Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kermit the Frog and Doritos

Sometime during my early high school days, I invited one of my best friends, Susan, to spend the night at my house. We made all kinds of plans, the biggest part was purchasing a mother-load of junk food and staying up most of the night.

Our first activity for this adventure was going to the grocery store and spending way too much money on junk food - dark chocolate, licorice, candies, Doritos, pop and more. Then we headed to my house and set up my bedroom for our feast. I slept with a sheet of plywood under my mattress, and there were two beds in my bedroom, so we pulled that plywood out and put one end under the second bed creating a large surface to place all our junk food on.

Then we began our adventure...eating and talking and laughing and goofing off. I had a tape recorder what would record, so we played around with that but found that the batteries were nearly dead, so we put in new batteries and rewound and listened to what we had recorded....we sounded like the Chipmunks! So we spent the next few hours recording with the week batteries and playing the recording with the new batteries. Then we started experimenting with doing imitations of famous people/characters. One of the ones I liked to do was Kermit the Frog. So we did a little improv with Kermit the Frog being interviewed as he was traveling in Mexico and trying out their spicy foods. I threw a Dorito in my mouth and then gasped as though the food was extremely hot...only problem was, I inhaled part of the Dorito. And it stuck. Really stuck. I don't remember much after that point, and the next thing I was aware of was that I was dreaming that someone had a pillow over my head and I was suffocating. I started to come around, dizzy and couldn't get my bearings...then I felt like I needed to throw up...I lunged off the bed and ran to the bathroom, but I didn't throw up...I just sat there shaking and week. Susan had ran to the bathroom with me and I asked what had happened.

She told me that I had choked on that Dorito and had lost consciousness - gone completely limp on my bed. She said she jumped over to my bed, launching junk food everywhere, and tried to get me to come around, but I wasn't breathing. She then got me into position and did the Heimlich maneuver on me, and after a couple of tries I started to come to, and then I struggled and started heading for the bathroom.

I had no idea what the Heimlich maneuver was at the time, but I was sure glad she knew. I came to find out that just before this event, Susan had taken a babysitting course at the local hospital and included in the training was CPR and what to do if someone was truly choking!

I just did a little research about the Heimlich maneuver and found out that Dr Heimlich first published his findings on how to help a victim of choking back in 1974 (my choking experience was probably in 1979) so this was something new at the time. I also found out that the first time anyone was saved from choking to death was in 1974 in Bellvue, WA...just miles from my home! I love trivia!

I am so thankful that God had prepared Susan so that she could help me when I could not help myself. I also recently found Susan again after doing some searching and talked with her, and confirmed that she had taken that babysitting course that prepared her for this very unexpected event. She remembers this particular sleep over but does not remember the choking incident, but I do. Thanks, Susan, for being there for me even though you don't remember it. I think when we have a close call with death it becomes very memorable for us, but maybe not so much for our rescuers!

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Scar

It was a very hot night.  My sister, Lisa, and I had spent the day helping some neighbor girls run a garage sale to help pay for a broken window.  They had accidentally broken the window while playing one day, but the family couldn't afford to replace it, so the girls put on a garage sale to raise funds for the window.  I remember that their parents were very unhappy about that window being broken, but thought it was very cool that they found a way to pay for it!  I believe the girls were about 10 and 13 and at the time I was about 8 years old.

I had gone to bed, but my room was like an oven, way too hot to sleep in.  So I decided to try to open my window.  We lived in an old house, with wooden framed windows that had been painted more times than you could count.  They were heavy, and needed to be lifted up and then braced with something to hold them open.  I had much difficulty opening these windows when I was young and this might have been the first time I attempted to do it by myself.  My bedroom was on the top floor, and my bed was positioned right up to the window, so once I got that window open I would get the fresh air right on my face, delightful on hot nights.

