God worked miracles not only on James' body but on us, his family. We want to share those God moments for His glory. So this question and answer will let you into the parents' hearts. And mine, James' Nana.
What was your first reaction, during pregnancy, when you learned the MRI showed something wrong in the brain?
Katy: I couldn't accept that my baby would die. When I thought about it, I felt sure we were the exception. The more we learned, it was more than I could handle. I tried to do normal with home schooling and housework. I felt very alone so far from my parents.
Dave: I thought, OK, so this is a lot more serious. As we drove the hour or more home, I immediately grew quiet and prayed a lot. I knew the Lord had a reason.
Nana: Disbelief. Katy called me. I expected her to say false alarm. Instead she said, "It's not good news, Mama. . ." She explained the danger. I thought, well they've been wrong before. This is probably just another alarmist in the medical field. I guess I was in denial.
|Oma & Opa VanKesteren|
|Papa & Nana Henderson|
Was there a first "God Moment" personally for you?
Katy: Yes. When Mama called and said, “Katy, I’m coming.” At that moment, when I knew my mom was coming, I felt a huge weight lifted. I knew she'd be with us at this birth. They'd set a date to induce. I didn't feel alone.
Katy: Another day, at home, I was completely overwhelmed physically, trying to do normal with the kids. I was spent emotionally, unable to hold it in. Crying, I answered the phone and heard my sister-in-law's voice. Jolene came right over to relieve me. I knew I couldn't walk this road alone. I felt God taking over and using His children.
Dave: It may not have been the first, but one of the most powerful times was after picking up Katy's mom at the airport in Detroit. We were stuck in traffic crossing the border into Canada. Traffic was not moving when I spotted a Texas license plate on the SUV to our left. I love Texas.
Why is Texas special?
Dave: Well I love America but especially Texas because it's legal there to shoot wild pigs 50 feet from a helicopter. But on the vehicle were 3 other things that God used to speak personally to me. . .to us all. A decal that read "You'll get through this." A sign of the fish. The third thing was in the middle and really blew my mind. It was the name Kate. Mom suggested I take a picture of it.
What else helped you cope through these months?
Nana: Facebook family and friends praying, sharing Bible verses. Humor! Dave and I especially share that bond.
Katy: The world's largest Ronald McDonald House provided our home away from home each time we were in Toronto from birth through the surgeries. Meals there were wonderful.
Dave: I come from a large Dutch family. They took care of our other five children and house every time we were away. Church friends helped too, brought meals or visited us in Toronto. We were encouraged by them all. Back home (four hours away) they cleaned our house top to bottom more than once. They left meals for us, knowing we'd be busy once we came home.
Nana: Yes, James' other grandmother, known as Oma, did what I could not do, in caring for our grands and organizing the family to meet so many needs. God's plan even included getting some of the children into the Christian school, when homeschooling became impossible. Their family, friends and pastor even shuttled me to and from the airport during my three flights over the months. What a blessing.
Another God-moment came when we drove over three hours to Toronto for James' birth. I felt weak, lost in this huge hospital. I'd packed a black outfit in case the birth turned into a funeral. Then our cheerful labor nurse introduced herself, "Hello. I'm Kathryn." Katy and I smiled because she shared OUR name.
Katy: It's also my grandmother Tippett's name. She's in heaven. We'd already talked about her. Mom said, "James will be in the arms of a Kathryn today, either here or there." He knows my name.
Nana: Our name. Then another nurse and a pediatrician in NICU said, "Hi! I'm Kathryn. . ." Too many times to be a coincidence.
Dave: God used several doctors to touch me personally. It began with Dr. Ryan Hodges who first gave us hope when he said, "Of course we can do something. We have some of the world's best doctors in this area here." I'm Dutch and we Dutchmen share a common bond. Then I began to meet our doctors, many were Dutch-- Dr. Karl terBrugge, Dr. Johannes Kunen, Dr. Peter Dirks. We even spoke Dutch at times.
He knows my name.
No doubt God taught you many lessons. What did you learn through this journey?
Nana: Peace. Unbelievable peace in horrific circumstances. I learned Peace is a Person, not an emotion. It grew my faith. During the eight month ordeal, there were times I could not be there with the kids and James. But Jesus was with us both, providing peace, unifying us.
I flew up three times and Doug twice, buying expensive one way tickets. God supplied our financial needs. A huge yard sale cleared our attic, netting $2,000 just before all this began. A former pastor's wife mailed us a check. It covered a ticket. Family helped with expenses. Jehovah Jireh was our Provider.
Katy: Comfort. When we faced a 48 hour life-or-death survival period, it rocked my world. But I looked and saw my daddy on one side of me. I knew my heavenly Father was on the other side of me. My panic dissolved. I had two fathers with me in the valley of the shadow of death.
