Friday, November 15, 2013


Having POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) is a tricky thing to deal with but having POTS with a heart condition is even worse. Last night I had a “POTS Crash.” I woke up during the night feeling very unwell. When that happens the first thing to do is check blood pressure…mine was 79/48. When I was first diagnosed my Cardiologist told me anytime my blood pressure went under 100 I needed to go to the hospital. I told him I would be camping there quite a bit then. So he almost made me promise that if it went below 90/60 I would make the trip in. Last night surely met the criteria and yet I felt too bad to move or walk.
The next two hours we tried all the “home remedies” I could think of that my Dr. gave me. Push fluids and drink a coconut water (which contains 500mg potassium) etc. while checking my pressure every few minutes. But then the matter became more complex. My heart obviously didn’t like my blood pressure being so low and it started having spasms. Now besides having very low blood pressure I also was having sharp pains in my chest and in my back between my shoulder blades. The typical solution for this would be to take a Nitrate under my tongue but I’m not allowed to take one unless my blood pressure is over 100 so that was out. The thought then arises…Is the affected artery still clean or is there enough plaque buildup in it that this would lead to a full out heart attack. All we could do was stay very calm and relaxed and hope things would turn around me (all the while knowing that I have my Cardiologist’s cell phone number in my cell phone in case things would get worse). Remembering that when I’ve had surgeries and my blood pressure dropped they would also tilt my bed with the head down and feet up we tried that as well.
After 2 ½ hours on this tightrope things started improving and my blood pressure hit 92/58. Now I was getting more in my “normal” range although feeling a bit weak and left with a fairly intense headache. I was so thankful that we didn’t have to go in…as belonging to a POTS support group I read about so many people who are in and out of the hospital. In fact some people are getting ports so that they can do their own IV at home during a “crash”. 
Why do I share this with you?
First of all when people ask me how I am and I reply “stable” that is a very good thing...I love stable. We never know when these will happen and this is only one type of side effect of having POTS. Whenever I travel I have to be ready and prepared if this would happen…its my new life.
Secondly, we all know that we are walking with a fine string separating us between life and death but I am very keenly aware of this fact. This morning as we were eating breakfast it really hit me how serious the matter could have gotten and how I was able to remain so calm through it all.
I don’t really like writing blogs about my own health issues but this morning I just wanted to give you a little window into what life with POTS and Coronary Artery Spasms can look like. It’s not an easy life…but it is a life dependent on the Lord Day by Day.

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.


Friday, November 1, 2013


Sad to say, I rarely talk to strangers about religion so today when standing at a store checkout I was caught totally off guard. The young man in his 20's (clearly not of Dutch descent) asked me how my Halloween was. I stumbled a bit and mumbled something like, “good.” But my conscience wouldn’t leave me there and after a brief struggle with my fears I said, “we don’t actually celebrate Halloween but we commemorate Reformation Day.”
“What does that mean?” he asked enthusiastically.
“Have you ever heard of Martin Luther?” I asked, and after a brief pause he assured me that he did. Wrongly I assumed that he was thinking of Martin Luther King and thinking how could I explain who he was in 2 minutes while at a checkout counter with people waiting behind me, I would just leave the conversation end there. But he wasn’t through with me yet.
“Why do you have Reformation Day then…what does that have to do with Martin Luther?”
“Well,” I said, “Have you heard of the 95….”
“Oh,” he interjected, “the 95 thesis. I have heard of that.”
And so the questions went on. Him wondering exactly why and how we commemorate the Reformation and more specifically when we go to church what kind of service to we have. All the time he was saying what a neat thing to go to church for.
Finally, he said to me, “Would you mind me asking what religion you are?”
And again me assuming he was very ignorant I said, “Well we are Reformed.”
“Oh, Christian Reformed?” he asked his face lighting up.
“Yes like Christian Reformed,” I said figuring that would be a starting place for him to understand the Christian faith, it being a well-known denomination.
“Wait,” he said stopping his work, his face clearly showing a mixture of sadness and bewilderment, “I’m Christian Reformed and….we don’t celebrate Reformation Day, we have trick or treat day at church.”
Now he needed an explanation who we were and why we differed from the CRC and just why his church didn’t celebrate Reformation day. At that moment we both realized how far even the Christian Reformed church has come.
At this point I was finished checking out and the next customer didn’t look very interested in our conversation so I urged him to look up Martin Luther and the Reformation online so he could learn more about it to which he assured me he would.
And then as if knowing my fear of talking to strangers he loudly said as I was walking away, “thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me, I am so happy that you did.”
I left the store with a mixture of sadness and encouragement. Sadness, seeing the confusion on this young man’s face and yet so encouraged to speak again. Who knows what seed could have been planted in this young man…may my mouth more and more be opened for His name and to His honor and glory.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Its been quiet on this blog…very quiet. I suppose there could be two reasons for that; either is nothing to say or that it is very noisy in other places. I would have to say that the latter is true. Anyone who’s been in the spot that we are would know that with 5 children at home ranging in age from 13-22 would bring “noise” enough of its own. We are in the climax of child training. This is the place where one sees the fruition of those first years of child training (or lack thereof). With an upcoming wedding and 2 boys dating; to juggling four vehicles in a small driveway to plan who has to park where depending on who needs to get out first in the morning; and being a constant on call taxi driver; with trying to figure out everyone’s schedules so we can have family time and the almost impossibility of having everyone around at the same time for a family picture; along with being and on call 24/7 counselor to buying enough groceries to feed this tribe life becomes quite interesting. In fact it is very “noisy”.  But I wouldn’t trade spots with anyone else for a million dollars. What a blessing to have all these “things to do”.

