Friday’s Fave Five

On Fridays I like to pause for a few moments with Susanne and friends
to reflect on some of the blessings of the week.

Here we are at another Friday, and another opportunity to recount the blessings of the week.

1. A big surprise. One afternoon, Jason texted to ask if he and Timothy could come over after dinner. Mittu had not been feeling well, and I assumed he just wanted to give her a bit of time to herself. When he came in, he handed me a card and gift bag but told me I couldn’t open them yet. I thought that was odd, as it’s not my birthday or any other gift-giving occasion. Then he proceeded to set up a FaceTime call with both Jeremy and Mittu, and then Jesse came in from his room. I wondered what in the world was up.

The package turned out to be an Apple watch that they had all pitched in to get for me. After my last afib episode, they discussed getting me an Apple watch because it has the ability to do an EKG reading and to alert you if your heart goes into an abnormal rhythm.

I was so touched by their thoughtfulness, and sad that I had made them worry.

Jason helped me get the watch set up and showed me the basics, and I’ve explored it more since then. I like it!

2. Flowers from Timothy.

3. Getting my fall decorations up, finally. I almost skipped it—somehow I just wasn’t as into it this year. But I do enjoy them, and I like decorating to some degree with the change in seasons. Once I got started, I got more into it, and I was glad I got them out.

Special thanks also to Jesse, who fetched the boxes down from the attic and put them back again. He joked that after he moves out, whenever he comes to visit I am probably going to ask him to take things to and from the attic for me. He might be right…:)

4. Discount prescription coupons. One of my new prescriptions came from the pharmacy with a note that a manufacturer’s coupon might be available for that medication. We investigated and filled out the information to receive the discount card. When I used it for the refill, it knocked our part of the payment from $60 to $10. It does make you wonder—if the manufacturer is willing to give out these discounts, why don’t they just lower the price by that amount? I don’t know, but I am glad I found out about them.

5. Roast. Jason and Mittu asked us to watch Timothy while they voted. She brought over a roast in the Instant Pot to cook while they were gone, and we all enjoyed it for dinner after they got back. Then she left a bunch of the leftovers with us. Yum!

That’s my week! What’s something good from yours?

In the Hospital

Longtime readers may remember that I had an ablation for atrial fibrillation a few years ago. I’ve had little “blips” of heart irregularity since, which the doctor said was normal. But then last July I had a seven-hour episode. The doctor said we’d keep everything the same for now. Then yesterday I had a 12-13 hour episode. My heart rate was 120-148 beats per minute. The meds they give to lower heart rate also lower blood pressure, so they had to keep that in balance.

Finally my heart rate converted back to normal. They kept me overnight, and I should be going home later today.. We’re talking about why this happened, changes to make, etc. I’m especially thankful they let Jim come in with me.

I have some great things for Friday’s Fave Five! If we get home in time, I’ll try to get a post up. It’s a little hard tapping out a post on an iPad mini. 🙂

But for now we’re doing fine, just hanging out til they release me. Talk to you later!

Update: I’m home! I’m supposed to follow up with my primary care doctor and cardiologist next week. Thanks so much for your kind comments and prayers.

Updated Prayer Request

In May I asked you to pray for Mason, the six-year-old son of our former pastor in GA. He had leukemia, went into remission, came down with cancer again, and at that time was in the PICU with pneumonia and a bleeding lung. He had to be sedated and put on a paralytic drug to give the lung time to heal.

He recovered enough to go off the paralytic and sedation. But because he had been on them so long, he couldn’t walk, had trouble swallowing, and couldn’t talk very loudly. Those things are all slowly improving, though his breathing is still an issue.

The worst news, though, is that the chemo is not helping him. Humanly speaking, his only hope for a cure is a bone marrow transplant. But he would not only have to be in remission to receive it, he would also have to meet several other health criteria. With the chemo only causing harm and not fighting the cancer, the family and doctors made the decision to take Mason off chemo and bring him home for whatever time he has left. They’re still hoping for a miracle, but willing for whatever God wants to do.

