a good girl every night?  I have used good old Ponds Cold Cream for decades to remove my make-up every single night and again as a moisturizer around my eyes in the morning.  I also wear  make-up every day, just enough to help me out...(unless I am really sick of course).  I have an olive complexion and have always been complimented on my nice skin.  I do not use anything else fancy or expensive...Avon is good stuff!  I have sunscreen in my foundation and I have never smoked.  My feet, on the other hand...(or foot) now those are a different story...HELP!

9. Do you have a hidden talent or a deep desire to learn something that you've never had a chance to learn? What is it?   I want to learn to play golf.  Tim absolutely loved the game and Ted and Corey play all the time. Maybe one day I will enjoy some lessons and walk the course at Prado where Tim's best of times were had.

 10. What's one strange thing you're really good at?  My husband and son would say "nagging and complaining"(  need more of those Proverbs...) but I am a good artist and hopefully learning to be an even better writer.  I am also good at keeping in touch with friends, remembering birthdays and that sort of stuff.  Strange thing?  I can print well  and I have nice penmanship..Is that strange? 

 11. What first attracted you to your spouse?  He was a cute, hunky football player...and blond!  What else? P.S.  He is still a cute, hunky blond, although his football days are well behind him.  Tomorrow, he is going to his Homecoming Game.  I will post a before and after picture here Saturday.

12. What is something you love to smell?  I love the steaming hot concrete smell after a summer rain, Earthy and warm.  Timmy just loved it when I went to Home Depot and got fertilizer for the yard...the cheap kind if you know what I mean...he'd loved that smell...probably because he was born in cow country here and I could get him to help me in the yard.  Fresh cut pine is nice and the smell of my car when it is washed professionally, (which rarely happens).  I have them spray Jasmine inside. more...CHOCOLATE!

13. Tell something about you that you know irritates people.  I snore and I am not known for walking too fast.  Loosing weight would help both issues.  Well, maybe not the walking...I have always been a turtle.

14. When you have extra money (HA!) what's the first thing you think to do with it?  I am sorry to say, do not really know what this is.  There is always somebody I owe money too, or something that is in need of repair. God is still working on me in this area. 

 15. Are you a silent laugher or a loud laugher? What makes you laugh the hardest?  I guess I am just in the middle.  There were many times when my sister and my mom and myself would just crack each other up...My sister would snort, I would cry and my mom?...well, let's just say she lost a little control... Timmy could make us so mad and then we would be laughing...Corey who is usually a little more serious, comes up with these out of the blue things sometimes that confirms he has some of my families genes. Laughing is great and the more we can do it, the better.  .

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Granola Bar Wisdom

If you have been following my writing for long, you will know that I seem to find inspiration in the oddest things. If I am able to communicate God's love somehow through obscure insights, then that is strictly a gift I attribute to God himself; me...just the vessel He fills.  I am thankful he has allowed this venue (writing)  for me to share and grow because I enjoy it immensely and cannot imagine getting through these last six and half years without the ability to pour my soul out on this  keyboard, scribble poetry in my journal, and in turn share with family, friends and beyond. Yes, it has been that long since my spiraled notebooks of phone numbers and general info became prayer and scripture logs after the fire in '03. I especially love one particular notebook where I highlighted so many answered prayers, color-coordinating the prayer request with the answer. It is such a blessing to me to look back and see the things I prayed for and how God supplied our needs.  No, all things did not work out as I had planned (emphasis on the I).  That's just it.  The more I submitted to what God knew was best, the better I was able to deal with loss and cling to the promise of restoration and a new hope.  He brought that to me in a new job, new friends, eventually a new home that really feels like home, a new commitment to my church, and new family goals.   Our purpose on this Earth is to always glorify God and to make him known to the lost.  I pray this blog and other  places I share,  will continue to do that as well as be a fun, safe place to learn something new or catch a scripture God may be wanting you to hear today.  