I placed my hands on the window and began to push.  It didn't budge, so I pushed again, started to I tried one last time pushing with all my might.  The window gave, only it didn't go up, it shattered.  Since I was pushing so hard against the glass (not the frame), the momentum caused me to go through the window, and since I was on my knees at the level of the window there was nothing preventing me from flying right through that window to the concrete over 2 stories below.  I distinctly remember watching the glass shards dropping down towards the ground and the feeling that I was starting to do the same, when I felt a pressure on my chest that held me in place with my knees on the bed, my feet in the air and the upper half of my body hanging out the window...then I came back through the window opening (I'm not sure how to this day) until I was sitting on my bed, but on the way back through my arm (just above and inside my elbow) had caught on a large glass shard sticking up from the lower frame.  I was terrified!  I was mortified!  I had broken that window and they are so expensive!  I was bleeding too - badly.

I jumped off my bed, holding my arm to try to stop the bleeding and I ran out of my room - I was yelling at this point "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I broke the window" and ran down the stair and was still yelling/crying about breaking the window.  My mom had come running to the stair along with my dad and my sister, Lisa.  They had heard the glass breaking on the ground and then my yelling - they ran towards the stairs and got to me as I neared the bottom.

By this time my arm had bled enough that it was obvious that it needed attention right away.  My mother reassured me that it was OK and not to worry about the window.  Over and over as I was hysterically telling them that I'd work to pay for it and that I was so sorry that I had broken the window.  My mom carefully cleaned my arm, and discovered that a chunk of flesh had been scooped out - about 1/4 inch wide, and 1 inch long and around 1/2 inch deep.  I remember her discussing the possibility of stitches, but they decided that a butterfly bandage would suffice.  It took a while, but they did get the bleeding to stop.  While she was working on my arm she asked how I broke the window, and then she asked how I kept from falling completely out of the window since I was kneeling right next to the window and I told her about the pressure on my chest.    I told her that something, someone kept me from falling.  There was no reason I shouldn't have fallen to the cement below - I was even hanging out there long enough to watch the glass falling to the ground!

I believe that an angel held me back.  God preserved my life that day.  Falling 2 1/2 stories onto glass covered cement  would have been life threatening.  But that wasn't in God's plan for me.  He stepped in and preserved me.  He allowed this in my life to show me that He is in control - that no harm can befall me unless it is first filtered through His loving hand, and that it is for my good and for His glory.  Would He be any less loving or in control if I had fallen to the ground and was severely injured?  No, if that had happened, that would have been His plan for me and it would have been for my good and His glory.  But He chose to do something miraculous - to show that nothing is impossible with Him.

To this day I have the scar on my arm.  It is noticeable and I can't tell you how many time children have asked me how I got that scar, and it gives me many opportunities to share how God miraculously preserved my life that day.  Now that I think of it, scars are an excellent way to remember, aren't they!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Leaning on my own Understanding

During the summer of my fourth year of life, my parents went camping way up in the in the hills that are part of Mt Rainier.  The area is pristine and the amenities are few and far between.  My father would go hunting in the fall, using old logging roads and hiking trails, and just plain hiking through the woods.  He would take a huge army salvage tent and stay up there for a week or two at a time.  Some years he'd come home with some meat for the freezer, other years no meat, but he'd also scouted out new places to camp or the perfect Christmas tree!  So our family had gone camping to one of the wonderful campgrounds that my father had scoped and had spent a wonderful week camping together.  The only part of that camping trip that I remember is being swung around in the hammock by the big kids (wrapped up like a mummy).  I was the baby of the family, and at 4 that meant my siblings were 10, 12, 14 and 16.  The hammock might have been from another camping trip, but that is the earliest memory of camping that I have.

