What a perfectly timed message Sunday. Early morning I questioned how I relate to the Lord so differently than I did several years ago. "Lord, I wonder why there's not the height of emotion I used to feel. Does it mean I am slipping away? Do I need to do something?" The Lord answered, "No. It means you don't need hand holding like you used to. Knowing I am real is different than believing or hoping I am real." It came to my mind how He shows up when I am encouraging people who are in hard predicaments or crisis. Routinely, I feel completely inadequate to be of any help. But I show up, and step up, and He does the rest.
I love that He is a Living God.
My name is Katy Gilbert. I’ve been attending Cold Springs Church with my family for 8 years and been a part of the music ministry for most of that time. I simply love Jesus and aim to live a life that honors Him and points others to His goodness! I love our community and it’s my true joy and privilege to be able to invite the Holy Spirit into a time of corporate worship alongside you!
My personal worship philosophy in short, is born out of the idea that God is the one who initiates worship. We wouldn’t engage in worship unless our Creator had first revealed himself to us. It’s out of a response to Him that we offer ourselves humbly in praise and supplication. In this way, each of our own personal testimonies is paramount! Worship literally means “to give worth”. I believe that where we put our time and attention, what we put our value in, is what we worship.
My husband Mike and I have been married for 17 years. We met through our mutual love of music. We’ve both played in bands and led worship most of our lives in different churches/venues in our communities. We have a 12-year old son Jack and a 9-year old daughter Amelia who are the great blessings of our lives! I was raised in Penryn, Ca. and graduated from George Fox University School of Social Work. I’ve worked for State Government, then as a stay-at-home Mom and for the last several years in the local school system along side my children. Our family hobbies include biking, travel/exploring, and loving our third baby, a Golden Retriever named London! Our family motto is “work hard, have fun and love like Jesus!”
I look forward to this next chapter God has allowed us to walk into, and praising God alongside you!
I cannot believe that God would use my life to reach the lives of people an ocean away, but I should know by now that God loves to surprise me! My brother Jesse and I have been asked to go with a team of four others to Senegal, Africa to reach the souls of college students for Jesus Christ. We will be overseas for six weeks this summer, taking language classes at a college campus and working to build lasting relationships with the students we encounter.Our goal is to share the gospel with students and connect them with full time workers that live in Senegal so that they can continue to grow after we leave in July. I cannot help but praise God that Jesse and I are able to work together for the sake of the gospel; I also cannot help but praise God for the church that has loved us since we were little! When you pray, God works. I trust that God will be with us, working through us to reach these students and share the good news of Jesus Christ. Please be praying for us and the rest of our team for safe travels, boldness in building relationships, and for God to be working in the hearts of the students we encounter. I am excited to see God continue to grow the faith of my team!
With much love, Amy Blair
Fast forward to 3 months post op, and our daughter is doing incredible. I had done more research on the condition than the FBI, and realized there were a lot of "symptoms" my son had. By 6 months post op, I had recovered enough emotionally to face asking the neurosurgeon about my son. He said it would be so rare (as in 1:600,000) that it was Chiari Malformation that he wouldn't worry about it. He was only 5, and his symptoms could be as simple as having car sickness. Here comes God's faithfulness #4. The feeling wouldn't leave me that my son could possibly have the same condition, so I asked the pediatrician for an MRI. He said he never argues with a mom's intuition, and ordered it. 2 days later, we got the results. Our son did in fact have Chiari Malformation, and he too had a build up of spinal fluid. The only difference is that his spinal fluid back up had only just begun. It wasn't as severe as our daughters. He had already sent over the referral to the Neurosurgeon, so we just needed to wait for that appointment. We saw the neurosurgeon fairly quickly after the MRI results, and he had a different approach for my son than our daughter. Now remember, I had done TONS of research on the condition at this point. I knew there were 2 different types of surgeries. One that was more invasive, like my daughter had, where they open the dura lining of the brain, and patch it and one that was less invasive, where they just scrape it, but allowed for a 60% chance of having to have another surgery later in life. The neurosurgeon my daughter used suggested the less invasive surgery. This time, I wanted a second opinion. We went down to Stanford, to the top Specialist on the west coast for Chiari Malformation. This Dr couldn't have had a more opposite approach. He didn't want my son to have surgery at all. He felt a "wait and see approach" was best, and if we did go ahead and have surgery, that the more invasive approach was best. We came back home even more confused than before, and decided to take time to pray before doing anything.