There is another reason why this blog has been “quiet”. There has been lots of other “noise” going on in this house as well but that “noise” is getting very “quiet”. Last night at 11:00pm final corrections (I hope) were made and Seasons of the Heart was completed! Yesterday my dear sister Linda and I were talking and we were both not totally pleased with some of the layout design so we embarked as a team, each on a computer, on a 4 hour sprint making changes until it met our perfectionistic expectations….thanks Lin, and today it will be out of my hands and on to the publisher.
With the conception of this project being 11 months ago I must say it has been a major “noise” not only in my life but in the life of our family. I am so thankful for the support of my husband and the kids for without that it would have been drudgery. It has been a year of researching, writing, typesetting and design, corrections and more corrections and Lord willing by the end of this week it will be going to print. To be honest it feels like a great relief but, it has been a part of me for so long it doesn’t seem quite right not to be “working on the book”.
I’ve also come to realize that one aspect of this book will never be complete…it’s a noise that will continue…a great noise that took place during the whole process of compiling this devotional…a continual (noise) prayer that the Lord would bless this devotional to the hearts of many. What a humbling thought! We were able to get some wonderful endorsements and the marketing being done for this book is phenomenal, including it being featured on over 30 blogs during the week of Nov. 11-17, and as I meditated on all this, the thought stuck me last night that I believe the Lord had to “break” me, and the awful sin of pride that creeps up in all our hearts, for many years in order that He could allow this great work to take place. We cannot do great things in life unless we are also a broken vessel fit for the Master’s use. Often when people are talking to me they refer to it as “your book” and almost every time I cringe inside…I know what they mean but to me its not “my” book, I was the instrument but God was the author…to Him be the glory. The most beautiful thing to me would be to hear the Lord using and blessing it.
Now I must move on. There are little “noises” already starting. I will be giving a topic to the Seminary Student’s wives in October and possibly starting a Bible/book study with them as well. It is such a joy to live a life of service. I pray that each of us may follow the Lord’s will and heed His calling and direction whatever that may be, even if it creates great “noises” in our life.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


What do you think of this world? Are you just a visitor traveling through or would you be content to live here forever? Are you happy in the world or does it make you feel weary? What is your status in the country you are living in? Are you a visitor or a citizen?
When we first lived in Canada we were there as visitors. We could live there but not become involved in the country happenings very much. When voting time came we would often be asked about it and would have to say that we couldn’t participate because we just had our visitor’s record (or papers).  For many years we lived that way…feeling as if we belonged but not really. Finally, after living in Canada for 13 years we become a citizen. After taking an exam the big day arrived for the swearing in ceremony. As we sat in the courtroom that beautiful spring morning there was nervous anticipation in the room. Finally the judge entered and began to speak. What she said was something that has really stuck with me. She looked around the room and exclaimed, “Here in this courtroom, becoming citizens of this great country we have 61 people representing 23 different countries and races. Many of you have gone through great hardships to come to this place but finally the day has arrived and we welcome you!” 
What an amazing picture of the children of God; from many countries and races…many years of preparation….having gone through great hardships and many trials but finally the day will arrive. The day when their desired citizenship will become a reality.
Last week, sitting in the waiting room at the Dr. office, I was reading from 1 John 2 when I came to these words, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” I had to stop and think and evaluate. Do I love this world? Am I happy and content here or is my constant desire to be a citizen of a different country? Which led my thoughts down another road to, “how do I know if I love this world or not?” How much do I love and what value to I place on my house…the “stuff” in the house…our vehicle…our clothes? But again even probing myself deeper I questioned, “When I’m with others, is my conversation focused only on this world and all its happenings? And probing still deeper, “How much time do I spend thinking about earthly things in comparison to spiritual matters?” So in the end…what are my thoughts, words, and actions showing those around me? Do our family and acquaintances, my neighbors, does the world, see that I am a stranger here in this country; just passing through on a way to another? These questions I asked…I pondered…I examined, digging deeply within my heart. How would you answer these questions?
John continues in 1 John 2, “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world…for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the lusts thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” Dear friend if you have to answer that you love the world, do as Pilgrim did (in Pilgrim’s Progress) and put your fingers in your ears and run, run for your life’s sake…run for your soul’s sake.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