On the trip home, we were driving past an area that had a large lake, and out past some mud flats there were these cool dome shaped islands, but they were only separated by little streams of water.  The older kids thought it would be fun to go play on them, a nice break in the long trip home.  My parents agree with them.  The kids wanted to take me with them, but my parents were very unsure if that was a prudent thing to do, as it could be dangerous for a 4 year old to be playing around the edge of a lake.  But they convince them that they would take great care of me, not to worry.  Reluctantly, they agreed.  So while they rested in the car, they watched their 5 children walk across the mudflats (the mudflats looked the size of a football field, but I was only 4, so it might have been smaller, but still a ways).
Mark and Beth were holding my hands, and we crossed what was like a small stream that was going around the first "island".  We scouted around that mound and from the backside they could see more mounds, and one that looked very interesting, but the kids thought it wouldn't be a good idea for me to cross to the other mound (I don't remember why), so they told me to sit on a stump and wait for them...they made it very clear to me that I was not to move, for any reason.  I am sure I promised to obey.  So I sat there for a while, watching them make their way to the next mound/island.  Then they disappeared over the mound and I was alone, all alone.  So I started to take in my surroundings, the lake, the other mounds, the water swirling around the mound I was on.
While watching the water, it began to look like my island was moving....swirling with the water...moving away from the shore.  I was sure that my island was floating away into the lake!  If I waited any longer the little stream that we waded through to get to this island would be too big to cross!  I yelled for the other kids, but they couldn't hear me.  I began to panic!  I decided that I needed to get off that island right now.
I ran back to the other side and ran right down to the stream that I thought we had crossed...only in my little 4 years old mind, I had not remembered things all that clearly and did not stop to look into the water.  Instead of a few inches of water, I was suddenly in over my head.  I had this jacket on, a down jacket.  It floated up under my arms and held me afloat, but I couldn't do anything.  And the water was taking me away from my parents, who I could see now standing outside our car.  They were waving their arms, and then my Dad started running down to the mud flats, but he didn't get far....he stopped moving...why oh why wasn't my daddy coming to save me!
From my parents perspective, they suddenly saw me run down and into the water and then all they could see was my head.  As you can imagine, they panicked and started yelling for the kids - and then my dad decided he needed to get out there to save me.  The only problem was that those mud flats which we children walked across were not able to hold up an dad sunk up to his knees in the must have seemed like a nightmare!  He couldn't get to me no matter how hard he tried.  But then, in God's providence, he used a skill taught to him when he was just a child - he whistled.  My dad could whistle louder than anyone I have ever known.  He used to whistled to call us kids home and we could hear it inside the homes of our friends, even a block away.  There was no way that the kids would hear my father shouting, but they would hear his whistle...his whistle was the only thing that could bring the help that was needed to keep my from drowning.
I heard that whistle...and it wasn't long before my sibling came running back to me and found me drifting towards the lake, with an almost saturated jacket.
Mark pulled me out of the water, and carried me over to the shallow crossing and across that plain of mudflats.  Back to my loving parents who wrapped me in a warm towel and their love.  They stripped off my wet clothes and dressed me in warm dry clothes.  I really don't remember anything else past this, but the rest of this memory is vivid and clear as though it happened yesterday.
God saved my life that day...the days numbered for me to spend on this earth were not finished yet, and no watery grave could thwart the plan of God for my life.  God in His sovereignty taught my father to whistle when he was young, He had my father use his whistle to call his children - and his children knew that when Dad whistled, you came running, no matter what, right away.
I had "leaned on my own understanding".  Even when I had been told to stay where I was, I did not listen to the wisdom of those older and wiser than me, and I paid the consequences of following my own way.  My family suffered much anguish because of my folly.
God is good, God is loving, God is involved, God is in control, God is wise.  When I lean on my own understanding, and follow my own way, I can get lost, I can get into deep watery places that I can not get out of on my own.  But God will always hunt me down, find me, bring me back, and wrap me in His loving arms.  He will use these times to teach, mold, and make me like His Son.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
 And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
  And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, April 18, 2011

Setting the Stage

I so enjoyed sharing with you about my amazing journey into this world!  But I feel that I need to go even further back to share with you some things that God orchestrated even before I was born.  One of these things came to light this past weekend, and I knew I had to share this with you!

