Sandra Immink: This One’s A Fighter

As some of you may have been informed, on June 23 Sandra Immink was in a car accident that has altered her life. Since that day she has been at Spectrum hospital where she stayed in ICU and was later moved to Mary Free bed. Here, she is healing and resting and undergoing daily routines of therapy.

When I asked her what she wanted to talk about to update everyone her first response was to love and thank everyone who has been at her side through this challenging and painful process.IMG_2695.JPG

“People that have cared for me, that means something to me. That’s what’s important to me right now.” Sandy said.

As she did this she pointed to over 300 hundred cards that have been hung up on the wall -she is even known as “the card lady” – for all to see. But, they are especially for her. She finds courage, strength, love, and hope in these cards. 9F192AB6-CA13-4728-A4A8-D2FF75D83C4D

She spoke of the kindness of others sending the cards, flowers, visiting etc. However, she also emphasized her appreciation for everyone who took care of her while in the hospital as well as here at Mary Free bed.

“There has been nothing but caring people every time they came in. Everyone reassured that I’d be okay and I’d make it through this,” Sandy said.

She shared some stories of people who really impacted her those first couple days in the ICU as well as after. One woman left an unforgettable feeling of gratitude and love from Sandy.

Amber, a nurse on duty while Sandy stayed in ICU, took her job to the next level when Sandy’s stress and anxiety were on the rise.  She explained that Amber saw she couldn’t be left alone and chose to stay with her for hours to comfort and embrace Sandy through one of many challenging moments she would face.IMG_2801.JPG

“For two hours she sat by my bed and rubbed my arm, and we sang songs and quoted scripture together,” Sandy explained.

Sandy showed her thankfulness for employees that walked through each of the doors of her temporary homes for these last six weeks. She, Irv and Chelsea spoke of Sam; a “big, big man” according to Irv. But, a strong, yet gentle one in Sandy’s eyes.

She spoke of embarrassing, uncomfortable times and how she learned to overlook those so easily due to the kindness, acceptance and genuine love from all of the people assisting her along the way.

She spoke of everyone through laughter and tears and recognized many people who have stuck with her and have made a lasting impact. Sandy shared that she did not expect to see so much care, compassion, and caress from so many people and is truly grateful for it.

As I got to see her in many times of pain and hardship I always saw a fighter, and I wasn’t the only one. As I sat to write this with Sandy and her family, a doctor she was desperate to see for quite some time arrived. He had done the surgeries on her fingers and hands which were left broken and bruised after the accident.

She -jokingly, as usual- had asked him if he had thought about just giving her something and being done with her when he first saw her. (She had both legs badly broken, one that has since been amputated. Both forearms broke, a shattered vertebrae, and underlying problems on top of each of those. The list seemed endless.

He caught my attention when I saw the look of confusion on his face.

“No no no,” He said shaking his head. “I would never have thought that. You had too much fight in you and too much love around you.”

His words couldn’t be closer to the truth. This is what Sandy really is, a fighter. One surrounded by not only the love of family members, friends and employees, but by the love of God. Something I believe she would agree, she wouldn’t have made it this far without.

Sandy’s story is one I will never forget. She makes me laugh each time I visit and her attitude is one I told her I am sure I could not keep up if I were in her situation. She encouraged me and reassured me then, even when she was the one in pain.

She is an inspiration to us all and the world would not be the same without her. I am beyond blessed to know her and to learn from her. Thank you, Sandy.IMG_3359.JPG.jpeg

I asked her for a specific prayer request as she is on track to go home in three weeks if all goes well!! And she said this: “That I am able to learn how to pivot on my leg and how to shimmy on my board.” (this made us all laugh.)

She receives a green shirt for all the nurses and therapists to sign when she “graduates” and gets to go home. Let’s pray that green shirt hangs on her door soon, but also when she is ready and prepared for the adjustments ahead. I can only imagine what an emotional, memorable day that will be.

Also,  Let’s see if we can’t make some kind of record for how many cards someone has received at Mary Free bed… here’s her address, feel free to send some love and encouragement her way as she fights on!

