Monday, June 26, 2017

O God, Our Help In Ages Past

The more I think about God and His character, the more my trust in Him grows. I can hardly sing this song without tears. I'm so grateful for a God who has been faithful in the past and will continue to carry us through the future. 

O God, Our Help In Ages Past
by Isaac Watts

  1. O God, our help in ages past,
    Our hope for years to come,
    Our shelter from the stormy blast,
    And our eternal home.
  2. Under the shadow of Thy throne
    Thy saints have dwelt secure;
    Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
    And our defense is sure.
  3. Before the hills in order stood,
    Or earth received her frame,
    From everlasting Thou art God,
    To endless years the same.
  4. A thousand ages in Thy sight
    Are like an evening gone;
    Short as the watch that ends the night
    Before the rising sun.
  5. O God, our help in ages past,
    Our hope for years to come,
    Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
    And our eternal home.

I love this rendition of this hymn in the following video.



And here is another song, I think from the same cd, that I have listened to over and over.



(You may need to click over to the blog to watch the videos if you are reading by email.)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Scrambled Pieces

It is hard to describe a cancer diagnosis. Some days it feels as if I was in the middle of putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle and someone tipped the table over. I'm now picking up the puzzle pieces and sorting them in piles. Some of them look familiar, but I'm not sure that they will ever go back into the same position. I'm guessing the final picture will look different than what I started. 


There are many normal segments to my days.  As a mom, my every day life of cooking, cleaning, laundry, and childcare looks the same and we are finding ways to enjoy lovely summer weather.


I'm still the same Gina who enjoys a good book and a fun conversation. I was asked if I am having a garden this year. I said that if I had known, I would not have planted it, but since its planted, I'm caring for it. But then I walk through the rows, pulling a weed, pushing an errant tomato stem into the cage, and picking an onion for supper - and I'm so glad to have a garden this year. 

There is something almost therapeutic about the familiarity of dirt under my nails. I do enjoy gardening and this year's rain showers and sunshine has grown one of my prettiest gardens. (Or maybe the garden is always pretty in June before the bugs, drought, and neglect take its toll.) I've already decided that I'll be okay with wasted garden produce. I had a bumper crop of spinach and broccoli and missed picking some of it but that is okay. If I don't feel like canning tomatoes, I'll give them away or add them to the compost pile. 


Earlier this spring our boys had made a hut in the pasture with a few pallets and scrap wood. They worked independently and it wasn't fancy or square, but they have spent numerous nights in their hut. They were satisfied with a flat roof until they decided to build rafters and find some roofing material. One evening last week my brother brought them some roof metal left from his project and he helped them reinforce their hut. 


Ed's ketogenic diet is going better. The first week or two he felt hungry but by adding a few more calories and giving his body time to adjust, he is feeling more energy.  Because he is using the diet as cancer treatment, he is on an intense keto diet of only 2,000 calories and 20 net carbs a day. His body went into ketosis very quickly - just a few days - which I credit to specifically-prepared meals and the fact that he had already lost weight over surgery. The first few days he cheated a little, but now that he adjusted, he is sticking with the doctor-provided meals. 

But it is rough going to social events. We apparently don't know how to celebrate without food. It is just no fun to not be able to participate. But I suppose this too will become more normal with time.

Saturday was one of those times with the celebration of Ed's nephew's wedding. But I thought Ed did well in ignoring the food and focusing on the conversations. A few weeks before I didn't even think he would be able to attend the wedding so it was good to see him feeling well enough to enjoy it. Now he is hoping to continue to feel good for the next two weeks while his nephew is on his honeymoon since they work together in the same department. 


Since Ed's family was all around for the wedding, on Sunday afternoon we all went to a local park where our children and their cousins found the perfect activity on a sweltering afternoon.


But Ed was so tired after church that he decided to stay home and rest in the air conditioning. 

On Sunday night, Ed took his first chemo pill right before bed. He had been told that bedtime was a good time to minimize nausea. The doctor had told him to try the first chemo without anti-nausea medicine to see if he needed it. 

After a few hours of vomiting, it was obvious he needed anti-nausea meds.  It wasn't a glorious start to his treatments.