We saw my daughters neurosurgeon for a follow up, and explained to him we had seen another dr and he suggested a wait and see approach, but that didn't sit well with us, because the more we thought about it, the more we realized my daughter had symptoms of losing motor function way before we knew she had anything going on. We also explained that we did think the more invasive approach was better, because it meant "one and done". God's Faithfulness #5. The neurosurgeon so kindly explained to us that our daughter's surgery was down-played. He knew that we hadn't had time to process the news, and he knew he was throwing a lot at us when she had to have surgery, but he wanted us to fully understand now the severity of it. He said that the surgery she had posed significant risks, and she came through flawlessly, but that isn't always the case. Having my son go through it, when he didn't think it was necessary, would be reckless on his part. We had caught the chiari malformation so early, his flow wasn't significantly impacted as hers was. Cutting of the dural liner is a very very invasive procedure with high risk. He said that he created a patch from her own bone shavings from the surgery, and he is the only neurosurgeon who does that to try to prevent rejection of the patch, but he isn't God, and that what God created, no man could match. Scraping the dura lining for our son was a better alternative because he thinks it will create enough flow to correct his spinal cord, and it will leave God's creation intact. I couldn't argue with that. We went with him, and his advice, and the rest is history. Our kids shouldn't be able to do what they do, but they can because of God's faithfulness, and His ability to lead us to places we needed to go, and receive answers we needed to hear. Now, 6 and 7 years later, our son rides a dirt bike with the best of them (fully encased in plastic gear of course), our daughter rides cutting horses, and both of them live a relatively normal life, with minimal lingering effects from surgery. They have their tough days, but they know it's just a day, and they know God IS Faithful, and we are forever grateful for it.
If you want one more example of God's faithfulness, a few years later, I met with the Neurosurgeon in the Bay area for a fundraiser I was holding. He remembered my son from years prior, and told me he wanted to apologize. Since that appointment, he has researched more, and knows that every symptom my son had was in fact related to Chiari Malformation, and he was sorry he gave me the wrong advice. He recalls my son's case frequently, and no longer dismisses a patient or mom's concern. Both of my kids now see him as their primary Neurosurgeon. God's faithfulness also calls on us to act on his promptings as well, and when we feel it in our heart to offer Grace, we should act on it. The other neurosurgeon is the exact person we needed for surgery. This one is the exact person we need for followup care, and we are thankful God put them both in our lives right when we needed them to.
I have so many more ways God is faithful in our lives, but this story is long enough. Thank you for allowing me to share here, even if it is too long to share on Sunday. This was a really good moment for me this afternoon, to remind myself of His faithfulness in our journey. The world has been so heavy, and this allowed me the opportunity to remember to look for the good in every situation; it's there, and more importantly, so is God; He is there, walking right beside you, seeing the bigger picture you can't yet see.
My son and daughter were both diagnosed with a condition called Chiari Malformation several years ago. Our daughter was originally diagnosed with Scoliosis at 5 1/2, and we went in for a routine check up at just before her 7th birthday. At this check up, they told us her curve had increased significantly, with no growth in height, which made them concerned as to why her curve increased. They said we would need an MRI to rule out a "very rare" condition (Less than 3% chance) but at the very least, she was at risk for spinal fusion surgery for her scoliosis, and needed to be fitted for a brace. The thought of having my 7 year old daughter have spinal fusion surgery was terrifying, knowing it would just be one of many surgeries because of her young age. My husband and I prayed for a miracle that her scoliosis would somehow stabilize, and we could spare her a life of surgeries. We went ahead with the MRI to rule out a rare condition, all the while concerned about the future held.
A week or so after the MRI, we had her follow up appointment with her orthopedic surgeon who was following her Scoliosis. He confirmed she had the "rare" condition he was concerned about, Chiari Malformation. He had already called over a referral to a Neurosurgeon and we needed to meet with him as soon as they had an opening. My husband and I had no idea what Chiari Malformation was. We couldn't even pronounce the term. The following days were rough, waiting and waiting and waiting some more on a pediatric neurosurgeon to call back. Then, Gods Faithfulness #1 happened. A good friend whom I hadn't seen in years reached out to me out of the blue. He had been fighting a very rare form of brain cancer the year prior, and only 1 neurosurgeon would perform his surgery. This neurosurgeon saved his life. It hit me! Ask him who his neurosurgeon was, and THATS who my girl would see! He has to be the best! Who cares if he isn't a pediatric neurosurgeon. That must be why this friend I hadn't heard from in years called, right? So, I ask him for the information, and got right on the phone. I tried and tried to get in touch with this amazing surgeon, but his office wouldn't talk to me without a referral from her Dr. I couldn't get her Dr. to call me back. I tried and tried, to no avail. Then, Gods Faithfulness #2. While trying to locate her MRI images to try to send it to this Dr myself, it starts to rain on me. I'm standing outside my car, in the pouring rain, and I scream "REALLY GOD?! REALLY! I'm trying to help my kid, and now it's raining on me. I GIVE UP!! REALLY! I SURRENDER! YOU TAKE CARE OF IT!". I'm not kidding you, not even a minute later, the phone rings. Not only is it the Neurosurgeons office, but it is the Neurosurgeon my friend used that I had been trying to get a hold of! HE is the pediatric neurosurgeon the original orthopedic surgeon referred to! They said they reviewed the images from the referring doctor, and they wanted to see her ASAP.
