Sunday, November 15, 2009

The NephCure Walk, a report

It was a magnificent fall morning, the air recently washed by a sampling of rain. The small crowd gathered around the tables and blue easy-up covers, registering their presence, receiving their shirts. I arrived with my son and husband, a little late, beginning my morning not at 100%, but determined that a stomach upset was never going to stop me from walking. I had wondered for the last three weeks, why I had never heard of NephCure, why I did not have an organization, a support system like this when my son suffered so many years with FSGS. I cannot answer and I cannot dwell on that now, for I must move forward and be active to help other families have hope with this dreadful disease. My son Timothy, has now passed on with God, and for me, it was bittersweet seeing the little faces of children stricken, but the sweet is the taste that remains, knowing my fundraising will help to make a difference. To you who have given, Thank you, you have blessed me in remembering Tim, but have helped to give hope to other families dealing with this ailment.  

On seeing Jennifer Jacobson (a transplant recipient) and meeting her after we had exchanged messages through e-mails, the emotion took me for a few minutes and I thank God for her sharing her story so that I could help and continue to share mine as well. 

Jennifer and Coleene

I see next year, a walk in the Inland Empire that along with my friend Deanne (who never knew my son), I will help to organize and I am thankful for that opportunity. I walk because I need to move forward, not leaving my son's memory behind, but allowing his courage to walk ahead of me, giving us both a special purpose in this life.

In the words of a song by Jeremy Camp: "I have seen the many faces of fear and of pain. I have watched the tears fall plenty from heartache and strain, so if life's journey has you weary and afraid, there is rest in the shadows of His wing."

I believe that organizations like NephCure is a shadow of God's wing, a place where fellowship, knowledge and support can lead to a more hopeful life for a family dealing with this illness. 
(A reminder, my team name is In Tims Memory).



Here are some pictures from the walk: (going to try and upload a slide show...hope I can do this so be patient...)

Monday, November 9, 2009

ABC Countdown to Thankfulness

In honor of Sesame Street's 40th anniversary, I was thinking about those days and Timmy especially loving to watch the show and learning his letters.  By the time he was a teenager, one of things that would crack us up was his impression of Grover. It would be hard explaining it here on this blog so you just have to trust me, he did a great job of imitating Grover explaining "Near and Far"  and it was funny!

 This  month we will take one day a year and make it Official, Thank You God...I made  it another year,  now I have a  four day weekend of eating more than I could ever eat usually in the whole month, endless football and Black Friday... And this has to do with Grover and Sesame Street because...?

I am blogging about, the ABC's of what I am thankful for.  Since I just thought of this last night, I will be writing the first 9 days today, then I will add a day until Thanksgiving which is on the 26th!  Doesn't that just work out perfect...26 days and 26 letters.  

A.  I am thankful for Ayala High School, where I am employed.  Overall, it means I am thankful for my job, a job period!   Things are not perfect this year, but what job is?  I do miss my old school and friends, but God has me here for a reason so change is purposeful. 

B.  Is for Brian Benson, my pastor, who can imagine that his congregation of ordinary people can be empowered to be extraordinary, sanctified, transformed children of God.  Thank you for your inspiration and teaching from the Word.

C Corey of course, my son of almost 24 years.  He has been steadfast in his studies and more successful than I could have ever imagined (high school  drop-out to honor roll in college, that said with his permission) and in his own unique style, has been ever so helpful in moving this family forward.  Corey and I have "our days", but we have come an awful long way. 

  trick or treat?

D. Is for Dylan and Daffodils.  Dyl, is my 11 year old next door neighbor that my husband and I adore.  A few weeks back, Dylan and I planted Daffodils in his planter.  Guess what he wanted for his birthday?  Golf clubs; so he could hang out with his Dad, Ted and Corey on the golf course.  He is also an honor roll student at his elementary school. Daffodils...the emergence of spring and hope in a     .
                            ground once frozen.  

E. Is for E-mails and encouragement. I will include Facebook here as well.  I am so thankful for some of those "forwards" and notes, that just seem to come at the right time .  Facebook has reconnected me to some great old friends and many,  many  great memories.  

F. Is for Faithwriter' and the conference I was able to attend this last summer. I have been writing for this web sight about two years now.  I love the challenge, the feedback, and the ability to grow as a writer and the FW community.   

