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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Suggested Scripture Passages to Memorize

Some of you have asked for suggestions on Scripture passages to memorize with your children.

When my children were all young, I found a blog of an experienced homeschool mom who wrote about teaching her children to memorize. She shared a list of the passages they learned over the years. I loved the practical suggestions on that list. She inspired me by saying that working a little every day, plodding along, would some day result in a whole list of Scripture passages.

Maybe to some I've become that experienced mom, but I still feel like I don't have my act together. But I too have found that doing a little every day, even when it is done imperfectly, does count up.

But I fear that by sharing a list like this you'll get the idea that every morning my children stand in a neat row saying their verses with angelic expressions.

That couldn't be further from the truth. Some days my children complain about Scripture memory. Sometimes they quote the verses in silly voices and refuse to stay together. Some days we are interrupted five times and I think we'll never finish three verses. Sometimes I'm tempted to abandon Scripture memory all together.

But by now my children know that we always do Scripture memory, bad attitudes or not. We might skip science. We might rush through history. But we always do our memory work.

And of course it is far more important to live out one verse than to have one hundred verses in our mind and not live them in our heart. This isn't a contest. This is an effort to know God.

Here are the passages in our Bible memory review notebook. They are listed in somewhat the order that we learned them.

But just because they are listed in the review notebook doesn't mean it always gets reviewed. Some of these verses we have not reviewed in quite a while so please don't embarrass my children (or me) by testing them on these verses.

John 3:16
Psalm 23
Matthew 6:9-13 - The Lord's Prayer
Luke 2: 1-16 - Birth of Christ
Psalm 1
The Ten Commandments
Psalm 8
Psalm 100
Matthew 28:1-7 - The Resurrection Story
Matthew 7:24-27 - The Wise Man and the Foolish Man
1 Corinthians 13 - The Love Chapter
Psalm 119:9-16
Matthew 5:13-16 - Salt and Light
Psalm 139:14-16
Ephesians 6:13-17 - Armor of God
Psalm 136:1-9 - Thanksgiving Passage
John 14:1-7
1 Peter 3:8-12
John 10:1-10
Isaiah 53:1-7
Psalm 19
Ephesians 6:13-17
Psalm 91
Matthew 6:25-34
James 1-5 - (Our present project that will probably take two years or so since we are only on chapter 2 right now.)

This only the beginning of what I hope is many more passages. Often I read a chapter of the Bible and think, "This is the next verses we should memorize." The Word of God is life-giving, and I hope that my children will learn to appreciate the time we have spent hiding it in our hearts.

What passages would you add to this list?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Busy Mom's Guide to Scripture Memory

Memorizing Scripture will impact my children's lives in far-reaching ways, but memorization often gets buried under laundry, dishes, and math flashcards.

When my children were preschoolers I realized they could memorize with little effort. They heard a silly rhyme and could recall it a week later. They quoted their favorite storybooks word for word. I wanted to include Scripture memory in our days, so I decided to see if we could learn the Christmas story. I read the first section of Luke 2 every day. I didn't know if young children could learn the passage, but by the end of the month, I would overhear my four-year-old quote the verses while playing (though the verses on taxation were muddled).

Encouraged by success, the next month I chose a shorter passage, Psalm 1. I quoted it while pushing them on the swing or driving to the grocery store. As they became familiar with the verses, I'd pause and allow them to fill in the next word or phrase. We added some hand motions, so the one-year-old could join in.

That was ten years ago. We discovered that passages were easier to memorize fluently than individual verses. The Psalms were favorites, but we also learned the Ten Commandments and short passages from the Gospels and Epistles. As the children grew older, we chose harder passages (this year we are tackling the book of James), but we also spend more time reviewing verses so we won't forget them.

To review verses, I printed off all the passages we learned and placed them in a three-ring binder. Every school morning I read the new passage with the children joining in, and then we review an old passage. I mark our place in the review notebook with a sticky note. Sometimes we spend a week or more reviewing the same passage if the younger children need the practice. As a side-benefit, Mom (that's me) gets consistent time spent reviewing God's Word.

Bible memorization can seem like just one more thing for a busy mom to do—even if it takes only five minutes. I found that connecting it to another activity worked best. When my children were little, I often said the verses as I gave them their baths and tucked them into bed at night. Then we switched to repeating our verses every day at lunch. We don't usually skip meals so this was an effective method. 

Now memorization is connected to school work, but I'm thinking of switching back to mealtimes. I want Scripture memorization to be a life-long habit continued long after formal school days are over. After all, “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

And that makes it more important than flashcards and laundry.

This article was first published in The Homeschooler's Friend - CLP's magazine for homeschoolers.

I'd love to hear more of your tips for helping your children memorize Scripture.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Memorizing Scripture

Maybe it is because we've been trying to go to bed early so Ed can be well rested. Maybe because I have a lot on my mind. But uncharacteristic for me, I've been waking up before the alarm rings.

In the quiet, while my mind is foggy with sleep, I'm tempted to jump on the worry treadmill. But before I make leaps into the future unknowns and start planning funerals, I try to pull my mind back to prayer and God's Word.

It is these moments that I'm grateful for all the Scripture that I have memorized.

Yesterday I lay thinking the words of Jesus in John 14. "Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14:1-2)

I wondered when I first memorized those verses. Was it a school teacher or my mom who first  helped drill those words in my memory? I don't remember. I've had a chance to review those verses when they were assigned to my children at Bible school.

Recently I picked up His Word in my Heart by Janet Pope. (You can read my full review.) I was reminded again about the power of memorizing God's Word, but I've know the benefits from my own life.

Tomorrow I'm going to share about teaching our children to memorize God's Word, but today I'd like to hear from you.

Did you memorize Scripture as a child? How has it benefited your life?

Do you memorize Scripture now? Can you share your tips, methods, or habits that have helped you?


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