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

Toys For God’s Kids

Not every child has the luxury of owning a toy, however, John and Mary Jager are determined to help change that.

This energetic, retired couple lives in Holland, Michigan and in the last three years they have built 25,000 wooden toy cars in their garage. Along with 280 others around the country, they use their free time to create these small wooden cars for an organization called Smile Makers, developed back in 2000 by a friend in Colorado.img_1219img_1225

Some days the couple spends six to eight hours working on the cars, taking it step by step toward the final product.

“Aw man, we never knew retirement could be so fun!” Mary explained.

Both John and Mary treat it like a full-time job and every winter they follow the same process:

“We draw them on the wood and then we drill the holes for the axles and then drill holes for windows then we cut them out. [The cars] go on a router and [John] route[s] the edges out,” Mary said.

The wheels come next, about 100,000 have been created over the course of the three years they have been involved in this organization. Once the cars have all the pieces needed each one is dipped in a material to complete the process.

“The material we dip them in is food safe so if the kids suck on them they’re not going to get hurt,” John added.

They explained that these toy cars go all over the world. John and Mary might be behind the scenes building, but they are certainly making an impact. John shared how some children reacted when given the cars.

“Our pastor said they went to Cambodia and would hand them a Christmas box and they’d take something out of it and hand the box back because they didn’t know how to accept a gift. You have to tell them it’s okay this is yours, you can keep it,”

That’s when Mary began to draw and cut out animals as well as the cars. The couple said it would make it easier to relate to for some kids.(Some of them have never seen a car.)

The organization has grown in the last 16 years, reaching one million cars a year ago.

“I don’t know, you would think you’d get bored with it, but we don’t. It just is so gratifying,” John said.

Their selfless attitude has brought joy to boys and girls all over the world who are less fortunate.Both of them agreed, while it costs them money to make the cars, it’s their donation to give to the kids, something definitely worth their time.

“We’ve put a smile on a child’s face,” Mary said.

Anybody can get involved in Smile Makers and contribute to helping children everywhere enjoy this simple, yet meaningful gift.

For more information, check out The Toys For God’s Kids website!

Thank you to John and Mary for meeting with me and sharing their passion.You are both doing a wonderful thing that is impacting so many! You’re an inspiration to me, and I hope now to others as well.






Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, 30 Years is a Long Time – I Don’t Know About You

I remember Dad had just arrived home from work, the music was on while mom cooked. I don’t recall the song that played or

img_2191 the food we ate that day, but I do remember one thing. I remember my dad grabbing my mom and pulling her close to dance and knowing that this was a glimpse of what being in love is like. And after 30 years I still see it.

At that time, I didn’t completely understand what I had. Now, I can recognize a beautiful relationship. One full of great memories, as well as some hard times in between. Nonetheless, today I am so very thankful for their 30 years of love, faithfulness, and perseverance. Not only with each other but God as well.

Now, for the fun part.

I asked both of them the same questions and here are their answers! (They have not seen this until now and have no idea I’m doing this!)

1.) What did you love most when you first met the other?

Dad: “Her fun attitude/personality”

Mom: “He made me feel comfortable and okay to be myself”

2.) What is your favorite thing about him/her?

Dad: “Her great heart”

Mom: “His sense of humor when he’s not being snarky!” … so never? Just kidding dad 🙂

3.) What is something you have had to work on?

Dad: “Communication” (Don’t we all!)

Mom: “Communication, still to be mastered!” (At least they can agree on it!)

4.) What do you look forward to most?

Dad: “Traveling with her” (Code for losing us kids and going somewhere super cool.)

Mom: “The day we get to enjoy us and he can be free of all the stuff on his plate!”

5.) What is a piece of advice you would give to others?

Dad: “Put God first”

Mom: “Make your relationship with God a deal breaker…. because without God you just can’t make it. And Make sure the important things to you both are honored and protected”

6.) What will you say to each other today?

Dad: “I love you and thanks for thirty great years”

Mom: “Thanks babe for stickin’ it out for thirty years with me! I love you even when I don’t like you! Thanks for loving me!” (There’s the fun attitude he likes so much…)

Along with all the great things I see,  I have realized it’s not easy, but I have also watched them grow and work through something that was never meant to be easy. They decided it was worth it. Not just the happy and good times, but through the struggles and trials of daily life.

God has had his hand on them this entire time, that’s obvious. However, that still doesn’t make it much easier, it just makes it possible. And what a blessing to have an example like this in my life. I look forward to having a love like yours Mom and Dad!

And now, a note from Brendin:

Mom and Dad,

 I can’t begin to explain how thankful I am for both of you. It hasn’t been easy that’s for sure. When I look back and put myself in your shoes I sometimes wonder why you guys didn’t give up. I do believe that I am the person I am today because you didn’t give up and I notice that more and more.

Dad if you didn’t have Mom, you would be absolutely screwed. As for Mom if you didn’t have Dad you’d be living in a box ;). You see, God created mom to love and I’m telling you that’s the most important thing in life, nothing else matters.

God blessed me with parents that never give up even when things are hard. I am who I am today because of you. I am changing other’s lives because you changed mine. I Love you both more than anything and thank you for continuing to help me get through life and supporting me. I guess what I’m getting to is, I -Brendin- would be screwed without YOU! Love you both.

Taylor insisted on doing his “own thing”… teenagers. But we know he loves you both just as much as we do!

I hope you all enjoyed this, and if you get the chance wish this crazy couple a happy anniversary and Valentines Day!(Does this mean they get double the chocolate?)

Mom and Dad, I hope this makes your day even more special! Happy Valentine’s Day and 3oth Anniversary! We love you!