G.  Is for granola bars and groceries.  I am thankful that even when I am "out of groceries," I probably still have more in my pantry than some third world countries have to eat all year.  I am thankful that Ted has been developing his passion as well, cooking,  and how he has cooked so many great meals for us this year.  

H. Is for hearts with  good check-ups (Ted had a minor heart attack last summer, '08) and passionate, strong beats. Spiritual and physical exercise have contributed to this, despite being pierced through, clogged up and over-worked.  Hearts that make room for the God who designed them are hearts that will continue with a purpose.  I have so many great hearts in my life.  Thank you.  

I.  Is for insight.  It is to know where God has brought me from and to strive for what he continues to bring me to.  Insight  has allowed me to feel God's grace in obscure ways.  The holy Spirit has given me peace and joy again after heartbreak. I awake each morning hoping the His  Spirit has a generous supply of insight for me and that I will use it in a glorifying way.  

J.  is for Jeremy Camp and the Air-1 radio station and other local stations that play this music. There are so many awesome Christian artists now, singing positive songs about life, grace, love, redemption, trust, forgiveness.  Jeremy Camp is in concert this Friday close by and I hope to go see him again.  (3rd time).  The music of some of these artists helped me to  sleep at night after loosing Tim and several songs from Kutlass and Switchfoot were included in his memorial service.  

to be continued...What are your ABC's of thankfulness?  Please share a comment and I encourage you to write down your own list.  

In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  Thessalonians  5:18

(Tim in Relapse).
Is for kidneys.  Do you have both of them?  Do they work well?  Do you drink enough water?  Sometimes we take some of our other organs for granted.  I watched  my son suffer many years when his filters inside his kidneys would swell, open up and allow his nutrients,  specifically protein to leave his body.  He would retain water, sometimes gaining at least 20 lbs.  in fluids.  When his meds would kick in after about a 10 day run, he would start to urinate and it was like opening up the floodgates.  This was hard on him as well.  He would look sunken-in and emaciated.  I hated that "look."  The medicines were non-stop, the stunting of his growth, the side affects of steroids after many years on his teeth and his back were obvious, the "moon-face" of steroid use, the headaches and moodiness, the voracious hunger, the lack of appetite...and this was just Nephrotic Syndrome, later rediagnosed to FSGS (focal segmental glomural scelorosis). Tim would  be diagnosed with many more difficult side effects including peritonitis at one time  and the most devastating, a blood clot in his lung (pulmonary embollus). The P.E. would eventually lead to the destruction of one lung, severe anxiety and dependence on pain medication.  

So K is for kidneys. The NephCure Walk is this Saturday and I will walk for children's kidneys, for adult kidneys, for Jennifer's new kidney, for Tim's friend, Jared's kidney, for my cousin Karen's grandson, Kevin's kidney.  I will walk In Tim's Memory. Thank you Tim for being such a brave boy.  I love you forever. 

L.  Is for Lord.  This is very simple.  Thank you God for loving me, for saving me, for forgiveness, for hope, for blessings, for Ted, Tim and Corey, for giving me gifts, for purpose, for the most awesome friends, for the hope for the future.  What does it mean to have God as Lord in your life?  Well, Pastor Greg Laurie in today's devotional said it well, 

"Jesus Christ wants to be the Lord of every aspect of your life. He wants to be the Lord of your business, your free time, your relationships—the Lord of all. And if He is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all."

What part of your life do you think you can handle without His wisdom?  What part of your life is all about you and not about Him?  Is He Lord of your Life in the good times and the frustrating times?  Do you go to Him first or is He a last resort?  

Just to remind you, to be able to do this  is a process.  After all, we are very human, very self-centered beings at times.  When God sees your efforts, when you call out to Him for help in allowing Him to be Lord of All, progress will be made and transformation will begin.  

Philippians 1:6  For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

L. is also for Liberty.  Today is Veteran's Day. We may criticize, grumble, protest...but Hallelujah!  We can!  This is still the greatest country in which to live.  Thank you to all our Vet's who sacrificed to  gain our liberty and maintain it. I pray for those whom God has placed in authority, that humbleness to ask for wisdom from above will never be beneath them.   

M.  is for Michigan.  It is there in Livonia, a suburb of
Detroit where I had the opportunity to attend the  conference held for two days.  While visiting Michigan,
I also enjoyed sightseeing and more photo ops.


