Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Josh West

Josh West entered emergency medicine because of his mother-in-law’s passion for her role as an RN in Florida. Josh says, “She talked me into getting my EMT license, and I’ve loved the job ever since! I love the thrills of the job, but I also enjoy making a difference in people’s lives, even if it’s just being someone who will listen to them.”

When Josh chose to enter the medical field, he went all in. Prior to moving back to Michigan, Josh worked in Florida for eleven years as a Firefighter/Paramedic for Polk County Fire Rescue, as an EMT with Transcare Ambulance Service in Tampa, and as a Patient Care Technician in Spring Hill.

Today, Josh West works at Metro Health Hospital in Michigan as an RN in the emergency department. While this is his full-time job, he also works as a paid-on-call Firefighter/EMT for Zeeland Township Fire Rescue.
Josh says that “it’s strange with the Covid-19 response now. After all of the media coverage initially, it was somewhat frightening. Locally, we saw all of the coverage from Detroit and anticipated to be hit hard like they were. Fortunately, we have not seen those kinds of numbers here. Hopefully, we won’t. We have, however, been preparing for the worst and hoping for the best! And sending up lots of prayers!”

We are thankful that we have healthcare workers and first responders, like Josh, who are prepared for anything.

The message that Josh would pass along is to “please take this seriously, especially as the stay-at-home orders are relinquished. There is a very likely chance that a second wave of cases will come through so please continue to practice social distancing.”

~A Diverse Global Article written by Catie Cordero

Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Samuel Ortega

For the last three years, Samuel Ortega has worked as a first responder for the Norton Shores Fire Department. A passion for this field arose at a young age, watching his father serve the community in Los Angeles City Fire Department in California. Sam loved visiting the station and climbing all over the trucks.

Sadly, his father passed away from ALS, which was triggered by firefighting work. The loss was devastating and for years Sam pushed away the calling to join Fire Service, but God had other plans.

Only God would know that Sam’s service would be needed at such a time as this. Even though the call volume has lowered, the stress and mental load is much heavier. Protocols are changing daily, sometimes hourly. As a first responder, being ready and adaptable is key. Even before Covid-19, the department had a certain amount of P.P.E. (Personal Protective Equipment) to wear, and now, the P.P.E. required is greater—regardless if a patient is assumed positive or negative for coronavirus.

With every case they face, our responders must recognize and face the danger. Unfortunately with Covid-19, the danger doesn’t end at the conclusion of their shift. As they return home, they dump their clothes in the washing machine and jump in the shower, hoping to protect their own families. The danger is real, but they face it for us.

Each day, Sam and his team strive to be at their best in order to keep the community safe. Sam says that it is a hard balance between doing his job safely and wanting to jump right in and help. “For the community, we keep our heads down and keep moving forward. This too shall pass,” says Sam. “While I think our normal will definitely be a “new normal” this will pass.”

We are grateful for Samuel and all first responders. Being on the frontlines is challenging physically, emotionally, and mentally. Please join us in praying for these great men and women. Please remember Sam and his family in your prayers.

And remember these last words from Samuel Ortega…“Think for yourself, don’t believe everything and anything the media tells you. Use precaution but don’t live and operate out of fear. And above all, keep your faith.”

~A Diverse Global Article, Written by Catie Cordero

Giving Tuesday and Making An Impact

Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world…24-hours of giving!

On this day, please consider supporting Family Hope Foundation and our Therapy Scholarship Program. What better gift can be given than Ability? Your donation this Giving Tuesday, in any amount, will be a priceless gift to families in need.

Here is a story one child we were able to help…

Like a little baby bird—skinny and cute—Aidan Wood said hello to the world. The only thing large on his tiny frame was his head, but since big brother had a good-sized noggin, no one was the wiser. It wasn’t until much later that the Wood’s discovered that Aidan’s head circumference at birth was in the hundredth percentile…for three year olds.

The baby years progressed with joyous bliss. Aidan slept great and rarely cried. He didn’t need to be held constantly, in fact, he preferred his swing. This too was an early indicator of things to come. Nearing nine months of age, the babyhood simplicity began to fade.

Delayed milestones weren’t near the forefront of the Wood’s minds until bronchitis became Aidan’s frequent, unwanted friend. An allergist surmised that he was likely aspirating on his formula, causing the respiratory distress. At the same time, she asked if his head size and disjunctive gaze had ever been discussed. Those questions led to CT scans, swallow studies, feeding therapy, thickened liquids, patching eyes, and then two eye surgeries. The Wood’s now knew they were in the elite club of being special needs parents.