I don’t know if there is hope that he could go back on chemo eventually if he gets healthy enough, or if that’s completely off the table since all the types of chemo and even experimental drugs that they’ve tried have not helped.

You can imagine what they are going through. They have other small children as well, one of whom is old enough to understand what’s going on.

One of their main hopes right now is that Mason’s breathing will improve enough that he can remain at home and not have to go back into the hospital. They’ve been at the hospital for so long, with the family separated and visitation limited due to his condition and COVID protocols. They’d love for his remaining time to be at home with all the family together.

I told my pastor’s wife, when I shared this request with her, that, humanly speaking, it would seem like a waste or a defeat to have battled so long with so many people praying, only to end in death rather than healing. I know it’s not, but it feels that way. But, as Amy Carmichael often said, God does not waste His servant’s pain. He has done so much in people’s hearts through this journey already. I wrote last year that heaven is not a lesser answer to prayer.

Still, the family would love for God to heal Mason. I know God understands that. Jesus grieved death when He walked the earth. As we pray and hope for healing, we trust even if that’s not what we get.

I’m sure the family would appreciate your prayers.

Prayer Request

I don’t do this often on the blog, but I’d like to ask you to pray for a little boy named Mason. He’s the grandson of our former pastor in GA. He’s six years old, had leukemia, went into remission, and the cancer came back. He’s been in the hospital and was diagnosed with pneumonia, underwent a lung biopsy, and started bleeding heavily. He’s sedated and on a paralytic drug to help the wound not reopen. The latest word from his grandfather is this:

It has been determined that he has inflammation in 3 of the 4 lobes of his lungs. It is not pneumonia but it is classified as pneumonia and it is found in people who have been through chemotherapy. It makes it difficult for the air sacs in his lungs to absorb oxygen.

We got word this evening that his heart rate and oxygen levels were falling and they were unable to stop it. He was given epinephrine to stimulate his heart and put on nitrous oxide for his oxygen levels. He was also put on an oscillator which is saved for last resorts. It worked for now but they have no tricks left. He is critical but has been stabilized.

The next 24-48 hours are critical. The whole family has been through so much for so long. On top of the health issues, they’ve been separated due to COVID-19. His mom is with him, but the whole family can’t be together.

Thank you for your prayers for Mason and his family.

(Update: Mason’s body is weakening. It’s going to take a miracle for him to survive. His parents are at peace if it’s God’s will to take him home, but of course they long to have more time with him here.)

Two Prayer Requests

I don’t often do this on the blog, but a couple of families we know are experiencing serious needs. They are on my heart this morning, so I thought I’d share them in case some of you might feel led to pray for them.

One is a little boy named Mason who is five—just a little younger than our grandson, Timothy. Mason is the grandson of one of our former pastors in another state. Mason has been battling leukemia for years now. He’s had several rounds of chemo and other drugs. He needs a bone marrow transplant, but he has to be at a certain state of health to receive it. The chemo and other treatments are affecting his liver negatively. There are a lot more details that I have read but don’t have a full grasp of, but, as I understand it, the family is running out of options. Please pray that Mason’s body will get to the place where he can have the transplant he desperately needs. Or that God would heal him without it. A different former pastor used to say that God can heal with medicine, without medicine, or in spite of medicine. Please pray for the family as well. I know from Timothy’s extended stay in the NICU that it takes a toll on everyone in every way when one member is ill and so often in the hospital. Mason has two younger siblings, so care has to be arranged for them and the family is often separated when Mason is in the hospital. I would imagine the parents feel drained sometimes—I would. But they are setting their hope in the Lord and drawing close to Him. I think it’s ok to share the Facebook page set up for him, since it is a public group: Mason’s Road to Recovery.

The second request is somewhat similar: the young adult son (in his early twenties) of one a different former pastor of ours in a different state has also been battling leukemia for years now. Hudson has a year of chemo left but has ended up in the ER several times from the effects of chemo. It has been a real roller coaster ride with improvements or feeling well one day to plummeting symptoms another day. They are drawing close to and depending on the Lord as well.

