Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Father, In Thy Mysterious Presence

I was trying not to get my hopes too high, but I was wishing we'd be able to go to church together as a family last Sunday. The day before Ed was so uncomfortable sitting that he didn't expect to go to church, but on Sunday he felt good enough to try.

All ready for church.

Ed still has a lot of pain in his hip, but it seems to be improving slowly. Yesterday (Monday) he went to work all day. He would be quick to say that the fact that he was bodily present at work doesn't mean he worked all day. He is under restrictions on how much he can lift for six weeks after surgery and still gets tired quickly and needs to rest. But today marks two weeks since his brain surgery. I think the fact that he feels well enough to want to work is amazing.

A friend recently gave us the cd "Faith To Carry On" by The King Family. So many of the songs on this recording have been meaningful to us these weeks.

One of the songs "Father, In Thy Mysterious Presence" Ed knew, but it was unfamiliar to me. I love how this prayer song admits my need for God's power in my life.

Father, In Thy Mysterious Presence
by Samuel Johnson
#136 in Hymns of the Church

Father, in Thy mysterious presence kneeling,
Fain would our souls feel all Thy kindling love;
For we are weak, and need some deep revealing
Of trust and strength and calmness from above.

Lord, we have wandered forth through doubt and sorrow,
And Thou hast made each step an onward one.
And we will ever trust each unknown morrow,
Thou wilt sustain us till its work is done.

Now, Father, now in Thy dear presence kneeling,
Our spirits yearn to feel Thy kindling love.
Now make us strong, we need Thy deep revealing
Of trust and strength and calmness from above.

You can listen to the song on YouTube. (If reading by email, click over on the blog to listen.)

There are many other wonderful songs on the "Faith To Carry On" cd. I could never choose a favorite. I shared this hymn because it is old enough I didn't have to worry about copyright infringement. You can purchase this cd at Scroll Publishing or listen to other songs from the cd on YouTube.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Snowy Recuperation

March has sent us some crazy weather. I enjoy snow, but a snow storm on the first day of spring would not be my first choice. On Monday we had all enjoyed a walk outside in the balmy sunshine and I found myself starting to look forward to gardening again.

But Tuesday and Wednesday found us watching snowflakes. I couldn't help but think it was perfect timing. How better to recuperate from surgery then to sit on the recliner in a warm house watching the snow? I loved that all of us were together at home with no stress of going anywhere. And now the sun is coming out and promises to melt the snow and return us to spring.

I know that no one envies me for having a sick husband, but there are a few advantages. I've probably spent far more hours with my husband the last weeks than some women do in a year. I cherish these days.

Ed has spent the week resting, reading, playing games with the children, and helping me with homeschooling. He feels great - at least in his head. All the sitting this past week must have pinched a nerve in his hip or something. Now he can't walk without pain.

Hopefully that too will soon start feeling better. Yesterday afternoon he and our boys worked for a while in the shop on some router jobs. Today Ed decided to go to work for a few hours. He is restricted in how much he can lift, but hopefully moving around more will bring him some relief to his hip.

Thanks so much for all your prayers for our family.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Review: Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places

In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord was probably the best book I read last year. (My review.) I was eager to read McCord's book, Why God Calls Us To Dangerous Places,because some people I love are sharing Christ in physically violent locations.

Kate McCord (not her real name but a protective pseudonym) shares insights from her years of living in Afghanistan.  She also shares interviews from other individuals and their families who lived in dangerous places. McCord did not minimize the difficulties of living in such situations, but by sharing her story and the stories of others, she demonstrated the rewards of following Christ's example of leaving the comfort and security of home to share God's love.

I didn't expect the book to be so personally inspiring. I have no plans to get on a plane and travel to a place where speaking Christ's name could mean death. But I was reminded that God loves us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son so we could have a relationship with Him.

Since I was reading this book in the hospital, I found all sorts of connections to our cancer journey (though I don't pretend to face the trials of a persecuted believer). It is often in the difficult experiences that God shows us more clearly His tender love for His children. And it makes me more eager to share His love with others.

And, to me, that was the point of Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places. It is knowing that God loves all people and wanting desperately to share His love with all the people of the world. This is a short book and a quick read, but each chapter contains thoughtful study questions to help the reader gain personal insight.