Ed postponed his first radiation treatment until later in the day on Monday until he was feeling a little better. His two brothers joined us at the cancer center to show their support. These two have went with us to many doctor's appointments the last weeks and their support on many facets has been priceless.


We can't go back with Ed into the radiation room so he had the tech take a photo for us on his phone. This mask was made to fit Ed's head so they can hold him in the exact same position for each treatment. Ed says he doesn't mind it and it only takes about 15 minutes.



We just stayed in the waiting room doing puzzles during Ed's radiation.

Since that first day, Ed faithfully takes anti-nausea medicine an hour before his chemo and he has slept all night with no effects at all. He is feeling great and driving to his radiation appointments early in the morning before going to work. Every day he gets a little stronger though he still tires quickly. We expect that as the treatments continue, he will feel more side effects and will be forced to rest more. But we are grateful for this good week. We don't take even one day of health for granted.

Thanks so much for your continued prayers. One friend emailed me to say that each morning she prays for us while she is in the barn cleaning up from milking. Unknown to her, that is the time of Ed's radiation treatments each morning.

We will never know what effect your prayers are having, but we do know that they are helping us trust that God will put the pieces of our lives into a picture that will glorify Him.

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:7

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Peace, Perfect Peace

I've been encouraged to keep a list of God's answers to prayer. One of those answers, which I consider a miracle from God, is sleep.

Every since Ed's anointing service, I have slept very well (except for the one night in the hospital after Ed's surgery that Ed was so uncomfortable and the nurses were constantly in his room.) I sleep deeply, soundly, and wake refreshed.

This is in contrast to the nights before the anointing when I laid awake, heard every chime of the grandfather's clock, and worried. At that point we had no idea what was wrong with Ed, and my imagination ran wild. But if you would have asked, I would have told you that I never imagined a diagnosis like aggressive brain cancer with a short life expectancy.

There is no reasonable explanation for why I could have learned the worse about Ed's condition and be able to sleep. It has to be God.

"I cried unto the Lord with my voice and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me." Psalm 3:4-5

When I was thinking of what hymn to share next, I thought of  Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting. It has been a favorite of mine for years.  But I discovered that I wrote about that hymn about seven years ago. So I chose a different hymn.

I remember the first time I heard "Peace, Perfect Peace." I was with a group of youth who were singing at a nursing home and one of the residents requested this song. We completely botched it. A few years later when I joined the church I attend now, I heard it sung often, but it took me awhile to get over that first introduction.

The tune and the words are simple, but now I appreciate the message of this short song. The words were written after the author heard a sermon on one of my favorite verses.

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee." Isaiah 26:3


Peace, Perfect Peace 
by Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr.

Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.

Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.

Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.

Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.

It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus call us to Heaven’s perfect peace.

Listen to the hymn below. (If reading by email you may need to click over to the blog.)




I'd love to here your testimonies of the peace that God has given you.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Weep. Trust. Embrace.

This morning I flipped open my planner and happened to notice the quote on the first page.

Occasionally, 
weep deeply
 over the life you hoped would be. 
Grieve the losses. 
Then wash your face. 
Trust God. 
And embrace the life you have. 
- John Piper

I think that would be a fitting description of our life right now. As Ed told our children, "We don't know how much time I will have (but then we didn't know it before this diagnosis either). But we are going to try to make good memories in the time we have."

This week feels like the eye of the storm. Surgery and the appointments with tests, research, treatment plans, and doctor conferences are behind us. This week the calendar is nearly empty. We enjoyed a fun family day on Monday. Though Ed is still weak, he is getting stronger and is hoping to finish up some work projects this week.

But next Monday, June 19, Ed begins six weeks of chemo and radiation. There is lots of scary unknowns on how Ed will tolerate treatment and what side affects he will experience. We are thankful that he can get his radiation here locally and the chemo is an oral drug so our travel time is reduced but still the schedule looks crazy.

Ed is also taking part in a clinical trial which is testing the impact of a reduced-calorie ketogenic diet on glioblastoma cancer. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that has been used successfully for decades for epileptic children. There is some evidence that the ketogenic diet will help shrink brain cancer, but there have been very few human studies done. If Ed can tolerate the diet, the study will last six months, though we could continue the diet longer if we wished.