Mary Free Bed

Sandra Immink room #3124

235 wealthy Street SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49503


Lost Memories

The colorless walls burned bright against the black chairs where Lucy and her son sat. Colin was not familiar with the smells as she was; the aroma of disinfectant and sickness was something she was immune to, having worked in it for so long. Nursing was something she had always enjoyed, but these days the only thing associated with the hospital was her sick mother.

Last week Lucy’s mother forgot they were celebrating Colin’s birthday. Today, she forgot his name. Once in a while it would come back to her, in ten minutes she’d ask him how school was three or four times. As a ten-year-old he was not prepared for this, nor could he understand the situation, and he wasn’t alone. At one point Lucy decided he shouldn’t come. It was almost too much for her so she couldn’t imagine the toll it would take on him.

It was hard to grasp when the doctor explained it was Alzheimer’s  that had gradually developed for more than a decade now. The doctor explained it could happen at a young age, sometimes gradual, other times suddenly.

She knew she should get tested; however, she put it off. How often she would explain to patients the more they knew, the more she could help them. Now she understood why so many refused to do it. One word, one diagnosis could change an entire life.

Her mother got worse. Lucy would show up and her mom would ask her why she was late, only to repeat herself again and again. Eventually, she didn’t know why she was there, so every visit Lucy would have to explain. Other times she’d ask where Lucy’s father was.

“He passed away, remember? Three years ago.”

This seemed to break her own heart more than her mother’s. Maybe forgetting was best because maybe the pain of the memories was forgotten too.


One evening as Lucy drove home from the hospital, distracted by her mother’s condition and the details along with it, she barely stopped in time to see in her rearview mirror a body lying in the road beneath the blinking red stoplight.

As a nurse, her instant reaction wasn’t shock but service. The concern was the man’s head. His eyes were open wide and displayed fear as he fought for life.

His body was heavily bruised. She tried to make a head wrap out of her jacket and dialed 9-1-1. The only sounds were the pounding of her heart, the operator, and his gradual decrease of breath. She tried to ask what had happened; the only thing he could do was barely lift his finger pointing in her direction.

She had looked behind her assuming whoever did this had gone that way. By the time the ambulance arrived his hand had fallen lifeless to the ground.

The police thanked her for her help and told her to come in tomorrow for questioning. For anyone else, this might have been a tragic occurrence, but this was her job. Unfortunately, this was a part of it she hated.

The next day she was unsure why she found herself in the police department as if she was a suspect. She remembered trying to save the man.

The officer stood tall and lean, a thin manila folder in hand.

“I just need you to answer a few questions,” he said.

Lucy nodded, upset she was missing time with her mother for a pointless interview. Last night was all a blur, like most things these days.

“Where were you going when you saw the body?”

Silence stifled the room.


Finally, she remembered where she was. She was distracted, thinking about her mother, how she should be with her.


He gave a confused look before repeating the question.

“I was on my way home from the hospital. It was twenty to six.”

“Did you see any witnesses?”

She paused, trying to recall if she had.

“No, just me,”

“Did he say anything to you before he died?”

“He died?” Lucy asked.

The officer gave another puzzled look. He went on to explain that she was there when they arrived where he was pronounced dead.

“Oh, yes,” she said.

He asked her to answer the question, his tone stern and suspicious. She asked him to repeat it and then answered with a simple “no.”

She then asked to leave, her mother needed her. Lucy’s face was the only one still familiar to her.

That night as she drove home not remembering where she was–it was a routine she knew well–she passed the street where everything had happened the night before. The place looked familiar, and the image of the dead body sprang into her mind. Frightened, she swerved, losing control, running the light, colliding with the car in front of her.

The airbag inflated, leaving her bruised. The windshield was shattered and her head pounded. She panicked, not knowing where she was. When her eyes finally adjusted, the blinking red light glared at her. Her mind rewound to the night before. She watched as if an outsider to her own body.

She was driving home from work, it was almost six, she was running behind. She sped up as a shape moved across the road. Slamming her brakes, she barely missed the raccoon. She sped up again, now farther behind. Her reaction time not as quick when a taller, larger shape walked under the blinking red light.