I’ve been hearing various comments lately about my lack of blogging. To tell you the truth, so you hear it from me (i.e. the horse)….I’ve been in hibernation. Last fall when I was diagnosed with a complex heart condition I also heard various words from my Cardiologist such as “rest” … “not much physical activity” … “lots of sitting” etc. As you could imagine this was quite troubling to me (to say the least) and so I began to try to look at the bigger picture. Obviously God knew this was all happening. He knew that we had just left a busy congregation where there was lots of work to do and all those words above were not in that vocabulary. And so I continued to ponder and think and pray about what could be the reason behind all this and (as Mary Winslow so clearly says to ask) if there was something I could do to be useful in His kingdom during this period of being laid aside. Sure I had numerous Dr. appointments and 1 hour of rehab 5-6 days a week but was there more? I made this a matter of prayer and one Sunday felt that I had received an answer – hence the reason for hibernation.
The Lord answered this request in a way beyond what I could have imagined….a devotional book for women. No not me writing it but to take the precious, valuable writings of well-known godly women in past generations and bring their writings back to life. It seemed like a daunting undertaking but one that I felt confident the Lord would help me with. For the next 6 months I read and researched and studied, bathing each day of writing with prayer and at times even weeping, as the Lord also laid open as well as fed my own soul. There were many times as I was typing that I wondered who would be touched by a particular day’s devotion…who would be fed….who would see the pride in their heart….who would be led to be more thankful….who would be comforted in grief and pain…whose heart would be drawn more to their Master and Savior...who would be led to the foot of the cross for the first time. I could think of no better way to spend months of sickness than the way I had to spend it daily in the company of godly women many who had travelled paths of trials and afflictions before me.
And so with the wonderful support of my children and husband the book is compiled and sent off to the editor. There are 12 women’s writings in the book including (Mary Winslow, Ruth Bryan, Susannah Spurgeon, Frances Havergal, Anne Dutton…and the rest are a surprise). A few more weeks have been spent designing the cover so that the publisher (Reformation Heritage Books) can start promoting it. Once I receive the copy back from the editors I will be typesetting and doing final corrections and Lord willing, it should be ready in the fall.
Besides all this I just came home from a scheduled visit at my Cardiologist and she was so pleased with the progress I am making (even though I have tiny steps backward at times). I need to continue my strict regimen of rehab but I had been going for a Dr. visit every week to two weeks and then it was pushed to 3-4 weeks apart and now I do not have to go for 2 months…the Lord’s ways are beyond what we can imagine. Thanksgiving, wonder, amazement, humility…these are the words that come to mind as I see the Lord slowly bringing back health…health that I haven’t had for several years. Last week for the first time in 6 months I was able to get groceries for our family…I never thought I would be thankful to be able to do something as monotonous as getting groceries.  Let us thank Him together!!
I also want to leave an encouraging note to those who have long term trials and afflictions. The Lord can use you during these times. Seek and pray for ways to be used in His kingdom. It is often during times of our brokenness that we can be the best instruments in His hand for it is at these times that we can only get through each day by totally leaning on the Lord for strength and the Lord loves total dependence on Him.
 P.S. Here is a sneak peak of what the devotional will look like.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gracious Kindness

We just got back from a wonderful 4 days in Florida for our 25th anniversary. We had good flights, wonderful conversations on the planes…one was with a gentleman who was a Lutheran but is becoming more conservative and possibly reformed in his older years and for one hour he asked questions and my husband was a faithful lecturer. The other was a 36 year old gentleman who was still single and was a very devoted Greek Orthodox. This man too asked many questions and we had a very engaging conversation with him. Our condo room was right on the beach and it was small but clean and neat. The weather was perfect (low 80's during the day and 70 at night)....the beach beautiful...the sunsets were breathtaking. We watched the dolphins while eating our meals on our patio. At night we sat down on the beach and just watched the waves…sometimes talking together…sometimes just sitting silently....marveling at the majesty of God. After the afternoon church service on Sunday we had friends from Grand Rapids over for supper. It was nice to catch up again. After they left we walked out to the beach for one last time and again contemplated the day and sermons and were privileged to even see two shooting stars. My heart gave me only enough trouble to let me know it was there and i needed to be careful but nothing which we needed to get worried about for which we were so thankful.

