Monday, November 27, 2017

Swimming in Riches

I can't look back on the photos of our November without being thankful.

The first week of the month was Ed's chemo week. It hit him a little harder than usual, and he experienced some side effects such as mouth sores. 

But he was still able to participate in our family hog butchering day. We usually butcher in January but decided to do it earlier this year. We went home a little early since Ed was tired, but, on the whole, it was a great day.

I've shared lots of photos and info on our butcher days in the past. If you want to see more photos from this year, check out my brother's instagram.

One of the fun things about young children is there is always new joys like a pile of leaves.

The highlight of our November was the weekend before Thanksgiving when our family took a short vacation in a cabin high in the Virginia mountains. Our vacation plans in September were canceled because of our son's accident, so it was wonderful to have this special family time. Above was the view out the window in the morning.

We spent one day at Monticello, the home that Thomas Jefferson built.

I enjoyed walking through the vegetable gardens though it wasn't the ideal time of year to see the peak.

The Discover Center was a favorite spot for the children. They could use reproductions of Jefferson's tools and furniture.

Back at the cabin we enjoyed lots of good food...

hours of game playing...

and hiking.

One of the highlights of the weekend was visiting Faith Mission Home which was a few miles away. Our tour guide pointed out  many of the sites read about in Home on the Rock Pile by Pablo Yoder, which is a favorite book of our children.

The weather was often windy and cold, but for November, we had a great weekend.

And then there was Thanksgiving week with even more family time since Ed had several days off work. We enjoyed Christmas cookie baking, gatherings with friends that we see rarely, extended family meals, and time to work on home projects.

Ed's mom and our youngest

Our family has much to be thankful for this year. Even though we have experienced things in the last months that we never wished, we have so many blessings. 

My sister is presently serving refugees in Greece. The conditions for these refugees is appalling. Not only have they lost their homes and many of their friends and family, they now have miserable living conditions and an uncertain future. With thousands of refugees still arriving, the camp is crowded and riots break out. Compared to them, I am swimming in the riches of security, comfort, hope, and love - both from my community and the Lord. 

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Can Anything Good Come From Cancer?

I've noticed that some of the most thankful people I know are also those who have experienced some hard circumstances. Of course there are others who have turned bitter and angry with difficulties, but I want to be one of those who use trials to make me more Christ-like. 

A friend asked, "If we don't hear an update, do we assume that Ed is feeling well?"

Yes. Ed is feeling well. We are so grateful that he has energy to work and enjoy life. His chemo week each month drags him down and he is more tired for the next week, but it could be so much worse. 

But I'm also more quiet when I'm discouraged. Some people write through all kinds of emotions, but I don't feel like writing when I'm down. It is humbling to admit that immediately after I wrote about trusting our Father, I was hit with the biggest test of my faith yet. Even with Ed feeling so well, it is hard not worry that Ed's next MRI will find his tumor growing. Some days I felt like each hour I had to pull my mind out of a worry rut and back to the path of trust.

A few weeks ago I heard a sermon on thankfulness. I challenged myself to come up with a list of good things that have come from this journey with cancer. Here is a few notes that I jotted down that day.

Can Anything Good Come From Cancer?

1. I am reminded that I am not self-sufficient. I can't survive without God. I can feel confident and capable- until I'm completely helpless with circumstances beyond my control.

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; (2 Corinthians 3:5)

2. I found that God does provide abundantly. All my needs are met by His hand. We say that God's grace is sufficient, but it is only when I was tested with something that was beyond my strength that I found that truly His grace is available exactly when I need it.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (2 Corinthians 9:8)

3. I experienced the care of other believers through their prayers, gifts, and encouragement. I can't begin to explain what it means to be surrounded by the strength of others' prayers.

4. I was motivated to value each day. No longer did I take a day for granted. Without cancer I would not be thanking God for Ed's good health this month; I would just expect it. Many morning I wake up and my first thought is, "I have another day with Ed." 

5. Relationships became more valuable. Many things do not seem important while others become far more valuable. I realize how many of my frustrations are just earthly temporary things that don't really matter.

6. It gave me an opportunity to prepare for the future. Though I hate it sometimes, I appreciate all the ways that Ed is trying to make life easier for me in case he is gone.

I realize that I still have Ed. A list like this would be much harder if our journey this past six months would have included a funeral like some of you have experienced. 