I traveled to Dearborn where I visited the Henry Ford Museum and right next door, the historical  Greenfield Village, a  turn of the century replica town , designed by Mr. Ford. He imported many historical buildings into  these many beautiful acres to create this scene from the past. It was very interesting and told a historical story of  American ingenuity very visually, a reminder of just how     far we have come with all our gadgets we so much take for granted.  

 But I was ever so blessed to spend some time with a girlfriend, whom I have known since the 5th grade. Charlene  spends her summers at her lake house in Michigan. (She is a New Jersey resident), and had invited me the year before, after Tim's passing, but after hearing about the conference, I just thought maybe I could do this, this year. So with prayer and Charlene's help, I was able to fly out to this beautiful state and learn, rekindle a great old friendship and spend four glorious relaxing days with one of my "BFF" at her beautiful summer home. Thank you Charlene and family for sharing a piece of Heaven...I mean  Michigan with me.  Enjoy some of my favorite pictures.  



N.  Is for Newsletter Ministry.     
It started out as a simple "change of address" newsletter, and ended up to be something much more. I just finished publishing my 8th edition, "Creature Feature".  I am thankful to my great old friend Lynn, for spending a few hours with me one day and teaching me how to use the publisher program.  Corey has taught me a few things as well, and I look forward to creating and writing my quarterly newsletters with prayer and hopefulness. It is something I do to bring Glory to God, positive memories of Timmy, scripture and fun facts, some family news and whatever comes to mind. When I know it is about time to write a new one, it is just a blank slate.  I put it to prayer and within a few weeks, God will reveal to me what the subject will be and even the name of the newsletter.  I cannot really explain it other than it is totally God and I am thankful to be able to have this ministry.   When I attended to conference this summer, one thing they encouraged us to do was to write newsletters and have a blog, well, I was already doing both of those, so I feel I am  on track to becoming what God wants me to be through my writing ministry. My mailing list is now over 200 and many get handed out!  If you are reading my blog and would like to be on my mailing list for my newsletter, let me know in the comment section.  The next one should be in January sometime. 

O. Is For Oranges.  When we first moved here, the only living thing in the backyard was a large orange tree, obviously neglected, in the corner.  Our landlord said it produced very good oranges at one time.    He said he would take it out if I wanted it way!  "We will get this tree back into shape.  It just needs some TLC."  With a little watering, a little pruning and attention...This year the tree is so full, one branch is lowered to the grass full of oranges weighing it down.  We are watching the fruit turn every day towards the ripeness of Orange.  There will be so many oranges...I am going to be giving a lot away.  So who has a recipe for orange marmalade?  

My prayer for you:  ..."that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. "  Colossians 1:9-10

James 3:18  And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.  

 P. Is for The "Potter's House" Sunday school class I have been attending faithfully the last four or more years.  My teacher is Tom Matlock, his wife is Judi.  They have four grown sons and several grandchildren.  All four of their sons are in the ministry.  Jeremy, one of the twins,  is a missionary with Interns International serving in Saransk Russia,  Tom serves on several boards, Wycliffe Bible Translators for one, and has a passion for the Word of God unlike no one I have known, literally working towards seeing God's Word translated and to be in the hands of all people groups and languages in the uttermost parts of the world. 

"Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message."
Jeremiah 18:3

I have attended church all my life, but I can say with so much gratitude, in these later years of my life, I have never grown so much in the Lord and truly come to a greater love of God's Word myself,   then I have in Tom's class. For example, we just completed the book of James; it took us a over a year, 16 months I think.  (James is only five chapters.)  Verse by verse we studied  God's powerful message to us and connected it to our lives and to other passages that support God's consistent Truth.  

"But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him." 
Vs. 4

If I had to sum up what I have learned from this class, it would be impossibe without writing a book. (I hope Tom will some day for he is very wise). We have studied God's character qualities and how to have those same qualities in our own life and thus reflect that "light" in our life and to others.   We are either two things, a new fresh lump of clay ready and willing to be shaped and formed on the Potter's Wheel, or we are a cracked and broken pot that God needs to reshape for His purpose, either way, there is submission, a yielding process that has to take place in order for God to form us into the vessel He desires for us to be. We were made in His image to manifest His glory, only through humble confession can we restore the Grace Jesus Christ wants to lavish us in. 

Thank you Tom (and Judi) for your faithful dedication and love for our class, for all the support you personally have given to me, your friendship and hospitality.  

 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

And by the way,  Tom's hobby? ... Throwing and creating pots on a potter's wheel.  

