Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Not a Good Homemaking Week

Last week's schedule was brutal.

I always say that I can only be a good homemaker if I stay at home.

Last week I wasn't a good homemaker - or a good mom. I have no idea how women who work full-time outside the home keep their sanity. One week of a crazy schedule and I was losing it.

Somehow the monthly followup appointments for both Ed and my daughter ended up on the same week. That meant three days of driving over two hours both ways to appointments. I came home exhausted - but still needed to prepare meals, do laundry, and help with school work.

My week was salvaged by several friends who blessed us with meals. Nothing says "I love you" like a casserole on an extra busy week.

Sharing lunch between appointments.

I know that some of my stress was the dread of Ed's MRI report. I did not want to see the scan. The doctor always pulls up the last five scans on the screen and lets us flip through the images. Looking at the progression of his tumor the last months is enough to make me feel ill.

We expected this scan to look bad this time. Radiation causes swelling so it can be hard to discern on the MRI what is tumor growth and what is radiation-induced swelling.

But the MRI wasn't as bad as we feared. Some areas were swollen and larger compared to his last MRI, but in other areas the tumor look smaller. Ed's doctor considers this a "stable" MRI. That is more encouraging of a report than we've had for months, and we are praising God.

Our daughter's arm continues to mend, and she was able to trade in her huge cast for a small brace.

The week ended with a delightful trip to a cabin with two of Ed's school friends. I don't know either of these families well, but our children quickly connected, and we all had a great time. The ladies didn't let me bring any food (except some for Ed) so it was a vacation for me too.

Once again I thank God for His grace through another round of tests and consultations. I'm thankful for those who pray for us, drop by for a visit, and give in practical ways. We are blessed.

Now to tackle that neglected housework.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Loving Like Jesus

When we brought my daughter home from ER on the night she broke her arm, my husband voiced the question I was thinking. "Who should we tell?"

I thought about our options. Call my parents. Send a What's App message to all my siblings. Group text everyone at church.

"I don't feel like telling anyone," said Ed. "It feels like begging for pity."

"I know. But we won't be able to hide her cast, so everyone will know eventually."

"If we announce it now, at least we'll get prayer."

So we did. We typed a few words on Ed's phone, and we had a rush of encouraging messages and, hopefully, prayers.

Since then I've been thinking of the times we are reluctant to ask for prayer. In this case I knew that our friends wanted to support us, even if sometimes in the last year our family felt like the prayer request that won't go away.

But I know from talking to others that there are some needs that are rarely if ever shared as a prayer request.

Cancer may be an easy prayer request.

There is a firm diagnosis; no doubt that a real malady exists.

Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way. No one says, "Oh, that isn't so bad." Or "It is just in your head." Or "If you would just..."

There is no shame, because, in most cases, a cancer diagnosis is beyond your control.

But what about relationship difficulties, emotional struggles, marital conflict, in-law problems, or financial challenges? How about abuse, wayward teens, emotional breakdowns, unfaithful spouse, infertility, or church splits?

In my experience, there is so much pain that we don't talk about in our  prayer meetings. I've sat at prayer meeting feeling like we were avoiding the elephant in the room. It is easy to ask for prayer for my sick neighbor. Much harder to ask for prayer for myself for my own areas of temptation.

I know there are many good reasons, such as not hurting others, that we don't ask for prayer for the things that are heaviest on our heart. But what if we started with ourselves and asked for prayer for the areas that we have personal need? What if I asked for prayer that I'd be more consistent in my Bible reading? Or was a more patient mother? What if I admitted that I was struggling to forgive?

What if our churches were a safe place to ask for prayer for the hardest things? Not just cancer and broken arms but for broken relationships and sick hearts? What if we knew we'd never be gossiped about or had our story repeated? What if we knew that we'd not be analyzed or criticized but be carried before the throne of God?

What if the Church loved hurting people like Jesus did?

