Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Constantly Abiding

Besides sharing Scripture, many of you have shared your favorite hymns with us. In the coming weeks, I'd like to share some of the songs that have been  meaningful to us.

On the night before his brain surgery, Ed emailed this song to some of our friends as his testimony.

Constantly Abiding
By Anne S. Murphy

  1. There’s a peace in my heart that the world never gave,
    A peace it cannot take away;
    Though the trials of life may surround like a cloud,
    I’ve a peace that has come here to stay!
    • Refrain:
      Constantly abiding, Jesus is mine;
      Constantly abiding, rapture divine;
      He never leaves me lonely, whispers, oh, so kind:
      “I will never leave thee”—Jesus is mine.
  2. All the world seemed to sing of a Savior and King,
    When peace sweetly came to my heart;
    Troubles all fled away and my night turned to day,
    Blessed Jesus, how glorious Thou art!
  3. This treasure I have in a temple of clay,
    While here on His footstool I roam;
    But He’s coming to take me some glorious day,
    Over there to my heavenly home!



Listen if you want to hear the tune. (If reading by email, you may need to click over to the blog to view.)

And of course I'd love to hear the words you sing to remind yourself of God's goodness.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Don't Waste Your Cancer

John Piper wrote a hard-hitting article that has been an inspiration to us.

Please go read Don't Waste Your Cancer.

I think this could apply to many other types of suffering besides cancer.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Recuperation

Has it been a week since Ed's brain surgery? We are in that time warp where a day is a week and a week is a day.

Ed's recuperation from surgery has went very well. Every day he gets a little stronger. He still has a swelling on the side of his head, but not as bad as the first days after surgery.


The little girls were a little scared of Ed the first day, but they have quickly warmed up. 

We've had lots of visitors which we all enjoy. It has made Ed's time  on the recliner go faster to have friends to share the time. We have felt so supported by all the prayers, mail, flowers, and meals. I've always been a strong believer in hand-written thank you notes, but I'm so far behind in this flood of generosity that I'm not sure I'll ever get caught up.



The last two days Ed has ventured down to the basement to do some work with his router. With our boys to do the lifting, Ed can feel like he is doing something productive in these days when he isn't working. He still has to rest a lot.

Last night we received the report from the doctor that we were dreading. The pathology report on the tumor shows an aggressive brain cancer. Even though all signs have been pointing this direction, I was still coddling hope that they were wrong and the tests would have a more hopeful diagnosis.

When we were in the hospital last week, a friend gave me a blank journal. I decided to begin recording verses that friends are sharing with us. When I read, I feel like the words cannot penetrate beyond my eyeballs. Spending a few minutes hand lettering a verse on a page helps me embed a little more truth in my heart.



So each day since then I've recorded a few verses in the journal. Many are the verses you all have shared in your emails and comments. I'm not worried about making it look fancy - just a black pen and my own penmanship.

I appreciate you understanding why we ask that you not share your medical advice. But I love when you share the Scriptures that have been meaningful to you in your own hard days.

Please pray that we will have wisdom as we make plans for treatment. Pray that we will trust God and not get discouraged at medical statistics. Pray for grace to bring God glory through it all.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Home! (With photos)

Ed sent out a text this morning to friends saying: "Resting in the love of Jesus, the blessing of friends, and my own recliner."



It is startling to think that less than 48 hours ago, Ed's skull was opened and now we are home. But Ed is doing well and we were thrilled that the doctor sent him home this morning to recuperate. The hospital staff served us wonderfully, but there just is nothing like resting in your own home.

I'm sharing a few photos from the last few days. If you are the squeamish sort, you might want to skip.


Monday afternoon the doctor placed "buttons" on Ed's head to serve as markers on the MRI for surgery.


Waiting for the MRI Tuesday morning just before surgery.


Friends and family...


...Waiting the four hours during Ed's surgery.


After surgery in ICU. The nurses allowed me camp out in his room so I could stay nearby.


With the severe headaches and nausea Ed had last week, he had lost a lot of weight so it was great to to see his appetite for lunch on Wednesday. And even better to hear him joke and laugh with visitors.


The children are having a great time with their grandparents and cousins while dad is laid up, but they came in the hospital for a short visit.


Today Ed's face is a lot more swollen and his eyes are turning shades of black, blue, and purple. But a look at that incision makes it obvious why his face has signs of trauma. The railroad reaches nearly ear to ear.

This past week has been a whirl. Each day has stretched into a week. But if I have learned anything it is that we will never be truly at rest until we get Home. Life here can appear good. Even very good. We have plans, we are succeeding at our goals, and life can be rich.

