Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Sharing Others' Words

I have half-written posts that I'd like to share, but Ed had a short seizure last night, and I'm not in the writing mode this morning.

Some of my favorite websites have shared posts recently that were so good I wanted to save them to reread. Enjoy their insights.

Anita shares some profound thoughts on loneliness and our longing for God in the Seduction of the Sehnsuht Part One and Part Two.

The Mullet family has experienced far more physical illness than most, and Cindy shares on Finding Hope in Suffering

Shari Zook's words brought me to tears in What I Saw: Good Friday Reflections.

Sara shares a poem she learned as a youth that echoes today in Dying to Self.

Katrina Hoover Lee shared some of her favorite Easter poems including the poignant Gethsemane.

Desiring God shares on How To Make Urgent Medical Decisions for Your Loved One.

May these words inspire you.

Friday, April 26, 2019

One Day at a Time

For months, my general response to "How are you?" has been "We're living one day at a time."

The past few weeks this has been even more true. I can only focus on today. Or maybe this moment.

I can't dwell on the past because then I remember how much better Ed was last month, or last summer or last year. The days I thought were hard then, now seem easy. I wonder why I didn't appreciate how good I had it.

No, I can't focus on the past.

I can't focus on the future. I do have to make plans. I must make phone calls, line up supplies, and work out details. Sometimes I even allow myself to dream, to plan a summer book club or look up a new camping spot the children would enjoy. But I can't imagine how I'll make it through the next weeks, the next months, the coming years.

No, I can't dwell on the future.

A few months ago I didn't know how I'd manage if Ed lost his ability to walk. Now it's our reality.

How are we managing?

We "do the next thing" as Elisabeth Elliot said often. Each moment there is a task ahead of me and always there is strength for that task.

When I accept my present reality and walk into it, I find grace for the moment. 

The last weeks have held some good times. Ed and I enjoyed his niece's wedding. On Palm Sunday Ed's family was together at his mother's house. My family spent Easter Sunday together, enjoying the presence of my brother who returned from teaching English in the Middle East. And of course, Easter is a reminder that we have a risen Savior who gives us hope.

Enjoying Iraqi naan at our untypical Easter dinner.

But Ed's wheelchair is now necessary just to move across the room. His shaky hands make eating difficult. The weakness on his left side is more obvious. Every day I see another sign of his deteriorating health.

But our families are holding us up in very tangible ways. My sister helped me scrub the winter grime off the windows to let in the spring sunshine. Ed's brothers and my brothers have helped with various projects around the house such as building a wheelchair ramp and stacking firewood. If I mention that my faucet is leaking, I have brothers vying to fix it.

Many of you have emailed, sent mail, and remembered us in various ways. Thank you for your love and reminders of God's care. Your prayers are holding us up and are the reason we are finding grace.

A friend sent me the words to this song which have been echoing in my mind ever since. I know that often people reject God in times of suffering. My prayer is that I will hold tighter to Him as my only place of safety.

Under His Wings
by William O. Cushing

Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.
Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.
Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.
Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.

Enjoy listening to this song in this video. (If reading by email, click over to the blog to view.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Book Review - Suffering Is Never For Nothing

One of the shaping influences of my life is Elisabeth Elliot. I read almost all of her book in my teens and early twenties. I also had the chance to hear her speak in person at several different events.

I remember sitting on a couch next to Elisabeth in the lobby at one of these events. I thought I'd bubble over with questions, but I couldn't think of anything to say. (Yes, rare speechless moment for Gina.) Elisabeth turned the questions to me asking how I pinned my hair into a bun. We ended up comparing hair notes (she also wore her hair in a bun.) That was when I realized that Elisabeth wasn't only wise and articulate, she was also kind, funny, and, well, human.

When I heard of Elisabeth's death a few years ago, I pulled the whole stack of her books off my shelf intending reread them all. I don't think I got past my favorite (A Path Through Suffering). This post contains affiliate links.

I rarely buy new books. I'm such a tightwad that I'd rather borrow books from the library or wait until I can find the book used.

But when I heard that a new book by Elisabeth Elliot had been published, and when I learned the topic, I immediately ordered it from Amazon.

Suffering Is Never For Nothing was compiled from a transcript of a small conference where Elisabeth spoke on the topic of suffering.

Elisabeth met suffering personally. Her husband, Jim Elliot, was murdered while trying to share the gospel in Ecuador. Cancer took the life of her second husband. Elisabeth has personal experience with wrestling with the hard questions of why God doesn't do something about suffering.

Her answer? He has. God walked the ultimate path of suffering and won the victory. For all of us who suffer.