But this beautiful trip could have been very different. We landed in Tampa about 10:30pm on Wednesday. After gathering our luggage we headed outside the airport to wait for a shuttle to take us to the rental car company. (This time we rented a car off-site because it was cheaper.) The temperature was about 75 degrees and so we didn't mind the 15 minute wait. We sat on a large bench and enjoyed the warmth. There were lots of other shuttle busses coming and going and finally ours arrived. We loaded on our luggage and left the airport. About 7 minutes down the road I suddenly realized my purse was misssing. We quickly informed the driver who turned around as soon as possible. I must say that among other things in my purse, was our debit/credit/gift cards...our good camera...our kindle (his anniversary present to me) cell phone….and my heart medication which I need to carry with me at all times. At first we both felt panic and then I realized the foolishness of that because the outcome of all this was in the Lord's hands. If it was His will we would find it and if not we would spend the next days dealing with the ramifications and with this realization a calm came over my whole body. It was so much easier being resigned to His will than when I was panicking over something I had no control over. Obviously we still prayed that it would be found yet at the same time feeling that whatever happened would be ok.

Those 10 minutes back to the airport seemed like a very long time but finally we arrived about 20 minutes after we had left. The shuttle bus pulled into the area where we had been waiting and between all the people standing around waiting for their busses we could see a large bench, and on that bench all alone, sat my purse. As my husband ran off the bus towards the bench tears of thankfulness and gratitude filled my eyes as again I realized what an underserved mercy and gracious goodness was given to us. The Lord had prepared our hearts to fall in line with whatever His will would be and then He chose to show us His great mercy. This was a humbling start to our trip.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

25 Years

The Lord has blessed my husband and I with 25 years of loving service to one another…of two becoming one and walking in that one path toward a common goal of serving the Lord. I devote this blog post to the person I love most on this earth, my best friend, my husband. I would be lying if I said that the road was always smooth and easy for it is impossible for two sinners to be joined together and sin never to be present. We have fought many battles against self…sin…Satan…and the world and yet we must humbly confess that the Lord has brought us through these all to the place we are now…more deeply in love with each other than ever before.
My dear husband has taught me many valuable lessons through these 25 years and although I am still learning them day by day I want to honor him by sharing just a few of them and showing how these lessons have shaped and molded me into the person I am today.
The first lesson he taught me is to think before I speak. I am a very quick witted person and often can ‘think on my toes’ and have an answer on the tip of my tongue before I think of the consequences of the words I may speak. Over the years we have together counseled countless people and I am often amazed how my husband will take in all what is being said and think for a few minutes before he answers wisely weighing his words. Slowly I am learning this valuable lesson in talking with others.
My husband for the last 25 years has tried to teach me that I don’t need to be a perfectionist about everything. As I glanced back at this sentence I realize that I wrote “tried to teach me” and I’ve decided to leave it that way. This is a very hard lesson for me to learn and I am still in school for this one. But one thing that helps me is to realize that I cannot have a “perfect” house and give of myself as I desire to be of service to others. My longing is to serve others and therefore there are times when my perfectionism doesn’t have a choice. We must be neat and tidy and clean I realize but we also need to be Mary’s and not only Martha’s.
Another valuable lesson (especially in our calling in life) he taught me is to realize that its ok if plans change. I remember those first years in the ministry I would wake up make my list for the day and when it didn’t go that way it would be difficult for me to adjust to. For the most part my lists have gone in the garbage, making it so much easier to change my plans without so much frustration. What also really helps me with this is seeing that all things are ordered by the Lord and His ways are best.
Finally, probably one of the biggest things my husband taught me is to come out of my very thick shell. It has only been through his gentle but firm prodding and pulling that I have become the person I am. Very slowly he is helping me to see, and acknowledge, the talents that the Lord has given me and not to be afraid to use them. Even though this has been the area in which I resisted most I am so grateful to him for not giving up or giving in to me but continually to push me beyond my comfort zone so that I could be more useful in God’s kingdom.
Together we have been through great trials, sicknesses, temptations, sorrows, joys, and yet I am so thankful to be by the side of my dear husband as He serves the Lord and labors in the furthering of His kingdom. When I hear him preach the riches of God Word my heart is full. I feel so blessed to be married to this gentle, godly man of God and I thank God for him.
On this our 25th anniversary I also publicly say to you my dear husband….I Love You…and I pray that we may have another 25 years together, to serve our Lord and Master and labor in His kingdom!