When we got to the appt with the neurosurgeon, he had our newly 7 year old daughter do a bunch of motor skills tests. He talked to us about her condition, and the fact that her chiari malformation had essentially cut off a good portion of spinal fluid flow to her brain. He was surprised she hadn't lost all motor function, because her spinal cord was at max capacity, and she shouldn't be able to walk. He suggested we schedule the surgery right away, and he had an opening in 2 weeks. We didn't have time to think, or research, or anything. All we knew was she was at risk for losing motor function. On the way home, I sat in silence. My husband asked me what I was thinking, and I burst into tears saying ; "What does this mean? Neurosurgeon? She needs brain surgery? I thought she had scoliosis. She's at risk of losing all motor function if we don't get this done ASAP?!" (God's faithfulness sometimes comes in the form of our spouses.) My husband so sweetly reminded me we prayed for a miracle; For our daughter to not have to have spinal fusions her whole life. This may not be the answer we wanted, but it's the answer God gave us for an extremely difficult situation. He is allowing us to have this brain surgery, potentially increasing her spinal fluid flow to her brain, shrinking her spinal cord down to the "normal" size, and correcting her scoliosis. It's fixable. As scary as this situation was that we were facing, we knew God was with us on this journey. She stayed in the ICU for 4 days, and we were able to take her home on day 5. On day 6 post op, the first morning of being home, she woke me up screaming, and sounding terrified. I ran to her room to find her crying because she could feel her legs, and that just wasn't normal! I said to her "what do you mean you can feel your legs". "Well Mama", she says, "every morning, I have to wake up my legs because they sleep when I sleep. So every morning I wake them, but this morning they were already awake! Why mom! Why didn't they sleep?" I had to explain to her that sleeping legs are not normal. Legs not falling asleep, that's normal. My husband was right. (Don't tell him I said that). My daughter showing scoliosis symptoms allowed us to see a bigger picture. God's faithfulness allowed us to walk a very scary path to surgery to fix what we didn't even know was wrong with her...but He did.
When I relocated to this area from Los Angeles, finding Cold Springs Church was a blessing...in more ways than one. Finding a church home took some time but I found CSC to be welcoming and a fit for me. Then I met Hank and we were married here and enjoyed 15 years of marriage together. The Lord was faithful and blessed us and guided us.
The Lord has been faithful and guided the leadership of this fellowship with prayer and calling on the Lord in many, many areas of need. Women's Bible study, Women's Missionary Group, Keenagers, Sunday school studies, Life Group, are some of the areas that have shown me how faithful God has been to me in my walk with Jesus and helped me grow closer to Him.
CSC and the leadership was right there when Hank was ill and during his passing. Support has been there and I thank this fellowship for their faithfulness and dependence on Jesus.
God has been growing my trust in His provision (finances) for many years. Several years back Deanne (my wife) and I were at a time in life where monthly bills were extremely tight. Tithing was something we always did, but during this particular season the pressure had been ramped up. We had transitioned to being a one income family and now had a young daughter. I started questioning the wisdom in giving a large portion of our monthly income back to God. Why put ourselves through this stress? Why not take care of ourselves first and then others? These were just some of the big questions we were pondering. One month we had another significant shortage and were faced again with trusting His ways or our own.
We knew several things God had been teaching us at this point. We wanted to stay faithful in giving in all seasons of our life, whether in plenty or scarcity. Giving was something that we had always done and Lord willing, would continue for the rest of our lives. Deanne and I also were united in not using a credit card to cover the gap between paychecks under any circumstances. So there we were…faced with a decision of trusting Him who had always given us so much.
I realize now it was not a question of how much money we would trust Him with, but rather the work of peace He wanted to do in my heart, mind, and soul. Giving had always been a pleasure, because I could see the fruits of what God did with what I gave….that is an amazing experience and beautiful attribute of our Father in heaven. However, the unexpected transformation in my heart was and still is true healing. A healing from the constant striving, worrying, and value I had placed on finances. God wanted to heal that part of my thinking that had been corrupted by sin’s deceitfulness. I had lost so much sleep and robbed myself of so much joy by agonizing over where a decimal point was at on my bank account.
So the end of the month drew near and we gave our usual amount. We were still short a certain dollar amount or we were going to have to look for other options (borrowing from friends, family, etc.) However, at just the right time and almost to the penny the right amount….a check showed up in our mailbox. I was beside myself…I had read about God doing these sorts of things, but never experienced it in such a personal way. We are still in awe of Him today and the way He pours out His love to people. His generosity is staggering. His ways are so good and can always be trusted. Praise God for the body of Christ at Cold Springs who have encouraged us to live life His way in all seasons.
As Sharon and I approach our fiftieth year of marriage this coming March, we have experienced the faithfulness and goodness of God… most recently in preserving our home and property which was threatened by the Caldor Fire.. as in feet from the burning Camp Creek ravine nearby. We have two adult married children with loving mates…six healthy, talented, beautiful grandchildren who are a constant reminder of God’s goodness…of His provision of a heritage… a chance to pass on the values, family traditions and stories that have endured… a chance to share our faith…our love of Jesus that we pray will enable them to navigate a world that is so so different from the one Sharon and I had as youngsters.
Finally, Sharon and I have always been each other’s very best friends…. which, in my book, is the key to joy… marital harmony.
All we have… everything that is long lasting- eternal and deeply felt and gratefully held is due to the blessings and faithfulness…. the goodness of God…
to the Cold Springs Blog!