Q.  Is for Quarters.  Yep, I know what you are thinking, this is a stretch,  and maybe you are right. Last night my husband and I were taking turns naming "Q" words...I told him I can't just make up any "q" word, it has to be something I am thankful for.  So, getting in the car to come home from school today, I saw them...the change tray, filled with nickels, pennies, dimes and a few quarters.  Why am I thankful for quarters?  Well, first, four of them make one dollar and twelve of them pay for 1 gallon of gas.  All last year we have had one car and three adults, two working and one going to school.  When Ted was laid off, things became even tighter.  There were many days the change cup in the car and the one I have hidden somewhere in my bedroom have paid for a few gallons of gas to get Corey to school or dinner the night before payday.  I do not take spare change for granted; thankful that the  change in the bottom of my purse or in the folds of the couch, count me,  when measured against the world, as very rich. 

"Sunset Celebration"  

R.  Is for Roses.  Roses are my absolute favorite flower.  I have endeavored to have  a rose garden again. This one is growing strong,  beautiful blooms now, as I try to keep up with the deadheading.  Bareroot season is coming up, so I hope to get a couple more added.  I had "Sunset Celebration" at the Verdugo house, in a tree rose form.  I really loved that rose.  A few months after we moved here and dead grass and weeds were cleared from the front side yard, finding a new Sunset,  was the first rose I wanted to plant.  The blooms right now are spectacular.  My dad taught me how to prune them correctly and every Super Bowl Sunday, is the day I start  to trim them back.  I hope to add a "Mr. Lincoln" and an "Angel Face" next season. This is a "Double Delight" which has the most fragrant smell.  A new color I truly enjoy is "Hot Chocolate," pictured here.  It is just as it says, a chocolaty crimson, with smaller heads and less petals but profuse in the amount of blooms.  

S.  Is for Scripture.  I am ever so thankful for my Bible, the Word of God.  The apostle Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica:

"4For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,5because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction."

God's Word has power still today, to change lives, to change minds, to redirect a soul headed  on a journey towards darkness, to one bathed in light and love.

 Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

God's word does not change; is not "politically correct" for the times, yet it is  spiritually correct for a man's sinful heart, no matter the sin. It is the same, yesterday, today and forever. God's word is Love. 
Isaiah 40:8

 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
       but the word of our God stands forever."

God tells us to study it, memorize it and "hide it in our hearts." Hide does not mean here that we do not share it, it means to me that we should be thankful we have the written word and to absorb God's teachings into our very being.  For if we are to be used by Him for His purposes, we need to be equipped.  God's Holy Word  is our instruction manual telling  us how to live an abundant, eternal life.  

II Timothy 2:15  " Be diligent to present yourself approved by God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth."

II Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness."

Many of us probably have several Bibles in our homes.  Taken from the latest board meeting,  my friend (mentioned earlier in "P") Tom Matlock returned from, here is the latest goal of  Wycliffe Bible Translators whose ministry is to reach all people groups with the Bible in their own native language. 

  • There are 2,479 languages that have at least one book of the Bible.
  • There are 1,990 languages "in progress" with at least one book and/or the New Testament.
  • There are 2,252 languages with no translating work yet to be done, many of which do not have a written language.
  • The average over a 10 year period, is 75 new starts at translating one book from the Bible. 
  • There were 109 new starts last year.
The previous "High" for new starts was 25.  So you can see, with the onset of new technology, the rate of new translations has tripled! On the previous pace, it would have taken another 150 years.  This is exciting!

God is moving in hearts to make Himself known to the utmost places on Earth.  

T.  I think I am going to have to put two things for "T" here.  I am thankful for my treadmill.  We sort of have a "love-hate" relationship.  I have never been a fan of exercise...(obviously). After Ted's heart attack last summer (08), my good friend Deanne found it very easy to give us her treadmill. Ted used it for awhile, along with a stationary bike and another contraption called a "Sport Ryder." When school started though, I figured it was time I got serious.  Really, it is my stamina I want to improve the most and if some weight comes off too, then that's good.   I have gone now from doing 1 mile to 3 1/2 and I have lost about 10 pounds.  So, I guess I am thankful for the ability to exercise and it is true; I do not like starting out on the treadmill but after I have finished doing my 3 miles plus, boy,  do I feel good. 