If you have a moment and feel led, I am sure all involved would appreciate being lifted up in prayer before the throne of God.

Strive together with me in prayer

Laudable Linkage

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I have a short list today, but, I think, a good one. Hope you find something useful here.

The War Within: Flesh Versus Spirit. “Conflict in your soul is not all bad. Even though we long for the day when our flesh will be utterly defunct and only pure and loving desires will fill our hearts, yet there is something worse than the war within between flesh and Spirit; namely, no war within because the flesh controls the citadel and all the outposts. Praise God for the war within! Serenity in sin is death. The Spirit has landed to do battle with the flesh. So take heart if your soul feels like a battlefield at times. The sign of whether you are indwelt by the Spirit is not that you have no bad desires, but that you are at war with them!”

Respect the King, Obey the Law, Pay Your Taxes. Sound wisdom no matter who is in office.

Let Not Food Destroy the Body—the body of Christ, HT to Challies. “All too often, our food preferences isolate us from one another. Maybe we catch a friend eating a pre-packaged frozen meal or lunchmeat with nitrates, or watch them open a bag of potato chips filled with preservatives and fat. We are tempted to indulge in food-righteousness, in thinking we’re the better person for eating sprouted grain bread with organic almond butter. Our gospel, however, doesn’t leave room for self-made righteousness.”

Some Men Just Like to Fight, HT to Challies. Women as well. We’re called to contend for some things and defend others. But though “Fighting is sometimes necessary. Liking to fight is not. In fact, it is forbidden.”

Why Procrastination Is about Managing Emotions, not Time, HT to Challies. Interesting perspective and a tip or two for dealing with it.

The Medications that Change Who We Are, HT to Challies. Many ordinary medications have effects on personality. Scary!

Dear Memaw: A Letter I Wish My Great-Grandmother Could Read, HT to Challies. “I wish I could tell you about your piano, Memaw. It is quite the story. But since I can’t tell you, I tell Him, each day, and thank Him for it.”

This kids’ retelling of The Princess Bride had me chuckling. HT to The Story Warren.

Happy Saturday!

Back to the Classics Challenge Wrap-up 2019

btcc reading challenge 2019

Karen at Books and Chocolate hosts the Back to the Classics Challenge. She came up with categories and we come up with a classic at least 50 years old to fit each category. She also gives away a prize – a $30 gift card to Amazon.com or The Book Depository. You get one entry for the prize drawing for six categories completed, two entries for nine categories completed, and three entries if you complete all twelve.

The classics I read this year were (titles link back to my reviews):

A.19th Century ClassicThe Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (1860)(Finished 7/15/19)

B. 20th Century Classic (published between 1900 to 1969): How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn (1939) (Finished 3/20/19)

C. Classic by a Woman AuthorA Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1905)(Finished 2/14/19)

D. Classic in Translation (written originally in a language different from your own): Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss (Finished 11/23/19)

E. Classic Comic Novel. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (1836)(Finished 5/20/19)

F. Classic Tragic Novel. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1847)(Finished 6/12/19)

G. Very Long Classic (500 or more pages): Anna Karenina by Tolstoy (Finished 9/11/19)

H. Classic Novella (250 or fewer pages): The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott, 150 pages. (1849)(Finished 6/23/19)

I. Classic From the Americas (includes the Caribbean). The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington. (1918)(Finished 9/24/19)

J. Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia). Moby Dick by Herman Melville. (Finished 10/28/19)

K. Classic From a Place You’ve Lived. The Gilded Age by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner (Finished 12/16/19)

L. Classic Play. King Lear by William Shakespeare. (Finished 12/28/19)

Karen likes for us to compute how many entries we earned: I read all twelve, so I have three entries.

I enjoy this challenge because it broadens my horizons. I would not have read some of these books if not for this challenge. I have not seen anything yet about this challenge for next year, and I’m sorry that it looks like it won’t continue. But I’ll keep reading classics. Someone has said that a classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say. These books still speak today.