About 5 years before I was born, my parents were unbelievers, and my mother was battling depression and my father was holding down two jobs trying to make ends meet.  They had neighbors next door that through their testimony and witness, my mother found salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ.  For the next several years my mother learned of Jesus and His forgiveness and restoration.  She learned that God was the giver of life, and that He was in control of her life and doing all things for her good.  She was able to overcome most of her depression through claiming the promises of her Savior.

She prayed faithfully that my father would come to know Christ as his Savior too, but it seemed to not be His will  yet.  While my mom was carrying me, my father was secretly meeting with the pastor of the church in order to profess his faith and join the church.  One the day I was baptized, my father surprised my mother by also professing his faith in Jesus Christ before the congregation that day.  Isn't God amazing?  God used these precious saints to bring both my parents to salvation by the time I was born, so I was blessed with attending a faithful church with believing parents all my life.  This also meant that I would attend a Christian school, and come to a saving knowledge of Christ at an early age, and although I have had many ups and downs in my spiritual journey,  I can say that I have been loving the Lord since I was just 8 years old, having given my heart to Christ during chapel in 3rd grade.

But I need to tell you more about these neighbors that shared the gospel with my parents.  This godly man and his wife were Ted and Willy Triezenburg.  I grew up knowing them as Uncle Ted and Aunt Willy.  They were a wonderful example to our family, an example of godly parents and a close knit family. And they loved me and my siblings as their own.  They took my mother, and later my father, under their wings and they became great friends.  They discipled my parents through they years and were always there for them.  They were even bowling team mates for the church league.   I will always remember the times I biked over to Uncle Ted's jewelry shop in Ballard and stopped in to say "hi" - he would welcome me as though I were the most precious little girl in the world.  He'd take time out of his busy day to listen to my prattle, and introduce me to some of his workers and let me ooh and aahhh over the pretty jewelry behind the glass. Aunty Willy was always ready with a sincere hug and wanting to know how I was doing.  My parents even asked them to be my godparents, and I knew this.  So in some ways I had a special bond with them through out my life.  Earlier this month Uncle Ted went to be with His Saviour, and is now singing before His throne and it is good.  I had the privilege this past weekend to attend his memorial and remember all the wonderful things about this man of God - his peppermints, his wink and a click of his tongue, the twinkle in his eye that told me that he loved me.  I was also pleased to be able to  thank Auntie Willy, probably for the first time, for sharing the gospel with my mother, which allowed me to grow up in a home with believing parents, giving me a heritage that was a foundation for serving my Lord and Saviour through my life.

Thank you, Father, for Uncle Ted and Aunt Willie and for their lives.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Miracle Birth Story

This is the first installment of what I would like to call "His-Story - God's Grace in Our Lives".  These will be stories about times when God moved in mighty ways to accomplish His will in our lives and to show us His grace, sovereignty, compassion, faithfulness and love.  I have been pondering on this for nearly a year, and now it's time to start.  But where to start?  I originally thought this would be stories about His-Story in our lives as a family, but I realized this week that I had to go back farther...much farther - back to the beginning of my life and how much God moved to bring me into this world, and how He kept me here through several life-threatening experiences.  I hope you enjoy the stories, and here is one of my favorite stories of all time!

My mother and father already had experienced the ups and downs of a large family (for their time).  My mother had recently become a Christian, but my father was still an unbeliever (or so my mother thought).  They had 2 boys, and 2 girls, perfect right?  My father was going through some difficult and trying times at work, and my mother's last 3 pregnancies had ended in miscarriage, two of which were later in pregnancy and life threatening for my mom and traumatic for my father and older siblings.  Her doctor even told her not to come back to her if she got pregnant again!  Their last child had been born with a mild birth defect, but it required several surgeries in her first few years, and she dealt with difficult things like temporary hearing loss and difficulty breathing making daily life difficult.  My father was done, he had more than he could handle, he was content with the children he had.  My mother, on the other hand, yearned to have another baby.  I can relate to this - after my miscarriages and after having Esther , I did and do desire to have another baby, probably to find healing I suppose, and I have talked with other moms who have felt the same way after miscarriages, twins or having babies with special needs.  So, my pregnancy was not exactly met with excitement on all sides...even my mother did not expect this baby to survive pregnancy.