The second thing I am thankful for, (and I am going to cheat here a little), is Corey's school, ITT Tech.  I figure it has enough T's in it to qualify. Corey is in his very last class, graduating on December 10th, and will have his AA degree in Architectural Drafting and Design.  He has done very well, making the honor roll several times.  This last twelve weeks, he has been working on his final project, designing a house, blueprints, specs, computer design, and an actual scale model, which is due and ready for presentation tonight. He has not been working on this alone, it is a group effort.  The three others in his group of been here all week building the model.  They finished at the last second tonight, loading up the model and headed out to school.  As I type this, he is still at school and I will be anxious to here how the presentation went.  Here are some pictures I took of the work in progress.

Well, Corey just got home and said that his presentation went well and the four judges, the Dean, a CAD instructor, a college overseerer and a career services rep.  told their group they did well and were very impressed. He doesn't know his grade yet.   

Now I want to know who is going to clean up that mess in my back patio? 

U.   Is God paying any attention to my silly blog? Does He really care about my little world and my random thoughts, (Even if they are considerable)?  

             WOW! Does He ever, and He confirms me Loud and Clear!

I am driving to school this morning, radio on...but thinking that it is Friday and "U" day.  What am I thankful for that starts with U?  Umbrellas?  no, never rains enough, Umpires? Baseball season is over.  Ukelele? Well of course, if I was on a beach somewhere in Hawaii.  Then I thought of the book of Acts and the new Church and their  leaders and new believers.  Unity. Every believer is worshipping the same God, believing the same Gospel, worshiping together, struggling together, confessing together, sharing together, being blessed together, moving forward together.  

I look over at the truck next to me and painted on the door is a big letter "U",   "United Delivery". 

God does care about my little blog, and He wanted to tell me just that.

Psalm 37:4  Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.    

While at times I do feel lonely, missing friends, missing Timmy, I know I have a big family who does understand, who does listen, who does pray for me, who allows me to confess and ask forgiveness, who can share in my joy and my sorrows.  It is the Family of God, those God has placed me with to fellowship. It is not just my church but friends too,  who also serve God with passion and purpose.    There are some "Christians" I know that think church is not essential for their beliefs.  In one way, they are correct, for God can be found in a grocery store, in a bedroom, in a hospital,  in a peaceful mountain retreat or on a battlefield.  But the church, (not the building, but the believers) plays an essential role as well, holding us accountable, for teaching and reproof, for growth, for fellowship, for worship, for discovering our gifts and using them. God never meant for us to be believers alone.  To be unified with other believers is an act of obedience.  We are pleasing God. 

Psalm 133: 1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!  

Ephesians 4: 1-2  ...walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace. 

V.   Is for vehicle(s). I think this is the first year in a long time that we have not had major car repair problems.  I admit, some of our car repairs in the past have been caused by our negligence, and all the freeway driving Ted does. Even now I am going to say we usually don't have the extra cash to maintain our cars at 100% all the time.  I guess it is what you call a "catch-22".  You need to spend the money so you don't have major problems, but you don't have the money and then there is a major problem...and you have to spend the money. That has always been our story with cars. Ted is very hard on our vehicles, always has been.  Most of this year we have had one vehicle for jobs and Corey's school.  That car was donated to us by Ted's parents, a mercury mini-van.  We recently acquired a second vehicle, this time we purchased it,  again from Ted's parents, a Ford SUV (the smaller one). Both cars are late models but both run very well and once we get all the registration and tags current, it will be a relief to actually have two vehicles.  

I am ever so thankful to my friends who have helped transport me around this last year.  For Ronda, my neighbor who took me to school everyday, for Cathy who is ever so faithful in picking me up (we have Monday prayer time,  too), several times during the week this year, my friend Linda on Thursdays,  my new friend Annette, and sister in the Lord, who got both of us to summer school this last summer, and  my friend Yolanda who sometimes helps shuttle us over to our small group fellowship, and Diane and Scott, Gary and Paula, and Roger and Trudy who have helped out as well.  Thanks, all of you.    

With all the freeway driving Ted does, we have been protected.  Thank You Lord.  Thank you for my in-laws, John and Henny VanTilburg, another "V", for helping us out. I don't enjoy driving as much as I used to.  There are so many big tractor-trailers on the road now and of course cell phone users and texters.  Even with the new laws in place, I see them all the time. I long for those days when you could get down to the beach in 40 minutes. 