Early-on services and Ken-O-Sha schooling helped Aidan move forward in his learning and development. While this season of schooling had it’s huge victories, it also came with its harsh challenges. Aidan’s behavior became more reactive and aggressive. His ability to control his bowel movements (Encopresis) caused bad episodes of soiling in his diapers. On top of that, he was still non-verbal, so he couldn’t communicate his needs.

Around age five, the Woods decided to try a different facility for Aidan’s PT and speech therapy. This is when they met their miracle worker René Manker at BRAINS. She used some of her Feldenkreis training with him in physical therapy, and his coordination and balance improved; and so did his toileting skills. However, when René left, they were worried. What would they do without her?

The following years brought more tests and evaluations. The diagnoses added up—Dysphagia and Reflux, malformation of cortical development, Strabismus (which led to the eye surgeries), Hypotonia/Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy (low or diminished muscle tone), Dysarthria (delayed or poor motor planning in the speech and articulation process), chronic constipation and Encopresis, Mood Regulation Disorder, and then at age seven came a new diagnosis—Sensory Processing Disorder, which was considered the culprit for Aidan’s up and down behaviors. Thankfully with help of occupational therapy, Aidan had more tools and coping skills.

By age ten, Aidan’s therapy services were being limited by insurance. The Woods were no longer seeing increasing results with therapies. Aidan’s behavior was growing more volatile at school and at home. Remembering how much progress they saw with René, Aidan’s mother, Amy, decided to try Google. And yes, Google proved helpful. Amy discovered Senses In Motion, a company in which René owned! Unfortunately, she noted that insurance wasn’t accepted there. She knew they couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket.

At this time, Amy had been volunteering for Family Hope Foundation for a couple of years at the Celebration Cinema sensory show times. She hadn’t applied for a scholarship before, but figured it was time to try. The Woods were thrilled when Aidan was awarded funds for ABM (Anat Baniel Method of Neuromovement) therapy with René. This form of therapy has been pivotal in helping Aidan with Dyspraxia. Aidan’s brain struggles to organize the information needed for his body to carry out even simple tasks. With his brain struggling to appropriate information, he finds himself oftentimes frustrated, triggering emotionally reactive behavior. But with ABM therapy, he is making strides in both conceptual and sensory processing and behavioral responses.

After one full year of ABM, Aidan has fewer meltdowns, aggressive behaviors are on the decline, his processing speed is growing, and he is able to learn easier. But most importantly, his silly personality is returning.

Through all the trials, hardships, and diagnoses, Aidan has pressed on. It hasn’t been easy for him or his family, but they have all chosen to see the glass full and not empty. They count their blessings, not misfortunes. If the Woods could be summed up in a word it would be—optimistic. It is because of this that Aidan is blooming, and his hilarious nature is shining once more.

 

Aidan is one of the amazing kids we have been able to support. Join with us in giving the Gift of Ability to more children.

http://bit.ly/GivingTuesdayFHF

 

Our Contact Information

Family Hope Foundation

7086 8th Avenue
Jenison, MI, 49428

616-729-8833

www.familyhopefoundation.org

TO BE WELL

If you had asked me last week, “Catie, are you well?” I would have told you no. 

The weeks leading up to last week were not kind to me. Between a series of rejections, failings, and flare-up of my auto-immune disease, I emotionally collapsed. I did not feel well mentally, emotionally, and physically. I wanted to cave. I wanted to quit. I wanted to be sad. Not a great place to be. I was letting my outward journey determine my inward journey. I was letting disappointments dictate the wellness of my soul. Negative thoughts can be quite alluring in the valleys of life. But what does negative thinking achieve? Nothing. Does it make me feel better? No. But did I feel justified in my negative thoughts–yes. That’s the catch. That is what makes them alluring. I feel I have a right to think negatively and be sad and throw myself a this-isn’t-fair party. So I did. I dwelt in that space for a few weeks. It made me more depressed.

Then, God spoke to my heart and said, “Enough. It’s time to move on.” He, of course, was right. It was time to move on. I cleaned up my office space. I put my storyboard away. I filed all current books-in-progress. I have to stop striving to make things happen that just aren’t happening.

I can’t control my health. I can’t control my publishing career. I can’t control the unknown. But, I can rest in Jesus. I can let go. I have to let go. 

In my last novel, Marvel and Mayhem, my main character, Mattie, wrestles with anger toward the song and belief, “It is Well With My Soul.” She feels that the song was a lie. Life hasn’t been good to her. Each character in Marvel and Mayhem is confronted with hardships on some level and must respond to it–either with resentment or surrender to God. My youngest character in the novel, Effie Emery, understands surrender. She knows that no matter how bad things may get, with the Lord holding our hand through it, we can still say, it is well with my soul.