This book is unlike Elisabeth's other books. The tone is conversational since it came from her spoken words. The prose is not tight like her other books, and I wonder if Elisabeth would be embarrassed to have her unedited script be put to print.

But I underlined many passages in this book and when I finished the last page, I turned to the beginning and started reading again. Right now, a deep theological tome would be too much for me to ingest. But when I read Suffering Is Never For Nothing, I can see Elisabeth's tall thin frame standing behind a lectern, with her soft but authoritative voice sharing God's Word through her life story.

And again I thank God for the way His grace in Elisabeth's life is able to strengthen me.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Bookmarks: Picture Books on Inventors

I love the recent trend that has produced many lovely picture-book biographies. These books aren't just for young children. I enjoyed the introduction to famous, and not so famous, inventors.

This post contains affiliate links.

by Judith St. George, illustrated by David Small
Short blurbs on many inventors and fun illustrations make this book a winner for any child who dreams of inventing the next spectacular widget.

by James Rumford
Rumford uses lovely water-color paintings to describe what Gutenberg needed to print his first books. Also check out Johann Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press by Bruce Koscienlniak which traces the history of printing throughout history.

by Gene Barretta
How could one man give us everything from a postal service, bifocals, and world-changing documents? This book shares the practical brilliance of Ben Franklin which impacts our world today. Look for other books by this author such as Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives.

by Pat Miller, illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch
Hanson Gregory was only a teenager when he invented the breakfast treat that millions enjoy. Learn of his brave deeds and colorful history along with the true story of the doughnut.

John Deere's Powerful Idea: The Perfect Plow 
by Terry Collins, illustrated by Carl Pearce
You might recognize the famous green tractors, but do you know how the John Deere Company began? Bright comic-style illustrations share the story of frustrated farmers and a struggling blacksmith. You may also like John Deere, That's Who! By Tracy Nelson Maurer, illustrated by Tim Zeltner.

written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
She may have been young, and she may have been a girl, but that didn't keep Mattie from loving tools and building things. Mattie's invention of the paper bag is still used today. Soft illustrations show Mattie's life and sketchbook.

by Peter Busby, illustrated by David Craig
From a toy helicopter to bicycles to gliders, and, finally, the first powered airplane – these brothers’ hard work paid off. Richly detailed paintings and period photographs share their story in fascinating detail.

by Jen Bryant, illustrations by Boris Kulikow
Most boys would have given up, but young Louis was determined to read even though he was blind. Braille was still a child when he invented the Braille alphabet. The child-friendly illustrations help tell the story of this young inventor.

by Catherine Thimmesh, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Windshield wipers and chocolate chip cookies are only two of the products you’ll learn about in this book with its short chapters. Learn about women who turned a good idea into a useful invention.

by Chris Barton, illustrated by Don Tate
Lonnie loved to build action toys. Even when he became a real rocket scientist, he didn't stop inventing. Bright illustrations introduce children to a modern inventor and scientist.
I only shared a few of the picture-book biographies on this list. I hope to share more soon. You can also check out my book list page.

Friday, April 12, 2019


Last week was intense. For three days Ed had chemo infusion which meant leaving early to get to the clinic. Once there we had a few relaxing hours while Ed had the infusion. I brought my laptop and caught up with email and placed my orders for next year's school curriculum. Only a mom of six would consider sitting in a doctor's office as a peaceful break.

Since Ed's brain tumor is so aggressive, chemo probably won't do more than slow its growth - if that. I was worried that the chemo would make Ed sick with little benefit. But Ed felt great all week and was never nauseous.

At the end of the week, I spent parts of two days at a writers' conference. The workshops were wonderful, but I enjoyed the social interaction even more. Writers often tend to be introverted loners, but, get a whole group of them together, and the room was full of crackling passion. I loved meeting some of you that I've only known through email. 

I may have enjoyed it even more since I didn't know if I would be able to attend this year. I'm so grateful for my family who made it possible. But I doubt I'll leave that long again. Ed continues to decline, but I'm used to caring for him. We are learning the things that make it easier to function, even if it is hard to admit they are needed. Today we got a wheelchair. His left leg is dragging more making it harder to walk. We also stopped physical therapy. Though it feels like we are giving up, we need to face reality. 

Ed would tell you that he feels well; he has no pain or headaches. He talks very little, but enjoys visitors. In many ways he is childlike, agreeably doing what he is told, though on rare occasions acting like a stubborn two-year-old. To be honest Ed and I have less conflict now than a few months ago when I'd get frustrated when it seemed like he wouldn't try harder. I know, I wasn't being reasonable, and I'm not proud of my attitude. Now his limitations are more obvious. 