W.  Is for writing of course, but something more specific I wrote this last year, which has turned into such a blessing and potential opportunity for me, a story called,  "A Worm's-Eye View."  For,  one of the weekly challenges was to write a story illustrating "empty and full".  I can not remember where my muse came from, just that I started to think on the old idiom, glass half full vs. glass half empty.  Out came a story for children...(I am hoping adults will enjoy it too), of two twin brothers who happen to be googley-eyed green worms, each inching through their way along with "larger than life attitudes,"  one the optimist, one the pessimist.  That story took first place in my category and moved me up a level.  This was so encouraging to me and many comments were made on-line that this story should be illustrated.  In recent years, I have also rekindled my artistic side, so I thought this summer, I would give it a try.  I have put many hours into my drawings and have carefully recrafted the story around my illustrations.  I hope to finish it sometime during the Christmas break and meet with another published children's writer, Nancy Sanders who lives here locally, to receive her input and ideas on submitting my work for publishing.
                                           Peter and Thomas 


The scripture that ends this book is from Psalm 118:24, a reminder to be thankful everyday, for every day God gives us to bring Him Glory.

This is the day which the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

                                         XXXs and OOOs from Heaven 
X.  "X-tra - X-tra, read all about it!  An Extraordinary Story!"

"Hey, it's me, Tim.  I'm here to eXplain Heaven.  Well, really not eXplain, just eXtrapolate more for you since I am here already waiting for you to arrive.  Let me eXpress in words, covey a true impression, or eXpression.   Because of eXtenuating problems that were becoming eXponentially greater, God in His soverign way, did what was best for me.  You know how I hate waiting.  God just eXpedited everything for me and gave me all new parts that are 100% perfect.  First of all, not only can I inhale deeply, but I can eXhale too and Heaven's air is so sweet, like chocolate covered strawberries.  My pain is totally eXtinguished, gone forever, and no more anXiety.  

I have an eXtravagant mansion, eXceeding the limits of all reasoning and on top of that, it is right neXt door to Grandma.  Remember when I eXtemporaneously sang to you "Amazing Grace"?  Well,  I knew you needed to know how eXtremely cool God is when we were able to leave you that gift.  He loves us so much; God's love really eXtends more than you can ever imagine. I can see His love eXterminating darkness from earth.  

There are a lot of eXtroverts like me in Heaven.  God has special plans for us gregarious, unreserved eXports.  I spent twenty-siX years eXpounding on what I thought was important, but now that I am in Heaven it is like an eXplosion,yet peaceful.  I know that is an oXymoron, but it is true.  

Well, to all you there still on the eXterior of things, in the world, God can see
Himself on the interior and that is what counts.  No one can eXperience Heaven really,  until you get here.  I am full of eXultation, truly joyful.  
I know you feel those eXtra-sensory whispers I give to you through the Holy Spirit, those XXX and OOO's.  They are eXclusively for  you.     

Heaven is so eXtraordinary because it is filled with ordinary believers like me that God made eXactly in His image, Some of us get eXhausted trying to live here on Earth, while others get eXtended time.  I hope those with time use it wisely and do not take the wrong eXit.

Now I only want to eXtol to my Savior how thankful I am to be in Heaven and thankful you taught me about Jesus. Yep, for sure, Heaven is even better than licking the cookie dough miX

EXclusively yours, with xxx's  and ooo's

Timothy, eX patriot of Earth, citizen of Heaven, your son.     

Y.   It's all about You!  You, who read my blog:  old friend, brand new blogging friend, church friend, cousin, fellow faith writer, co-worker, ex-boss, ...anonymous person...You know who You are.   I write for myself and for God of course, I truly enjoy it, no surprise,   but what good would it do if my words just echoed off the back side of my brain and hung here in cyber space? There are times when we are doing the work we have been called to do,  we will not even know whom we have ministered to. 

Hebrews 13:2  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.  

You have been used of God to give me strength and I pray my words, God's  Word you read here will brighten your day and/or encourage you as well.    Your stories, your courage, your walk with God through this sometimes very difficult life have  inspired me daily.  Several of You have asked me to write their stories. Wow, what a privilege, to be trusted, to be honored by You to bring glory to the Most High.  Thank you all again and I love You!  

And here is a gift for you,   from me:  Cookies!    

Z.     Well, we made it.  I am going to miss this particular blog.  It was very fun to write.  I know, I am late (2 days) posting my "Z".  I guess I just wanted to stretch this out longer, even though I have known from day one what "Z" would be all about.  