She watched the body hit and tumble to the ground. She remembered the man’s eyes, wide and frightened.

His finger pointing at her.




“Of the 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, an estimated 5.2 million people are age 65 and older, and approximately 200,000 individuals are under age 65 (younger-onset Alzheimer’s).” (

Devotional: Beyond Appearances

B1CEAD2C-452B-4A24-9D59-1E97B0814EBB.JPGI am excited to share with you all that my devotional, “Beyond Appearances” has been published in this devotional book! I am on page 55 of the 2017 fall issue of The Secret Place. Thanks to my lovely grandmother for the inspiration and life lesson that got me here. All the credit goes to God, I wouldn’t be here without Him.


Beyond Appearances


“Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment.” John 7:24 (NIV)


There was a bag full of apples lying on the table when my grandma told me to go slice them. I took each one out of the bag, realizing that the majority of them appeared rotten and unusable. As I was about to throw them out, she gently grabbed my hand and without saying a word sat and gestured for me to do the same.

I watched as she handled the first apple with great care. There was a black hole on one side, along with several bruises from its journey from where it was originally grown. She picked up the knife and began peeling and articulately cutting. Then she held it up for me to see that there was plenty of healthy apple underneath the bruised and cut skin.

She proved that it was worth saving and that it was only the outside that I had taken the time to look at, whereas the inside was where the useful parts were. I had almost thrown it out simply because I had judged its external layer without attempting to take the time to see what was lying underneath.


PRAYER: Lord, I pray that you would teach me to desire to look beyond the appearance and search for the good in everyone, despite what I might see on the outside. Amen.



Thank you for all of the support!



You’re called, thus you’re Qualified

A great reminder that we are all qualified in God’s eyes.

Young, Blessed and Highly Favoured

Have you ever thought of a certain project, position or opportunity you wanted, and second-guessed yourself? You told yourself “there’s no way I’m good enough for this”, “I don’t even stand a chance”, or “so-and-so could do much better than I ever could”.

I’ve been there. Pleeenty of times. There are opportunities that I’ve passed up simply because of my insecurities or fear of failure, even it if was something I was passionate about. I’d look at the competition and buckle. I’d look at the statistics, and talk myself out of it. Even when the Lord speaks to us and steers us in a certain direction, we look at all the factors and talk ourselves out of it.  We allow fear- the fear of failure, the fear of being inadequate, the fear of being unqualified- to cloud our minds and stop us.

When we, as Christians, say that we trust…

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(Book review) The Seven Signs of Jesus: God’s Proof for the Open-Minded

Evangelical Church Library Association

Reviewed by: Aubree DeVisser, professional writing major at Taylor University


Title: The Seven Signs of Jesus: God’s Proof for the Open-MindedAuthor: Stan Guthrie

Publisher Stan Guthrie (self-published)

Publication Date: 2016

Format: Print book

Length:Stan Guthrie (self-published)


            The Seven Signs of Jesus offers a presentation of what the author believes were seven specific verifications that Jesus Christ was, indeed, the Son of God and the promised Messiah.  It also gives an in-depth explanation of what these signs looked like when Jesus accomplished them. Guthrie goes into detail to help readers understand what was happening during the era in which these miracles were performed by Jesus, as well as why Jesus felt they were pertinent, practical, and also necessary as evidence of his identify and ministry.

            The author analyzes scriptural references in order to offer more…

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1942: A Year in Three Minutes


It was all part of the trip. The company decided to take a few travel days in Germany after sealing the business deal in Berlin. I had no interest in it but I knew it would go over well with the boss if I stayed. I would much rather be at home watching the Knicks play with front row tickets I had preordered months ago.

We had plans to tour the area afterward and one of my co-workers suggested we visit one of the concentration camps nearby. Once again, not something on my to-do list but I went along for the ride. It was such a depressing option after another successful deal, it wasn’t exactly the celebration I had in mind.