If this thanksgiving was a painful reminder of everything you have lost - broken relationships, departed loved ones, or heart wounds - all I can say is that God cares for your grief. 

This morning Ed preached at a Thanksgiving service and began his sermon with this verse.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3)
I believe this verse is a prophecy about Jesus. Only Jesus can take yucky things, like cancer, and use it to bring glory to Himself.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Classic Thanksgiving Recipes

If you are like me, today you are looking at the calendar, figuring out menus, and making your grocery shopping list. We have four different meals this holiday weekend. I want to start early so that I don't hit the frantic button.

The great thing about Thanksgiving is that the menu is so easy. There is no debate in Ed's family or mine that turkey is on the menu. We might do a broccoli salad instead of green beans, sweet potatoes instead of mashed white potatoes, and the dessert options are endless. But the turkey, filling, and cranberry salad are non-optional.

I dug back through the archives and found these classic Thanksgiving recipes. They are classics because most came from my mom and I've made them countless times.

Easy Roast Turkey

Curry Turkey Rub


Green Bean Supreme

Sweet Potato Casserole

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes - with more make-ahead ideas

Bulgar Rolls

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Torte

20 Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

16 Ways to Use Leftover Turkey

What are you eating this week?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Giveaway - Fragrant Whiffs of Joy

I need the reminder. I need to be told that some day I'll look back at the mundane acts of service that fill my days and know that that it was worth it. 

I just finished reading a book that reminded me of just that. 

Every month Dorcas Smucker write a column for the local newspaper in Oregon. Every couple years, Dorcas compiles these essays into a book. Her newest book is entitled Fragrant Whiffs of Joy. I love Dorcas' combination of humor, honesty, and insight. She shares every-day stories of a busy life with six children flying out the nest. She tells of the ordinary duties of every mom of laundry and endless food prep, but intertwines wisdom that had me turning the page for the next chapter. 

Sometime I laughed out loud such as when Dorcas admitted that she is only pretending to be a perfect minister's wife or the story of the maintenance man or of hacking the computer printer.

Sometimes I nodded such as when Dorcas remembered her sons' escapades and wondered "Why couldn't God have made me know back then what I know now? Wouldn't I have freaked out a bit less?" 

She helped me understand why older mothers say those annoying words to exhausted young moms, "Enjoy them while they're little. They grow up so fast." And reminded me that "when I wait to try it until I'm fully prepared, and make a choice between perfect or nothing, I'll most likely end up with nothing."

Dorcas writes about sisterhood, storytelling, and sickness. The topics of adoption, fabric stashes, winter depression, and letter writing find their way into her tales.

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy gave me encouragement in my mothering journey that can be summed up in the last paragraph of the book. "There are no guarantees or easy answers, only love, hard work and the grace of God." 

Dorcas sent me three copies of her book: one to read and review, one to give away to a blog reader, and one to share with someone who is going through a hard time. I'm going to let you all help me choose the recipients for these two books.

For this giveaway, instead of giving your own name, share the name of someone who would be encouraged by Fragrant Whiffs of Joy. It doesn't have to be someone who is facing a giant problem, just someone you want to bless. You don't even have to say why you'd like to give them the book; just give a first name. Also give your email address so I can contact you for the mailing address. 

The giveaway will be open for one week and is open to US mailing addresses. I'll use to choose two names to receive a copy.

Want a book now? Order from Dorcas Smucker at 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446. Books are $12 each plus $2 postage. Checks or PayPal accepted. ( Also available on Amazon. You can also check out Dorcas' blog.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Six Months And a Thank You

Today marks six months.

Six months since the worst day of my life.

A day that began with watching Ed heave over a bucket yet again.

A day when I drove Ed to the lab for bloodwork, hoping to find some kind of answers for his intense headaches.

A day that included a CAT scan and the radiologist saying, "I see a mass and need to do a MRI immediately."

A day when Ed buried his head in the pillow and appeared barely coherent when responding to my questions. (Ed remembers almost nothing about this day; I tell him I have enough memory for both of us.)

A day when I answered the telephone and heard our doctor explain the MRI results. "A brain tumor. Probably cancer. Very serious. Appointment with a neurosurgeon as soon as possible."