My mother was uncomfortable through her pregnancy with me, she was 35 and that in itself makes for a more uncomfortable pregnancy I can tell you.  At one point, her body was threatening to miscarry me, and she went to her doctor to see what was going on.  He said that she would probably miscarry...when my mother expressed her sorrow at that thought, he was surprised...she already had more than enough children, why would she want another one?  She wanted this baby more than she could share with this doctor who had no understanding of maternal instinct.  She prayed that this baby would make it.  She did not miscarry, and actually went past her due date!

After two attempts to induce labor, as she was more than 3 weeks overdue, my mother went to yet another appointment with he doctor, and he told her that this baby was just not ready six weeks past the due date???  So she went home, got the other children home from school, and started to make dinner.  Suddenly she was experiencing pain from one hip to the other, and it didn't seem to be going away.  Shew as very uncomfortable and felt that "something is not right".  So my father took my mother to the hospital at 8 pm that night.

 When my mother was checked, the doctor told her that she was dilated to 2 cm, but he wanted her moved to the delivery room anyway.  Once settled in the bed there, my mother experienced all the pitocin that had accumulated in her body through the two IV induction attempts.  She heard this terrible screaming, not knowing it was herself.  My father, 4 stories down in the waiting room, heard this scream, but had no idea that it was his wife!  Immediately my mother began shaking, and heard the doctor say "you have a baby girl" - looking at the doctor she saw that he was holding me like a football - still in his street clothes even.

He laid me on a little table by her bedside.  She saw a little baby with skin hanging in loose folds off her body, but with a beautiful face and she even smiled!  My skin had already begun to decompose, and I was covered in meconium.  The doctor told my mom that he would have to do some repair work on her right away, but that she'd have to come back in later for further repair.  My mother remained in the hospital with me for 5 days.  I weighed just 6 lbs 13 oz - the doctor said I had probably lost 1 1/2 to 2 pounds due to dehydration and a deteriorating placenta.  I was born at 8:30 pm, just 1/2 hour after arriving at the hospital.

My mother says that as a newborn, I was like a 6 week old baby - sleeping through the night, smiling, laughing within the first week.  She had to take special care of my skin for a while - no bathing, she had to use a special cream, and just dab it on, no rubbing, as my skin would just come off with rubbing.  She said I was a good baby and did lots of sleeping.

During my first year, I had several bouts of pneumonia, probably due to meconium aspiration and second hand smoke.  But I survived all of those as well.

God had a plan for my life, and He brought me into this world despite all the situations that would cause people to think that it wasn't meant to be.    My birth story is a story about God's sovereignty, God's Grace, and God's compassion.  My mother had a miracle baby (that's what the neighbors all called me).  She was so convinced that I would not survive that she had not prepared at all - no baby clothes, no baby things...but God provided all that as well.

In looking through my baby book this morning, it is full of cards and the list of baby gifts is long...looks like most people recognized a miracle when they saw it too!

So, why did I start our His-Story with this story?  Because I wanted to share with you that God had a plan for my life.  A plan that was not apparent to others, even my parents.  God says in His Word, in Jeremiah 29:11 -
" For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the LORD,
 “plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future

  He had a plan for my mother, my father, my siblings, myself and for you.  In Psalm 139 He says,

 "3 For you created my inmost being; 
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
   your works are wonderful, 
   I know that full well. 
15 My frame was not hidden from you 
   when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; 
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book 
   before one of them came to be. 

  He knew, even before I was born, God knew how many days I would live on this earth.  I thank God for His touch on my life.  I praise Him for leading me down paths that I would not have chosen for myself, but that were for my good and His glory.  He does all things well.

God is so awesome!  I am amazed at His love, compassion and almighty power.  I stand in awe.  Praise be to God who does all things well.