My boss, Pete, had Jewish relatives and occasionally told stories about them but I never knew it would be so different to be in the setting of these stories. When we reached the gates it all became too real. We walked through the emptiness, an emptiness that once held lives, lives that were lead to death. I felt overwhelmed by my lack of feelings…I wasn’t sure how to feel.  I saw the buildings, I walked down the paths, I entered the chambers, and I touched the barbed wires that kept the undesirables in and the desirables out.

The German words on buildings and signs meant nothing to me but pain. Not even my own but someone else’s, millions of somebodies that suffered this anguish I could not fathom. I felt ashamed of who I was, that my ancestors and family stood by and watched or listened while these people were abused, starved and burned for their heritage. I could never imagine how they felt, how some of them made it through.

The tour guide gave us a moment to look around and slowly make our way into the gas chambers. I hesitated before going in, I had a strange feeling I might suffer the same fate as so

many did in this hideous place. When I finally had the ability to enter I stopped. The guide was talking yet I heard nothing. The gray walls around me could have looked similar to any old cellar, but the suffocating feeling of death and pain was almost too much to bare. My eyes began to blur, the gray walls all ran together reminding me of a cloudy, gloomy day. The few people in the room were distant shapes. I couldn’t seem to catch my breath and I thought I might be sick. I felt dizzy, my head light; and I slowly felt my body collapsing.

“Richard, get up, it’s time to go,” a ruffled voice came from below.

When my eyes focused all I could see was long wooden beams above. My back and head ached, I must have fallen hard on the concrete. However, as I gradually sat up, I could immediately see that we were no longer in the chambers. I looked down from the platform I was on to see Pete, standing there gesturing me to get down.

I recognized his gray hair and plump figure, but everything was strange. My mind whirled. This wasn’t happening. My eyes searched the room for an off button, maybe this was a simulation. Some kind of virtual reality. I felt my coat pocket for my wallet and cellphone only to find it had been replaced by ragged striped clothing. Again, panic arose, I lifted the sleeve of the dirty button down shirt to find numbers etched into my arm.

I felt paralyzed. I tried to pinch myself awake but nothing happened. I realized I had lost sight of the only familiar face and leaped off the platform crashing to the cold dirt ground sending a piercing pain through my ankle. Limping, I followed the crowd of slow- moving, zombie-like men. Their faces were blank and tired, but they all seemed to know what to do and where to go. I spotted Peter once again and rushed up to him yelling his name. He glared at me and told me to be quiet before I got us both killed.


Was this some sick game? Or some kind of test for the company? We all filed into a line as men in uniforms came down the rocky pathway.

“What’s going on?” I asked Peter. But he said nothing, his eyes dead ahead not even blinking.

“Peter… Why are we here? Let’s just go back.” I begged.

One of the men, gun in hand, came out of nowhere, jabbing me in the stomach and yelling in a language I could only assume was German. The pain in my stomach and my ankle were only bearable because of the lack of feeling I had in my body, I was in shock. Was this real?

Everyone started marching, although few could barely lift their feet to move forward. Up ahead, two guards stood on either side of the line directing people this way and that. The line moved slow, I limped behind Peter and when the guard waved him right, I followed. When I did this he held his gun out stopping me. He looked me up and down and tilted his head signaling to go left.

I tried to explain to him that I was supposed to be with Peter but he just laughed and said “Be my guest,” in a heavy accent and pushed me to the right. I stumbled, trying to catch up to Peter until I realized where He was headed.

“Peter! Wait, don’t go in there!” I yelled.

Heads turned back to stare as I kept yelling at him. The guards kept pushing them along, looking at each other with confusion. He approached the door, the same one I had walked through what seemed like minutes ago. The gray walls and death-filled emptiness was

all that was in there. When he didn’t respond to me I tried to talk to the man in front of me telling him not to go in. Why weren’t they listening? Didn’t they know what it was??

I went down the line telling everybody to stop but they didn’t listen, it was like they couldn’t hear me. As if they wanted to go there. Another guard came over to me and began dragging me to the left once again. Peter had already disappeared inside the building along with others I tried to warn. As I was forced to take the other path I watched as the black smoke rose and clouded the blue sky above me. I choked back tears, telling myself nothing happened, this wasn’t real.

