Saturday, June 17, 2017

Peace, Perfect Peace

I've been encouraged to keep a list of God's answers to prayer. One of those answers, which I consider a miracle from God, is sleep.

Every since Ed's anointing service, I have slept very well (except for the one night in the hospital after Ed's surgery that Ed was so uncomfortable and the nurses were constantly in his room.) I sleep deeply, soundly, and wake refreshed.

This is in contrast to the nights before the anointing when I laid awake, heard every chime of the grandfather's clock, and worried. At that point we had no idea what was wrong with Ed, and my imagination ran wild. But if you would have asked, I would have told you that I never imagined a diagnosis like aggressive brain cancer with a short life expectancy.

There is no reasonable explanation for why I could have learned the worse about Ed's condition and be able to sleep. It has to be God.

"I cried unto the Lord with my voice and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me." Psalm 3:4-5

When I was thinking of what hymn to share next, I thought of  Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting. It has been a favorite of mine for years.  But I discovered that I wrote about that hymn about seven years ago. So I chose a different hymn.

I remember the first time I heard "Peace, Perfect Peace." I was with a group of youth who were singing at a nursing home and one of the residents requested this song. We completely botched it. A few years later when I joined the church I attend now, I heard it sung often, but it took me awhile to get over that first introduction.

The tune and the words are simple, but now I appreciate the message of this short song. The words were written after the author heard a sermon on one of my favorite verses.

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee." Isaiah 26:3


Peace, Perfect Peace 
by Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr.

Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.

Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.

Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.

Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.

It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus call us to Heaven’s perfect peace.

Listen to the hymn below. (If reading by email you may need to click over to the blog.)




I'd love to here your testimonies of the peace that God has given you.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Weep. Trust. Embrace.

This morning I flipped open my planner and happened to notice the quote on the first page.

Occasionally, 
weep deeply
 over the life you hoped would be. 
Grieve the losses. 
Then wash your face. 
Trust God. 
And embrace the life you have. 
- John Piper

I think that would be a fitting description of our life right now. As Ed told our children, "We don't know how much time I will have (but then we didn't know it before this diagnosis either). But we are going to try to make good memories in the time we have."

This week feels like the eye of the storm. Surgery and the appointments with tests, research, treatment plans, and doctor conferences are behind us. This week the calendar is nearly empty. We enjoyed a fun family day on Monday. Though Ed is still weak, he is getting stronger and is hoping to finish up some work projects this week.

But next Monday, June 19, Ed begins six weeks of chemo and radiation. There is lots of scary unknowns on how Ed will tolerate treatment and what side affects he will experience. We are thankful that he can get his radiation here locally and the chemo is an oral drug so our travel time is reduced but still the schedule looks crazy.

Ed is also taking part in a clinical trial which is testing the impact of a reduced-calorie ketogenic diet on glioblastoma cancer. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that has been used successfully for decades for epileptic children. There is some evidence that the ketogenic diet will help shrink brain cancer, but there have been very few human studies done. If Ed can tolerate the diet, the study will last six months, though we could continue the diet longer if we wished.


Last week after visiting the study doctors near DC where Ed signed up to participate in the study, we stopped at our local pizza shop for their incredible whole hog pizza for Ed's last "normal" meal.



The diet is very strict and the study is providing all of Ed's meals to make it easier for him to stay on the diet. Among the various options we considered, Ed liked this one since it wouldn't make so much more work for me to figure out what to feed him. All we need to do is pick up the tote of a week's worth of frozen meals.



I was hoping the caterer who is preparing the meals would have some creativity and I wasn't disappointed. There is a lot of variety and Ed says the meals are delicious. Sometimes they smell so good I want to steal a bite. Each day has five dishes. Here is a list of today's menu.
Breakfast: Egg Salad
A.M. Snack: Cocoa-Mocha Granita
Lunch: Chinese Pork Burgers
P.M. Snack: Spinach and Creme Fraiche
Dinner: Pork Shoulder and Cabbage



The portions are small, but they are supposed to be satisfying since they are so high in fat. But since Ed is already thin and has an active lifestyle, it hasn't been enough food for him. We are working with the doctor to add in some more calories. Today marked the first full week on the ketogenic diet and he seems to be adjusting well.