But always pain lurks below the surface reminding us that real rest and fulfillment will not be ours until we reach our eternal home with Jesus.
Hebrews 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
 Hebrews 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Thanks again for all your prayers and support. We have felt the continual outpouring of love from God's people this week.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

With No Regrets

We know that every day is a gift from God, but this weekend felt like an extra-special gift. After weeks of splitting headaches which caused confusion and fatigue, Ed's headaches were greatly reduced. This was most likely the result of the steroid he was taking before his brain surgery. It was wonderful to be able to communicate with Ed without his eyes clouded with pain.

In the past I've wondered what I would do if I knew I had only one more day with my loved ones. I hoped that I was living my life in such a way that nothing much would change and I wouldn't have to hurry and restore my relationships with God or others. I'm certainly not perfect, but with the power of Christ, I aim to live with no regrets.

On Monday afternoon Ed had a quick appointment with the doctor. Afterward we stopped next door at Brusters and sat in the sunshine licking ice cream cones. Except for the buttons on his head marking his skull for brain surgery the next day, it felt like quiet date with my husband.

Ed and I talked about the risks of brain surgery. We both felt a peace about progressing forward with surgery but were also aware of the risks involved. I told Ed that if something happened and we only had these fifteen years together, he had still given me the best fifteen years of my life. Even though we have made mistakes through the years, I was glad that we didn't have conflict that we had to patch up.

Thank you so much for all your prayers for Ed's surgery yesterday. I've given up responding to all your emails and comments, but I do read each one. I'm humbled and honored by the hundreds of people who have surrounded us with prayer.

Yesterday's surgery was scheduled for 12:30 but some other emergencies pushed his surgery time back to 2:00. The afternoon dragged but many of Ed's family and a few friends stayed with me at the hospital giving their tangible support with their presence. Yesterday was one of those perfect May days and for a while we sat on the hospital courtyard soaking in the lovely weather.

It was nearly 6:00 when we were give word that Ed was out of surgery and, not long afterward, the neurosurgeon came out to give us his report of the surgery. The doctor felt that surgery had went well and he was able to remove a good portion of the tumor. Ed's bleeding was minimal and he had responded well to surgery.

During surgery they did a quick testing on a sample of the tumor. More thorough testing needs done in the coming days but, from this preliminary test, the tumor appears to be cancerous.

And so, within minutes we had conflicting emotions. We praised God that surgery went well. I'm quite aware that I could have become a widow while Ed was still on that operating table. I'm glad I've been given more time with Ed. Yet we fear for what the "C" word means for our future and  worry about the treatment decisions that will need to be made.

But we know that the God who has carried us through the last few days will be with us in the next weeks as well. Please continue to pray for the peace of His abiding presence with us.

I'm typing this in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Ed had a lot of pain last night, but he is resting now. He is in ICU so the nurses can monitor him closely. The nurses have given me a recliner beside Ed's bed. I was able to sleep for a while but I know many of you are wondering how surgery went and wanted to give an update. Thanks again for your prayers.

I love your emails and comments, but can I ask that you not share a medical advice? At this point the treatment options are too overwhelming for me to consider. I'm trying to take this one day at a time. Just pray that God will give us wisdom. Thanks for understanding.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Carried

I'm sitting on the bed next to Ed reading your comments. I joked to Ed that I found the perfect way to get lurkers to comment - announce a life-threatening medical emergency. I don't know if you all are telling your friends or just checking back many times a day, but this blog never sees this much traffic in two days.

Okay, joking aside, I read your comments with their assurance of prayer and quotes from the Word of God and feel overwhelmed by God's love as shared through His people. Thank you so very much for helping to carry our load.

Yesterday afternoon, we had an anointing service for Ed. As it states in James, the elders of our church anointed Ed with oil for healing. The service was a blessed time of sharing God's Word and personal testimonies of God's touch. I will not soon forget the sight of Ed's two brothers, my dad, and our entire church ministry team laying their hands on Ed and praying for him. Ed and I have both felt the "peace that passeth all understanding" since that service. We know that our powerful God is at work, whether by miraculous healing or by walking with us on this journey.

This morning Ed, Terry (Ed's brother), and I met with the neurosurgeon. He showed us the MRI scans of Ed's head which show a three-inch mass behind his right eye. This tumor is on the surface of the brain on Ed's non-dominant side and is accessible for surgery. After discussion of various options, we decided to schedule surgery for next Tuesday, May 16 to remove as much of the tumor as possible. At that point more testing will be done to determine if the tumor is cancerous.