Back in letter "D", I gave praise to my cute neighbor Dylan...Now it's time to recognize the whole family, especially highlighting  Mr. Z himself, Raul Zavaleta.  Within my writing files, I will pull out some past expressions, thoughts I have penned about this family as well as some writing Raul has done as well.  We have now lived in this townhouse 2 1/2 years, moving only 4 months after Timmy went to Heaven.  Our dog whom we had for over 12 years,  had to be put down the day we started to move.  Here is a poem I wrote after a year of living here and bonding with these new friends and neighbors, the Zavaleta's  

"Hey, Neighbor"

A year has gone by
Since we packed up and vacated,
That very sad house
Where sorrow saturated.

Our Timmy still struggled
Not feeling any release
Of his pain in his chest
And his anxiety on the increase.

And "Chance", our special Lab dog,
He enjoyed freedom and fresh air,
but grew older each minute
And had his own pains to bear.

So we moved on without them
Physically by our side.
But in Spirit they are here
In our new place to reside.

The blessings we have found here
Are numerous for sure.
It seems more like "home"
Then any place we ventured.

The garden is thriving
And Corey is doing great!
Both are producing fruit
For a future to celebrate!

But I know how God
Has blessed us the best.
Here on Ballestros,
Our new cozy nest.

We share a single wall
And a roof up above.
With a family of Zavaleta's.
All four we have come to love.

The Sweetheart of a mom
Ronda, no "h" in her name.
She loves all country music
Chesney and McGraw are her fame.

Two great sons
And at just the right age.
Jordan and Dylan
On the cute and smart page!

But Raul is the character
Who can never stay hidden.
"Knock, knock" he says,
"What's that you are a bidden?"

He is round all over
And full of "Monster " energy.
The leader of this family,
Full of love and generosity.

So God, as I reflect back
On a bittersweet year.
Thank you for these new friends
And neighbors so dear.

May we grow closer and always
An example of what Christ had in mind.
When He told us to love,
And to our neighbors, be kind!

Coleene VanTilburg
June 29, 2008

Ronda and Raul                                                            Ted and Raul 

Jordan with our banana splits we made one summer night!

Raul is the creative type as well, always coming up with funny signs to take to the football games or decorating for any given holiday or occasion. Pictures below is his latest Halloween get-up as the "money you would save if you switched to Giecko" ...
                                                                          He's known around our block as "The Monster Guy" because he works as a vendor for Monster drinks.  Here is his house decorated for Halloween:

But actually I wanted to share that Raul to me, is like the brother I never had.  He makes me laugh, he tells me the truth...sometimes when it's not easy to hear,  his is very generous, he is a good listener, and he likes to have a lot of fun.  Sometimes he is just a big kid out tossing the football in the street, and other times he is sharing his own poetry with me.  Raul had a very difficult childhood, but he will tell you he was blessed because God saw him through and protected him and he ended up with a family who loved him and today he is able to have love for his own family and others.  While no one is perfect, living so close to each other, sharing this townhouse, we have seen the good days and the bad days of each other.  We have both laughed and cried together and shared our stories and poems.  Yes, Raul writes poems too and with his permission, I am sharing one here:


Everybody likes me.
Everybody knows my name,
But God you know there are time
 When I have brought you shame.

The times when my soul was weak.
 The times when I would trip.
Lord your loving hands were there to catch me
 Every time I'd slip.

When I was at my worse.
You where at your best.
Always standing right beside me.
Making sure I'd pass the test.

You where there the night my father passed
And I know you heard my plea,
But God you know there are times
 When I have brought you shame, the times when my soul was weak.

The times when I would trip.
Lord your loving hands were there to catch me
 Every time I'd slip, when I was at my worse.
You where at your best,
always standing right beside me.
Making sure I'd pass the test.

And when n the days I thought I knew it all,
 You would let me dig awhile.
And when the hole was finally deep enough,
 You would pull me out and smile.

You never walked behind me,
 Because You knew I wouldn’t lead.
You never walked ahead,
Because You knew to follow wasn’t Me.

You've always walked beside me,
 As the true friend that You are.
You never judge, You never fail
And You're never very far.

R Zavaleta

So,  I hope you all enjoyed this blog, (as long as it was)...and "Count" all your blessings,  name then one by one. ahahahaha.... It is sure good way to bring you out of a "feel sorry for yourself" mood and bring Praise to God foremost.