We continue to be blessed by the many ways that our friends and family are supporting us. One of my sister-in-laws made strawberry jam for us. Another sister-in-law stocked our freezer with fresh peas from our local pick-your-own patch. And those are just a few examples.



Yesterday these boxes arrived on our kitchen table from the families at church with the label "Because You Are Loved." The children are excited about opening the packages with their names, though I plan to hold most of them until the weeks of Ed's treatments.

I've been surprised to find how difficult it is for me to accept help. I hate to burden or be an inconvenience to others. Maybe I have more independence - okay, I'll call it pride - than I realized. Maybe I've enjoyed hearing comments such as "How do you get it all done?" I like feeling efficient and super productive - not needy. If I did accept help, such as baby meals or babysitting, I quickly tried to return the favor.

But I know there is no way I can return all that has been given to me these past weeks. I can't in a lifetime pay back all the prayers and support both physical and emotional that has been given to us. And neither could I pretend do it all on my own. My whole family has been more needy this past month and I just can't become stronger for them.  Maybe God wants me to remember I'm weak and needy. Maybe He wants me to learn how to accept help.

I've been watching for references to "grace" when reading the Bible and I found this passage in James.
"But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God...Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you....Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." (James 4:6-8,10)
And of course that oft-quoted Scripture that sure applies to me today.
"He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
The choice between relying on my own strength or acknowledging my weakness and leaning on God is not hard. I know that without God (and His people) I would have fallen to pieces weeks ago.

So again, thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray with us that the treatments will be successful in destroying Ed's cancer. Pray that he will have minimal side effects. And most of all, pray that God will continue to pour out His grace and peace on our family.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Be Still, My Soul

This hymn has been Ed's favorite for years. When I went looking for the words to share with you, I found that the original poem had two additional verses that I never remember seeing in a hymn book. I'm listing the entire poem here.

Be Still, My Soul
by Katharina A. von Schlegel
Translated by Jane L. Borthwick

  1. Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
    Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
    Leave to thy God to order and provide;
    In every change, He faithful will remain.
    Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
    Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
  2. Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
    To guide the future, as He has the past.
    Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
    All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
    Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
    His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
  3. Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
    And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
    Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
    Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
    Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
    From His own fullness all He takes away.
  4. Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
    When we shall be forever with the Lord.
    When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
    Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
    Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
    All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
  5. Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
    On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
    Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
    So shall He view thee with a well-pleased eye.
    Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
    Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

I've included a video if you want to listen as well as read. If you are viewing by email you may need to click over to the blog.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Living With Cancer

We are figuring out what it is to live with a cancer diagnosis.


Much of life feels normal, like little girls playing with the newest litter of kittens. 


Some of life is returning to normal, like last Sunday when Ed was feeling well enough to go to church - the first time we attended church as a family for a month.


But with cancer, every day together feels like a gift. 


We continue to be blessed by the help of others. Before he got sick, Ed was planning to cut down some unwanted trees at our neighbor's for firewood. My family came one evening last week with chain saws and wood splitter.


They started with a tree in our yard that had been hit by lightning several years ago.


The children pitched in with their energy.


The little ones had to watch the action from inside.


And my mom and sister-in-laws tackled my very weedy garden.


By the end of the evening our woodshed was stuffed full with more than a year's supply of firewood. Other ways friends have blessed us this week are by helping install an air conditioner, getting our truck inspected, and fixing the motor on Ed's dust collector. 


The brilliantly beautiful weather allowed us to have several picnics with friends this week.


My dad made a dutch oven meal with fresh strawberry shortcake. June joys!


The staples in Ed's head have been removed and his hair is growing back enough to nearly cover the scar, though he still has swelling on the right side of his head. Every day Ed gets a little stronger and several days he went to work for a few hours. Ed was especially thrilled to get permission to drive since my chauffeuring skills were taxing his (and my) patience. 

The last two weeks Ed has spent a lot of time with people. Whether business contacts, an acquaintance that we meet at the park, a church friend who invites us for a picnic, or an old friend who stops in for a visit - Ed has spent hours in conversations. I love that Ed views each one as a ministry opportunity and gift from God. 

When faced with your own mortality there is nothing that matters besides the eternal souls of people. 

And life with a cancer is only possible because we know the resurrection power of Christ.