Whether God is calling you to serve in a dangerous place, or someone you love is considering moving to a dangerous place, or you are called enter into a messy relationship with a neighbor that needs Christ - this book may give you a new perspective.

This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Home and Hearth

Last night Ed was discharged from the hospital and he didn't waste any time walking out.

A night of sleep uninterrupted with pokes and prods from the nurses was just what the doctor ordered.

This morning our children joined us.

Ed has a lot of strength to regain. Brain surgery kicked him hard, but it is wonderful to recuperate by his own fire.

God has been so good. Thanks for your prayers.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Let God Be Magnified

Leaving ICU.

Yesterday morning (Wednesday) less than 24 hours after surgery, Ed was able to walk slowly down the hall and was booted out of ICU. ICU had taken great care of Ed, but he didn't mind being detached from the wires and tubes and be sent back to 7th floor. 

My lovely accommodations in the family lodge.

After two nights of very little sleep both Ed and I were exhausted. Ed was given a quiet room with no roommate last night though the nurses made sure he didn't sleep too long. I collapsed into bed and didn't hear or move for seven hours. I felt like a new person this morning.

Beautiful stitching.

When I saw Ed's incision I wondered why Ed was having no pain. His nurse has to convince him to take an occasional Tylenol as a precaution. He is practicing walking the hall and taking the stairs with naps in between. This morning (Thursday) he had the drain in his incision removed. They will watch the incision for another 24 hours, but if his recovery continues this well we'll be home before I consume all the snacks in my bag.

My parents brought our children to visit this afternoon. A friend whose husband had brain surgery here in January sent along a wonderful lunch to share. 

The children had so much fun in the playroom that my four-year-old didn't want to leave. She asked if she could come again. I'm trying not to think about the fact that she might have that opportunity.

If you know me in real life you know that I like conversations, but in this huge hospital I feel like a country mouse prepared to dart to the nearest hole. But I've been trying to pretend I'm bolder than I feel and initiate conversations this week. 

Because this is a research hospital every patient has a story to share. Many come here with serious medical conditions to volunteer to take part in experimental research. I have found that most are eager to chat. 

Yesterday Ed had another MRI scheduled for 3:00, but because of an earlier opening they asked him to come at 1:00 instead. I considered waiting for Ed in his room since the nurse was pushing him in the wheelchair, but I decided to walk down with Ed and sit in the MRI waiting room for a change of scenery. A man and his wife came and sat beside me. I knew instantly that I had seen them before. 

When researching immunotherapy I had watched an interview of this man. Before I could lose my courage I introduced myself. He and his wife were back for a follow-up visit after three years of being cancer free. Soon the lady seated on the other side of me joined our conversation. She is involved in an immunotherapy program as well, taking part in the same protocol that Ed is considering. 

Only God could have arranged that the four of us were sitting in the waiting room at the same moment. I was able to ask specific questions about their treatment, but even better, these were believers who shared their testimony of God's faithfulness in their lives. Though they are viewed as part of medical breakthroughs, both were quick to glorify God for their healing.

I've been looking up verses on joy this week and liked Psalm 70. The plea for help turns into praise to God.
"Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O LORD...Let all those that seek Thee rejoice and be glad in Thee: and let such as love Thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: Thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying." (Psalm 70:1,4-5)
I don't have to be strong and capable; I have a capable God. A God who can orchestrate details as insignificant as MRI appointments and a wife who needs encouragement. A God whose name can be magnified from hospital beds.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

More Than Can Be Numbered

We are thanking God for his blessing of presence and peace this week. I don't know how anyone can walk through the doors of a hospital and sign consent forms for brain surgery without knowing that God is with us. 

So many of you have assured us of you prayers. Thank you.

Backtracking a few days...

On Saturday Ed had a severe headache and nausea. This was his first bad headache since his surgery last May. We were able to get the pain under control by afternoon. This was confirmation that the scheduled surgery on Tuesday had been the right decision. 

Ed felt great Sunday and we were able to enjoy the last day of our church's revival services. These services had made our week extra busy, but the messages from God's Word made the effort of attending worthwhile. 