Since school started, I have been really watching my calories and eating healthier and using the treadmill almost daily.  I am in no real hurry to get my weight down.  As long as it is a slow steady pace in the right direction, I am OK.  I have been doing that; about 7 1/2 pounds so far.  I have never  retained a high metabolism and my shorter frame seems to  really hold on to every bit.  Of course Ted is doing most if not all the cooking and he has dropped 15 pounds already... (don't you hate that!).  Well, on to the granola bars.  It was easy to give up the donut at Sunday school.  Surprisingly, I haven't had a grande mocha frappachino with whip in almost two months; I have even sacrificed bacon on Saturday mornings.  What I cannot seem to give up is my Nature Valley Granola Bars, the Oats 'N Honey recipe in the green wrapper.  They are actually fairly healthy for you, only 180 calories and high in fiber. (am I in denial here?)  I crave them!   I like the crunch and the texture with the sweetness mixed in.  They are convenient.  I slice up an apple, throw a yogurt in my bag and a NVGB as I will call it and there is part of my breakfast and lunch too! By 3 or 4:00 when I usually want a Starbucks...I head for my Club Store box of NVGB's.  Then of course, in those last waning hours when you just need a little something in front of the TV...I sneak another...sometimes taking it upstairs to munch on before I climb under the covers. .  ADDICTED...The oats in my bed sheets prove my point!  

Now comes the part where I turn this into a devotional.  Do you ever CRAVE more of God in your life?  Does He satisfy that need for crunch, texture and sweetness?  The scriptures give us plenty to take a bite from and chew on.  Have you spent time in the book of Proverbs lately; these golden sweet nuggets of goodness and wisdom?  Let’s take a look at a few verses: 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”  Proverbs 1:7   This is not saying we should be afraid of God, it saying that we need to recognize that God is God, and we are not…that we possess that “awe” when we approach him in prayer…
for He is Holy.

As a mom, I like this one, “Hear, my son, your father’s instructions, And do not forsake your mother’s teachings.”  Proverbs 1:8.  A great reminder that God has set up a pretty cool system called a family, a picture of Himself and us as His children.

As a writer and lover of God’s Word, I like this one, “My son, keep my words, and treasure my commandments within you and live, and my teaching as the apple of your eye.  Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” Prov. 7: 1-3

And haven’t we seen this quiet a bit in the last year… “ He who trusts in his riches will fall," … Prov. 11:28a.  And another…  “Better is a little with righteousness than great income with injustice.” Prov. 16:8. 

Let’s get physical, physical, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put devious lips far from you. Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.  Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.  Do not turn to the right or to the left; turn your foot from evil.”  Prov. 4: 23-27  In other words...Pay Attention! That's not so easy in this world of distractions

You might contemplate this one as the holidays approach… “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife.” Prov. 17:1”

Are you worried about H1N1?  “A joyful heart is good medicine.” Prov. 19:22.

The Proverbs are stock full of little chunks of wisdom from King Solomon, written to his son with intention to instruct him to live life skillfully with honor to God, his parents, and fellow man.  Munch and crunch on all these satisfying morsels of truth.  Have you noticed there are 31 chapters in Proverbs?  I challenge you to add a chapter a day to your daily reading log.  What is your favorite proverb?  

When I leave  this world, I hope my children  know,  that with all my heart I cherish this   next verse,  and pray this legacy will  be passed down.  I ask God daily for the help to    reflect His wisdom and strength from his Word, that  I have etched on to the tablet of my heart.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”



Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reminders of God's Faithfulness, Then and Now.

Recently, I started co-facilitating An "Aspiring Writer's Forum" on Wednesday nights at my church.  We gather together in our church library and after a topic is presented, we journal on it for ten minutes and then share with each other our inspirations.  We have created a short story already, all adding our own endings or versions, We encourage and teach writing skills and present challenges for the next week.  Our class is full and we are blessed and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit moving us all to share our stories and bring Glory to God who has seen us all through many different journeys.  I am privileged, along with my friend Linda to be able to be serving God in this way, using the gifts he has given us.  This last week, I shared an old story (well not that old really) I had written about the day when our house caught fire.  The subject we were to write about was "changing seasons".  I am going to post it here now,  so you all can read it as well.  I did not think of doing this until  Friday morning of this week when I was awakened by the news of a potential garage fire once again.  Thursday night going into Friday morning God made sure that this family and our very dear close friends whom we share a wall with,  (we live in  a townhouse) would not have to experience a fire. Without going into detail...a smoke filled garage (my neighbor's) and a few sparks from the back of a dryer at 4:00 in the morning could have been tragic.  But  the God whom we serve, protected us that morning.  We were able to pray together and thank Him for an averted disaster.

Ronda and Raul                                       Jordan and Dylan                  

James 1:2-6  Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  But if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  

 At the time of our fire in '03,  there was no way I could understand why,  but I chose to seek Him and find out. The following  three years were very difficult.  The restoration project though,  was not my home, but myself and I praise Him for showing me that.