Last week after visiting the study doctors near DC where Ed signed up to participate in the study, we stopped at our local pizza shop for their incredible whole hog pizza for Ed's last "normal" meal.



The diet is very strict and the study is providing all of Ed's meals to make it easier for him to stay on the diet. Among the various options we considered, Ed liked this one since it wouldn't make so much more work for me to figure out what to feed him. All we need to do is pick up the tote of a week's worth of frozen meals.



I was hoping the caterer who is preparing the meals would have some creativity and I wasn't disappointed. There is a lot of variety and Ed says the meals are delicious. Sometimes they smell so good I want to steal a bite. Each day has five dishes. Here is a list of today's menu.
Breakfast: Egg Salad
A.M. Snack: Cocoa-Mocha Granita
Lunch: Chinese Pork Burgers
P.M. Snack: Spinach and Creme Fraiche
Dinner: Pork Shoulder and Cabbage



The portions are small, but they are supposed to be satisfying since they are so high in fat. But since Ed is already thin and has an active lifestyle, it hasn't been enough food for him. We are working with the doctor to add in some more calories. Today marked the first full week on the ketogenic diet and he seems to be adjusting well.

We continue to be blessed by the many ways that our friends and family are supporting us. One of my sister-in-laws made strawberry jam for us. Another sister-in-law stocked our freezer with fresh peas from our local pick-your-own patch. And those are just a few examples.



Yesterday these boxes arrived on our kitchen table from the families at church with the label "Because You Are Loved." The children are excited about opening the packages with their names, though I plan to hold most of them until the weeks of Ed's treatments.

I've been surprised to find how difficult it is for me to accept help. I hate to burden or be an inconvenience to others. Maybe I have more independence - okay, I'll call it pride - than I realized. Maybe I've enjoyed hearing comments such as "How do you get it all done?" I like feeling efficient and super productive - not needy. If I did accept help, such as baby meals or babysitting, I quickly tried to return the favor.

But I know there is no way I can return all that has been given to me these past weeks. I can't in a lifetime pay back all the prayers and support both physical and emotional that has been given to us. And neither could I pretend do it all on my own. My whole family has been more needy this past month and I just can't become stronger for them.  Maybe God wants me to remember I'm weak and needy. Maybe He wants me to learn how to accept help.

I've been watching for references to "grace" when reading the Bible and I found this passage in James.
"But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God...Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you....Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." (James 4:6-8,10)
And of course that oft-quoted Scripture that sure applies to me today.
"He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
The choice between relying on my own strength or acknowledging my weakness and leaning on God is not hard. I know that without God (and His people) I would have fallen to pieces weeks ago.

So again, thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray with us that the treatments will be successful in destroying Ed's cancer. Pray that he will have minimal side effects. And most of all, pray that God will continue to pour out His grace and peace on our family.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Be Still, My Soul

This hymn has been Ed's favorite for years. When I went looking for the words to share with you, I found that the original poem had two additional verses that I never remember seeing in a hymn book. I'm listing the entire poem here.

Be Still, My Soul
by Katharina A. von Schlegel
Translated by Jane L. Borthwick

  1. Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
    Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
    Leave to thy God to order and provide;
    In every change, He faithful will remain.
    Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
    Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
  2. Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
    To guide the future, as He has the past.
    Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
    All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
    Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
    His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
  3. Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
    And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
    Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
    Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
    Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
    From His own fullness all He takes away.
  4. Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
    When we shall be forever with the Lord.
    When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
    Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
    Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
    All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
  5. Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
    On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
    Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
    So shall He view thee with a well-pleased eye.
    Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
    Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

I've included a video if you want to listen as well as read. If you are viewing by email you may need to click over to the blog.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Living With Cancer

We are figuring out what it is to live with a cancer diagnosis.


Much of life feels normal, like little girls playing with the newest litter of kittens. 


Some of life is returning to normal, like last Sunday when Ed was feeling well enough to go to church - the first time we attended church as a family for a month.


But with cancer, every day together feels like a gift. 


We continue to be blessed by the help of others. Before he got sick, Ed was planning to cut down some unwanted trees at our neighbor's for firewood. My family came one evening last week with chain saws and wood splitter.


They started with a tree in our yard that had been hit by lightning several years ago.


The children pitched in with their energy.