My husband's love and strength as a godly man held me together at times too. Once he told me God flooded his mind with Scripture. Another night as James had a seizure in my arms, Dave calmed me down with his faith. His lead was a help for me to follow.
Dave: What Katy's describing was in the car driving home after we first heard the bad news, before James was born. I first felt God near during that quiet drive home. I tried to pray. Suddenly my mind raced as Scripture flooded my brain. It poured, faster than I could have thought it: I will never leave you. . .all things work together...trust in the Lord with all your heart...count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations...whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth. He was speaking to me! From verses memorized as a child! I knew as God's child this was in the hands of the Lord. My faith in God's sovereignty grew. Even if He took James, I KNEW He was in control.
You mentioned humor? How does that play a part?
Dave: Mom laughed every time I shared quotes and scenes from Mash and Mayberry episodes.
Nana: (laughing) EVERYTHING reminded Dave of a show. I love Andy Griffith but had never even seen Mash.
Dave: She did after we got home. We stayed up late watching several Mash shows I'd recorded.
Katy: Music also helped me. After he was born, one night I had a nightmare about James. He was pale then suddenly I saw blood spurting out of the top of his head! In my dream I felt grass under my nose because I knew my knees had buckled. I woke up. When I finally calmed down and got back to sleep, a song ". . . thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed thee..." came to me. He gives songs in the night.
Nana: God speaks to us in our love language. . .humor, music. Sometimes mine is chocolate or 50% off sales!
Would you call any of this a miracle?
Nana: I felt that I was witnessing a miracle the moment James was born. Katy had one hard push. . .ONE! She does give birth quickly but never this fast. He popped out, breathed then cried without help. No birth trauma. I KNEW he'd just beat those 77% mortality stats. They let Katy cuddle him briefly then took him to the surgical room beside us in case he needed help. He didn't.
Katy: Mama peeked in on him and said, "He's pink!" I think we all sensed God working. James was already in the 23% to have survived birth.
Dave: We were also told that even with surgery, only 3 out of 10 made it. Those 3 surgeries ahead were miracles to come! Yes, we saw many miracles. God used the doctors to perform some of them. They respected the body's power to find ways. We knew it was God's work too. "We're fearfully and WONDERFULLY made."
|This was at Ronald McDonald House a few days after James' birth. |
Nana was with us this time, so we Face Timed Papa.
Are there times that stand out on this journey?
Katy: Yes, back home at 2:00 AM one night, we rushed James to our local hospital Emergency Room. Dave's brother, Mike, a policeman, heard on the scanner about a Hyundai without tags at the hospital. He figured it was us because we own a dealership. When I saw him walk in I knew God sent family.
Again I felt alone one night after James had a seizure but before we were airlifted to Toronto. Waiting for the flight, I pled, "Lord, please let me see someone I know." Soon as I prayed though I thought maybe it was a selfish prayer. But once again in Emerg, one of the nurses on duty came in. It was Rebecca, someone I knew from church. He heard my cry! I knew God loves to give gifts to His children.
Nana: The night James was born Dave and I slept at the hospital. I was in a recliner next to Katy's bed. He found a sofa in a waiting room. Exhausted, we slept. God knew we needed a more comfortable place though. Getting into the Toronto Ronald McDonald House is difficult. But one phone call by our social worker and the doors opened.
Dave: Every time we've been to Toronto, space there opened up. Last time when Dad was with us, it was a 10 day stay. There were only 3 rooms left. It filled up right after we got in.
Nana: Another trip to Toronto and during the hours driving there, we had no place to stay. Within 2 blocks we got the call, "We have a room for you here at Ronald McDonald House. Come right on." Five minutes later we walked in. And look who welcomed us to dinner! We made duck faces and lightened the moment.
James, no one ever asks you about all you faced. Do you want to show your scar and tell us about it?
Thank you, sweet boy! Anything else any of you would like to add?
Katy: Tell about Dave's dad, James' Opa.
Nana: James' other grandfather, Mr. VanKesteren (the original David!) is a conservative politician, a member of parliament (MP), serving much of the year in Ottawa, away from home. This is similar to our senators in D.C. God gave him a platform there to publicly thank the brilliant medical staff and pioneers whom God used to save James' life.
VanKesteren addresses The House of Commons of Canada in this short TV clip.
|This shot of James was taken today on his |
new deck at home. CURED!
YES! We are blessed and will be eternally grateful to God and the many people He provided on this journey. We all grew closer to Him and each other in our foxhole.
James is already a world missionary, driving many to their knees in prayer for him. God heard. God answered.
Yes, Jesus loves me. This I KNOW!
And He loves you. Do you know Him personally?