Friday, October 19, 2018

God of Our Strength, Enthroned Above

A month has flit by and this week was again our appointment week for both my daughter and husband. I dealt with the hours on the road to appointments better than last month. Maybe because I was more prepared. Perhaps because I expected to get nothing done at home this week. Maybe because of good, uplifting messages on cd to listen to for those hours in the van.

Or maybe because of your prayers.

Our daughter's arm x-rays looked great and she is now free of her brace. Thanking the Lord for healing.

Ed's MRI is less conclusive. It is often hard to tell in the months after radiation whether an increase in size seen on the MRI is tumor growth or scar tissue. Often doctors don't even give MRIs for several months after radiation. Certainly they wouldn't give an MRI every month. But Ed is getting lots of extra tests since he is part of a research study. Brain cancer has not been well-researched, possibly because it is rare compared to many other types of cancers or maybe because of the inability to easily see inside a skull. Even the technology advances of MRIs are limited in their effectiveness.

But more tests give me more opportunities for testing anxiety. Or maybe more chances to practice trusting God.

Great view from the 13th floor at neuro-oncology.

The doctors think that the swelling seen on Ed's MRI is the result of scar tissue from radiation. Since Ed doesn't have symptoms such as headaches or weakness on one side, we are choosing to give it more time to heal before beginning more treatment. Ed continues to experience fatigue and sometimes struggles to concentrate, but he is still able to go to work part time. At 17 months since his GBM diagnosis, we appreciate every day we can get out of bed in the morning.

We recently sang this hymn at church, and it has been echoing through my mind this past week. Without a God on the throne of heaven pouring out His strength, I couldn't handle weeks like this. 
God of Our Strength, Enthroned Above
By Fanny Crosby
Hymns of the Church #81
God of our strength, enthroned above,
The source of life, the fount of love;
O let devotion’s sacred flame
Our souls awake to praise Thy name.
God of our strength, we wait on Thee,
Our sure defense forever be.
To Thee we lift our joyful eyes,
To Thee on wings of faith we rise;
Come Thou, and let Thy courts on earth
Ring out Thy praise in days of mirth. 
God of our strength, from day to day
Direct our thoughts and guide our way;
O may our hearts united be
In sweet communion, Lord, with Thee. 
God of our strength, on Thee we call;
God of our hope, our light, our all,
Thy name we praise, Thy love adore,
Our Rock, our Shield, forevermore. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Bookmarks: Children's Books on Civil Rights

The Civil Rights movement in the mid-1900’s is a difficult topic to teach children since there was so much hatred shown. It is never enjoyable to read about people being treated unkindly.  But I think it is an important era of history for children to understand, even though I may not agree with all the actions of those who fought for civil rights

Here is some carefully selected books to share with your children to help start a discussion about God’s love for all people and the danger of prejudice.

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by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Slavery has ended, and education is now available for southern blacks. Virgie wants to go to school with her brothers, but they say that it is too far for her to walk. And, besides, girls don’t need school. But Virgie knows that everyone needs to learn. Based on a true story from Tennessee.

by Margot Lee Shetterly, illustrated by Laura Freeman
Before computers, inventors and scientists had to do the math figures needed. Learn about four amazing math whizzes and their impact on the U.S. space program despite the prejudice that surrounded them.

by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
Learn about the impact that one pastor had on America. Comic-style illustrations combine into a great short biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Ruby Bridges
When little Ruby walked into a New Orleans school surrounded by U.S. marshals in 1960, she didn't know that she was making history. Years later, Ruby recalls that momental event and the challenges that faced her community. Photographs and quotes from others help tell Ruby's story. Highly recommended.

by Robert Coles, illustrated by George Ford
Ruby was the first child to go to an all-white elementary school in New Orleans. Despite threats and danger, Ruby's courage and faith in God is shown through this picture book.

by Deborah Wiles, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue
A law has been passed in 1964 to end segregation. Finally best friends Joe and John Henry can enjoy swimming together at the pool. But they soon find that a law doesn’t change hearts. Colorful paintings share the story of southern racism, and the friendship that can surmount it.

by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Mama says to never climb over the fence when you play, but when the white girl comes and sits on the fence, Clover and Annie find a way to overcome the barrier. Don’t miss this sweet story.

by Sharon M. Draper
This is the only chapter length book on this list. I was searching for historical fiction books on civil rights for older elementary students and rejected numerous books before finding this gem. Stella knows that she lives in the segregated south of North Carolina, but when Stella see the Klan's fire by the pond, she feels danger for the first time. A view of the civil rights struggle through a close-knit community during the Great Depression.