Do you feel like you can't find God for the smoke in the air?  Is there something in your life you need to "kick to the curb?"  I hope you will avert an eternal disaster.  It may just be a small spark, a bit of stubbornness, a habit hard to break, peer pressure, busyness...whatever...If God is trying to get your attention, be on the safe side; leave a nice space for Him in your heart, and you will become shiny and brand new, equipped  with an everlasting guarantee!

Here is my fire story; a sad day in the VanTilburg family  life, but a time  I can look back on and say I needed a restoration from God in my heart, I needed some right perspective and priorities... and although there were many painful and disappointing days,  God rebuilt hope into my life.

S.A.D.: A S.anta D.ay

That "pre" Santa Ana wind feeling was present in the air; brightness, clarity and a smell that is earthy yet electric.  Thanksgiving was in two days, so this weather is expected.  By mid morning, the winds will be rushing down the pass, through the valleys and over the hills to the ocean.  Tumbleweeds and garbage would be gathering up against fences and layers of dirt would find its way onto the windowsills.  Truckers would huddle under overpasses waiting it out or if some braved it, they could easily find themselves blown over, looking like so many dead farm animals waiting for "pick-up." 

I began my day like any other, busily doing household chores while getting ready for work. 

"Corey, do me a favor hon."  "Please take that basket of laundry out to the garage."

My son is home from school, instead, electing to do independent study through the high school.   He is in his senior year.

I glance at the clock, and I need to leave for work in twenty minutes. I dislike the Santa Anas; another too warm Thanksgiving, and all that dirt.  My thoughts drift towards my mother who had died three years ago on Thanksgiving Day. 

"Please Lord, I pray, get me through this month of November." "I just need your grace today..." 

Cancer had pirated my father's lymph nodes and blood cells twenty-one years ago, taking him one week before the "big feast."  My oldest son, Tim, was diagnosed with kidney disease in the fall of his fourth year, and these Santa Ana winds just whip up the layer of sadness of these life-changing seasons in my life.

"I am just going to get this laundry switched and then get to work," I am thinking, as I dump the basket beside the appliances. 

The garage is a wood workers workshop, but not the kind you would see on television.  There are stains and staining rags lying around and a lot of sawdust amongst unfinished projects.   The combination of the stain smell, the sawdust and the November air is warm and pungent and I can feel my sinus tighten up for a sneeze. 

I start the dryer, head for the house to grab my purse. "Bye Corey."  "Call Rodney for a ride, or maybe I’ll come at lunch.

Corey heads down the hall to the bedroom where a "morning nap" is his plan.  Like a cat, he is soon curled up with the TV as the wind begins to rattle the windows.

"Coleene", my supervisor says, "Pick up the phone, it is an emergency." 

"Hello," I say, as the nerves in my body begin to do their dance in my stomach. 

"It's Connie, hon."  "You need to come home; your house is on fire." "Corey is OK.”
As I race through the parking lot, and into the streets breaking traffic laws, I think..."Lord, it's November, of course..." The prayer stops as I look up, see the massive gray smoke out my windshield, and approach my barricaded street.

There are massive amounts of people, and fire trucks, but I am searching for Corey. "There he is, safe with the dog." Big tears are rolling down the cheeks of this six foot, 280-pound football tackle.  He hugs me tightly and we are crying. He begins to babble on how he was asleep. Rodney, his best friend since Kindergarten, woke him up, and how they had tried to extinguish the fire with the garden hose to no avail. 

The firefighter approached me; my cat "Puff" in his arms.  "Ma'me, she sustained some smoke inhalation but we gave her oxygen...get her to your vet right away."  "Thank you, thank you,” I say, as I cuddle my frightened kitty.

I make those necessary phone calls, and then through my tears looked up to see the destroyed garage, my smoldering roof and broken windows.   What remains are the lingering clean-up crews, the yellow caution tape, looky-loos and vulture insurance adjusters.  I begin to come to my senses as my own "smoke" begins to clear. 

"OK Lord, you have my attention."  ...about that grace I asked for this morning...did my prayer get stuck in some tree like a grocery bag after the Santa Anas?"

The winds die with the twilight, but my journey towards restoration and a grounded walk with God had begun that November day.  The winds of change can bring renewal and refreshment when you begin to surrender to the Source.

Psalm 46:1-3   “God is our refuge and our strength, a present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” 

The actual fire was 11-25-03  
C. VanTilburg  7/28/07