There are a lot of unknowns. I can't believe I'm throwing around words like "brain surgery" and getting calls from the hospital about pre-opt directions. But we truly do feel as if we are being carried by a loving God.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ed Update

Thank you so much for your prayers. Throughout the day yesterday, I would check your comments and cry when I read your words of encouragement and assurance of prayer.

Last night the doctor called. Not the nurse or the receptionist. The doctor. After office hours.

That wasn't a good sign. And he began by apologizing that he was telling me this news over the phone but he felt that the seriousness led to immediate action.

The MRI shows a growth on Ed's brain. We know little else without further tests but with the escalation of Ed's symptoms the last few days, cancer is a strong possibility. We will be meeting with a neurologist as soon as possible.

Please continue to pray for us all. I'm not falling apart - which may be due to shock, denial, or numbness - but I choose to believe prayers are holding us up.

God's grace is sufficient even in this.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Will You Pray?

I want to post one of the book lists that are in my draft file. Or a new recipe I've tried. Anything to distract myself and pretend that all is smiles and springtime fun at our house.

But it is not.

For the last several weeks Ed has been having severe headaches. At first he could keep it controlled with pain meds but now it is causing nausea and an inability to focus.

Today he is getting blood work and a CAT scan. Will you pray that we can find some answers that will help Ed find relief from these headaches?

And please pray for our family. I never guessed it would be so hard to have your husband ill.

But we do have wonderful support from our family, friends, and church.

And, of course, God. How can anyone face hard things in life without Him?


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Bookmarks: Middle-Grade Fantasy

I'm loving all the book suggestions you gave on the last book post. Check out the comments if you haven't already.

This list contains some of the recent fantasy books I have preread for my children. If you don't like make-believe or talking animals, skip these books. But you'll be missing some fun.

Persimmony dreams of doing great things but never imagines that one night she will lose her hat in the Willow Woods and be drawn into an adventure to save her island from a giant.

A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith
Wolf might have an unusual name for a small mouse, but he also has an unusual talent. Mrs. Honeybee is delighted to find out his love of singing, but doesn't realize how helpful his talent will become.

Babe,The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith
The sheepdog thinks that pigs are stupid, but Farmer Hogget's new piglet may prove her wrong. A fun tale from England's sheep country.

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
Omri's birthday gift was far more surprising than he ever imagined. Somehow, when locked in an old cupboard, the plastic Indian toy came alive.

He doesn't have a name, or a parent, and Queen Victoria's Silver Jubilee may be the perfect time for the smallest mouse to search for answers.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
On a hot day in August Winnie meets a family who is unlike any she has ever met. Soon she needs to make a hard decision. Thought-provoking and beautifully written (which isn't code for boring). There are many books written about death but this explores living forever. I'm saving this to read aloud to my children to discuss with them.

Freddy the Detective by Walter R. Brooks
When Freddy reads Sherlock Holmes, he decides to become a detective even if he is a pig. When a toy train is missing he has the perfect case, but soon Freddy finds that being a detective is not always easy. This is one of the books I read aloud to the children so we could howl in laughter together. Note: some mild swearing.

Tumtum and Nutmeg by Emily Bearn
Two mice live in comfort in a broom closet and set out to cheer up the lives of the two children in their house. But will they survive when Aunt Ivy tries to get rid of the mice? 

Ever wonder why some of the sweetest children's books about mice?

Your turn. Do you have some favorites that I haven't mentioned?

(This post contains affiliate links.)


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Bookmarks: Realistic Middle-Grade Fiction

I can't keep up. I'm constantly on the look-out for good books for my children to read. But unless the recommendation comes from someone who I know has the same book values as me, I want to pre-read the books before giving them to my children. But after finally getting a book read and handing it to my children, they have it read in one afternoon and I'm back to looking for more books.

I know many of you are in the same fix. I'm sharing some of the books I have preread in the last few years in case it is helpful for your own book quests.

These are what I consider middle-grade novels since my children are 2nd to 7th grade. My list was too long for one post so I'm splitting it into realistic, fantasy, and historical fiction posts. Today's list contains some great books that will help your child gain an understanding for children who live in various life circumstances from blindness to foster care and various parts of the world from Oman to Alaska.

This is only a small number of the great books that are out there. As always, I'm hoping that you will share your favorite books with me.


The Seventeenth Swap by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Eric has no money, but he longs to buy a pair of cowboy boots for his handicapped friend. A warm story with lots of twists.