Do you like to read classics? Have you read any of these?

Chats and cards

We had a wonderful Christmas. My oldest son was here for about ten days, and we saw Jason and Mittu and Timothy almost every day during that time. We enjoyed feasting, talking, games, and several outings as a family. Jeremy left New Year’s Day, and we took the Christmas decorations down yesterday. After that I spent most of the rest of the afternoon “chilling” except for necessary excursions in the laundry room. I dozed, caught up on blog reading, and generally came out of the fog of the old year and holiday season. My husband is off for the rest of the week, so we’re still somewhat in vacation mode. But he has a number of projects he wants to get done.

If you missed my favorite books of 2018 post in the year-end flurry, it’s here. That’s one of my favorite posts of the year.

Before we get too far from Christmas, I wanted to share the Christmas cards I made for the family as well as a couple of others.

First, this was for my hair stylist, who was leaving soon to have her fourth baby. Unfortunately, she wasn’t in when I stopped by to give it to her: they found her baby was breach, so they were doing a procedure that day to try to turn it. But I was able to leave the card with her friend there. I’m hoping to get by the shop soon and find out how everything went. But this was my thank you card to her:

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I did the “Thank you” with punches, but everything else was done with stickers (on sale, thankfully). I liked the 3D effect.

This was for a friend’s birthday – a friend who likes purple and lavender.

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This was for our anniversary:

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I couldn’t find a snowman couple design on Cricut, and my freehand attempts were pitiable, so I found some free clipart online and printed it out on cardstock. I did the same with the snow couple on my Christmas card to Jim:

I ran the light blue background through the Cuttlebug embosser. The birds and snowflakes on top were stickers.

This was Jeremy’s card. He likes foxes:

I used the Cuttlebug on the white cardstock and cut the trees out with the Cricut. Everything else was stickers.

Jason’s card was one of my favorites this year. I saw the design in the Cricut files while looking for snowmen and knew I had to use it.

Mittu likes purple:

I had the purple letters stickers on hand. Years ago I had seen a friend mention on her blog the technique of dabbing a sponge brush on an inkpad and then brushing it against the edge of a card or cutout to make that border effect. This was the first time I ever tried it, and I really liked how it turned out.

This was Timothy’s:

I was going to do something with a snowman, but when I saw this tree on the Cricut Design Space, I *had* to use it. I guess I could have put a snowman on there, too, but I didn’t think of it at the time. One present was a sticker, the other I just cut out freehand and attached a bow.

And, finally, this was Jesse’s:

It was supposed to look as if you were looking out a window to see the snowman waving, but the wood-like border looks more like a picture frame than a window frame. The snowman was another free clipart that I found and printed.

I still haven’t had much time to think about the new year yet. I most look forward to planning my picks for a few reading challenges. I’ll share those next week. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t make resolutions per se, but something about a new year invites a taking stock, making plans, and setting goals. I do plan to finish writing my book this year, Lord willing!

Sadly, two of my favorite book link-ups have come to an end. 5 Minutes for Books will not be hosting their “What’s on your Nightstand” posts any more, and Sherry at Semicolon will no longer host her weekly Saturday Review of Books. I do like summing up my book reading each month, so I may continue that in some fashion: then again, it may be redundant since I post book reviews through the month. What do you think? If you like book link-ups, too, Mary hosts Literary Musing Monday every week, in which we can share three posts of book reviews or devotional posts, and Carole hosts a monthly Books You Loved, where you can link up to your individual book reviews of the previous month.

We never know what a year will bring, of course, but it looks like Jesse will face the most changes this year as he finishes his degree and then looks for a job (hopefully one that will not take him far away).

I used to dread January. After the excitement of the Christmas season, it’s nice to get everything back in order at first. But then the rest of January just seemed dark and cold and cheerless. But last year, for the first time, I saw January as a time of rest. We don’t have any birthdays in the immediate family that month and no holidays after the 1st. So I enjoy a mini-hibernation between the joyful busyness of the Christmas season and the events of the rest of the year. There are always things to be done, of course, but January is pressure-less in comparison to other months.