The little ones had to watch the action from inside.


And my mom and sister-in-laws tackled my very weedy garden.


By the end of the evening our woodshed was stuffed full with more than a year's supply of firewood. Other ways friends have blessed us this week are by helping install an air conditioner, getting our truck inspected, and fixing the motor on Ed's dust collector. 


The brilliantly beautiful weather allowed us to have several picnics with friends this week.


My dad made a dutch oven meal with fresh strawberry shortcake. June joys!


The staples in Ed's head have been removed and his hair is growing back enough to nearly cover the scar, though he still has swelling on the right side of his head. Every day Ed gets a little stronger and several days he went to work for a few hours. Ed was especially thrilled to get permission to drive since my chauffeuring skills were taxing his (and my) patience. 

The last two weeks Ed has spent a lot of time with people. Whether business contacts, an acquaintance that we meet at the park, a church friend who invites us for a picnic, or an old friend who stops in for a visit - Ed has spent hours in conversations. I love that Ed views each one as a ministry opportunity and gift from God. 

When faced with your own mortality there is nothing that matters besides the eternal souls of people. 

And life with a cancer is only possible because we know the resurrection power of Christ.

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever believeth in me shall never die." John 11:25-26


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Hannah - A Woman Who Seeks

The last two weeks have been full of visits to doctors and research of the maze of treatment options. Some days we have walked out of an doctor's office shaking our heads and saying, "He might be a great doctor, but not for us." Other times we have known within minutes that we had found our doctor. We continue to feel the power of your prayers as God gives us His amazing peace.

One of the downsides of being a writer is that there is always a chance that what you write will someday come back to haunt you.

A few days ago I happened to remember an article I wrote years ago about the Health Maze. I pulled it up wondering if I'd have to add a disclaimer that this wasn't true with brain cancer. But Ed and I both read it and agreed that the truth of God's Word can stand up to any circumstances. Even brain cancer.

This spring Keepers at Home magazine published an article I wrote about Hannah - another in Proverbs 31 series. I wrote it quite a while ago but when I picked up the magazine recently, I was struck with how well the topic of seeking and surrender applied to me today.



Hannah – A Woman Who Seeks

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. Proverbs 31:13

Tears dripped through her fingers and onto her robe. Her lips moved soundlessly. The tabernacle was filled with the festival crowds but she didn't notice. Head in her hands, she was focused only on her petition.

For years Hannah had carried the shame of barrenness. Mocked by other women, she longed to have a child. Even the love of her husband did not salve her empty, hurting heart. The yearly trip to sacrifice at Shiloh was her opportunity to pour out her longing to the Lord.

At the doorway sat the high priest, watching the crowd. Hannah's strange behavior caught his attention and, mistaking her agony for drunkenness, he spoke sharp words of condemnation. When she explained, Eli quickly blessed Hannah and assured her that God would grant her request.

What is it that I seek with all my heart? A happy marriage, a baby or two, a long, fruitful life? Maybe it is the salvation of a family member, the healing of a terminally ill loved one, or finances to pay off debt.

 Am I embarrassed to reveal my longing to others? Am I ashamed to pray for my heart's desire – and allow others to intercede with me?

I could pretend I don't have needs, but then I miss a blessing because of the pride that keeps me silent. “Pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)

God gave Hannah her heart's desire, a son. But she did not hold her child to herself. She gave her young son Samuel back to God. Samuel served God in Shiloh at the Lord's house for the rest of his life.

It wasn't a reluctant offering, a grudging sacrifice. It was an exuberant, lavish, abundant gift. When giving up her longed-for son, Hannah spoke a song of praise to God (1 Samuel 2) that would later become the model for the song of another expectant mother, Mary the mother of Jesus, centuries later.

But Hannah did not forget Samuel. Each year Hannah made a new robe for her son and brought it to Shiloh when they went for the yearly sacrifice. I can imagine the prayers and love she stitched into each seam. And God didn't forget Hannah either. He filled her arms with five more children.

God may choose to give me the desire of my heart. But am I then willing to give it back to Him to be used for His service? Or do I selfishly hold it tight, afraid that I might lose what is so dear to me? “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)


A heart that seeks God and hands that seek to serve, we find both in the example of Hannah.

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.

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