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever believeth in me shall never die." John 11:25-26


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Hannah - A Woman Who Seeks

The last two weeks have been full of visits to doctors and research of the maze of treatment options. Some days we have walked out of an doctor's office shaking our heads and saying, "He might be a great doctor, but not for us." Other times we have known within minutes that we had found our doctor. We continue to feel the power of your prayers as God gives us His amazing peace.

One of the downsides of being a writer is that there is always a chance that what you write will someday come back to haunt you.

A few days ago I happened to remember an article I wrote years ago about the Health Maze. I pulled it up wondering if I'd have to add a disclaimer that this wasn't true with brain cancer. But Ed and I both read it and agreed that the truth of God's Word can stand up to any circumstances. Even brain cancer.

This spring Keepers at Home magazine published an article I wrote about Hannah - another in Proverbs 31 series. I wrote it quite a while ago but when I picked up the magazine recently, I was struck with how well the topic of seeking and surrender applied to me today.



Hannah – A Woman Who Seeks

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. Proverbs 31:13

Tears dripped through her fingers and onto her robe. Her lips moved soundlessly. The tabernacle was filled with the festival crowds but she didn't notice. Head in her hands, she was focused only on her petition.

For years Hannah had carried the shame of barrenness. Mocked by other women, she longed to have a child. Even the love of her husband did not salve her empty, hurting heart. The yearly trip to sacrifice at Shiloh was her opportunity to pour out her longing to the Lord.

At the doorway sat the high priest, watching the crowd. Hannah's strange behavior caught his attention and, mistaking her agony for drunkenness, he spoke sharp words of condemnation. When she explained, Eli quickly blessed Hannah and assured her that God would grant her request.

What is it that I seek with all my heart? A happy marriage, a baby or two, a long, fruitful life? Maybe it is the salvation of a family member, the healing of a terminally ill loved one, or finances to pay off debt.

 Am I embarrassed to reveal my longing to others? Am I ashamed to pray for my heart's desire – and allow others to intercede with me?

I could pretend I don't have needs, but then I miss a blessing because of the pride that keeps me silent. “Pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)

God gave Hannah her heart's desire, a son. But she did not hold her child to herself. She gave her young son Samuel back to God. Samuel served God in Shiloh at the Lord's house for the rest of his life.

It wasn't a reluctant offering, a grudging sacrifice. It was an exuberant, lavish, abundant gift. When giving up her longed-for son, Hannah spoke a song of praise to God (1 Samuel 2) that would later become the model for the song of another expectant mother, Mary the mother of Jesus, centuries later.

But Hannah did not forget Samuel. Each year Hannah made a new robe for her son and brought it to Shiloh when they went for the yearly sacrifice. I can imagine the prayers and love she stitched into each seam. And God didn't forget Hannah either. He filled her arms with five more children.

God may choose to give me the desire of my heart. But am I then willing to give it back to Him to be used for His service? Or do I selfishly hold it tight, afraid that I might lose what is so dear to me? “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)


A heart that seeks God and hands that seek to serve, we find both in the example of Hannah.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Constantly Abiding

Besides sharing Scripture, many of you have shared your favorite hymns with us. In the coming weeks, I'd like to share some of the songs that have been  meaningful to us.

On the night before his brain surgery, Ed emailed this song to some of our friends as his testimony.

Constantly Abiding
By Anne S. Murphy

  1. There’s a peace in my heart that the world never gave,
    A peace it cannot take away;
    Though the trials of life may surround like a cloud,
    I’ve a peace that has come here to stay!
    • Refrain:
      Constantly abiding, Jesus is mine;
      Constantly abiding, rapture divine;
      He never leaves me lonely, whispers, oh, so kind:
      “I will never leave thee”—Jesus is mine.
  2. All the world seemed to sing of a Savior and King,
    When peace sweetly came to my heart;
    Troubles all fled away and my night turned to day,
    Blessed Jesus, how glorious Thou art!
  3. This treasure I have in a temple of clay,
    While here on His footstool I roam;
    But He’s coming to take me some glorious day,
    Over there to my heavenly home!



Listen if you want to hear the tune. (If reading by email, you may need to click over to the blog to view.)

And of course I'd love to hear the words you sing to remind yourself of God's goodness.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Don't Waste Your Cancer

John Piper wrote a hard-hitting article that has been an inspiration to us.

Please go read Don't Waste Your Cancer.

I think this could apply to many other types of suffering besides cancer.

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