Just a few thoughts on my mind the last weeks, partly because some of you have blessed me by sharing your hearts with me and asking for prayer. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Four Middle-Grade Stories with Animals

I can't keep up prereading books for my children. This year I have had the goal of reading one middle grade book a week. With many hours spent in waiting rooms, I have almost reached my goal. It is easier to read a juvenile fiction book in a busy doctor's office than concentrate on an adult book.

I've had to discard many books, but I've found some excellent books as well. Since many of you have said that you also can't keep up with prereading books for your children, I've wanted to share some of the good books I have found.

But here is where I get stuck in perfectionism. I want a perfect list, separated into categories, rating each book. But I'll never find the time.

So here is four books, all of which include animals in some way, that we enjoyed. I'll share more books in the coming weeks.

This post contains affiliate links.

Sam the Man and the Chicken Plan by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Sam wants to make money and chickens might be the answer. My son enjoyed this story because it was fast-moving with short chapters. Perfect for readers who are just transitioning into chapter books. And doesn't every child dream up plans to make money?

Honk the Moose by Phil Stong
What would you do if a moose came into your dad's barn? Call the authorities, of course. A hilarious story of how the town of Birora, Minnesota was impacted by Honk the Moose. Old enough to be a classic. Short enough to read on a long-winter evening.

Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins
Can a squirrel survive being carried away by a hawk? Will his friends be able to rescue him? Sounds rather, uhhh, nutty, but I loved this as much as the children. A fun story of squirrels, nuts, and friendship.

Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt
Fredle is searching in the dark kitchen pantry for food when he finds the most delicious food. But that night he is terrible sick and his mouse family pushes him out of the nest. His journey to the Outside introduces him to creatures like chickens and raccoons and the beauties of flowers and the moon that he has never imagined.

One of you recommended the Young Fredle audio book to us. We took it on a family trip and it captured the attention of everyone but the two-year-old. The reader was excellent with the voices of the many characters. Some children may find the references to  death  or "went" to be disturbing, but it is a fabulous story of adventure and growth.

I often get great book suggestions from you, so what have you been reading?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Sometimes A Light Surprises

I don't know how to put the last weeks into words. They have been intense with end-of-summer activities and fall transitions. September is often a tough month for me. It is self-inflicted - this pressure to start a good school routine while scrubbing a tomato-splattered kitchen and making applesauce.

We've enjoyed many good times with friends and relatives these past weeks, including connecting with many of you readers at various events. It is humbling to know that so many are continue to pray for us. Thank you.

The uncertainties of Ed's health and the return of his headaches this past week has been hard, even when knowing this is a normal side affect to his radiation. We are adjusting his meds in hopes of improvement.

It is now sixteen months since his GBM diagnosis. Senator McCain's death was a reminder of how blessed we are to have Ed as an active part of our family life. But I still wish I could wake up and find this was all a bad dream.

Ed continues to work part time in the mornings and comes home for a nap in the afternoons. I've enjoyed having his help with making applesauce and canning tomatoes. One gift that cancer has given us is lots of extra hours together this summer.

A few months ago I was introduced to the hymn "Sometimes a Light Surprises." This week I was flipping through our hymnal looking for words of encouragement and found this hymn again. After reading a little bit about the author's life, it was obvious that he knew about God's provision during dark times of life.

Sometimes a Light Surprises
by William Cowper
Hymns of the Church #719

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises
With healing in His wings;
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation
We sweetly then pursue
The theme of God's salvation,
And find it every new;
Set free from present sorrow,
We cheerfully can say,
E'en let the unknown morrow
Bring with it what it may.

It can bring with it nothing
But He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing
Will clothe His people too;
Beneath the spreading heavens
No creature but is fed,
And He who feeds the ravens
Will give His children bread.

Though vine nor fig tree neither
Their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the fields should wither,
Nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet God, the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice;
For while in Him confiding
I cannot but rejoice.

I looked for a recording online of this hymn so that you could hear the tune, but though I found many tunes, I didn't like any of the tunes as well as the one in Hymns of the Church.


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