Telling Ed about the doctor's call. Not knowing if he even understood or was aware of what I was saying.

Gathering our children together and telling them that Dad has a tumor, maybe cancer.

Our eight-year-old asking, "Is cancer something that you just get sick from or something that you die from?"

Calling both our families.

The children gathering around the bed, placing their hands on Ed, and praying for their dad.

Lying beside Ed reading a Psalm aloud. Feeling intensely, overwhelmingly alone.

The last six months have been full of hard things. Ed's brain surgery. The confirmation of the glioblastoma diagnosis. Chemo. Radiation. Strict diet changes. But not as hard as that first day.

There may be even worse days in the future. A quick perusal of the news shows that there are many people who are grieving tremendous losses. Pain, grief, loss, death - all part of living in a world that has chosen to reject God and been cursed with sin. "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." (Romans 8:22)

In the last week, three friends with brain tumors - an eleven-year-old boy, a twenty-five-year-old beloved teacher, and a friend of my parents -  were told that there is nothing more that can medically be done to halt their cancer. We grieve with them. It hurts to know that, without a miracle, our family too may face that reality some day.

We are entering a season of thankfulness. It can be hard to be thankful when facing pain and grief. But I look back on the past six months with thankfulness for you.

We have been so supported by your prayers. You have prayed for us when I have felt too weak to pray. Because of you, we have felt God carry us through these months. Because of your prayers, we have had months full of joy. You've sent us Scriptures that were a drink of cold water on the days when I couldn't pour myself a glass. You've shared your stories of God's faithfulness on your worse days.

You've given us hope. A hope because of Jesus.

Thank you. And if your prayer list can hold more names, please pray for Ambrose, Jess, Mark, and their families.
"Fear thou not; for I AM with thee: be not dismayed; for I AM thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." Isaiah 41:10 (A Scripture shared at Ed's anointing service.)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

12 More Picture Books to Celebrate Fall and Thanksgiving

I love reading seasonal books with my children. I shared some fall books several years ago but have discovered many more favorites since then. Here are twelve books featuring apples, pumpkins, and Thanksgiving.

Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
A charming book about a three-generation urban family and their fall tradition of making applesauce. This is one of my all-time favorites.

One Green Apple by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ted Lewin
A young Muslim immigrate joins her class on a field trip to an apple orchard. The illustrations take you to a sunny fall day and the story reminds us of the power of shared laughter.

A Song for Lena by Hilary Horder Hippely, illustrated by Leslie Baker
Grandma is making apple strudel and humming a tune, just like she learned as a girl in Hungary. She tells the story of strudel, a beggar man, and generosity. Includes a recipe for Grandma's Apple Strudel.

Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
An exaggerated tale, loosely based on a true story of how the first fruit trees came to Oregon. The fun pictures will make any child smile.

Meeting Trees by Scott Russell Sanders Illustrated by Robert Hynes
On a walk through the woods a dad teaches his son about trees. Detailed illustrations will teach you about trees too.

Leaf Trouble by Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church
The leaves are falling! Pip Squirrel to the rescue – until his mother explained. I love the creative illustrations in this celebrations of fall.

Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Everyone is getting the Thanksgiving meal ready. Lilting rhymes and warm paintings made this a favorite over Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Is Here written and illustrated by Diane Goode
Fun water-color illustrations will have your child looking through these pages slowly to catch the whole story of a thanksgiving at Grandpa and Grandma's.

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Matt Faulkner
Funny and informative, this book shares the history of the Thanksgiving holiday and the determined woman who helped make this a federal holiday.

Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietolow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
Sophie's parents buy a squash at the market for supper, but Sophie chose the squash to be her friend. This book was a favorite of my two-year old last year and I nearly had it memorized.

Winter is Coming by Tony Johnston, Illustrated by Jim LaMarche
A girl watches each month of autumn from her perch in her tree house as the woodland creatures prepare for winter. Gorgeous illustrations are the highlight of this book.

Crow Call by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Liz's father is just home from the war and they set off on a cold fall day to go crow hunting. Lovely illustrations depict the Pennsylvania farmland. Based on the author's experience as a girl.

Ahhh...just looking over this list gives me so many warm, fuzzy memories that I want to make an immediate trip to the library.

For more books, visit my first fall picture book list.

(This post contains affiliate links.)


Related Posts with Thumbnails