On Monday Ed again felt good and was able to drive to the hospital. The day was filled with tests and appointments. Ed said we must have talked to half the doctors in the hospital. We are so grateful for compassionate, knowledgeable staff members. In the evening we took Scrabble out to the lovely lobby area which was strangely quiet at that time of day. Ed proved he can still beat me in Scrabble even with a brain tumor - but only by one point.

Ed was assigned to a double room which meant there was no room for me to spend the night here with him. I dreaded finding a hotel for the night and had worried about it far too much. I felt like I was given a huge wrapped present when I found out that there was an opening for me at the family lodge. I had reserved a room at the lodge for later in the week, but had been told it was filled to capacity for the first part of the week. The lodge is a beautiful building - imagine dark paneling, inlaid wood flooring, and stuffed chairs pulled up to a gas fireplace. It is located right across the street, only a five-minute walk from Ed's room. What a gift.

But beautiful surroundings can't turn off a brain. I'm afraid I didn't get many hours of sleep despite the comfy bed.

Ed's surgery was scheduled for 8:00 this morning. Ed had requested to have an inter-operative MRI. After the surgeon removed the tumor they did an MRI right in the operating room to check for any remaining tumor spots. The surgeon felt that the surgery went well. 

The moment of first seeing Ed when he is waking up from anesthesia is scary. Will he remember me? Will he be able to move his left side? What if the surgery leaves him permanently disabled? What a relief to walk into his room, pick up his left hand, feel him squeeze my fingers, and know that he is okay. 

Recovery from brain surgery is a long road. Battling an aggressive brain cancer is an even harder journey. We can't see over the next hill or around the next bend. But we are so grateful for those of you who are walking with us by prayer. 

"Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." (Psalm 4:5)

"How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them. If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee." (Psalm 139:17-18)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Be of Good Courage

I wondered out loud to Ed last night what we would ever do without Sundays. I can't imagine not having one day a week that is set apart as different than the others. A day when I don't feel guilty about the laundry piles or the dirty floor.

Sometimes Sunday can feel like the busiest day of the week even though we avoid doing our usual work and shopping on that day. There are Sundays that we leave the house before church and don't return home until bedtime.

Yesterday was one of those busy Sundays. We left the house extra early because we needed to pick up our boys who had spent the night at their grandparent's home. After church Ed's mom joined us for lunch. Ed's sister and her family stopped in for a short visit after lunch. I caught a short nap before my friend Regina came over and took our family photo. Then we gulped down some supper and headed to a friend's ordination service. We arrived home late, but as Ed and I were sipping a bedtime cup of tea, I could still say that Sundays are a blessing.

Even with the scramble of getting children ready for church and a two-year-old who does not sit still, the songs, the messages, the Scriptures, and the conversations were soul strengthening. This next week looks crazy. We could have spent the day trying to catch up on work. But far more important was the opportunity to gain an eternal focus and be reminded to cling to our Rock, Jesus Christ.

Ed has decided to have another brain surgery. He knows what is ahead since he did this only ten months ago, but it seems his best option.

Tomorrow Ed goes to the hospital for a draw of his white blood cells. He plans to join a clinical trial in immunotherapy that will attempt to find cells in his immune system that can fight his cancer. Next week, on Tuesday, March 13 they will remove his brain tumor and take it to the lab. If they can find white blood cells that can attack his cancer in the lab, they will try to multiply those cells into huge quantities (a process that could take months) and then give them back to Ed.

This treatment has been successful in some cases, but is still in the experimental stage, especially for brain cancer. There is a lot of unknowns that may hinder the treatment, but at this point, Ed wants to take the first steps and see what happens.

God has been so good to us these past weeks. I still feel very sad that Ed's cancer is growing so rapidly, but I also am finding first hand how it feels to be carried by God over rough trails. We are still finding joy.

I was reading Isaiah 41. I've always loved verse 10, but this time I noticed verse 6. "They helped every one his neighbor; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage."

This describes our Sunday. This is what many of you have done for us in person or by cards and email. You've reminded us that God is with us. You have assured us of your prayers. You have sent us special Scripture verses and poems.

Thank you so much for your support. You help us know that we are not alone. Please pray with us that Ed's surgery next week can be successful and his recovery speedy.


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