A man in front of me fell, I tried to help him up pulling his arms but it was all dead weight. Despite his obvious malnutrition and weight loss, he was still too heavy to lift up. When I laid him back down to check for a pulse his cold, dead eyes starred at me. They seemed to be pulled back into his head, his whole face sinking in with them. I instantly dropped his hand terrified. I stumbled away, calling for help. But once again, nothing. I began to yell for one of the guards when a young man grabbed me by the arm and pulled me with him.

“You’re going to get yourself killed, and probably the rest of us too. What do you think you’re doing?!” he asked.

“I’m not supposed to be here. We were on a business trip, and my boss, he just….” I couldn’t finish my sentence. Of course, he was fine, this was a simple misunderstanding.

“None of us are supposed to be here. But we are, and you better learn how things work if you want to survive. And if your friend went right, he isn’t coming back, you could almost call him lucky,” he said.

I didn’t know what to do. I looked around me, all I could see were brown buildings and barbed wire. I thought maybe I could just go talk to whoever was in charge here, explain my situation, that I was an American and had nothing to do with this. I could walk out and go back to the U.S, back to my apartment where everything was neat and organized, I’d be to work by the next morning, ready to set up another business deal. I closed my eyes imagining it, then I felt my stomach rumble.

I followed the crowd until we got to an area where rocks were piled in heaps along a building. The others began picking them up and loading them into a wheelbarrow for another to take. Now, understanding the guards, I played along to stay out of trouble. That way I could hopefully get some information on how to reach someone.

The rocks were dreadfully heavy, their sharp black edges scraped and cut my fingers. My back began to cramp and tense from all the up and down movements. Finally, after what seemed like hours and hours I saw the men heading toward the building I had come from. Maybe if I went back there, that’ show I could get out of here. It was getting dark, and I realized I hadn’t eaten or drank anything for hours. I asked around to see where I could get food but only got puzzled looks and annoyed stares. I found the man I had talked to earlier and asked him where a café or restaurant was nearby.

“You don’t get it do you?” he asked while climbing up to one of the top wooden beds. One of hundreds in the small space. “You can’t go back; this is where you’ll be until you die or they lose the war. Nobody gets out, and even if you did, there’s nothing out there but death for us, we’re Jews,”


Jews? I wasn’t Jewish, and the war? What war? World War II? That’s ridiculous that was over 75 years ago. Once again my mind searched for an explanation, something to help make sense of it all. It was impossible for me to be here, I could find no logical explanation, it went against all the facts. For days I tried to figure it out, I asked Jack questions whenever the guards weren’t around but he only had dated facts, the things I had learned years ago.

Days past and nothing changed. Day and even nights we carried heavy rocks or pieces of machinery. I watched myself begin to blend in with the others. All I wanted was to return home. Struck by numbness and refusal to admit any of this was real, I didn’t feel like I was withering away but my body showed the opposite. I rarely ate, giving my food to the others; if this was all fake I didn’t actually need the food. All I had to do was make it until someone came to get me out.

Jack was just about the only one who would listen to me and inform me of how all this happened. I tried to tell him about New York and cars, and skyscrapers. He always enjoyed my stories but chuckled at them, telling me they were the only thing that could make him laugh due to the absurdity of them.

He told me his story. He had a mother who died on her way to the camp on the train. She got ill and her lifeless body lay near him the rest of the two-day ride. His older brother, he assumed was still alive, hadn’t been seen since they were split up for different jobs; he guessed that was two years ago. And his younger sister, Agatha, had been taken away as well. His father had been a well-known business man and had paid his way out of Germany leaving the rest of them behind. This sickened me, yet I wondered if I had the chance, would I have done the same?

Recently though, he began to talk about death, how peaceful and relieving it would be. He began to doubt that any of his siblings were still alive and saw no point in continuing on. I realized that I had more to give than I thought. All those history classes I had taken reminded me of the immense knowledge I held that could offer these people, especially Jack, some hope. To him, when I explained how the war ends in 1945 ­­–the Soviet Union and western allies coming in and forcing Germany to surrender– it all sounded absurd. I gave him all the facts, and yet he thought I was crazy. He could be so close to freedom and he was about to give up. I began to tell him to do it for me, to stay alive because I needed him, and I did.