I used to do a year-end look back at the blog with a summary of my devotional-type posts. But since I have started doing a devotional post almost every Monday, I figured a list of 50+ would be a little long. I wanted to look back and list some of my favorite posts of the year, but there just wasn’t time. My stats tell me that my most-viewed post of the year continues to be Coping When Your Husband Is Away, as it has been almost every year since I posted it in 2011. I had no idea that would hit such a nerve, but I am glad I had a chance to share from my experiences to help and encourage others. My most often-viewed post from this year is my review of Helen Keller’s The Story of My Life. My newer posts fall way below older posts in views. I’m not sure how to think about that! But it’s good that my older posts are showing up in search engines.

I am so thankful for every one of you who visits, reads, and comments. I had no idea, when I started blogging, that I would make such good friends. I hoped that God would use what He has taught me in some way to in turn be a help to others, and it’s such a joy when someone lets me know that has happened. Thanks for sticking with me. 🙂 I wish you a joyous and blessed 2019!

(Sharing with Shannan’s “What I’m Into” monthly summaries)

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

This has been a sick week, literally. My husband has had some type of awful sinus/sore throat ailment all week. To give you some idea: we’ve gone through nine boxes of tissues this week. I haven’t had quite that: mine has been more sinus pressure, scratchy throat, headache, bone-deep tiredness. Acetaminophen has been my best friend this week. I thought I might be catching the flu, but it doesn’t seem to be that. Anyway, we made it through the week and are glad to have the weekend coming up. Here are some highlights of the last week.

1. Sick days aren’t fun in themselves, but it’s nice to have “permission” to just rest, read, sleep as needed. We took Sunday to stay home and do just that. I think that’s the main reason my ailments weren’t any worse: since they had just started that day, I think I headed them off. And I got a lot of good reading done, resulting in three book reviews this week.

2. Pumpkin day, as Timothy calls it. None of us grew up carving pumpkins, but my daughter-in-law wanted to try it a few years ago, so we have been doing it every year since. It’s fun when family traditions expand with new members! I was always afraid of the darker associations with Halloween when the kids were little, but these days I don’t think most people think of that when they see cute and clever pumpkin faces. Along with carving pumpkins, it has become almost a tradition to have homemade caramel corn and apple cider to snack on through the evening.  Here are the results of our labors:

Jim always goes political:

I chose an owl, both because my mom used to collect owls, plus this looked pretty simple. I’m not good with the intricate designs.

Jason made his own design from a photo he had taken of Mittu. Amazing!

Mittu made a cat, and even painted the cat and the moon:

Timothy used paint pens for some of his design, plus they found some cute stickers of various eyes and mouths, so he decorated three sides of his pumpkin. 🙂 Plus they found these cute googly eye lights, and Mittu cut holes for them for him.

Also while we were out on the porch, we saw our annual visitor: this funny little bird comes and roosts on the corner of our porch a few nights every year. I don’t know what it is or even if it is the same one. It doesn’t seem to disturb him when we’re out there.

Yes, there is also the beginning of a wasp’s nest there, too – I hope Jim can get to it this weekend.

3. A surprise visit. Jason and Mittu were traveling this week, and I had wanted to have them over before they left. Between Jim being sick plus traveling himself a couple of days, it didn’t work out. But they stopped here on their way out, so I got to visit with them for a bit and see them off. Then they FaceTimed from their hotel that night and Timothy gave me a tour of their room. So fun to see life through the eyes of a child.

4. Homemade lasagna. We have frozen lasagna and Hamburger Helper lasagna sometimes, and they are good, but there’s nothing like the real thing!

5. When God speaks to my heart through His Word. In one sense He always does. But sometimes I’ll be praying or burdened about something in particular just before my quiet time, and in my regular reading for the day God will address that very thing

Have a good Friday!