As you can guess, I’m more like Mattie. Surrender doesn’t come natural to me. But God hasn’t given up on me. I see more clearly now that God called me to write Marvel and Mayhem because He knew I needed to process this journey with Mattie. We are connected, her and I. God has been leading to me a place of relinquishing control and placing my trust in Him.

The lyrics of the old hymn say, “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

I’m still working through this. It doesn’t come natural to me. BUT, I know one thing for sure, I am reaching out and God is reaching back. This is WELL. With Him holding my hand, I can be WELL.

 

If you are interested in my novel, here’s a quick link for more information:

https://amzn.to/2Wv17Oa

 

 

 

 

my journey through miscarriage

No one ever expects to walk the road of loss. In our minds and hearts, we hope for better things, happier things, but sometimes life sets us on a detour.

My detour came in 2011 when my husband and I lost our first child, and then it happened again in 2012, when we lost a second baby. Heartbreak doesn’t begin to fully encompass the pain. It doesn’t describe the complete let down, ripped open, barrenness of dream, time, and life. I have wept and still weep many tears. It’s hard to describe the great depths of emptiness and grief. It’s a messy thing, this grieving. It rolls in and out. It is never once and done. Sometimes, it will catch you off-guard when something triggers a memory. Suddenly, I’m standing in an aisle at Meijer wanting to weep.

One thing I have learned about grief—it’s oftentimes lonely. I rested in a space of unyielding pain, feeling lost. The world continued to go on around me but I was cemented in place.

Every year, I encounter more and more friends that have grieved the loss of a child. It’s like a secret club that you only discover once you yourself have suffered loss. It’s a sad thing that most women don’t talk about, and yet, it’s so very common. So many women have suffered the death of a child. Many of us are in the club.

That’s why I decided to share my full story in a book form. Standing Lost is a collection of my journal entries, my pleas to God, and my grasping for ways to somehow go on. This small book is a way of saying- “You’re not alone. I’ve been there too.”


The book is currently available as an eBook on amazon
CLICK HERE: https://amzn.to/2HjjTPm

The paperback copy will be available on May 24th

 

A Must Read Book: A Place to Land

A Place to Land is a globe-spanning memoir that wrestles with the question, ”Where is my home?” Kate Motaung watched ”home” slip away again and again–through her parents’ divorce, a foreclosure, two international moves, ten rental homes in ten years, and her mother’s terminal battle with cancer. Add in the challenge of a cross-cultural marriage, and Kate was constantly adapting to a new environment. Through her experiences, you’ll realize–as she did–that no matter where we go or what we do, this world is not our home.

This book  is exceptionally well-written. It has moved me to tears. Kate’s story is powerful. I felt as though I was experiencing her life’s journey alongside of her. Her keen attention to detail and vivid description made each scene come to life. I felt her fears, her joys, her sorrows. Kate is a brave storyteller, speaking about the hard times and good times in her journey. Her vulnerable honesty ministered to my heart. Please, read this book. It’s beautiful.

 

3 Truths That Can Calm Your Anxiety

This is a post from my friend and fellow author, Christie Thomas. It spoke to my heart this morning and I hope it will help you too. Enjoy.

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Snowflakes swirled around us as we said goodnight. He brushed accumulated snow off his car, then drove away, leaving deep tracks in the road. No one else wanted to drive tonight, but he had to get home. And home was 2 1/2 hours down a dark and slippery highway. It was a weekend like any…

via 3 truths to remember when the storm rages — Christie Thomas

Celebrating Milestones and Miracles

Miracles still happen. I know it. I’ve seen it. My nephew is walking proof.

As a baby, Levi was diagnosed with a rare disorder MECP2 Duplication Syndrome, which causes  intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, speech abnormalities, seizures, low muscle tone, etc. The doctors didn’t know what milestones Levi would be able to accomplish.  Would he ever sit without support, crawl, play with toys, ever eat on his own, ever speak, ever walk?

At first, his little arms and legs were flimsy like wet noddles. Without a miracle, he wasn’t going to meet these developmental milestones. But…Oh Yes…BUT… we knew and believed in a wonderful, awesome God who could strengthen Levi’s muscles. AND HE DID. As Levi’s parents worked with Levi, as physical therapists worked with Levi, as occupational therapists worked with Levi, as his teachers, and day care workers worked with him, God moved through their helpful hands. Levi’s body grew stronger and stronger. And now…He sits. He crawls. He lifts a fork. He plays with his toys. He flips the pages of books. He communicates with his hands and noises. He walks, all by himself!

The Main Man, Levi.