Do you have any recommendations for books on civil rights?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

10 Free Things to do at Chincoteague Island

Our family has wanted to visit Chincoteague Island for a long time. Last fall, a few days before our planned vacation, our son had his accident, and we had to cancel. This summer between rain and Ed's health, we wondered if we should attempt a vacation. 

Last week we looked at the weather forecast and decided to try camping. We knew Ed's fatigue would curtail activities we formerly enjoyed such as kayaking, biking, and hiking. But we still found many activities that we could all enjoy. And the added benefit was that they were free. 

First a little background. Chincoteague Island is located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It is a popular vacation destination with all the typical tourist traps like ice cream shops and mini-golf. A short bridge allows you to travel from Chinoteague Island to Assateague Island. Assateague is a wildlife refuge and no camping, stores, or homes are allowed on the island. 

1. Travel with a Fourth Grader
It costs $20 for a pass to enter Assateague Island. I think the pass is good for one week. (A year's pass is $40.) But because it is a national park, you can use a Every Kid In A Park pass if you have a fourth grader (or homeschool equivalent.) Just ask the park ranger or print off a voucher online. All your child needs is to sign their name. 

This pass allows the fourth grader - and everyone in their vehicle - to enter the park free. A great benefit for large families who frequently have a fourth grader. Just choose the year your family visits national parks to coincide with your fourth graders.

2. Climb a lighthouse. 
It is a short walk to the Assateague Lighthouse. (Bring bug spray because the mosquitoes are bad. We didn't not have bug problems anywhere else on the island.) 

The lighthouse was beautifully restored a few years ago.

We all made it to the top, even the two year old (and no, she wasn't carried.) The views are stunning.

3. Walk a wildlife trail.
There are many trails which allow you to see the waterfowl and wildflowers up close. We walked the Marsh Trail, which was one of the shortest. If you bring bikes, you can cover more ground. I would have enjoyed spending far more hours with a camera and binoculars on these trails.

4. Learn at a Visitor's Center
Both the Herbert Bateman Education Center and the Toms Cove Visitor's Center have displays to learn about the wildlife on the island. We happened to hit the Refuge Celebration Day, and they had lots of extra displays and crafts for the children.

5. Fly a kite.
The first day we were there it was very windy. It only took minutes to put our kite high in the sky.

6. Have a picnic on the beach.
Food always tastes better in the fresh air, except when it is full of sand. The wind that was great for kite flying wasn't the best for our lunch. But we had picked the windiest day of our stay for our picnic. You can pick up a fire permit at the visitor's center to have a campfire right on the beach.

7. Watch the ponies.
After reading Misty of Chincoteague, our children were eager to see the wild  ponies. I told them not to have their hopes too high, but we saw a whole herd of wild ponies soon after arriving on the island. Since the wild ponies never got very close to the road, we stopped at McDonalds where there is a pen of ponies to observe up close. 

8. Go to Memorial Park.
At the famous Pony Swim each summer, this park is teeming with people. But when we were there it was a quiet place for the children to play. There is a great view of the lighthouse across the cove. 

9. Gather Shells.
Our little girls spent hours searching for shells then washing and sorting them back at our campsite. We finally persuaded them to leave most of them there for "another little girl to find."

10. Visit Wallops Visitor Center.
Back on the mainland, just a few miles from Chincoteague is the Wallops Flight Facility. We stopped by the visitor's center only 20 minutes before their closing, but we were able to learn a lot about their rocket launches and research balloons. Maybe it was good we only had a few minutes because some of our family could have enjoyed being here for hours longer than others.

There are many more things to do on the island. Museums, seafood restaurants, bikes and boats to rent. I didn't mention the obvious of playing in the waves. We didn't find it difficult to keep busy for a few days with very inexpensive options.

Those of you who have enjoyed Chincoteague, did I miss anything?

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Sun and Waves

We spent the lovely October weekend enjoying the sun and waves.

I don't have to tell you how much we cherish these memories.

I want to share some camping hints and money-saving vacation tips in the next few days, but I'm still in recovery mode right now. Laundry for eight after a weekend at the beach is not for the faint-hearted,

Do any of you know lighthouses well enough to guess what location we visited?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Changing Perspective

I've been thinking this week of those of you who are remembering your loved ones. When I read this post by Sara, I wanted to share it with you.

It was cold. At least, it felt cold to the two children dancing in the rain. Heads tilted against the torrential downpour, they came shrieking and laughing onto the porch for temporary shelter. Dripping wet, the younger one tapped my arm lightly the way you might touch a pan to see if it is too hot to carry. 
"Isn't my hand cold?" Her eyes glittered with happiness. "It is so cold out here! It is as cold as when it snows!"

Go read the rest of the post at Dewdrops of Joy.

Though we have never met, I've enjoyed reading Sara's blog for many years. But this short post is my favorite. Please go read A Matter of Perspective.


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