I began to let go of the idea of returning, to going back to the life I once knew. I wondered if anyone missed me, or if I really even existed at all. Without Jack, I wouldn’t have stayed sane, or as sane as one can be in this situation. He taught me how to survive, how to avoid harsh beatings and a bullet to the head. He taught me how to forget about the pangs of hunger and how to sleep through them at night.

However, one night, after an unusually long day of lifting and carrying I felt my body losing control. I tried to hold on, for Jack, for myself, maybe if I just made it through all this would end. Jack tried to help me stand but it only worked for a second before I fell to the ground. My face surrounded by dirt, I could hear the footsteps of the guard. I lifted my head only to see jack attempting to help me once again. I tried to tell him to stop, that it wasn’t worth it, but he didn’t give up on me. The officer whacked him in the head with his flashlight leaving his forehead gushing blood. He called over to one of his other guards in a foreign language and in a matter of minutes they had Jack on his knees their guns pointed at his head.

My mind went back to his story, how he had a family to live for. For his brother and younger sister, they still had the possibility to be a family again. I had nothing like that to live for.  I took the last bit of strength I had to lift my body off the cold hard earth and sway it in front of his just in time to let the bullet leave the gun and meet my chest.

I could faintly hear the sound of Jack’s voice as I felt my body being dragged along the dirt. I could only hope that I had saved his life, as he had done for me. My eyes saw the distant outline of smoke against the black sky above me and I knew where I was being taken. My eyes gave in and my body let go.

“Richard??” a muffled voice came from beside me. Water splashed my face and I gasped for air. Breathing heavily, I frantically looked around and noticed Peter standing beside me as I lay on a bench under the bright blue sky. Why was he so calm? I looked behind him to see the door to the gray walls. I grabbed Peter’s hand asking if he was real and how long I had been gone. When he gave me a confused look, he only handed me water and told me to get up, that I had been passed out for a few minutes from dehydration. A few minutes?

I was so confused yet utterly amazed. My hand reached for my chest, no blood, no bullet. I looked around the camp, I saw the place where I and others starved, worked and died. Where Jack had been when I left him. It was no longer empty but full of images of something unbelievably real.

An old man stood on the other side of me, his face was wrinkled and showed signs of years of abuse and pain. His hair gray and thin. Beneath some strands was a scar across his forehead. He handed me an icepack for my head holding out the other hand to shake my own.

“Thank you…” I said waiting for him to inform me of who he was.

“Jackson,” he said.

Book Review: Letting Go


Book: Letting Go

Authors: Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert

Publisher: Zondervan



Letting Go is split into three parts equally filled with helpful instructions for dealing with the wayward person in your life. Pastors Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert, share their experiences while also giving scripture based advice on how to overcome this conflict. The first section, centered on “rugged life” is explained through real life situations with a wayward. No matter what the circumstances: a disobedient child, an unfaithful spouse, a friend or loved one who has turned away from God, the authors touch on it. Each one describes the difficulties and trials during this process, showing the reader they are not alone.

The second part is based on “rugged love”. Harvey and Gilbert portray ways of showing tough love to those straying. Through countless scripture examples, they explain when it’s time to let go simply out of love. The authors add that these prodigals may indeed return and come back ready to change or, react quite differently. These pastors acknowledge every situation is different, but none are forgotten by God.

Last is “rugged grace”, it involves the audience recognizing the shame they might hold against themselves is not necessary. Also, the weariness and exhaustion that come with this process is expected and understandable. The main point stems from these things- you need to not only give the wayward grace but yourself as well. The novel is wrapped up with encouragements to never give up on the wayward, yourself, or God in these trying circumstances.




Rating: 5


Suggested Audience: YA and up


Christian Impact: Letting Go gives realistic advice that is supported by a variety of scriptures, giving the audience evidence and examples to reference. The novel teaches important lessons on how to show love as Jesus would, especially to the people we assume don’t deserve it. Overall, the experiences of the pastors and the examples from the Bible allow the reader to understand what the best route is in solving problems with wayward people.