To celebrate these accomplishments, Levi’s parents held a big party on Saturday. The amount of friends and family who flooded their lawn and barn moved me. The joy we all shared as we watched Levi stroll around was contagious.

Levi’s Therapists and Friends Along With Levi’s Mother and My Sister, Carmen (Second From the Right).
Levi and His Teacher
Bounce Houses and Outdoor Activities
Guests Inside the Barn
Face Painting
Levi and friend, Scott, from school
Friend, Emma, Showed her Support
My sister, Carmen, and Levi’s friend, Sirius
Levi’s Buddy, Cohen, and His Parents Came to Show Their Support.
Way to go, Levi. Keeping beating those odds.

Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 Thank you to Everyone for Their Prayers and Support.

 

My Children’s Book For My Nephew: Superhero Levi

I wrote and illustrated a book for my nephew, Levi for his birthday. I entitled it, “Superhero Levi.” This book is in honor of Levi and all the other children who defy the odds regardless of their disabilities. (I illustrated all the pictures on watercolor paper and then my mother, Cindy, helped me paint them.)

Here is my book (I had it printed in hardcover). I hope you enjoy it.

cover

 

 

 

Hi, I’m Levi.
I might look like a regular boy,
But I’m actually a superhero.
How do I know?
Because people cheer for me wherever I go.
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I can climb mountains that mom calls the stairs.
It’s hard work getting way up there.
But when I reach the top, everyone claps.
I feel quite proud of that.
I smile at them and know…
They like watching this superhero.

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Day and night, I have a super appetite.
Bananas, chicken, pasta, or cookies
I’ll eat them up, thank you and please.
But green beans are no delight.
Because even heroes have a kryptonite.

green-beans

 

It’s hard work being a superhero.
People always want to take my photo.
At school and at home, I smile most polite.
Mom shares my poses on Facebook.
And I usually get a hundred Likes.

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I’ve learned a lot about my powers through exploring.
I can turn a bowl into a hat. Only a superhero could do that.

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When I press a button on the big box in the kitchen,
I can make water pour out.
Dad and Mom show up real quick,
And they let out an impressed shout!

 

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I can swim in big pools,
And push my wheels around the whole school.

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A big yellow bus,
chauffeurs me from my house.
The girls like to hold my hand.
What can I say?
They can’t resist a superman!

epson003-1

 

No bars can hold me in.
My strength can even break the crib.
They try to fix it, but are unsuccessful.
Nothing can restrain my super muscle.

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I think my cousins might have powers too.
There are so many things that they can do.
Like run, flip, and jump, just to name a few.
We have lots of fun together…
Dancing, singing, and playing whatever.

 

epson004-1

I’ve heard it said that I have a syndrome.
Maybe this is why I’m so special?
Maybe this is why I’m so strong?
I’m not actually sure what this word means.
But I know if I work hard, I can do anything.
I won’t ever give up.
I’m built super tough.
No matter what life may throw,
I can take it.
Because I’m a superhero!

cover

The Benefits of Discomfort

It’s uncanny how going stag to a conference can revert me into an insecure high school student.

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I fretted over whom I would talk to, whom I would sit with, and whom I would have lunch with. My mind hustled to remedy a plan. The morning of the conference, I prepared to text a friend when I felt a soft nudge in my spirit telling me, no. “No, Catie you don’t need a safety net. Go and meet new people. Be open and see what happens.”

Though it made me anxious, I listened to that subtle voice inside. Entering the building for the Breathe Writer’s Conference, I determined to make it memorable. At times, I felt uncomfortable and shy, but I pushed past those feelings, introduced myself, and met many great and inspiring people. If not for the discomfort of being alone, I wouldn’t have been forced to make friends.

If I had arranged to hang out with people I already knew in attendance, I wouldn’t have met such a wide array of amazing, vibrant, and creative individuals. I wouldn’t have met Pearl, a writer of inspiring blogs called “LookUpSometimes.” I wouldn’t have met Alyssa whose posts bring awareness to mission work in South Africa. I wouldn’t have met the adorable illustrator, Cathryn. I wouldn’t have met writers: George, Donald, Christina, Marianna, Kelli or sci-fi Sam.

I walked away not only enriched by the conference sessions, but by the extraordinary people I met while I was there. The initial discomfort produced the benefits of lasting memories, encouragement, and inspiration.

This principle applies to more than just conferences. We need to be okay with getting uncomfortable. We need to push ourselves out of our normal social spheres, beyond our same cultures, past our same skin colors, even outside of our beliefs and meet people different than ourselves.  Because when we do, amazing things can happen, and I believe we become better versions of ourselves.

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Pearl and I at Breathe