The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye
Aref doesn't want to move to Michigan, but Sidi says, that just like the turtles, Aref will come back. As Aref says good-bye to all the things he loves about living in Oman, we get to visit his home. A warm book to introduce a child to another nation through the eyes of a child.


We The Children by Andrew Clements
Is there a way to save Benjamin's school from demolition? Secret messages and codes will take Benjamin and his friends on a quest. First book in the Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School series.


Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Ally has hidden her inability to read by causing distractions, but her new teacher will not be easily fooled. Perfect book for anyone who has felt like a misfit or who wants to read a hopeful book on the power of a good teacher. I had my children read this to understand their brother's dyslexia.


The Boy Who Biked the World by Alastair Humphreys
Tom dreams of being an explorer. He decides to make his dreams come true and bike around the world from his home in England. A great way to learn geography. Part One tells of biking to Africa. Though the book is fiction, the author himself actually biked around the world.


The Worm Whisperer by Betty Hicks
Ellis longs to help earn money to pay for his dad's back surgery. When he finds a woolly worm who seems to follow his directions he plans to enter the annual Woolly Worm Race to win the $1,000 prize.


The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
None of the teachers have stayed in Fred's village long. Would the smell of fish, the loneliness of the Alaskan village, or the challenges of teaching send Miss Agnes away too?


Canyon Winter by Walt Morey
After the plane crash, Peter needs to learn how to survive in the wilderness with the help of old Omar. Peter finds he has more courage than he expected.


Extra Credit by Andrew Clements
Abby is going to have to repeat sixth grade unless she completes some extra credit -including writing to a foreign pen pal. When her letter arrives in a small Afghanistan school, Sadeed's sister is chosen to write to Abby. Jumping from American to Afghanistan this book shows the connection words can bring. This book is one of Clement's school series.

Star Island Boy by Louise Dickinson Rich
Larry arrived at Star Island determined not to like his new home. But maybe the lobster-fishermen on this Maine island are different than his other foster families. Note: small amount of swearing.

Follow My Leader by James B. Garfield
An accident with a firecracker turned Jimmy's world to darkness. How would he learn to cope with blindness? Leader, his guide dog, helped Jimmy learn to function in the new world. Great book to help appreciate the gift of sight and includes a good example of loving your enemy. Note: mild swearing.


Birthdays, Christmas, fishing, and fun with cousins in a little Swedish community.


The Year of the Baby by Andrea Cheng

Anna needs to find a topic for the science fair, but her mom is worried that their newly adopted baby from China is not gaining. Can Anna and her friends help?

Find more book recommendations on the book page.

This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Popcorn - forts, tulips, and trails

Sometimes I'm not sure where my time goes, but here is a photo record of the last couple days.


When I was a girl, my family would have a picnic at Fort Frederick every summer. I loved walking around those huge walls. 


I thought it was time to take my children to visit Fort Frederick and their annual Market Days was the perfect chance. We toured the fort, watched the drills, and listen to the musket firing.


But the highlight was the market where dozens of craftsmen and sutlers such as this potter, were selling their wares. 


All the venders' merchandise, tents, and costumes had to be appropriate for North America in the mid-1700's. There was some fine craftsmanship (and high prices) on display.


I don't have many  tulips this year.


Could this be why?


But if you can deny a few flowers to those curls and eyes.


You have a harder heart than I.


We spent the weekend at Ohio Wilderness Boys Camp visiting my brother Todd who is on staff at the camp. On Saturday three of my siblings, four of my children, one niece, and four nephews ran in the Redbud Trail Challenge 5K. Here they pose with big grins (and clean clothes) before the race. 


My children lined up at the starting gate. 



And they are off! (If you are reading this by email, you may have to click over to the site to view the video.)

My children had been practicing at home and were hoping to beat their record from last year. But it had rained for hours during the night and the trail was slick. In the video you can see the runners head up a steep hill (maybe better called a mountain) which was quickly churned to mud by all those feet. Thankfully the rain slowed during the race and my children said the drizzle felt good.




My ten-year-old made a strong finish.


He was thrilled to beat his older brother and cousin by almost a minute.   

Not long after the children finished, the rain started again in earnest. We enjoyed lunch while hiding from the steady downpour. When we got back to where we were staying, I had a washing machine load of  muddy sneakers and clothing.


But by evening the sun came out and Todd took us down to the lake for a hotdog roast.


Nothing gives a good appetite like fresh air and exercise. 



And a little music to aid digestion.


Another great visit to camp.

And now it is Monday with more loads of laundry.

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