This week we've had no appointments, and we spent several afternoons enjoying the spring weather and cleaning up the yard. I thank God for my little girls who cuddle baby kittens, give wonderful hugs, and help keep me sane.

I might be crazy for planting a garden, but last year I found pulling weeds was therapeutic after a doctor appointment. I figured I might need the relief this year too.

Since we had a break in the rain, Ed's nephew tilled the garden and the children helped plant onions, sugar peas, potatoes, and broccoli.

Spring is a reminder that life continues. God doesn't change despite my current circumstances. He is still in control of the earth's rotation, and He'll continue to carry us in His vast, unmeasured love.

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
by Samuel T. Francis
Hymns of the Church #291

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o'er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o'er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
'Tis an ocean vast of blessing, 'tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, 'tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Giveaway Winner and Unexpected Kindness

Thanks to all who joined the giveaway for The Sugar Shack. It was fun hearing how your enjoy maple syrup. 

Random.org chose Ruth Anna as the winner of a copy of The Sugar Shack. 

To order you own copy of The Sugar Shack or My First Deer Hunt, email florencejfox at gmail.com . Cost of one book is $8.99. Michigan readers pay 6% sales tax. Payment by check is preferred. All book orders will have free shipping until May 31, 2019.

Thanks, Flo, for making this giveaway possible.

Authors must be generous folks.

Last week I had a surprising email from Robert Kurson, the author of Rocket Men which I had briefly mentioned in a blog post. He offered to send a package to our children.

A few days later we found a fun package in the mail. The box contained a copy of the Rocket Men audio book, two tiny pieces of actual moon rock, and a "first day of issue" envelopes with the Apollo 8 stamp from May 5, 1969 in Houston, Texas for each of the children.

I love that this stamp has the words of Genesis 1 that the astronauts on Apollo 8 quoted on their Christmas Day report from the moon that was broadcasted throughout the world. One a fun slice of history for our children.

This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Giveaway - The Sugar Shack

Here in Pennsylvania, the maple sugar season is drawing to a close.

But at my friend Flo's house in Michigan, the sap is still running.

Flo's children help collect and cook sap. In Flo's newest book, The Sugar Shack, her daughter Kenzie gives us a tour  through the woods and into the sugar shack explaining the process of turning sap into syrup. Full-color photos help those of us who've never watched the process to understand.

Flo includes facts about maple syrup at the end of the book and shares a few of her favorite recipes incorporating maple syrup. If you are a long time reader, you may have enjoyed Flo's wonderful coffee cake recipes.

Flo is giving away a copy of The Sugar Shack to a Home Joys reader. To enter the giveaway, please let a comment, give us your email address, and share your favorite way to enjoy maple syrup.

To order you own copy of The Sugar Shack, email florencejfox at gmail.com . Cost of one book is $8.99. Michigan readers pay 6% sales tax. Payment by check is preferred. All book orders will have free shipping until May 31, 2019.

You may also enjoy My First Deer Hunt in which Flo's son Laramie shares the story of bow hunting with his dad. Like The Sugar Shack, it is written from a child's perspective for children ages 4-7 and illustrated with full-color photos. Ordering information and price are the same for both books.

Giveaway will be open for one week and is open to readers with a US postal address. 

Monday, April 1, 2019

Friendships and Resurrection Hymns

Years ago Ed's church youth group had a tradition of going Easter caroling. They'd get up early on Easter Sunday, visit the elderly people from church, and celebrate the resurrection by singing Easter hymns.

Easter is often an ignored holiday, but this youth activity made it special.

Last night, several of Ed's friends from his youth group days came to our house. Since most of us have children now, the ranks have grown. We managed to squeeze 50 people into our house, though the majority were little bodies. 

Though we are a few weeks early, we sang some favorite Easter hymns as well as some of Ed's favorite hymns. Then we chowed on snacks, the children played, and the adults laughed over long-ago memories. 

Old friends are a treasure. 

Friends that remember the crazy events from our past. 

Friends that have grown and matured with us through the years. 

Friends that help carry our burdens. 

Friends that remind us of our risen Lord.

This week Ed plans to have three days of chemo treatments. We needed the reminder of the power of our risen Lord to walk with us through hard days.

A few favorite lines from the songs last night - 
Death cannot keep his prey - Jesus my Saviour!
He tore the bars away - Jesus my Lord! - Robert Lowry
But Jesus hath cheered the dark valley of sorrow,
And bade us, immortal, to heaven ascent;
Lift then your voices in triumph on high,
For Jesus hath risen, and man shall not die. - Henry Ware
Love's redeeming work is done, Hallelujah!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Hallelujah! - Charles Wesley


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